Help us prevent overgrown hedges becoming a problem

With bird nesting season over, homeowners are being asked to prevent their hedges and trees becoming problems on the roads and pavements next to their properties


Homeowners are being asked to prevent their hedges and trees becoming problems on the roads and pavements next to their properties.

With bird nesting season over, highways officers are urging people to see if they need to trim back overhanging vegetation now, rather than wait for an official reminder to arrive in the post.

Councillor Bob Lanzer, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “Overhanging hedges and other vegetation can cause various problems, including obscuring road users’ views of potential dangers, and obstructing pavements for all, including people using disability buggies and parents pushing prams.

“Another, increasing problem we have found is buses and other commercial vehicles colliding with overgrown trees and low-hanging branches.

“Nobody wants to write to people, reminding them of their legal responsibilities, so I would urge homeowners to look at their property boundaries now and, if necessary, take action to prevent hedges and other vegetation obstructing adjacent roads and pavements.”

The owner or occupier of a property is legally responsible for ensuring adjacent roads and pavements are not obstructed by vegetation.

Although the Highways Act 1980 does not specify measurements for the overhanging vegetation, the requirements are for:

  • pedestrian areas, cut back to the boundary and a minimum headroom of 2.3 metres
  • the carriageway and an area immediately adjacent to it, the requirement is to cut half a metre back from the boundary and a minimum headroom of 6 metres.

Bird nesting season is between March 1 and August 31, as defined by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, so cutting should be avoided between these dates unless required on safety grounds. If work is required, homeowners/occupiers must check first as nesting birds and their nests should not be harmed.

Further information can be found on our tree and hedge maintenance page.

If you spot a problem with overgrown vegetation, you can report it using our Love West Sussex app.

Pictured: Before and after branches were cut back to reveal a footway

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Last updated:
26 September 2019
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