A high hedge is defined in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act as so much of a barrier to light or access as is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs and rises to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level.
Provided all other ways of resolving their hedge disputes have been tried and exhausted, people can take their complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to the City Council.
The Council is only able to consider complaints that fulfil all of the following criteria:
- The complaint is being made as a last resort and sufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate this
- The hedge is made up of a line of 2 or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
- The height of the hedge is more than 2 metres above ground level
- The hedge is growing on land owned by someone else
- The affected property is residential
- The complainant is the owner or occupier (e.g. tenant) of the property affected by the hedge
- The complaint is purely in relation to problems directly caused by the height of the hedge (i.e. the obstruction of daylight)
- The correct fee for this service has been included.
The role of the Council is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner, but to adjudicate on whether, the hedge, by reason of it height, is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property. This in most cases will be where a hedge is creating a loss of light to another property. The Council will determine an appropriate height for an evergreen hedge where agreement could not be reached between neighbours.
Further information and publications regarding high hedges can be found below, or on the Department of Communities and Local Government website.
- Over the garden hedge (pdf, 1077Kb)
A leaflet on how to settle your hedge differences without involving the local authority. This process must be attempted before a complaint can be made to your local authority.
- Hedge Height and Light Loss
A booklet to help people assess whether an evergreen hedge is blocking too much daylight and sunlight to neighbouring properties. Hard copies are available from ODPM Publications Sales Centre at a cost of £6.50.
- High Hedges: complaining to the council (pdf, 394Kb)
A leaflet explaining what complaints local authorities can consider and how they will deal with them.
The Council is only able to get involved as a last resort and the person making the complaint will have to demonstrate that they have already done everything they reasonably could to settle a dispute before asking the Council to adjudicate.
If the Council considers the circumstances justify it, it will issue a formal notice outlining what action should be taken to remedy the problem and to prevent it recurring. Failure to comply with the notice would be an offence. The Council also has powers to go in and do the work themselves, recovering the costs from the hedge owner.
Please note that:
- The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut down to a height of 2 metres;
- You do not have to get permission to grow a hedge above 2 metres;
- When a hedge grows over 2 metres the local authority does not automatically take action, unless a justifiable complaint is made;
- If you complain to the Council, it does not follow automatically we will order your neighbour to reduce the height of their hedge. We have to weigh up all the issues and consider each case on its merits;
- The legislation does not cover single or deciduous trees;
- The local authority cannot require the hedge to be removed;
- The legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted light.
The Council has produced a hedge compliant form and guidance notes below. If you are satisfied that the criteria for making a complaint are met, please complete the form and return it, with any supporting information, to:
Public Safety and Regulation
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle upon Tyne
A fee of £300 will be charged for dealing with the complaint. Payment should be sent by cheque (payable to the Newcastle upon Tyne City Council) or postal order with your completed complaint form.