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Neighbour's huge conifer hedge
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Hairydogmummy · 29/08/2020 13:41

Has anyone any experience of getting an order to make a neighbour cut a very high hedge? I know it's possible and that a conifer hedge over 2m is something that you can get an order on but how easy is it? We really want to buy a house but the conifer hedge which must be 4m high at least blocks all the afternoon sun to the garden. The vendors reckon it's not a problem and they would cut it if asked but I suspect it is a problem otherwise why is it still there? No one puts up with that surely? They have trimmed their side where it overhangs but that's all you can legally do. There are a couple of other potential issues as well such as needing to knock down a brick outbuilding to get access to the rear otherwise it's just allocated parking. It's grade 2 listed so we know there will be issues and expense with that. It's definitely a heart purchase!

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HowDeeDooDee · 29/08/2020 13:57

Maybe the hedge is there for privacy. If we cut ours down the nosy neighbour would see straight into our lounge, no thanks. We keep it trimmed and tidy and always pay to have her side cut back. Have the vendors ever asked if ndn could lower it. Does it affect the outbuilding you would want to knock down.

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paastumho · 29/08/2020 14:05

4m high is not very high at all and there is no legal requirement to maintain at 2m. I doubt you would get anywhere with the high hedges Act. very few have succeeded from my research. If you can t live with it walk away.

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HowDeeDooDee · 29/08/2020 14:19

its only about 12ft high, that is nothing, fruit trees grow much bigger than that.

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SoupDragon · 29/08/2020 14:22

@HowDeeDooDee

its only about 12ft high, that is nothing, fruit trees grow much bigger than that.

There is a huge difference between a fruit tree and Conifer hedge!
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SoupDragon · 29/08/2020 14:23

You could have a chat to the neighbour about it and see how amenable they sound.

If the property is listed, would you be allowed to knock down the brick out building you talk about?

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Bluntness100 · 29/08/2020 14:34

It’s usually as simple as a form you fill in op for your local council. Google it for your local council. I would dispute what the previous person said, over six foot and they have no right to keep it at that height.

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OliviaBenson · 29/08/2020 15:07

If it's listed, getting permission to knock part of it down (even an old outbuilding) is likely to be very difficult.

I'd be wary about the trees too- don't believe what the vendors tell you, get it checked out.

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Bluntness100 · 29/08/2020 15:12

Sorry I missed it was listed, that complicates things hugely. The land is also included in the listing and if the building was there at the time of listing it’s very doubtful you’ll be able to knock it down.

If you think about a listing as a preservation order on the fabric of the building, the grounds, and any structures on them, you can’t go far wrong. You can paint decorate, do your bathroom kitchen etc (unless it’s original which is unlikely) but you can’t remove or change original features or anything that was there at the time of listing.

As such, this might not be the property for you. If the outbuilding is very obvs after the listing, then no issue knocking it down.

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Janleverton · 29/08/2020 16:42

It’s not just the knocking down of the outbuilding but the formation of the driveway leading to the rear parking you want to build (I think that’s what you’re planning)? That could well have an impact on the setting of the listed building alongside the demolition.

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Reedwarbler · 29/08/2020 17:04

I turned down a property once because of a neighbouring 'conifer' hedge, which was actually trimmed leylandii. It was already blocking some light and I was well aware that I would be beholden to the neighbour doing the right thing and keeping the beasts trimmed for ever and a day. I'm afraid this would be enough for me to reject a property.
Also, with listed properties, don't assume you will be able to knock down outhouses and make parking spaces. Sorry, another reason to reject.

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Hairydogmummy · 29/08/2020 21:28

I'm pretty sure the outhouse post dates the building by a long way but probably was there at the time of the listing. The house is Georgian.
I know...we can't assume we could get consent to knock it down. I think I might have to knock on the neighbours door about the hedge. Not sure quite what to say tho! Their house is much larger with large garden and the hedge is very thick but it won't matter to them. The house we want has a fairly narrow garden and the hedge is on he west side. After midday there wouldn't be any sun. I'm estimating 4m. It's probably a lot higher actually. Anyone would look at it and think 'wow that's huge'. It's as tall as the house almost.

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Saz12 · 29/08/2020 21:59

Well... personally I’d not touch it, unless the vendor can get the neighbour to cut the hedge to (eg) 3m. I can’t see that happening. Usually people have high hedges for privacy (or by accident of not getting them cut!).
The outbuilding ... you have to assume you’re stuck with it. Listings are of the property “as is” at time of listing, to the point of insanity ... I know someone whose house is from about 1650, Grade A listed and needed permission to replace PLASTIC guttering. Makes no sense.

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Lurchermom · 29/08/2020 22:04

@Hairydogmummy

I'm pretty sure the outhouse post dates the building by a long way but probably was there at the time of the listing. The house is Georgian.
I know...we can't assume we could get consent to knock it down. I think I might have to knock on the neighbours door about the hedge. Not sure quite what to say tho! Their house is much larger with large garden and the hedge is very thick but it won't matter to them. The house we want has a fairly narrow garden and the hedge is on he west side. After midday there wouldn't be any sun. I'm estimating 4m. It's probably a lot higher actually. Anyone would look at it and think 'wow that's huge'. It's as tall as the house almost.

