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High Hedges Bill [HL]


High Hedges Bill [HL]

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A

Bill

[AS AMENDED ON REPORT]

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

 1     Complaints to which this Act applies

     (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

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           (b)           it alleges that his reasonable enjoyment of that property is being

adversely affected by the height of a high hedge situated on land

owned or occupied by another person.

     (2)           This Act does not apply to complaints about the effect of the roots of a high

hedge.

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     (3)    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;

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           (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.

     (4)    Subject to subsection (5), this Act applies to a complaint which—

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HL Bill 3853/2
 
 

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           (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 adversely affected by the height of a high hedge

situated on land owned or occupied by another person,

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            as it applies to a complaint falling within subsection (1).

     (5)    In relation to a complaint falling within subsection (4), any reference in section

4 or 5 to the effect of the height of a high hedge on the complainant’s reasonable

enjoyment of any domestic property shall be read as a reference to the effect

that it would have on the reasonable enjoyment of the property by a

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prospective occupier.

 2     High hedges

     (1)    In this Act “high hedge” means so much of a barrier to light or access as—

           (a)           is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreens;

and

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           (b)           rises to a height of more than two metres above ground level.

     (2)    For the purposes of subsection (1)—

           (a)           “evergreen” means any evergreen tree or shrub or semi-evergreen tree

or shrub; and

           (b)           a line of trees or shrubs is not to be regarded as forming a barrier to light

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or access if the existence of gaps significantly affects its overall effect as

such a barrier at heights of more than two metres above ground level.

 3     Domestic property

     (1)    In this Act “domestic property” means—

           (a)           a dwelling, or

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           (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

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property includes a reference to his reasonable enjoyment of any part of such

property.

Complaints procedure

 4     Procedure for dealing with complaints

     (1)    This section has effect where a complaint to which this Act applies—

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           (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

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to the authority, or

           (b)           that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious,

 

 

High Hedges Bill [HL]

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            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 height of the high hedge specified in the complaint is

adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of the

domestic property so specified; and

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           (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 the adverse effect or preventing its recurrence.

     (4)    The authority must, when acting under subsection (3), take into consideration

all matters appearing to be relevant, including in particular (so far as appearing

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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,

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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

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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

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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

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           (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)—

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           (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.

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     (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.

 5     Remedial notices

     (1)    For the purposes of this Act a remedial notice is a notice—

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High Hedges Bill [HL]

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           (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

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high hedge specified in the notice which is situated on land so

specified;

           (b)           that the authority have decided that the height of that hedge is

adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of the

domestic property specified in the notice;

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           (c)           that such action as is specified in the notice must be taken in relation to

that hedge, with a view to remedying the adverse effect, 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

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view to preventing a recurrence of an adverse effect, so long as the

hedge remains on the land; and

           (e)           the consequence under sections 11 and 12 of a failure to comply with

the notice.

     (3)    The action specified in a remedial notice for the purposes of subsection (2)(c)

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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.

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     (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

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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

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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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 6     Variation or withdrawal of remedial notices

     (1)    A remedial notice may be varied or withdrawn by the relevant authority in

pursuance of an application to the authority—

           (a)           which is made, at any time after the notice is issued, jointly by—

                  (i)                 a person or persons falling within subsection (2)(a), and

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                  (ii)                a person or persons falling within subsection (2)(b); or

 

 

High Hedges Bill [HL]

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           (b)           which is made, at any time after the end of the compliance period, by a

person or persons falling within subsection (2) on the grounds that

there has been a material change in circumstances.

     (2)    The persons falling within this subsection are—

           (a)           any person who is the complainant, and

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           (b)           any person who is the owner or occupier of the neighbouring land.

     (3)    Where the relevant authority have made their decision on an application under

subsection (1), they must as soon as is reasonably practicable—

           (a)           notify each person falling within subsection (2) of the decision and their

reasons for it; and

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           (b)           if the decision is to vary the notice, send each such person a copy of the

notice as varied by them.

     (4)    Subject to the operation in relation to the notice of any provision made by or

under subsection (6) or sections 7 to 9

           (a)           if the decision is to vary the notice, the notice shall have effect as varied

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by the authority as from the date of the notification given by them

under subsection (3); and

           (b)           if the decision is to withdraw the notice, the notice shall cease to have

effect as from that date.

     (5)    The withdrawal of a remedial notice does not prevent the relevant authority

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issuing a further such notice in respect of the high hedge in question in

connection with any subsequent complaint.

     (6)    The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision with respect to—

           (a)           the procedure to be followed in connection with—

                  (i)                 applications under subsection (1), and

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                  (ii)                decisions of relevant authorities on such applications; and

           (b)           other matters consequent on or connected with such applications or

decisions.

     (7)    Regulations under subsection (6) may in particular—

           (a)           in connection with matters falling within paragraph (a) of that

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subsection, make provision corresponding or similar to any provision

made by section 4;

           (b)           make provision with respect to the operation or effect of a remedial

notice in any respect in a case where an application for the variation of

the notice is made under subsection (1)(a) before the end of the

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compliance period;

           (c)           make provision for any decision made on an application by a person or

persons under subsection (1) to be binding on other persons falling

within subsection (2).

