We have powers to deal with complaints about high hedges. Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving the hedge dispute, you will be able to take your complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to us.

Anyone in a residential property affected by a hedge can complain to us, providing that they meet the following criteria:

  • It is an evergreen or semi-evergreen hedge of two or more trees or shrubs standing in a row
  • The hedge is over two metres high
  • You have tried to solve the matter amicably - read Over the garden hedge Opens in a new window to find out how to settle the matter with your neighbour

Our role is not to mediate or negotiate between you and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether the hedge is adversely affecting your reasonable enjoyment of your property.

Overhanging Hedges

You have the right to prune back (as far as your boundary) any vegetation that crosses your boundary as long as:

  • you make sure there is no tree preservation orders (TPO) or restrictions within a conservation area
  • the work done is not harmful to the long term health or stability of the tree or shrub
  • the work does not destroy or make the tree unsafe
  • you offer the cuttings back to the owner and if they do not want them you dispose of the cuttings responsibly (use our garden waste collection service)

Fees

The fee to lodge and have the complaint determined is £400. Please note that if your complaint is made invalid our policy is to retain a £50 administration charge.

Exemptions

If you are currently receiving Job Seekers Allowance, Housing/Council Tax Benefit, or any other means tested benefit, and can produce evidence of this, you are entitled to 50% discount.

Make a complaint

If you wish to make a formal complaint about your neighbour's high hedge you will need to complete the application form and return it to:

Natural Environment Services
Torbay Council
Town Hall
Castle Circus
Torquay
TQ1 3DR

Involving us is the last resort if you really cannot agree a solution. We can refuse to intervene if we think you haven't done everything you reasonably could to settle your dispute.

We will take account of all relevant factors to strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community.

If we consider that the circumstances justify it, we can issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem, and when by. Failure to carry out the works required by us is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

Please note that submission of a high hedge complaint does not automatically guarantee that a formal notice will be served. We can decide that the hedge does not adversely affect the complainant and no further action may be taken.

For your information, you may want to look read the following:

Guidance notes
These guidance notes will help you fill in the form to make a complaint about a neighbouring high hedge.

  Complain about a high hedge