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High hedge complaints
In response to public concern the Government has granted powers to Flintshire County Council (FCC) and other Local Authorities in Wales and England to control the height of the hedges near to residential properties.
The hedges which have caused most concern are Leyland and Lawson Cypress, however, the legislation includes all evergreen and semi-evergreen hedges (e.g. Western Red Cedar, Yew, Holly, Laurel and Laurustinus. Privet is considered to be semi-evergreen in Flintshire and therefore falls within the scope of the legislation).
In the urban environment boundary hedges have an important role, they soften the landscape, provide privacy, reduce noise and encourage wildlife. Nevertheless, when allowed to grow too tall, hedges can cast excessive shade and affect a neighbour’s enjoyment of their property. The legislation seeks to achieve a balance between the merits and problems associated with hedges in residential areas.
Frequently asked questions
1. Is there a general right to light?
There is no general legal right to light in gardens although easements of light through windows or other openings in a property can sometimes exist. If your property benefits from an easement of light which is being affected you should consult a solicitor.
2. Can I cut branches overhanging my property?
Yes, but you should ensure that you know precisely where your boundary is. Fences, hedges and ditches often mark the legal boundary between properties but may not follow an obvious line on the ground. In cases where you are in dispute with your neighbour you would be wise to take legal advice before cutting any vegetation. It is also good practice to discuss any proposed works with your neighbour before you carry them out.
Only branches overhanging your boundary can be cut and they must be cut in a way that will not compromise the health of the trees or shrubs. If the tree you intend to trim is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or a Planning Condition or if it is in a Conservation Area you will need to contact the Council and where necessary obtain permission.
3. Can I require my neighbour to pay for the removal of branches which overhang my property?
No. The responsibility for initially funding the cost of removal will be yours. However, you may be able recover the cost of any work by taking your neighbour to court. This is likely to be more expensive and time consuming than paying for the work yourself.
4. What about agricultural hedges? May I remove a hedge in my field?
No, not without first submitting a ‘Hedgerow Removal Notice’ to Flintshire County Council. The Council will then have 42 days after the receipt of a properly constituted Hedgerow Removal Notice to consider the application and make recommendations. Such hedges are covered by the Hedgerow Regulations (1997).
If you are concerned about a neighbouring high hedge please read the following leaflet published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) - Over the Garden Hedge (new window). This leaflet explains how to settle your hedge differences without involving FCC. This process must be attempted before a complaint can be made to Flintshire County Council.
If the hedge owner refuses to talk to you you can ask for the help of independent mediators. Alternatively contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Making a complaint
Before making a formal complaint to FCC please read the following ODPM publication - High Hedges: Complaining to the Council (new window). This leaflet explains what complaints FCC can consider and how we will deal with them.
If after reading this leaflet you still wish to make a formal complaint to FCC please download, print and complete the High Hedge complaint form, for which guidance notes are available.
There is a charge of £320 to investigate a high hedge complaint (this fee is reduced to £160 if the complainant is registered disabled, a senior citizen or on state benefit).
Please send your completed complaint form along with fee (cheques payable to Flintshire County Council) to Chief Planning Services Officer, Flintshire County Council, County Hall, Mold. CH7 6NF. Or alternatively deliver it by hand to the Environment Reception.
High hedge complaints are dealt with by the Planning Enforcement service. Telephone 01352 703258 or submit an enquiry online (will open an e-form)