Hedges and high hedge disputes

In open countryside, all hedgerows are protected under the 1997 Hedgerows Regulations.

In urban areas, the Hedgerows Regulations do not apply but hedgerows might be protected under a condition on a planning permission, or a Tree Preservation Order if the hedge is formed of large trees.

Does my hedge have restrictions?

Please contact our Tree Section to find out if a hedge has restrictions. If the hedge is not under any restriction your proposed works can proceed.

Hedges on Council-owned property

We work across the District to protect our own hedgerows, and maintain them correctly. For details of our hedge cutting schedule, visit our Hedge cutting page.

Privately owned hedges

You will generally have rights under Common Law to trim the side of your neighbour’s hedge where it overhangs in to your garden. However, you normally have no rights to trim its height, and could be charged with criminal damage if you carry out such works yourself.

It is against the law to disturb birds’ nests within the nesting season, which is from 1st March-31st July. It is therefore important that you check the hedge before carrying out any trimming works.

Neighbour disputes

If you feel that your neighbour’s hedge is too tall, you should always in the first instance contact them to discuss the matter. A 2m high hedge, within urban areas, is usually recommended as a reasonable height to prevent you being overlooked.

Make a complaint using High Hedge legislation

If you cannot come to an agreement with your neighbour over the height of a hedge, even following mediation, you may be able to use the High Hedge legislation. The legislation applies only to evergreen or semi-evergreen hedges, and does not refer to individual trees. The hedge in question must be over 2m tall.

The legislation provides that, as a last resort, you can complain to the Council about a neighbour’s hedge should you feel it is causing you a nuisance.

We charge a non-refundable fee of £695.25 for this service, and cannot register your complaint unless you can provide evidence that you have tried to negotiate with your neighbour but have failed to reach an agreement.

There is no guarantee of getting the result you want (action to lower the height of the hedge) or that, even if judgement is found in your favour, the Council will require the hedge to be cut to a level which you are satisfied with.

To register a complaint, please email trees@horsham.gov.uk to request a High Hedge Complaint form and fill it out using the guidance below:

  • Provide clear, concise detail or how you approached your neighbour (face to face, phone or letter) and what the result was
  • It is not necessary to send copies of all correspondence with your neighbour about the hedge – especially if the dispute is a long-running one. You need only provide evidence of your latest attempts to settle it.
  • You must be the owner or occupier of the property affected by a high hedge in order to make a formal complaint to the Council. If you do not own the property (eg because you are a tenant or a leaseholder), you can still make a complaint. But you should let the owner (eg landlord or management company) know what you are doing.
  • If the site where the hedge is growing does not have a postal address, use the box to describe as clearly as possible where it is, eg ‘Land to rear of 12 to 18 High Street’ or ‘Park adjoining Tower Road’
  • If you are in any doubt about who owns the property where the hedge is situated, you can check with the Land Registry.
  • If you are submitting this form by email but will be posting supporting documents to us separately, put a reference number or title on them so that we can match them up with your complaint.

Apply for the removal of a protected hedgerow

Should you seek the removal of part of, or the whole of, a countryside hedgerow, you will normally require consent under the 1997 Hedgerows Regulations.

It is strongly recommended that you seek advice from the Council’s Tree Section on the interpretation of these regulations, and whether your hedgerow is protected by them.

To apply for the removal of a protected hedgerow, please submit a Hedgerow Removal Notice form.

Hedgerow Removal Notice form