Can the council force me to clear my garden?

This forum is for Garden Law problems that don't fit into the other categories. Please treat it with respect.

Moderator: Angelisle

Post Reply
Revenged
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:53 am

Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by Revenged » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:38 pm

A month ago I decided to tidy my front garden. It had overgrown with weeds and especially brambles that have come through from my neighbour's front garden. It's been bad all summer but obviously I've left it until it stops growing to cut it all back, not least because blackberries are quite nice.
I was out for about 10 hours over the weekend chopping back my weeds and rampant bamboo. I dragged all of the cuttings out of sights to my back garden and managed to burn most of it. There's still quite a lot in the front garden left to move, but it's all cut down and lay on the ground. It's not a massive plot, maybe 10x10 metres. The very day after my work, a letter from the local council arrived to tell me that someone has complained about my front garden. They had been to take photos a few weeks earlier and I was given a deadline to get it cut back.

I know who complained, as it was someone on the opposite side of the road who had their house for sale. They had already sold and moved by the time I cleared it and the letter arrived. My wife emailed the council to say we were quite offended by the tone of their letter and that it already been tackled.

Last week, the council sent me another letter as follows:
"I note that a lot of vegetation has now been cut back and cleared as requested and may I thank you for your co-operation in this respect. However, in order for me to be able to close my file on this matter, please can you arrange for all of the remaining cuttings to be cleared from the front garden by 22nd December 2014"
My first reaction was anger and offence. It's my private property and I'm dealing with it in my own time. It's obviously cold and wet at this time of year so I'm in no rush to be carrying cuttings around. The council do not provide any garden waste bins and bonfires don't light when they're damp. I know, I tried 4 times! Rather than pick up the phone and give them an earful, I emailed a reply directly to the named contact as follows:
Mrs B*******,

I received your letter today about my private property at *****. I can assure you that I performed the clearance of a large amount of plant growth of my own accord. I was not acting under any obligation set down by yourself. I was almost surprised to receive your previous letter the week after I had undertaken a lot of garden maintenance.

I am frankly at a loss to express how confused I am that you continue to contact me regarding the state of my own property. I will most likely clear the remaining cuttings in my own time as weather and work permit, but I cannot say if this will be before or after your 22nd December deadline.

Unless you can refer me to some environmental legislation I do not expect any further correspondence from you. I consider this matter closed.

Regards,

*****
What do you think? Am I pulling a tiger's tail or am I on firm (if untidy) ground?

Hugh Jaleak
Posts: 544
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:09 pm
Location: Northamptonshire

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by Hugh Jaleak » Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:31 pm

To the best of my knowledge, unless you are hoarding rubbish, cars etc and creating a nuisance to the neighbours, or harbouring vermin then there is precious little the Council can do about overgrown private property. Overhanging vegetation can be ordered to be cut back to the boundary if it overhangs a public highway but if you choose to grow brambles then that's your choice! :lol: Suspect the neighbour has connections at the Council and has pulled a few strings, now power has gone to the Council Officer's head! I'd be interested to see how they respond to your letter!

robj191269
Posts: 316
Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 6:12 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by robj191269 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:49 pm

If you are going to write to the council, don't bother replying to the muppet that sent you the letter but the head of the Council.

I would head it "complaint" as then certain procedures would have to be followed by the council. Enclose a copy the letters received and say something along the lines of harassment from the council blah blah blah and if they are that concerned to send some council workers out to clear up for you without charge. :wink:

MacadamB53
Posts: 6694
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by MacadamB53 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:47 pm

Hi Revenged,

Unless you can refer me to some environmental legislation I do not expect any further correspondence from you. I consider this matter closed.

job done - doubt you'll hear from them again save maybe for a nondescript confirmation of the matter being closed.

Kind regards, Mac

zaax
Posts: 307
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:43 pm
Location: Suffolk
Contact:

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by zaax » Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:51 pm

It seems that this person has nothing better to do and should be assigned elsewhere to save the council money.
I know nothing about the law.

ukmicky
Posts: 4998
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 20
Number of topics per page: 20
Location: London

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by ukmicky » Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:24 am

Shame I didn't see this one earlier because yes the council can do this . Hopefully you haven't sent that letter or you may push the council into a corner and unfortunately for you its also a corner they have a route out of.

