The first option should always be to try contacting the owner of the hedge. Contact the Land Registry if unsure about who owns the property where the hedge is situated.
It is advisable to keep a record of the actions taken to try and resolve the dispute. This may include telephone calls and letters.
Another option is mediation services. There are companies who will try to help resolve high hedges disputes. 3 leaflets are also available and should be read before making a complaint:
Over the garden hedgeHigh hedges: complaining to the council
Making a complaint about a high hedge
For copies of the leaflets contact the actionline or email the trees team.
Should a complaint be made a copy of the form must also be sent to the owner and occupier of the land where the hedge is situated.
When the council receives a high hedges complaint form, a tree officer will review the form and information provided. The tree officer will decide if the council will register the complaint.
If the complaint is not registered the council will inform the complainant why it has not been registered and the fee will be returned.
If the complaint is registered the council will inform both the complainant and the hedge owner. A tree officer will visit and assess the hedge. Following this a decision will be made, the council has 2 options:
1) The council can issue a letter stating no further action will be taken.
2) The council can serve a Remedial Notice on the hedge owner.
The council will inform both the complainant and the hedge owner of the reasons for this decision.
The complainant or the hedge owner can appeal. This may be done by writing to the Planning Inspectorate. More information can be read in the leaflet 'high hedges: appealing against the council's decision'.
A copy of the leaflet can be requested by contacting actionline or email the trees team.
If a remedial notice is issued a tree officer will check that the hedge has been cut to the correct specification. The council will allow the hedge owner a reasonable time to carry out the works. Works may be delayed for a time if birds are nesting in the hedge.
If the hedge is not cut to the correct specification the case will be reviewed. This will be done by the tree team and city patrol enforcement team. The council may proceed by prosecuting the hedge owner. The council may also use its powers of entry to carry out the works. The council will then reclaim the costs from the hedge owner. The remedial notice also states that the hedge is to be maintained at the specified height.
Southampton City Council has set the fee at £500.
A reduced fee is available if mediation services have been carried out to try and resolve the dispute. If the correct proof is provided a reduction will apply although the minimum fee will be £250. See the guidance note for further details of suitable evidence that can be accepted.
A reduced fee is also available to those in receipt of certain benefits. This information is also available in the guidance note. If the correct proof is provided a reduction will apply and the fee will be £250.
Payment can be made by sending a cheque, made payable to Southampton City Council. Alternatively payment can be made in person at the Gateway reception, this payment can be cash or cheque. Please contact the Tree Team to make an appointment if you wish to pay in person. Payment must be provided with the complaint form.
For enquiries concerning council owned high hedges contact the actionline or email the trees team.
If a council owned high hedge is an issue the height of the hedge will either be reduced to 2 metres or the hedge will be removed.
For enquiries about council owned hedges overgrowing the highway contact actionline, they will log the enquiry for the Grounds Maintenance team. The tree team does not deal with this type of enquiry.