Overhanging vegetation

Published on 03 November 2023

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From 6 November we will start assessing properties and notifying landowners with overhanging vegetation.

It’s important to trim your shrubs, hedges or trees for the safety and comfort of pedestrians and footpath users. It also ensures that vehicles can use the roads and access properties without being hit by branches. When a truck or bus hits an overhanging branch it can damage the vehicle, but it can also damage the tree.

You might receive a notice from us if your vegetation reaches the following thresholds:

  • The clear space under the overhanging vegetation is less than 2.1m above a footpath and 5.1m above a road.
  • The overgrown vegetation is blocking or encroaching on the footpaths or roads, meaning there are sections that are unusable.

If you have any questions about overhanging vegetation that’s not answered in the FAQ’s below you can contact Customer Service on 04 527 2169 or email askus@uhcc.govt.nz

Why is it a requirement to have no overhanging shrubs, trees, or hedges?

The presence of overhanging trees, hedges, and vegetation can pose significant challenges. Trees extending onto footpaths and roads from private properties not only create inconveniences but also pose safety and accessibility hazards for pedestrians. In Upper Hutt, ensuring pedestrian safety is a priority. We aim for our community members to walk freely without any hindrance or obstruction.

 

What is overhanging vegetation?

Overhanging vegetation is when trees, hedges or plants grow and start to overhang a footpath or road from a private property. 

 

What are the trimming requirements?

  • If the footpath is directly adjacent to a private property boundary, all vegetation should be trimmed back to the boundary (including hedges) so the entire footpath width is clear of vegetation - see diagram. In all other locations, the entire footpath width should be clear of vegetation.
  • A clear space of 2.1 metres above the footpath, berm or walkway is required.
  • A clear space of 5.1 metres above the road to allow truck or bus clearance is required.
  • Where there is only a grass berm, clearance of overhanging vegetation is required to allow safe access for users.

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What do I need to do if I receive a notice?

If vegetation is required to be trimmed back to the boundary, you will receive a written ‘Notification of vegetation growing over road reserve’. This is to advise you that there’s an issue and that trimming needs to be completed. The notification advises that another inspection will take place in 28 days. After this we will check again and if the trimming has not been completed, a formal written notice under section 355 of the Local Government Act 1974 (the Act) will be sent to you. We call this an “OHG notice”. The OHG notice requires the trimming to be completed within 31 days of the date of the notice in accordance with the Act. 

Failure to comply with an OHG notice is an offence under section 355 of the Act and allows Council to complete the work at the owner’s cost. After an OHG notice is given, we will inspect the property again after the 31-day notice period to check for compliance. If the OHG notice has not been complied with, we will follow up in writing confirming that we will now engage a contractor to carry out the work and recover the cost from you as property owner. The contractor will be informed, work will be carried out and costs will be recovered from the owner. Recovery of costs can include registering a charge against the title for the property.

 

 

 

What happens if I can’t comply?

Council acknowledges that customers typically intend to comply, but various reasons might hinder their ability to do so. In such situations, customers are encouraged to reach out to UHCC Customer Services for assistance and updates, quoting the following reference:

  • Their Name.
  • Contact Phone Number.
  • The Address in question.
  • The Serial Number on their OHG Notice. (Normally a 5-digit number in red) under the File Number: 331/20/-001
  • The reason they are unable to comply.

A Service Request will be raised and someone from UHCC will get back to them in due course.

 

I am unable to pay to have this work done

It is a reasonable expectation that property owners carry out general maintenance of their own properties.

 

My neighbour has over hanging growth, why haven’t they been given a notice?

All properties are assessed in exactly the same way, and any property where it is considered that work is required is given a notice.

 

What do I do about a neighbours tree overhanging my boundary?

 We can't get involved in disagreements concerning trees on private property unless the tree is under protection. Such matters are considered civil issues. If there are concerns over protected trees, please contact either UHCC Planners or UHCC Horticultural Officer.

 

Isn’t this initiative a waste of Council money/resources?

The initiative promotes safety and comfort of pedestrians and footpath users within the Upper Hutt area.
It also ensures that vehicles can use the roads and access properties without being obstructed by branches. When a truck or bus hits an overhanging branch it can damage the vehicle, but it can also damage the tree and create an entry point for disease that may affect the long-term health of the tree.

 

Shouldn’t you cut your own Council OHG before you issue me a notice for mine?

Council trees located on berms are administered by the Council’s Parks and Reserves Division. These trees need to meet the same height requirements as trees located on private property for the safety of footpath and road users. Council trees are assessed throughout the year and we're taking the opportunity to assess them again during this period. 

 

 

 

What happens if I don’t own this property, I just live here?

If you receive a Notification of vegetation growing over road reserve, you should notify the property owner that you have received this and discuss with them who will be completing the work. Your tenancy agreement might include information about who is responsible for maintaining the grounds and planting. If an OHG notice is given by Council, the property owner will be responsible for complying with the requirements of the Local Government Act 1974 regardless of what a tenancy agreement might state. The costs of any work required by Council will be recovered from them.

 

 

What happens if I can get this work done, but not in the timeframe you have given me?

In such situations, customers are encouraged to reach out to UHCC Customer Services for assistance and updates, quoting the following reference:

  • Their Name.
  • Contact Phone Number.
  • The Address in question.
  • The Serial Number on their OHG Notice. (Normally a 5-digit number in red) under the File Number: 331/20/-001
  • The reason they are unable to comply.

A Service Request will be raised and someone from UHCC will get back to them in due course.

 

What happens if you think a notice has been issued in error

If you believe an OHC notice has been issued in error, please get in touch with our Customer Service team at askus@uhcc.govt.nz with the following information:

Name.

Contact Phone Number.

The Address in question.

The Serial Number on their OHG Notice. (Normally a 5-digit number in red) under the File Number: 331/20/-001

A service request will be actioned and someone from the Roading Team will get in touch. 

 

 

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