Trees and High Hedges
Gloucester City Council is committed to improving the quality of Gloucester's environment and the role of trees is an integral part of this commitment.
The Tree Officer works within the environmental planning department and is responsible for the following areas of work:
Council Trees, our Responsibilities and Requesting Work
The Council is proud of its trees and favours the retention of trees where possible. For advice and guidance on what work the Council will and won't undertake please view our
If your request complies with the advice leaflet you can download the
Tree Work Request form providing as much accurate information as possible and return it to Gloucester City Council, or contact us (see below).
All City Council Tree enquiries:
Tel - 01452 396396
Tree Preservation Orders only:
Tel - 01452 396897
All County Council Tree Enquiries:
Tel - 08000 514514
Tree Preservation Orders
The City Council can make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) using the law set out in the Town and Country Planning Act (1990). The Town and Country (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012 and made some changes to the TPO regime.
Once a tree is protected, it is an offence, subject to certain exceptions, to cut down, lop, top, uproot, wilfully damage and/or destroy a tree without first seeking the permission of the City Council. Causing or permitting unauthorised work is also an offence.
Protecting Trees - A Guide to Tree Preservation Procedures
The Council has produced a
protected trees leaflet for the benefit of tree owners, community groups, and all those who come into contact with protected trees. It explains what Tree Preservation Orders are, how and why they are made, and how to apply to carry out works on a protected tree. It is for guidance only and therefore does not cover everything and is not a statement of law.
How Do I Find Out If A Tree Is Protected?
Contact us to find out if your tree is protected. If it is not your tree, make sure you know its address and exact location. If you are buying a house, the personal search by your solicitor should reveal any protected trees. It may not however inform you of any protected trees in neighbouring properties. If you are unsure, contact your solicitor.
Undertaking Work On A Tree With A Tree Preservation Order
TPO Regulations make it mandatory to use a standard application form for all applications to fell or prune trees which are protected by a TPO.
Please see the following
guidance notes, which must be read before submitting an application and an application form. You can also complete your application form online
Application for Tree Works
Works to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or notification of proposed works to trees in a Conservation Area
Once we receive your application we have 8 weeks to decide whether to grant consent, refuse consent, or grant consent subject to conditions. The matter may be put before Planning Committee for a decision. For certain works you do not need to apply to the City Council for consent. This includes removing dead trees, removing dead branches from trees and works to dangerous trees to the extent that it is urgently necessary to remove and immediate risk of harm. If you are unsure about whether the works need consent of the City Council you should contact the City Council first. Anyone who undertakes works to a protected tree without the consent of the City Council could be committing a criminal offence and liable, if convicted of a fine of up to £20,000 in a Magistrates Court or in serious cases an unlimited fine if convicted by the Crown Court.
Trees in Conservation Areas
All trees within Conservation Areas with a trunk diameter of more than 7.5cm measured 1.5 metres from the ground are protected. Anyone wishing to undertake work on one of these trees must notify the Council who then must decide whether the tree should be given a TPO within six weeks of receiving notification.
View related pages to download an application form. Please read the guidance notes before filling in the form. You can also complete your application online
County Council or City Council?
Gloucester City Council are responsible for all trees in public open spaces such as parks and play areas. If you want to request work to a City Council tree, please first read the
City Council Tree Advice Leaflet.
Gloucestershire County Council Highways are responsible for all trees alongside public roads and footpaths. To request work to a County Council tree please use the
County Council Report-It form or call 08000 514514.
If you have any questions or require any further assistance please Contact Us.
Hedge Cutting & Nesting Birds
Non-urgent tree works or hedge cutting operations will not be undertaken by Gloucester City Council during the bird nesting or breeding season, which is considered to be from 1 March to 31 August; however, depending on seasonal temperatures, some birds continue breeding into September. Hedges will only be trimmed during this period if they are considered to impose a danger to pedestrians and/or road users whereas each case will be individually assessed upon risk and potential injury.
Hedge cutting during the bird nesting or breeding season should be avoided as all wild birds, their young, their eggs and active nests are protected under Section 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to damage a nest intentionally while it is in use or being built and hedge cutting is highly likely to damage nests or cause them to be deserted. If a hedge or tree does have to be worked on for safety reasons then a nesting bird survey will need to be commissioned. It should be noted that some pest species are exempt from control.
The maximum penalty that can be imposed for an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act - in respect of a single bird, nest or egg - is a fine of up to £5,000, and/or six months' imprisonment. If you suspect an offence has been committed in relation to nesting wild birds you should contact your local police force and report the incident to them; ask for the case to be investigated by a Wildlife Liaison Officer.
High Hedges Legislation - Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 Part 8
You should find this information useful whether you are a hedge owner or believe your neighbour's hedge is affecting you. The city council has produced a leaflet titled
High Hedges. The government publications "Over the garden hedge" and “high hedges: complaining to the Council” will also be of use to you.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 Part 8 - High Hedges requires local councils to determine certain very restricted complaints about high hedges. The Council can determine that there is no nuisance or that there is a nuisance. The nuisance is loss of reasonable enjoyment of your property. A fee is charged for this service. Fees are set annually by Gloucester City Council and the fee for 2016-17 is set at £390.00. Applicants who are in receipt of income support, pension credit guarantee or a state retirement pension may pay a reduced fee of £90.00. Information about how to claim a concession is sent with the complaint form.
