Family loses 35-year fight over high hedge

A FAMILY who fought their neighbours for more than 35 years over a high hedge have finally been defeated.
Audrey Alexander of Balfron is five foot four inches. Picture: Wullie Marr/Deadline NewsAudrey Alexander of Balfron is five foot four inches. Picture: Wullie Marr/Deadline News
Audrey Alexander of Balfron is five foot four inches. Picture: Wullie Marr/Deadline News

Audrey Alexander’s personal dispute with her neighbour over the giant hedge started 23 years ago, making the row possibly the longest running of its kind in Scotland.

But the dispute began over 35 years ago when her aunt, the previous owner, planted a vegetable garden that withered and died in the shade of the neighbour’s massive hedge.

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Ms Alexander, 54, used the recent High Hedge Act to try to get the leylandii at the bottom of her garden in Balfron, Stirlingshire, cut back to 6ft.

But the local council has ruled that her neighbour, Jeanette Robinson, is allowed to keep the hedge, currently about 40ft high, at 20ft.

Ms Alexander said the ruling made “no difference” and claimed £20,000 had been knocked off the value of her home.

The council’s ruling is final. Her only remaining option is to raise legal proceedings in the courts which she cannot afford to do.

Her aunt fell out with the neighbours in about 1980 when shade from the leylandii made it impossible to grow vegetables.

Ms Alexander bought the home from her aunt in 1991, asking her neighbour, Ms Robinson, to trim the hedge and allow more light to reach her property.

She claims Ms Robinson refused, saying: “I would rather move than touch these trees.”

Over the years, Ms Alexander has used the mediation services of Stirling District Council to try to resolve the quarrel but no solution has been found.

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The situation came to a head in 2008, when she claims a 65ft section of hedge fell, demolishing a neighbour’s garden shed.

She claims that other neighbours have had to move their children from their bedrooms at night for fear of the falling branches.

When the High Hedge Act came into effect in April 2014, Ms Alexander had hoped it would bring an end to her dispute.

The act allows Scottish local authorities to step in and take action in cases where a hedge blocks light to a neighbouring property.

Initially, Stirling Council found in her favour but after an appeal from the neighbour, it was decided that it should be cut to about 20ft, a height which Ms Alexander claims will still block most of her sunlight.

She branded the decision “disgraceful” and said she felt “let down” by the government and council.

“The law was brought in to protect people, but it’s not doing that,” she said. “The whole situation is appalling – the legislation is about giving people the right to sunlight, but it’s not happening in this case.

“It’s a disgrace and I feel extremely let down.”

The neighbour declined to comment. A spokesman for the council said the decision was made “after carrying out a site inspection and considering all the evidence.