Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby VelvetGreen » Thu May 21, 2015 1:45 pm

Hi,

Can anyone advise on how local authorities are required to deal with multiple high hedge complaints?
As I understand it; as a last resort a complaint can be made to the council, the council can rule that (for example) a 35 ft hedge be reduced to 20 ft. It is still over 2 metres high.

Assume the owner of the hedge complies and the hedge is reduced and maintained at 20 ft. If the original complainant moves house and a new owner eventually makes a high hedges complaint against the owner of the hedge, what is the course of action in this scenario?

Thanks
VG
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby arsie » Thu May 21, 2015 3:34 pm

Once the owner of the hedge has been issued a remedial notice I imagine the council will have that on record against the owner/address. As this legislation is relatively recent - 10 years or less - there is likely to be some computer data or possibly email exchanges on record.

Ask your council if you think the original remedial notice is being broken.

Can you explain the specifics of your situation?
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby arborlad » Thu May 21, 2015 4:04 pm

VelvetGreen wrote: It is still over 2 metres high.



There's a common misconception about the 2metre figure, it is the height a hedge must exceed before any action can be considered - not the height it must be reduced to.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby TO » Thu May 21, 2015 4:37 pm

Hi

It's my view that there's no reason why a new owner cannot make a complaint. After all its about how the height of the hedge affects the owners enjoyment of the property, and the new owner may think a 20ft high hedge is still too high. Your authority may take a different view, but the circumstances have changed significantly since the original complaint, i.e. new owner.

However, some of the arguments about how the hedge affects the reasonable enjoyment of the property will have already been well rehearsed in order to reach the original decision. So if the new owner is going to have any chance of success they need to come up with a new argument to persuade the Council to reduce the hedge further. Try and get to see the file so you know the reasons for the original complaint, and come up with something different and compelling.

If the new owner decides to pursue a complaint and there's no change to the decision then they can appeal, but that is something the original complainant may also have done.

It's worth noting that if the original complainant made repeated complaints they wouldn't get very far as the complaints would be rejected as vexatious.

TO
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby arsie » Thu May 21, 2015 6:05 pm

I hate crawlers but that is a very good post TO.
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby VelvetGreen » Thu May 28, 2015 9:18 am

Thank you all for responding.

The question is hypothetical / preventative. The specifics are: I own a row of row 35-40ft evergreen fir trees on my northern boundary. Currently the parcel of land adjacent to my northern boundary is agricultural without a dwelling, thus does not qualify to make a complaint (and the adjacent land owner has never approached me to discuss the trees/hedge).

A developer is seeking planning approval to build residential properties on the adjacent parcel of land. I expect they will want to talk to me about reducing the trees. My original question arose when thinking about two scenarios.

1) I agree to having the height of the trees reduced, but they remain over the 2 metres required for a complaint to be considered (Thanks arborlad, but your assistance was not necessary, I'm aware of the significance of 2 meters, read more carefully next time) . The properties are finished, sold and the new owners want the trees reduced further, I refuse and they put in a high hedges complaint.

2)I refuse to reduce the height, the developer finishes the houses and puts in a high hedges complaint. Assume the council rule that the hedges are reduced to say 20ft, I comply. Then the houses are sold and the new owners want them reduced, I refuse and they put in a high hedges complaint.

The planning application has just gone in, so I'm going to speak with Economic Development about this. I'll feedback here if anyone is interested.
Thanks
VG
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu May 28, 2015 9:47 am

Hi VG,

scenario two simply won't happen.

the developer will not have the time to exhaust all avenues of negotiation/mediation that will be required to satisfy the council that allocating resource to a 'high hedge' complaint is justified.

if you are contemplating that your new neighbours are likely to prefer not to live beside a row of 35-40ft conifers then I must ask - why do you think it is likely?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby arsie » Thu May 28, 2015 9:50 am

Now that the planning application is lodged you will know how close proposed new housing is and indeed how tall it will be. Can you say? Does the application mention trees or hedges? As the land is currently agricultural e.g. a field, it may already contain trees and is anything mentioned?

I would think your existing row of trees may afford you some privacy from this development and you could defend against any attempts by the developer to use the High Hedge legislation against you. Is there any particular reason you think they might?
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby VelvetGreen » Thu May 28, 2015 10:05 am

MacadamB53 wrote:Hi VG,

if you are contemplating that your new neighbours are likely to prefer not to live beside a row of 35-40ft conifers then I must ask - why do you think it is likely?

Kind regards, Mac

Hi Mac,
Are you asking, why would a new neighbour buy a property next to the larger conifers and then complain that the trees are too high?
Or are you just asking why I think it is so likely it will bring a complaint?

