Maintenance of Hedges & Trees
Now that we have had some much needed rain you will all have probably noticed how much the trees and hedges bordering our roads and pavements have grown in the last few weeks. So much so that in many places they now need to be cut back to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians is not put at risk.
Not all trees on or near the highway are the responsibility of West Sussex County Council (WSCC) or Chichester District Council. The responsibility for most hedges and trees bordering our roads lies with adjacent landowners
There is no general rule on the extent of the highway boundary. Historic features such as ditch lines and hedges may give a rough outline of the boundary, but each area is specific. In certain places the extent of the highway may be limited to only the paved surface.
As an adjacent landowner your responsibilities are:
- Keeping roads and pavements safe for vehicles and pedestrians by cutting back overhanging vegetation on your property - it’s the law under the Highways Act.
- Maintaining your vegetation will also prevent potential claims being made against you in the event of damage to a bus, for example.
To identify overhanging vegetation walk or drive along the roadside boundary of your property when it's safe to do so. Then, identify any overhanging vegetation that does not meet the specified requirements.
Vegetation cut back requirements:
- There should be a minimum clearance height of 5.2m (17ft) above the road. A minimum clearance width of 0.5m (1.6ft) is required past the edge of the road.
- A minimum clear height of 2.4m (8ft) is required above the footway, if applicable. Vegetation must be cut back to the boundary so that the full width of the footway is revealed.
- The clearances specified above are minimum requirements; for better long-term value you can cut back further.
- Many trees and hedges are protected, making their removal illegal. If in doubt always ask for Chichester District Council’s planning department permission before you carry out work. (You can also find information about protected trees and hedgerows by viewing GOV.UK's information about countryside hedgerow protection and management).
If you are undertaking the work yourself, please ensure:
- Warning signs are used on all approaches if you carry our extensive work
- You try to carry our work at off-peak times and in daylight
- You only use equipment that is in good condition and visible to road users
- Debris is kept off the path of traffic and is removed from the road, verge and drains.
If you are unable to carry out the work yourself, contact a reputable local contractor and direct them to the information on this page to clarify what is required. You can find a contractor in West Sussex that’s approved by Trading Standards at Buy With Confidence – Trading Standards Approved.
If you live near a busy road and require traffic management, your contractor will arrange for a permit from the highway’s authority. The cost of this will be included into the overall price of their work.
Chichester District Council