The letter you received is probably the 1st letter required before they serve you with a Section 215 notice under the Town and country planning act should you not do as requested.

S 215 notices are normally used for buildings that are in disrepair but a council can and they do serve Section 215 notices when they determine that an overgrown garden is affecting the amenity of the local area.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

MacadamB53
Posts: 6694
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 100
Number of topics per page: 50

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by MacadamB53 » Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:09 am

Hi ukmicky,

The letter you received is probably the 1st letter required before they serve you with a Section 215 notice under the Town and country planning act should you not do as requested.

and it would be remiss of the council not to mention this in the letter (I assume they didn't) so...

Kind regards, Mac

Roblewis
Posts: 1836
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:41 am
Number of Posts per Page: 20
Number of topics per page: 20

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by Roblewis » Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:11 pm

I do not think they can use these powers if the complained of nuisance, ie overgrown vegetation, has been dealt with prior to any communication. They would need to receive a second complaint re the cut down material if they are to act for its removal.

The file complaint is for overgrown vegetation - it has gone and the file can be closed.

ukmicky
Posts: 4998
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 20
Number of topics per page: 20
Location: London

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by ukmicky » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:10 pm

Roblewis wrote:I do not think they can use these powers if the complained of nuisance, ie overgrown vegetation, has been dealt with prior to any communication. They would need to receive a second complaint re the cut down material if they are to act for its removal.

The file complaint is for overgrown vegetation - it has gone and the file can be closed.

The point is a council can force someone to clear a garden of vegetation. The council can even force you to paint the front of your house if its condition is bringing down the area.

Its all about visual amenity and under the Town and country planning act the council don't need a complaint from anyone to act .It may have also been cut down but the poster says there is still a lot left lying in the front garden . That is enough for the council to issue a 215 notice for if the waste it is spoiling the look of the area.

Councils can get these thing wrong but unless the poster has won a gold award from the RHS (see link below) its best not to play games with the council and clear it properly so he is removed from their radar..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -mess.html
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

jonahinoz
Posts: 1547
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:15 pm

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by jonahinoz » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:24 am

Hi,

My immediate reaction to such a letter would be to wander round the neighbourhood, to see if I could find similar offences to report, keep them busy. Especially satisfying if I can find something that they are responsible for.

But a cup of coffee first, by which time my retaliatory plan will make me feel much better, so I won't bother.

But yeah, I believe the CEO's bonus is dependent on the number of complaints that he doesn't receive.

John W

Revenged
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:53 am

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by Revenged » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:04 am

As you can probably appreciate, the weather turned cold in the last few weeks. I haven't been out clearing the cuttings at all, but I've also had no further letters from the council yet.

The last line of their letter said "Please don't hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter further or require clarification as to what is required". I have contacted them and they haven't clarified.

When I cut down the overgrown brambles, I did it of my own accord. I also noticed they overhung the path in front of our house, but given the path only leads to my house I don't suppose that bothered the other neighbours. What I have now is a garden full of dead cuttings instead of greenery. The council have never mentioned legislation and I've asked them, as I mentioned earlier.

Revenged
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:53 am

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by Revenged » Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:09 pm

No reply to my email at all. I'm not going to worry about it at all. The offensive neighbour across the road from me sold and moved out before the first letter arrived and I'm quite sure it was they who made the complaint. My other neighbours would all have had the courtesy to talk to me first.

ukmicky
Posts: 4998
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Number of Posts per Page: 20
Number of topics per page: 20
Location: London

Re: Can the council force me to clear my garden?

Post by ukmicky » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:45 pm

Revenged wrote:As you can probably appreciate, the weather turned cold in the last few weeks. I haven't been out clearing the cuttings at all, but I've also had no further letters from the council yet.

The last line of their letter said "Please don't hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter further or require clarification as to what is required". I have contacted them and they haven't clarified.

When I cut down the overgrown brambles, I did it of my own accord. I also noticed they overhung the path in front of our house, but given the path only leads to my house I don't suppose that bothered the other neighbours. What I have now is a garden full of dead cuttings instead of greenery. The council have never mentioned legislation and I've asked them, as I mentioned earlier.

If you want the legislation its

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 / Section 215
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Post Reply