High Hedges - any experts here?

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    High Hedges - any experts here?

    One of my properties has a tall hedge near a boundary.

    The neighbours have complained formally to the Council under the High Hedge legislation and this is the first time I have heard about it - or the tenants (the evergreen hedge is about 3.5 metres high).

    Most of the hedge (90% of its length) is about 1 metre from an entirely windowless wall of the next-door property. So not obstructing light to any sort of living space. The remaining 10% of the hedge is casting a shadow on their garden. The hedge pre-dates the building of their property by about 30 years.

    These are highly irritating and abusive neighbours for lots of reasons (and racially abusive) and I am wanting this complaint to backfire as much as possible (as do the tenants). So questions:

    a) Does the legislation apply to hedges against walls at all?
    b) Would an order to reduce height apply to the whole hedge or should I be asking for it to be applied only to the relevant part.
    c) How does the legislation apply if it ceases to be an evergreen hedge. In other words I want to simply transect the hedge at the trunk bases, and leave it standing as a brown mess, at least for the moment. Is it still a hedge?

    #2
    Andrew - I'm not an expert, and I haven't studied this since the original legislation came out at the same time as I was studying a law degree.

    a) Yes, unless the wall is higher than the hedge.
    b) The only part that matters is the garden (because the light issue only applies if there are windows), so the 1m section of the garden between the hedge and house and the 10% of the hedge.
    c) That's not a legal question but a gardening one, it's an evergreen hedge even if you cut all the green bit down. Holly is an evergreen plant even if there's only 1cm of woody trunk sticking above ground level.
    But if you cut the hedge down low enough, there's no basis for a complaint or a dispute - 2m should be OK.

    My understanding is that local authorities can charge to resolve disputes; it's not a duty they have to perform, but they're who would make decisions if you and the neighbour can't agree.
    And the fees tend to be high to encourage neighbours to sort things out amongst themselves so your neighbours being irritating and abusive puts them at a bit of a disadvantage.

    There is some useful information here about how high things can be in particular circumstances.
    https://assets.publishing.service.go...edgeheight.pdf

    And here's a forum:
    https://www.gardenlaw.co.uk/phpBB2/index.php
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Many thanks JP

      The wall is 3 or 4 times higher than the hedge. So how does that influence it?

      I don't want to avoid a dispute - I actually want to fulfil my obligations in a way that is as unsightly as humanly possible whilst adhering to any order that is made, and in my response want to try to influence what that order is. So as another example, I could remove every second trunk - at what point does a hedge become a tree?

      I'm normally fairly placid, except when provoked by nasty thugs.

      Would it be reasonable for someone to insist that a 1m width of garden is lighted along a wall, when that strip would be unlighted whether the hedge is 2m or 4m?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
        The wall is 3 or 4 times higher than the hedge. So how does that influence it?

        I don't want to avoid a dispute - I actually want to fulfil my obligations in a way that is as unsightly as humanly possible whilst adhering to any order that is made, and in my response want to try to influence what that order is. So as another example, I could remove every second trunk - at what point does a hedge become a tree?
        You've got a 14m wall?
        You renting castles now?

        Are you saying that the hedge is in front of or behind a wall relative to the neighbours?
        And that the height of the hedge makes no difference to the light available to their garden?

        Your tree vs hedge outcome would depend on what it's made up of tempered by what a reasonable person would think they were looking at when they looked at the trees/hedge.
        Most hedge forming bushes and shrubs aren't trees, because a signficant trunk doesn't work in most hedges and vice versa.
        So you'd be unlikely to be able to create a hedge of oaks, or call box a tree.

        Where it gets interesting is with the overlaps, like hawthorn, where the structure is determined by how you grow them.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          No it is the neighbour's wall. 3 and a half stories gable end, so yes probably 14m would be about right. With our hedge 1metre away from that wall. The hedge get to maybe the top of the first level.

