UKTC Archive

RE: High hedge complaint fees

Subject: RE: High hedge complaint fees
From: Andy Clout
Date: Sep 05 2017 08:31:50
Alastair,

I prefer the N. Ireland approach of refunding fees for upheld complaints. It 
was presumably formulated (High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011) after 
England and Wales had acted as the trial run.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nia/2011/21/section/4/enacted

Regards

Andy Clout
Landscape and Tree Officer
Planning Services
Waverley Borough Council
Direct line: 01483 XXXXXX
www.waverley.gov.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info 
[mailto:uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Alastair Durkin
Sent: Tuesday 05 September 2017 08:38
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: High hedge complaint fees

On the other hand Andy we get plenty of complaints where at the site visit we 
can't believe they are concerned about the hedge in the first place. Swings 
and roundabouts.


-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info 
[mailto:uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Andy Clout
Sent: 04 September 2017 17:31
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: High hedge complaint fees

Hi Ron,

I hear your common sense approach, however it still feels like a 
disservice/unfairness to charge those whom are genuinely impacted upon. 
Council's have the opportunity to show an empathetic approach to those living 
in their community and do not have to charge for the service. 

The 2006 Hedgeline table shows those who did not originally choose to charge 
and what concessions could apply if complaint upheld (e.g re-imbursement in N 
Ireland) or complainant disadvantaged - Stoke seemingly still not charging in 
2017. I would hope that more politically left wing authorities may be 
likewise inclined.

http://www.hedgeline.org/JHdgFees.htm

Waverley now have 5 full time enforcement officers in Planning and they deal 
with hundreds of complaints  which, following an appropriate level of office 
based triage (they do not actively seek out issues to investigate because 
they would need X times the current resource), amount to approx. 350 per 
annum requiring a site visit.  

There are no charges for investigation of complaints by individuals regarding 
neighbours alleged unlawful build/activity, whether found to be frivolous, 
(they have to provide no solid evidence in advance) fully justified or 
involve subsequent correspondence/further visits from the Council or 
requirement for retrospective action, removal, adaption, cessation etc. and 
monitoring thereof.

Is the High Hedge complaint not a fair comparison in respect of investigating 
complaints that are not in the "public" interest - e.g. retrospective 
planning permission/certificates of lawfulness for building too large/close 
to boundaries in back gardens?

If legally viable, the primary legislation (TCPA) could perhaps have been 
changed to include the growth of high hedge boundaries between domestic 
properties.  As it is, changing primary legislation per se is not 
straightforward and therefore High Hedges got lumped into the ASBA.  Probably 
just a case of timing. Perhaps it would have been more appropriately fudged 
within the GPDO somehow? Then such complaints would presumably not accrue a 
fee.

From my experience, the majority of validated High Hedge complainants are 
prepared to pay a contribution towards costs of hedge cutting, however 
neighbour relations have usually gone far beyond amicable discussion. At 
least if a remedial notice is issued they will not have to share/contribute 
to pruning height costs in the future.  

In an ideal world neighbours talk and amicably agree on reasonableness.  
These disputes are often far from savoury and can leave those individuals who 
may not be as wealthy or powerful as those whom inflict darkness on their 
property through grudges, sheer bloody mindedness or feelings of self 
acclaimed superiority regarding their privacy and views, with feelings of 
vulnerability and in fear of recrimination. I find it feels good to help if 
we can and ticks the organisations vision/aims to boot. 

It would I believe reduce numbers of complaints if hedge owners were aware of 
foreseeable financial claims against them if they do not enter into mediation 
or refuse to accept well reasoned recommended reasonable heights for their 
hedge to be maintained at, before a complaint is lodged and accepted by the 
relevant Council.

Regards

Andy

Andy Clout
Landscape and Tree Officer
Planning Services
Waverley Borough Council
Direct line: 01483 XXXXXX
www.waverley.gov.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info 
[mailto:uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Howe, Ron
Sent: Monday 04 September 2017 13:18
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: High hedge complaint fees

Err, well, the principle is that yes the complainant should pay because it is 
a private dispute, that is not in the public interest, and therefore should 
not be paid for at public expense. 

Ron Howe
Tree Officer (Planning)
Mole Valley District Council


-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info 
[mailto:uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Andy Clout
Sent: 30 August 2017 10:56
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: High hedge complaint fees

Alastair, I concur regarding the costs incurred by the Council in assessing 
such complaints. However, when one compares how much time TO's are spending 
giving free advice on tree works to those affected by tree controls, 
comparison of where charges are made and how much they should be becomes more 
complex. Should the complainant have to pay if the evidence they have to put 
forward shows a realistic problem being experienced? No other planning 
enforcement complainants attract a fee.

Bearing in mind the paperwork trail that needs to accompany a hedge complaint 
application (proof of attempting to discuss with hedge owner, involve 
mediation etc.), does anyone know whether a successful claim by a complainant 
to recoup the cost in the small claims court is viable/has been done, if the 
Council issue a remedial notice on the hedge and latter appeal does not alter 
the extent of cutting required?

We currently charge £500.  Presumably above that figure attempting to recoup 
fee costs would be more problematic?

Andy Clout
Landscape and Tree Officer
Planning Services
Waverley Borough Council
Direct line: 01483 XXXXXX
www.waverley.gov.uk


-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info 
[mailto:uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Alastair Durkin
Sent: Tuesday 29 August 2017 12:11
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: High hedge complaint fees

Thanks Jon that’s really helpful. The problem is that these things can drag 
on and on, and end up being complex with no way of recouping further 
spending. On average we spend a lot more than £500.


-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info 
[mailto:uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Jon
Sent: 29 August 2017 12:05
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Re: High hedge complaint fees

I have a spreadsheet (the name of Charles Bennett shows up so I guess it is 
his work) from late 2013.
This shows a range of £150 (Epsom) to £650 (Sevenoaks) for non metropolitan 
districts. Checking their websites now Epsom is asking for £400 and Sevenoaks 
is still £650.
Wokingham (Unitary council apparently) charges £751.80 (today's price). 
That's the tallest price I have found!
There were a few showing as low as £150...for example Lewisham which appears 
to be in a state of denial (their website reads "If you have concerns about 
trees or hedges owned by a neighbour, we strongly encourage that you treat 
this as a personal matter and attempt to resolve the issue between 
yourselves.   We cannot intervene unless the tree is subject to a tree 
preservation order, or is in a conservation area."......providing no 
reference to the high hedge resolution service or charges!) Average across 
the lot was around £338.
Julian's figures for Scotland (2014?) range to £450. Jon



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This email, and any files attached to it, is confidential and solely for the 
use of the individual or organisation to whom it is addressed. 
The opinions expressed in this email are not necessarily those of Waverley 
Borough Council.
The Council is not responsible for any changes made to the message after it 
has been sent.
If you are not the intended recipient of this email or the person responsible 
for delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or otherwise use it 
for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other person. To do so may be 
unlawful.

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The UK Tree Care mailing list
To unsubscribe send mailto:uktc-unsubscribe@xxxxxx.tree-care.info

The UKTC is supported by Bosky Trees arboricultural consultancy 
http://www.boskytrees.co.uk/

This email, and any files attached to it, is confidential and solely for the 
use of the individual or organisation to whom it is addressed. 
The opinions expressed in this email are not necessarily those of Waverley 
Borough Council.
The Council is not responsible for any changes made to the message after it 
has been sent.
If you are not the intended recipient of this email or the person responsible 
for delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or otherwise use it 
for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other person. To do so may be 
unlawful.

Please visit our website at http://www.waverley.gov.uk



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