Neighbours win compensation after hedge dispute

A woman has been ordered to pay her neighbours £17,000 after the roots of one of her garden hedges cracked their home's foundations.

The judge called the topiary "unattractive" and "dominating" according to the Harrow Times and said that a lack of care meant she was liable for the incident.

This verdict follows a lengthy legal case that went as far as the High Court, where a presiding expert ruled that Helen Kane could have "reasonably forseen" the damage that the bush would do to surrounding properties - such was the height and width of the greenery.

Saqib and Shazia Khan, who won the case, will now see the hedge completely removed, at a cost of £700 to £800 to Ms Kane who failed to act on requests to remove lengthy roots despite her neighbour's pleas.

However, a separate count of legal nuisance against Ms Kane for damage caused by an oak tree was dropped after the same judge rules she could not have foreseen that it would have caused a problem with nearby properties' foundations - especially as it had been there for 50 years.

It is likely that this verdict, which is being seen as a test case by property lawyers, will put the onus on garden-owners to take care of their greenery - especially if it puts underground structures at threat.

Until now it had been thought that such incidents were not reasonably foreseeable for the vast majority of gardeners.

The presiding judge also gave the Khans extra compensation because of "distress and inconvenience" caused by cracks to the foundation - which needed remedial work, advice and surveys from tree experts.

With this addition included, the pair received a total lump sum of £17,269 and this money will allow the family to move on from the incident and properly repair their house so that its full value is retained.

By Chris Stevenson