To answer my second question, I expect the new properties (based on others by this developer in the area as the plans are not yet available) to have very small outside space and to have,small, south facing rear gardens. The rear of the property would have little light.
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby VelvetGreen » Thu May 28, 2015 10:10 am

arsie wrote:Now that the planning application is lodged

It's a short waiting game. Only the Notice is available at this moment. Plans and application details will hopefully be available by the end of the week.

Is there any particular reason you think they might?

A surveyor that is known to us and was contract by the developer for some work, mentioned that the developer "wanted to have a chat to us"[about our trees] and "It's illegal for them to be over 6ft now". Clearly the developer doesn't understand the High Hedges act, but there seems to be intent to have them reduced.
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby arsie » Thu May 28, 2015 1:26 pm

Fast forward: let's say you agree the trees to be shortened. From what I read a 1/3rd reduction would be the most to avoid killing off the trees leaving you with roughly 25 ft which is enough to mask your view of a normal 2-storey new house I would think, depending on the lie of the land.

You need to take the advice of specialist tree surgeons on how and how much to remove safely for the trees' continued healthy existence, however: my '1/3rd' is only an amateur and Google.

One thing I would guard against is the other side offering to carry out the work. There have been many cases where 'over-enthusiastic' (the kind way of describing it) lopping has been done when the owner is conveniently out or away and is supposed to have 'agreed' the extent of the work.

Do it yourself, is my advice. They should pay your invoice and can reclaim the VAT.
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu May 28, 2015 2:23 pm

Hi VG,

The rear of the property would have little light.

1. would that be the case if the trees were shortened to 20ft?
2. could light-level readings be recorded now from various distances away from the boundary - would help should anyone ask for the height of the trees to be reduced?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby VelvetGreen » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:30 am

Hi Mac,
Light level readings are a good idea and might indicate at what height (if any) there is a significant improvement in the levels of light.

UPDATE:
I have now seen the plans, and as expected the properties are quite close to the hedge, between 10 and 15m from hedge to principle window. The planning application includes a tree survey which mentions all my trees. It is full of errors, incorrect species, incorrect stem diameter at 1.5m, incorrect spread diameter and has not been conducted by a qualified arboriculturist. It simply states that these trees are "To Remain".

I've had brief correspondence with the council, who in summary, informed me that the council tree officer will be consulted as part of the planning process. And if approval is granted there are no circumstances that would remove the right for a neighbour to ultimately lodge a high hedge complaint, assuming the qualifying criteria is met.
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby arsie » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:49 am

My first reading of government documents https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hedge-height-and-light-loss indicates that if your 'high hedge' is directly south of them 12 metres away for simplicity then the 'action height' enforced would be 12 x 0.25 - only 3 metres :shock:

I would think that the BRE, who wrote the report, will have done plenty of light calculations. So if the report is used by the authorities, I don't think your own light meter readings will cut much ice. No harm in having a go, but whether you can persuade them to build further away so that you don't have to reduce your trees to 3 metres (if I am correct) I would seriously doubt.

3m seems very severe on your trees, can it be true that a council would enforce such a severe cut from current height? I can't help thinking there ought to be some mitigation, such as, this was a boundary to open countryside; they didn't have to build the new houses so close; etc. Hmmm.

edit:
Whatever the developer does or not, the new house owner could use the 'high hedge' legislation. However, the fee and risk factor may be a deterrent. There are other things to spend money on when moving into a new house. Roughly how much will they cost? Big money or little money?
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Re: Multiple High Hedge Complaints

Postby VelvetGreen » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:25 pm

arsie wrote:My first reading of government documents https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hedge-height-and-light-loss indicates that if your 'high hedge' is directly south of them 12 metres away for simplicity then the 'action height' enforced would be 12 x 0.25 - only 3 metres :shock:
?

Hi arsie,
I also found this document, and having the benefit of the plans and some local knowledge the actionable height comes in at 4.95m or 5.70m depending on whether I put South or South East. SSE would be more accurate. (approx 10m to edge of veranda/deck area 15m to window, the land also climbs from "south" to "north" by 1.2m every 5 meters from the hedge. The finished floor level of the ground floor is 3m higher than the base of the hedge.)

I can't help thinking there ought to be some mitigation, such as, this was a boundary to open countryside; they didn't have to build the new houses so close; etc. Hmmm.

Me too, perhaps this will be in the form of the Tree Officer pushing back to the developer to amend the design.

Roughly how much will they cost? Big money or little money?
Around the £250k-275k based on similar recent developments.
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