Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 came into force on the 1st June 2005. The Act gives local authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges.
If you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving a hedge dispute, you can, as a last resort, apply to the Council to adjudicate on whether the hedge in question is affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property. In considering a complaint, the Council must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner as well as the interests of the wider community.
The Council can, if circumstances justify it, issue a formal notice to the hedge owner setting out what they must do to remedy the problem. Failure to carry out the works is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of £1,000. The Council also has the power to carry out the required works in default of the owner and recover the costs.
If you decide to submit an application to the Council, please take account of the information in the leaflets listed below. The document called 'High Hedges Complaints: Prevention & Cure sets out details of the procedures that will be followed by the Council in examining a complaint. The fee for an application has been set at £410, though for those on benefits or in receipt of a State Pension, the fee is reduced to £120.
There is generally a right of appeal if you are not satisfied with the Council's decision, but the arrangements will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Full details can be found in the Advice on Appeals leaflet listed below. If you are contemplating an appeal, contact details for the Planning Inspectorate who will administer the appeal are provided in the leaflet.
The Gov.uk website (see Related Content) provides much information about high hedges including a booklet called 'Hedge height and light loss', which is accompanied by a spreadsheet that enables an assessment to be carried out to determine whether a hedge is causing a significant obstruction of light. You may find to useful to refer to this information since the Council will certainly use the spreadsheet in reaching its decision.
Please note some of the documents in the Related Content section contain references to 'Mediation UK' which no longer exists. The documents will be replaced when updated versions become available.