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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

High Hedges Bill
 
 

 
 
A

B I L L

TO

To make provision for dealing with complaints about high hedges; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
 

 
Introductory
Complaints to which this Act applies.     1. - (1) This Act applies to a complaint if-
 
 
    (a) it is made for the purposes of this Act by the owner or occupier of any domestic property, and
 
    (b) it alleges that his reasonable enjoyment of that property is being affected by an unreasonable obstruction of light caused by a high hedge situated on land owned or occupied by another person.
      (2) In this Act, in relation to a complaint to which it applies-
 
 
    (a) "the complainant" means the person by whom the complaint is made or, if he is no longer the owner or occupier of the domestic property specified in the complaint, any other person who is for the time being the owner or occupier of that property;
 
    (b) "the neighbouring land" means the land on which the high hedge is situated; and
 
    (c) "the relevant authority" means the local authority in whose area that land is situated.
      (3) Subject to subsection (4), this Act applies to a complaint which-
 
 
    (a) is made for the purposes of this Act by the owner of any domestic property that is for the time being unoccupied, and
 
    (b) alleges that the reasonable enjoyment of the property by a prospective occupier of it would be affected by such an obstruction of light as is mentioned in subsection (1)(b),
       as it applies to a complaint falling within subsection (1).
 
      (4) In relation to a complaint falling within subsection (3), any reference in section 4 or 5 to a decision whether, or that, the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of any domestic property is being affected by any such obstruction of light shall be read as a reference to a decision whether, or that, the reasonable enjoyment of the property by a prospective occupier of it would be so affected.
 
High hedges.     2. - (1) In this Act "high hedge" means two or more adjacent evergreens-
 
 
    (a) which together form a barrier or part of a barrier, and
 
    (b) whose height in each case exceeds two metres above ground level.
      (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)-
 
 
    (a) "evergreen" means any evergreen tree or shrub; and
 
    (b) a line of trees or shrubs is to be regarded as forming a barrier, despite the existence of any gaps, if the gaps do not significantly affect its overall effect as a barrier.
Domestic property.     3. - (1) In this Act "domestic property" means-
 
 
    (a) a dwelling, or
 
    (b) a garden or yard which is used and enjoyed wholly or mainly in connection with a dwelling.
      (2) In subsection (1) "dwelling" means any building or part of a building occupied, or intended to be occupied, as a separate dwelling.
 
      (3) Any reference in this Act to a person's reasonable enjoyment of domestic property includes a reference to his reasonable enjoyment of any part of such property.
 
 
Complaints procedure
Procedure for dealing with complaints.     4. - (1) This section has effect where a complaint to which this Act applies-
 
 
    (a) is made to the relevant authority; and
 
    (b) is accompanied by such fee (if any) as the authority may determine.
      (2) If the authority consider-
 
 
    (a) that the complainant has not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matters complained of without proceeding by way of such a complaint to the authority, or
 
    (b) that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious,
       the authority may decide that the complaint should not be proceeded with.
 
      (3) If the authority do not so decide, they must decide-
 
 
    (a) whether the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property specified in the complaint is being affected by an unreasonable obstruction of light caused by a high hedge so specified; and
 
    (b) if so, what action (if any) should be required to be taken in relation to that hedge, in pursuance of a remedial notice under section 5, with a view to remedying any such obstruction or preventing its recurrence.
      (4) The authority must, when acting under subsection (3), take into consideration all matters appearing to them to be relevant, including in particular (so far as appearing to be relevant)-
 
 
    (a) the extent to which the high hedge in question is capable of affording (or, if reduced in height, would still be capable of affording) privacy to an occupier of the neighbouring land,
 
    (b) the extent to which that hedge contributes (or, if reduced in height, would still contribute) to the amenity of the neighbourhood, and
 
    (c) any legal obligation (whether imposed by or under any enactment or otherwise) relating to that hedge.
      (5) If the authority decide under subsection (3) that action should be required to be taken as mentioned in paragraph (b) of that subsection, they must as soon as is reasonably practicable-
 
 
    (a) issue a remedial notice under section 5 implementing their decision;
 
    (b) send a copy of that notice to the following persons, namely-
 
      (i) the complainant, and
 
      (ii) every person who is the owner or occupier of the neighbouring land; and
 
    (c) notify each of those persons of the reasons for their decision.
      (6) If the authority-
 
 
    (a) under subsection (2) decide that the complaint should not be proceeded with, or
 
    (b) under subsection (3) decide either or both of the issues specified in that subsection otherwise than in the complainant's favour,
       they must as soon as is reasonably practicable notify the appropriate person or persons of any such decision and of their reasons for it.
 
      (7) For the purposes of subsection (6)-
 
 
    (a) the complainant is an appropriate person in relation to a decision falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection; and
 
    (b) every person who is the owner or occupier of the neighbouring land is an appropriate person in relation to a decision falling within paragraph (b) of that subsection.
      (8) A fee determined under subsection (1)(b) must not exceed the prescribed amount; and a fee received by a local authority by virtue of that provision may be refunded by them in such circumstances as they may determine.
 
Remedial notices.     5. - (1) For the purposes of this Act a remedial notice is a notice-
 
 
    (a) issued by the relevant authority in respect of a complaint to which this Act applies, and
 
    (b) stating the matters mentioned in subsection (2).
      (2) Those matters are-
 
 
    (a) that a complaint has been made to the authority under this Act about a high hedge specified in the notice which is situated on land so specified;
 
    (b) that the authority have decided that the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of the domestic property specified in the notice is being affected by an unreasonable obstruction of light caused by that hedge;
 
    (c) that such action as is specified in the notice must be taken in relation to that hedge, with a view to remedying any such obstruction, before the end of the compliance period;
 
    (d) (if the authority so decide) that, following the end of that period, such action as is so specified must be taken in relation to that hedge, with a view to preventing the recurrence of any such obstruction, so long as the hedge remains on the land; and
 
    (e) the consequences under sections 10 and 11 of a failure to comply with the notice.
      (3) The action specified in a remedial notice for the purposes of subsection (2)(c) or (d) may not involve-
 
 
    (a) a reduction in the height of the hedge to less than two metres above ground level, or
 
    (b) the removal of the hedge.
      (4) A remedial notice shall take effect on its operative date.
 
      (5) "The operative date" of a remedial notice is such date (falling at least 28 days after that on which the notice is issued) as is specified in the notice as the date on which it is to take effect.
 
      (6) "The compliance period" in the case of a remedial notice is such reasonable period as is specified in the notice for the purposes of subsection (2)(c) as the period within which the action so specified is to be taken; and that period shall start to run on the operative date of the notice.
 
      (7) Subsections (4) to (6) have effect in relation to a remedial notice subject to-
 
 
    (a) any variation or withdrawal of the notice under section 6, and
 
    (b) the operation of any provision made by or under section 6(6) or sections 7 to 9 in relation to the notice.
      (8) While a remedial notice has effect, the notice-
 
 
    (a) shall be a local land charge, and
 
    (b) shall be binding on any person who is for the time being the owner or occupier of the land to which the notice relates.
 
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