Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 8, 2016

When Hedges Become Road Hazards

A local resident concerned about road safety asked “Who is responsible for cutting overgrown hedges on the roadside that block your view of traffic? Here are some photos parraprescroad1 at the junction of Parrs Lane and Prescot Road in Aughton parraprescroad2. You have to go past the stop line to see anything approaching from the right. This is an area where school children with parents cross over the road and take their life in their hands when doing so. Something needs to be done here before there is an accident. It will only get worse when Wainhomes get going. This is not the only area of overgrown roadside hedges but who’s responsible?”

The owner or occupier of a property has a legal responsibility (Highway Act 1980 s154) to ensure that the ‘public highway’ adjacent to a property is not obstructed by vegetation from their property. Local Authorities also have a legal duty to ensure that public highways and street lights are unobstructed, so usually inspect roads regularly and often receive complaints from members of the general public. Lancashire County Council issued this poster some time ago vegnuisance [click to enlarge].

The public highway is defined by law as consisting of any verge, footway, carriageway, bridleway or footpath that is maintained at public expense and over which the public has a right of way.

When Local Authorities become aware of such obstructions, they will usually advise the property owner or occupier of the problem. They may sometimes raise the issue with an owner/occupier even if the vegetation only overhangs the pavement/roadway by a small amount – this may seem ‘small minded’ but where should they draw the line? It is easier for all concerned to use the specified rules.

If the owner/occupier does not take corrective action within a reasonable time (the Local Authority will normally specific a time limit for the work to be completed), the Local Authority can issue a formal notice for the work to be undertaken, and if that is ignored, they can do the work and charge the owner/occupier.

The requirements
Although the Highways Act 1980 doesn’t specify any actual measurements for overhanging vegetation, the requirement should be met by: For pedestrian areas, minimum headroom of 2.3m (7ft 6 inches). For carriageway and an area immediately adjacent to it (for a distance of 0.45m (1ft 6 inches)) minimum headroom of 5.2m (17ft).

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