          So you can picture it: Tenant garden then a hedge at end of garden, with a wire boundary (ours) about 10cm behind the hedge followed by a 1m alleyway (neighbour land) and then this giant wall. It is this alleyway that will receive more or less light.

          This hedge is composed of a row of trees I have no idea what they are - but there are about 12 very distinct trunks maybe 2m apart. It will certainly be possible to remove individuals. Perhaps some sort of trimmed cherry?

          Appendix: Yes my wife says it is Cherry Laurel

          Also so you can picture it -- the hedge is at the end of a very long garden so almost part of the neighbour's house in appearance. If it looks terrible, it will be their house that will look terrible from the street.

          Comment


            #6
            I just re-read the legislation - it applies specifically and only to

            (b) alleges that his reasonable enjoyment of that property is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge situated on land owned or occupied by another person.

            Surely the complainant has to complain *reasonably* of some sort of adverse effect and state what that is. I should be able to insist on that before any complaint is progressed. So far the only inkling in the complaint to the council is the height in and of itself, and of potential root damage to his property (which is specifically excluded).

            Comment


              #7
              If there are no windows in the wall, the difference between a height of 2m (which seems to be acceptable as a standard hedge) and 3.5m on a 1m wide alleyway would seem to be minimal (my geometry isn't up to what it was).

              The sun would have to be almost overhead to be visible from the alleyway at most times of the year (and wouldn't be visible at all in the winter),
              And cutting down the hedge to 2m wouldn't really affect that.

              And the orientation of the hedge will be important - if your tenant's garden is south facing, the hedge will be to the north of the neighbours property and will get almost no light whatever you do.

              If your intention is to give the neighbours the worst outcome possible, I'd think about cutting the hedge back to 2m and keeping it there.
              That would also encourage growth lower down the hedge and make it more dense.
              Thinning it out would allow more light to get into the neighbours garden.

              I'm ignoring more fun outcomes that might be expensive, like a very ugly and badly made wall.

              Any complaint has to be from someone who "alleges that his reasonable enjoyment of that property is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge situated on land owned or occupied by another person."
              I'm not sure that a 1m alley can have its reasonable enjoyment affected by the height of a bordering hedge.
              What are they planning to do, sunbathe?
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                I'm ignoring more fun outcomes that might be expensive, like a very ugly and badly made wall.

                What are they planning to do, sunbathe?
                Or more cheaply, wooden palettes painted various colours (with little flags on top)

                They do sunbathe on the patio though not in the passage. The only outcome for them of removing the other 10% of hedge beyond the wall is that tenant binoculars will have a clear view.

                But thank you JP, you have given some good ideas (better still administered enthusiastically by tenants)

                Comment


                  #9
                  When you strip the back of the hedge to the brown branches remember a bird could hit it and hurt itself so for added safety get some of those buoys that the fishing boats use the bright orange one's and string them up at the back to be highly visible.

                  Oh and some windchimes

                  All the best

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Stew View Post
                    When you strip the back of the hedge to the brown branches remember a bird could hit it and hurt itself so for added safety get some of those buoys that the fishing boats use the bright orange one's and string them up at the back to be highly visible.

                    Oh and some windchimes

                    All the best
                    All great ideas!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Try Garden Law where they have a forum dedicated to hedges: https://www.gardenlaw.co.uk/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=7

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                        Or more cheaply, wooden palettes painted various colours (with little flags on top)
                        Brilliant.

                        To be fair, they might have a point about the 10% that doesn't border the alley.
                        I'd cut that right back (to allow for future growth) which might compromise privacy somewhat, but hey ho.

                        Stew Windchimes is a stroke of genius.
                        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Does the height restriction apply if the neighbouring land is agricultural/commercial rather than residential?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by royw View Post
                            Does the height restriction apply if the neighbouring land is agricultural/commercial rather than residential?
                            There may be other legislation that has a similar effect, but the Anti-Social Behaviour Act being cited here applies to domestic property owners only.
                            The hedges could be on agricultural/commercial land.
                            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                            Comment

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