RESIDENTS have been left frustrated after learning they would need to pay Worthing Borough Council £300 to investigate ‘overgrown’ trees at a neighbouring home.
Jane Christodoulou, of Garrick Road, Worthing, wrote to the council informing them that a cluster of five Leylandii trees, of more than ten metres in height, was blocking light from entering her garden.
She was told that if the council were to mediate between the owner of the trees and neighbouring residents a fee of £300 would need to be paid.
Mrs Christodoulou said: “Apparently this charge is to ‘deter frivolous applications’.
“As a rate payer, why should I pay £300 to the council to help us? All they need to do is to come and see the height of these trees to know the problem.”
The £300 fee was recommended to the council by central government when the high hedges legislation was introduced in 2005.
James Appleton, executive head of planning regeneration and wellbeing, said: “The high fee is not only to cover the council’s costs but also to encourage neighbours to settle, essentially private disputes, amicably.
“If the Council investigates this matter, following payment of the fee, the role of the local authority would be to act as an independent arbitrator and to assess whether the hedge is adversely affecting the complainants reasonable enjoyment of their property.”