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Birmingham City Council

High Hedges - Frequently Asked Questions



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What responsibilities do I have if I have a fast growing hedge?
Who should I go to if my neighbour has a hedge that is obscuring my view or light to my property?
What responsibilities does my Council have regarding high hedges?.
What do I do if am unable to contact the owner or occupier responsible for the hedge?
What should I do if my efforts to resolve the matter have been continuing for some time?
Can the Council act as mediator in the dispute between my neighbour and myself?.
Do I have to pay a fee? And what is it?
Why do I have to pay a fee when I already pay Council tax?
How long will it take?
Both my neighbour and myself are concerned about the same hedge. Could we put forward a joint complaint?.
Can I appeal against a decision if I am not happy with it?
If a Remedial Notice is served and fully complied with, what happens in years to come when it re-grows or someone else moves in next door?

What if the Remedial Notice is ignored? Can I trim it myself?



What responsibilities do I have if I have a fast growing hedge?

  • .From 1st June 2005, the High Hedges legislation came into force under Article 8 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003, if you have a hedge above 2 metres high you are required to ensure it does not block light, or cause a nuisance or loss of amenity to your neighbours.


Who should I go to if my neighbour has a hedge that is obscuring my view or light to my property?.


You should initially approach your neighbour with your concerns regarding the loss of light or view. You may also like to consider contacting a mediation service to try to resolve the matter between yourselves.

Involving the Council in such issues must only be done as a last resort after all other avenues have been investigated. If you submit a formal complaint to the Council you will need to provide evidence of all the steps you have taken to try to resolve the matter. If you don the Council will not be able to pursue your complaint..



What responsibilities does my Council have regarding high hedges?.


The Council can only investigate a complaint if every reasonable effort has been made by the complainant to resolve the matter directly (either verbally or in writing) with the hedge owner, or through mediation.

A complaint can only be made where a hedge consists of a line of two or more evergreen or semi evergreen trees or shrubs and where the hedge is more than 2 metres high.

The Council cannot force the owner of a hedge to remove it or trim it to below a height of 2 metres. The Council also cannot act against neighbours who have hedges with intrusive roots or branches..



What do I do if am unable to contact the owner or occupier responsible for the hedge?


You will need to demonstrate that you have made every effort to contact those responsible for the hedge. This could be the landowner or an existing tenant.

The Land Registry website should be able to tell you who the present owner of the property is. However, they may charge for this information. The Council does not hold ownership details of privately owned dwellings.


What should I do if my efforts to resolve the matter have been continuing for some time?


The Council will expect evidence that you have recently made efforts to resolve the dispute. We advise that you keep a record of all correspondence. The latest approach should have been made within the last 4 months. If it has not you may be asked to approach your neighbour again.



Can the Council act as mediator in the dispute between my neighbour and myself?.


No. The Council must act as an independent and impartial third party and therefore cannot act as mediator.



Do I have to pay a fee? And what is it?


Yes. A fee of £350 is required when you submit your complaint.



Why do I have to pay a fee when I already pay Council tax?.


Council Tax is a charge for general service provision across the city and helps meet the cost of essential services. The costs of individual complaints cannot be funded via the Council Tax.

It is usual where a service may benefit an individual, rather than the public generally, that a fee is charged. The Council will also incur costs when your complaint is investigated, as well as possible enforcement costs that need to be met..




How long will it take?.


At present there is no set time in which the Council is required to decide on a complaint. It may take some time for the Council to receive a statement from your neighbour and to visit the site. As a general guide, you should not expect to get a decision for at least 12 weeks. However, if some time has passed and you have not heard from us, you should Contact Planning Direct to check progress.



Both my neighbour and myself are concerned about the same hedge. Could we put forward a joint complaint?.


No. Each complainant must submit their own complaint with their own evidence. This is because the effects on you both may be different even though it the same hedge. In these circumstances separate Remedial Notices may be required for the same hedge..



Can I appeal against a decision if I am not happy with it?



Yes. Both the complainant and the hedge owner can appeal against decisions taken by the Council on the hedge. All appeals are made to the Planning Inspectorate, an organisation independent of the Council, who will look at the case again and make a decision.

If a Remedial Notice is served and fully complied with, what happens in years to come when it re-grows or someone else moves in next door?


Most Remedial Notices will include a section in them that requires the hedge to be maintained between two heights. If the problem reoccurs the Remedial Notice will still be in force and may require the continued maintenance and trimming of the hedge.

With fast growing varieties of hedge they may be sufficiently trimmed to create a buffer zone that could accommodate up to a year of trouble free growth. The Notice applies to the land and therefore applies to any subsequent owner or occupant..



What if the Remedial Notice is ignored? Can I trim it myself?


No. You should avoid taking things into your own hands. If a notice has been served and has not been complied with within the specified period, the Council can take further action. This could mean your neighbour being prosecuted, receiving a fine up to £1000 and incurring daily costs until the Notice is complied with.

If the Notice is still not complied with the Council may go on to your neighbour property and cut the hedge. However, the Council is not obliged to do this.


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