The fee is not refundable, but will be returned if your application does not meet the strict conditions required or is incompletely filled in. It may also be refunded at our discretion if you have reached an agreement with the hedge owner before we start work on your case.
If a nuisance is found, a notice can be issued as a Land Charge on the land where the hedge is. The notice may require the owner to reduce its height to a set level and keep it below this level by annual trimming. Timescales for action will be set, [taking regard of the bird nesting season]. If the notice is ignored the owner or occupier can be fined in a magistrates court, currently £1000 (max) with a potential daily increase until the required action is taken, and/or the Council can arrange for the work to be done. Costs will be recovered from the owner of the hedge as a charge on the property. It is also possible that a complaint may be upheld but no action is required.
To decide if the hedge in question comes under the Act, the answer to all the following points must be "Yes":
- Does the hedge act to some degree as a barrier to light or access - even though it might have gaps in it?
- Are there two or more trees or shrubs in it and are these roughly in line?
- Is the hedge comprised wholly or predominantly of evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs?
- Is it over 2 metres high?
- Is it growing on land owned by somebody else?
- Are you the owner or occupier (e.g. tenant) of the property affected by the hedge?
- Is the affected property residential?
If any one of these conditions is not met, the Council cannot assist, by law. However the whole hedge does not need to meet these conditions, as long as some parts of it qualify.
Even if the criteria above are met, there is still a need to show that the hedge is causing a significant loss of "reasonable enjoyment" of the complainant's property. The Council will be using the publication "Hedge Height and Light Loss" to help determine if a hedge is causing such a nuisance. You may well wish to use this document yourself before you submit a complaint.
What do I do next?
Only the owner or the occupier of affected dwellings can bring a complaint. It is however unlikely that someone would be in a position to complain shortly after moving into a property as they would need to have some experience of the adverse effects of the hedge and to have taken steps to negotiate a solution with the neighbour. Tenants should check their tenancy agreement before contacting the Council.
Letting the owner(s) of the hedge know that you are about to complain may change their mind.
If the hedge is on public land, please make this clear when you contact us. Your enquiry will then be passed to our Arboriculturist. If you live in Council owned or housing association owned property, you are usually responsible for plants in your garden, just as if you own the house.
Once you have decided that the hedge meets the criteria, you will need to follow the advice in the leaflet "Over the garden hedge" and "high hedges: complaining to the Council"
Approach your neighbour to sort out your problem. Only if approaching your neighbour and attempting mediation has not worked should you approach the Council. We are not a mediation service, and will need to see that you have exhausted all other avenues.
If you believe that your neighbour has a hedge that is causing loss of reasonable enjoyment of your property under the terms of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, click
here or call
01452 396396 for a High Hedges complaint form. You will be asked for your name and address and the name and address of the owner of the hedge.
You will need to return the form together with the fee and evidence that you have approached your neighbours recently and been rebuffed. There is no time limit for this, though we expect to see evidence that contact with your neighbour has been within the previous few months.
The Council will charge a fee to determine such a dispute. The fee will NOT be refunded, though it will be returned with your complaint form if you have not met all the criteria or provided all the information required. The Council could decide that there is not a loss of reasonable enjoyment, hence your need to be reasonably certain first.
What can the Council do?
The Council has powers to require an owner to reduce the height of any hedge that meets the criteria above so that it reduces the nuisance caused to neighbours. The Council cannot cause any tree or hedge to be removed under these powers (though an owner is at liberty to do so if he thinks that an easier solution), and cannot require a hedge to be lowered more than needed to remove the nuisance. The Council cannot order that a hedge is reduced below 2 metres in height.
If an owner refuses to take action after receipt of a notice, the Council can take action itself, as it has powers of entry (the owner would be billed for the work) and/or can prosecute in the Magistrates Court. Before this stage, the owner can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, as can you if you believe the Council's response is inadequate. However there is no recourse to appeal if your complaint is rejected as not meeting all the criteria.
My problem is not covered by this Act - what can I do?
You will find the leaflet "Over the garden hedge" useful in helping you to discuss the problem with the hedge owner.
You have the common law right to cut back to your boundary any tree or hedge branches that overhang your land (unless you live in a conservation area or the tree is protected by order, in which case the Council's permission should be sought). You do not have any right to lop the top of such trees or hedges. Likewise you can cut back any roots. It is courteous to inform your neighbour first.
here for information at the Communities and Local Government web site.
Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to point you to a mediator, but anyone, say a friend or other neighbour, can mediate on your behalf if you feel diffident about approaching the owner.
Hedgeline is an organisation for those who are campaigning about high hedges. It gives useful advice for making a complaint.
Further information regarding High Hedges Legislation is available from the Tree Officer within the Environmental Planning Service.