Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hedge Rows Bordering on Council Action

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hedge Rows Bordering on Council Action

Article excerpt

Byline: By Richard Freeman Wallace

The Government is asking for views on how to handle neighbour disputes involving high hedges. Measures to tackle the misery caused by the offending hedges were first announced last year as a proposed amendment to the anti-social behaviour Act 2003.

The proposed new laws will mean that people who can't resolve their disagreements can appeal to their local council to step in.

A 12-week consultation is asking how councils should decide if a hedge is causing problems, how much they should charge for resolving a dispute and how appeals should be handled.

The existing law does little to prevent the problems high hedges can cause. People can cut overhanging branches but hedge height is not covered.

Local authorities are also powerless, but the new legislation means that they will be able to issue notices requiring height reductions.

People who do not carry out the instruction could face a pounds 1,000 fine or face the council cutting back their hedge.

Complaints will only be considered where the hedge is evergreen, over two metres high and blocking out light, access or reasonable enjoyment of neighbours' property.

If this is the case, local authorities will have to take a range of factors into account in deciding whether the hedge is a problem.

Regeneration minister Yvette Cooper said that ideally neighbours would resolve their disputes, but where they can't they should be able to ask their council to step in.

The support group Hedgeline says the problem affects 10,000 people.

Yvette Cooper said that the main framework for the complaints system is set out in the Anti-social Behaviour Act, but the Government wants to make sure the system is workable and local councils get the support they need to enforce the law. The new rules should be in force by the end of this year. …

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