Council to refund hedge complaint fees

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THE council’s Environment Committee has agreed that the local authority should refund fees associated with high hedge complaints if disputes are resolved before remedial notices have to be served.

The High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 allows the council to take legal action over problem high hedges. And in March this year members agreed that the complaints fee should be set at £360.

The fee has to be paid by the person making the complaint, but the cost can be passed on to the owner of the problem hedge if the complainant’s case is successful.

At their Environment Committee meeting on Monday evening (November 5), members were informed that of the three applications received by staff at Mossley Mill to date relating to nuisance high hedges, two had been withdrawn as the owners took action voluntarily after receiving initial correspondence from the council. In both cases the complainants’ fees were refunded.

After studying neighbouring councils’ policies regarding fee scheduling, officers recommended that the council should “offer a full refund of fees prior to the issuing of a remedial notice and that the situation be reviewed on a yearly basis.”

The committee approved the recommendation, but the decision still has to be ratified by full council on November 26.

For information about the High Hedges Act, and the council’s role in dealing with disputes, log on to www.newtownabbey.gov.uk/buildingcontrol