Appeals

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 7     Appeal against remedial notice or decision of relevant authority

     (1)    Where the relevant authority—

           (a)           issue a remedial notice in accordance with section 4(5), or

           (b)           under section 6 decide to vary or withdraw such a notice, or

 

 

High Hedges Bill [HL]

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           (c)           under section 6 decide to refuse an application under subsection (1) of

that section,

            any person falling within subsection (2) may appeal to the Secretary of State

against the notice or decision.

     (2)    The persons falling within this subsection are—

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           (a)           any person who is the complainant; and

           (b)           any person who is the owner or occupier of the neighbouring land.

     (3)    Where the relevant authority make a decision falling within section 4(6), the

complainant may appeal to the Secretary of State against the decision.

     (4)    An appeal under this section must be made before—

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           (a)           the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the relevant date, or

           (b)           such later time as the Secretary of State may in writing allow.

     (5)    In subsection (4) “the relevant date”—

           (a)           in the case of an appeal made in pursuance of subsection (1)(a), means

the date on which the notice in question was issued; and

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           (b)           in the case of any other appeal under this section, means the date of the

notification given by the relevant authority under section 4 or 6 in

respect of the decision in question.

     (6)    Where an appeal is duly made in pursuance of subsection (1)(a) or (b), the

notice or (as the case may be) the decision in question shall be of no effect

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pending the final determination or withdrawal of the appeal.

 8     Appeals procedure

     (1)    The Secretary of State may by regulations make provisions with respect to—

           (a)           the procedure which is to be followed in connection with appeals under

section 7, and

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           (b)           other matters consequential on or connected with such appeals.

     (2)    Regulations under this section may, in particular, make provision—

           (a)           specifying the grounds on which such appeals may be made;

           (b)           prescribing the manner in which such appeals are to be made;

           (c)           requiring persons making such appeals to send copies of such

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documents as may be prescribed to such persons as may be prescribed;

           (d)           requiring authorities against whose decisions such appeals are to be

made to send to the Secretary of State such documents as may be

prescribed;

           (e)           specifying, where an authority are required in pursuance of paragraph

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(d) to send the Secretary of State a statement indicating the submissions

which they propose to put forward on the appeal, the matters to be

included in such a statement;

           (f)           prescribing the period within which any requirement imposed by the

regulations is to be complied with, and enabling any such period to be

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extended by the Secretary of State;

           (g)           dealing with cases where an application under section 6(1) and an

appeal under section 7 are made in respect of the same remedial notice;

           (h)           for any decision on an appeal made by a person falling within section

7(2) to be binding upon other persons falling within that subsection;

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           (i)           for any incidental or ancillary matters, including the awarding of costs.

 

 

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     (3)    Where any appeal is made to him under section 7 the Secretary of State—

           (a)           shall appoint a person to hear and determine the appeal on his behalf,

and

           (b)           may require such a person to exercise on his behalf any functions

which—

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                  (i)                 are conferred on him in connection with such an appeal by

section 7 or 9 or by regulations under this section, and

                  (ii)                are specified in that person’s appointment;

            and references to the Secretary of State in section 7 or 9 or regulations under

this section shall be construed accordingly.

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     (4)    The Secretary of State may, in the case of a person appointed under subsection

(3), pay him such remuneration as the Secretary of State may determine.

     (5)    Regulations under this section may provide for any provision of Schedule 20

to the Environment Act 1995 (c. 25) (delegation of appellate functions of

Secretary of State) to apply in relation to a person appointed under subsection

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(3) with such modifications (if any) as may be prescribed.

 9     Determination or withdrawal of appeals

     (1)    The Secretary of State may on an appeal under section 7 allow or dismiss the

appeal in whole or in part.

     (2)    Where the Secretary of State decides to allow such an appeal to any extent, he

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may—

           (a)           quash any remedial notice or decision to which the appeal relates,

           (b)           vary such a notice, or

           (c)           where such a notice has not been issued by the relevant authority in

respect of the complaint in question, issue any such notice in respect of

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it as could have been issued by that authority,

            as he considers appropriate.

     (3)    For the purposes of this section—

           (a)           subsection (4) of section 4 shall apply in connection with any decision

by the Secretary of State as to either of the issued specified in subsection

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(3) of that section as it applies in connection with any decision of the

relevant authority under that subsection; and

           (b)           in section 5 references to the relevant authority shall (where the context

permits) include a reference to the Secretary of State.

     (4)    Once the Secretary of State has made his decision on an appeal under section

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7, he must as soon as is reasonably practicable—

           (a)           give a notification of the decision, and

           (b)           if the decision is to issue a remedial notice or to vary such a notice, send

copies of the notice as issued or varied by him,

            to every person falling within section 7(2) and to the relevant authority.

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     (5)    Where, in consequence of the Secretary of State’s decision on an appeal, a

remedial notice is upheld or varied, the operative date of the notice shall be—

           (a)           the date of the Secretary of State’s decision, or

           (b)           such later date as he may specify in his decision.

 

 

 
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