High Hedges requesting intervention from the Council
New measures have been introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to deal with concerns regarding high hedges in England and Wales.
It is in the interests of all parties concerned and less costly if disputes can be settled amicably between neighbours, however this is not always possible. When negotiation fails, the Council are now empowered to review the case, acting as an independent and impartial third party.
In each case, if justified the Council can order the owner of the hedge by 'remedial notice' to reduce the height of the hedge and maintain it such that the issue does not recur. There is no general requirement that hedges should be kept below 2m, in each case the hedge must be adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property.
Making a complaint to the Council
Where an intractable dispute exists over the height of a hedge a formal application can be made to the Council for a complaint to be investigated.
If the following criteria are met:
If you are a residential occupier and the enjoyment of your own property is being affected by the height of a hedge growing on land owned by someone else.
If the Hedge is in excess of 2m in height, made up of a line of at least 2 evergreen trees or shrubs and acts to some degree as a barrier to light.
Formal complaints will only be accepted once all other informal means have been exhausted in trying to resolve the dispute. The complainant will be expected to provide evidence that the matter has brought to the attention of the hedge owner within the last 4 months and attempts have been made to reach a local agreement including contact via an independent mediator such as:
Mediation Buckinghamshire 45-47 Oxford Road High Wycombe Bucks HP11 2EB (Telephone 01494 520821 or Email at
The Council will also require payment of a fee of £420 in order to process the request.
If you have reached this stage and wish to make a formal complaint the complaint form can be downloaded along with guidance on its completion via the table below:
All relevant sections of the form must be completed and it should be sent to: Environmental Health, South Bucks District Council, Capswood, Oxford Road, Denham. Bucks UB9 4LH
NB you must include the fee and also inform the owner of the hedge of your intention to proceed with a formal request for intervention by the Council.
On receipt of a formal complaint the Council will assess the validity of the request and arrange to contact all parties involved to ascertaining whether the hedge falls within the Act and whether the complaint is justified. This will include a site visit to take measurements and assess the nature size and location of the hedge in relation to the complainant's property.
Should the Council determine that there is a need for intervention a Remedial Notice will be served on the hedge owner to reduce the height of the hedge and may also require that it be maintained at a reasonable level in the future.
All parties will be informed of the decision and will also be provided with copies of any relevant supporting information sent to or collected by the Council.
Both the complainant and the owner of hedge have a right of appeal against the decisions of the Council via the Planning Inspectorate. A copy of the Planning Inspectorate form for making an appeal against a Council decision on a high hedge complaint, together with guidance notes for appellants is available via the link is below:
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Following the appeal period if the notice is confirmed the owner of the hedge must reduce it's height within the specified period or are guilty of an offence for which on conviction in the Magistrates Court could result in a fine of up to £1,000.
In the event that the hedge owner does not undertake the work the Council may choose to undertake the work themselves and recharge the costs.
Once served Remedial Notices will be declared on any land search and responsibility for compliance will transfer with ownership.
What timescale can you expect?
An officer will endeavour to respond to complaints within 4 days and will plan to deal with formal complaints within 12 weeks. This timescale may vary depending on individual circumstances. Should a Remedial Notice be served the hedge owner will be given at least 28 days to respond before any action is required. The required action itself may also vary to take into consideration the time of year or phased implementation to preserve the hedge, wildlife and to protect nearby buildings.
Guidance and forms:
"High Hedges complaining to the council" and "Over the garden hedge" are available on request from the Council or by visiting
Frequently asked questions
(This Links to the Directgov website)
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For more information please contact The Environment Unit on: