Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving a hedge dispute, you will be able to take your complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to Swale Borough Council. Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, gives local authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges. The Act came into operation in England on 1 June 2005.
Guidance can be read on how to settle your hedge differences, with some steps that you should consider trying before involving the Council:
The Council's role is to act as an independent and impartial adjudicator in those cases which people cannot settle for themselves. We cannot, therefore, negotiate or mediate between you and your neighbour. But you may wish to contact the 'Swale Mediation Service' by email or call 01795 471415. They might be able to help.
Swale Mediation Service
Kent, ME10 4BX.
If you cannot agree a solution with your neighbour and you wish to discuss the situation before making a formal complaint, please contact our Customer Services Centre 01795 417850.
The Council can reject your complaint if we think you have not done everything that you reasonably could to negotiate a solution to your hedge problems. So if you don't follow the advice in the leaflet, you will need to explain why not.
Application forms plus guidance notes are also available on our planning applications page. These may be downloaded, printed out and completed by hand. Your complete application can be delivered in person or by post, to: Planning Services, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3HT.
There will be a fee payable of £450 before any complaint can be taken forward and you should contact any of the telephone numbers mentioned above to establish what this fee is (cheques should be made payable to 'Swale Borough Council').
The role of the local authority is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether - in the words of the Act - the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property. In doing so, the authority must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community.
If they consider the circumstances justify it, the local authority will 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 the authority is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.