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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25439
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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There has been a high cypressus hedge between our properties

Resolved Question:

There has been a high cypressus hedge between our properties for the past 20 years. The height has been maintained around 3-3.5 M. I know a high hedge law was passed for leylandi in the early 2000s. I understand that this law is not retrospective Is this true.

What right has a neighbour to demand reducing the height to the new legal limit if it may kill the hedge or make it look completely unsightly - open and sparse from above over its 3M width.

What authority would the local borough council planning department have ?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

may I clarify that you are concerned to ideally maintain the hedge at its current height and it is the neighbour that it is the neighbour that is seeking to have it reduced please?

Customer:

Correct, my neighbour is seeking to reduce the ht--never mentioned for past 6 years- his time of ownership. There was no concern by previous owner from 1994

Joshua :

Thanks. Is the hedge blocking light to the neighbours property?

Customer:

most of the hedge is 10-12 M from his house on the east or northern side. There is a small section on the northern side approx. 2M. The good screening of this hedge was used by the borough council for justification of allowing planning permission for a second story extension to within 1.5 m of the hedge (the close section).

Joshua :

Thank you. There is provision in the Anti Social Behaviour Act for a council to be asked to inspect a hedge made up of two or more evergreen trees or shrubs though they must pay a fee. The council can order that the hedge is reduced in height to 2m. This does not mean that the hedge will be ordered down to 2m. The officer has discretion in the matter.

Joshua :

They will need to show that the hedge is causing a significant loss of "reasonable enjoyment" of the neighbours property. The council officer will use the following guidelines:

Joshua :

A hedge will create an area of shade next to it. The extent of this area of shade will depend on the height and orientation of the hedge (whether it is north or south of the obstructed garden). The impact on the amenity value of the garden will depend on its size, relative to the size of the shaded patch.
These guidelines apply to any type of garden, even small back yards with no lawn. They are intended to protect light to the garden as a whole rather than particular features within it.The procedure for calculating action hedge height is as follows:
i. find the effective depth of the garden (for a rectangular garden the effective depth is the distance between the hedge and the opposite end of the garden)
ii. multiply the effective depth by a factor (which will vary with the orientation of the hedge) to get the basic action hedge height
iii. make a further correction if the hedge is set back from the boundary
iv. correct for site slope if any.

Hedge Height and Garden Size
The basic action hedge height is calculated from the effective depth of the garden.
The equation for non-rectangular gardens is:
Effective depth = Area of garden
————————————————
Effective length of hedge
For a rectangular garden, where the hedge grows along the whole length of a boundary, the effective
depth is the distance between the boundary by the hedge and the opposite end of the garden. Where
the length of the hedge is less than the length of the boundary it grows on, then the formula for non rectangular
gardens (see above) should be used.
In all cases, the area of the garden includes outhouses, greenhouses, sheds, patio and yard areas, and
paths within the garden itself. However it does not include garages, or narrow access ways (less than
3m wide) for example pathways and driveways to the side of a house. For gardens which go round
the side of a house, the area of garden should be that which has a direct view of most of the hedge.
The impact of trees and screens within the obstructed garden is not taken into account
here. Areas behind such a screen still count in the garden area.

Joshua :

if the hedge is positions some way away from the neighbour's property, this will reduce the likelihood that the Council will order a reduction in height of the hedge to 2m or in deed at all. it will cost the neighbour several hundred pounds to make an application to the council for an officer to attend and as above, there is no guarantee of the outcome in respect of the neighbour. accordingly, the processes relatively rarely used. the health of the hedge and the end result can and will be taken into account in addition to the above by the council officer should the neighbour make an application

Joshua :

if the council had previously approved planning on the basis of the purchase component, this will also serve to reduce the likelihood that the Council may order a significant reduction if any to the size and height of the hedge and should the neighbour make such an application, it may be helpful for you to have to hand a copy of the planning permission that was granted in order to point out the reference to the height of the hedge being a factor

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Thank you for an excellent reply. Pls though just answer the question when (date) the high hedge law was passed and that it is not retroactive to hedges existing before that date. Such hedges would be subject to the conditions you have prepared above

Joshua :

A pleasure. The Act is dated 2003 and came into force in 2005. it is not retrospective though can apply to all existing hedges

Joshua :

is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

Thank you. That concludes my present question. If I want to have consultation on some other property boundary issues that may arise how do I make contact with you again? This transaction was just by a chance query of the internet.

Joshua :

I would be very happy to assist with such other questions you may have. You can ask for me either in the first line of any question and/or by clicking on my profile here:
http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-joshua/

Joshua :

I will be delighted to assist further if I can

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

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