Even if the outhouse postdates the building AND the listing it is covered by the listing curtilage and is thus listed. You'd have to apply to get it removed and chances are HIGH it would be denied. You can ask the council for advice but they won't be able to give a firm answer
(I've an MSc in building conservation)
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OutOfDateAppleCrumble · 29/08/2020 22:07

I discounted a couple of houses because of neighbouring conifers. You can ask the neighbours to trim their hedge, you can’t expect them to. If the first thing you do is move in and go to the council with a high hedge complaint then you can expect neighbour relations to be dreadful.

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Hairydogmummy · 29/08/2020 22:24

Thanks @Lurchermom I've no experience of these things. I just love the house and would love to preserve a building like that but it's just impractical without private parking. The allocated parking is in a car park which adjoins the property.

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Hairydogmummy · 29/08/2020 22:29

I know what you mean @OutOfDateAppleCrumble it wouldn't be great but then I think seems daft to walk away when they might be fine about it tho on the other hand, who lets something like that grow for decades if they care about the neighbour's light! It would be a big job to cut it now.

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MrsHuntGeneNotJeremyObviously · 29/08/2020 22:33

I'm not sure it's reasonable to buy a house and then complain about something you knew the neighbour had before you bought it.
I've got nightmare hedges, which existed when I moved in. I try to keep on top of cutting them but it's expensive and difficult to do. I don't think you are going to get far in expecting your neighbors to cut it much lower for your benefit if they haven't been willing/able to do it for their own.

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Onetwothree456 · 29/08/2020 22:44

Why don't you knock on the neighbours door and have a friendly chat saying that you're thinking of buying the house next door and what's the neighbourhood like etc. And then drop in about the hedge and would they be willing to trim it. There's no harm in asking directly.

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Hairydogmummy · 30/08/2020 00:37

I think I will have to @Onetwothree456 ! Maybe they don't realise. He trees are obviously fairly old...it's incredibly thick when you look at google earth

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OliviaBenson · 30/08/2020 08:37

I just love the house and would love to preserve a building like that but it's just impractical without private parking. The allocated parking is in a car park which adjoins the property.

The thing is, if it was possible to be done, the current owners would have been very likely to have done it already.

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Suzi888 · 30/08/2020 08:49

Because they don’t care about their neighbours in a lot of cases!

Contact your local council and ask about the order, I think ours charges £420 just to entertain it. Has to be 3 or more conifers in a row though. I think it’s quite rare and difficult to obtain. There is no right to light and councils don’t like getting involved.

It would be much easier to speak to the neighbours and ask them. The problem you have is if the current neighbours agree, new neighbours may not. People are viciously protective of their privacy and conifers.
I’m currently experiencing very similar issues. It would put me off buying a house with conifer trees around the border in future.
Presumably these tree are massive and ‘trimming’ them to 2m will be met with Shock you’ll only know if you ask. Just be prepared that a new neighbour in future could grow things too.

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Janleverton · 30/08/2020 09:34

If the parking is of high importance to you I would walk away.

It’s not just the demolition of the outbuilding, it’s the fact that you would be introducing a driveway/parking at the rear of a Georgian house. You will need consent. Part of the consideration will be what impact this would have on the built fabric I.e. the removal of the outbuilding as well as on the “setting” of the listed building. Modern parking at the rear could well be anachronistic, undermining the setting of the listed building.

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MrsHuntGeneNotJeremyObviously · 30/08/2020 10:13

If you do chat to the neighbours about the hedge, I think you should offer to pay for getting them cut back - you'll probably find them more amenable to that idea, than just asking them if they'd be willing to pay out themselves for something you want, but is of no benefit to them.

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JoanJosephJim · 30/08/2020 12:34

If it is so easy to get them to cut the hedge make it a condition of the sale that it is done before you move in.

I don't believe it isn't as simple as filling in a form on the council website. I will refer you to the GardenLaw forum on high hedges to see if you want to go down this route.

And I wouldn't touch a Grade II listed property due to amount of time it takes for anything to get approved and the cost of those items they expect you to put in. My friend owns one. MoneyPit.

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Olayolay · 30/08/2020 15:06

You need to look at the listing documentation on the Historic Buildings web site. Just google the village/location and listed buildings. It’s easy to find. I would bet it’s the whole site that’s included but you might get lucky. However I wouldn’t be surprised if demolishing something within the curtiledge of a listed house is a no no.

As for the trees - these are garden thugs. We have an agreement, in writing, with neighbours to keep their boundary leylandii to 9ft. They have never kept them to 9ft! They are currently 12 ft. It’s not enforceable and the Councils simply don’t care. We mostly pay for cutting them down every year and they can grow 2ft a year. They need constant work. They are around 5ft in width so it’s a difficult job.

Additionally, if you cut them in half you will have very ugly trunks exposed at the top of the hedge. It will look awful.

Never expect neighbours to care about you or your house. Luckily we have a huge garden but trees this tall with no one keeping them trimmed will be 20 ft before long and you have no light and an ongoing disagreement with your neighbours. If they cared about the people you are buying from, they wouldn’t be 12 ft now. They don’t care. And they won’t care about you or spend £1000 to get them cut back. They also grow again. Quickly.

Please walk away from this house. A clause in the purchase cannot be agreed by the vendors because it is not their hedge. They have no control over it and a solicitor wouldn’t allow this proposal to go forward. What would you do if the hedge wasn’t cut down? What could the enforceable penalty be for the vendors who don’t own the hedge? Likewise do you think a friendly chat with the owners of a thug hedge will really make any difference? They might say they will trim it (who is paying?) but what if they don’t? Total misery for you with no end in sight. Loss of light and a damp garden with moss and no sun. No! Walk away. This shouldn’t be your battle.

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