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Your Borough Of Poole

Vegetation Overhanging the Highway

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Why is vegetation overhanging the highway a problem?

Transportation Services, as Highway Authority for the Borough of Poole, has a duty to ensure that all users of the highway have safe unobstructed passage. "Users" include pedestrians, cyclists, horseriders and motorists and the "highway" includes all publicly maintained carriageways and footways together with public rights of way (footpaths and bridleways).

Overhanging vegetation can adversely affect both the safety and convenience of highway users. Different users can be particularly affected by certain issues

  • blind or partially sighted by higher level obstructions
  • motorists by obscured highway signs
  • all footway users (but especially wheelchair or pram users) by loss of usable width
  • all users by obscured street lighting; etc.

Transportation Services are made aware of vegetation affecting the highway in a number of ways. These may include information received from affected users or neighbours but the majority originate from the Highway Inspectors' routine inspections of the highway network.

From whatever source the information was received, a Transportation Services' officer will have visited the address before issuing a letter requesting cutting back of vegetation. Under normal circumstances, all properties will be similarly treated and individual properties are not targeted. However, it is likely that the degree of the problem will vary for different properties.

The nature of the problem will be identified in a letter to the owner/occupier indicating where desired clearances are not being achieved. In all cases, the correct address and problem description will be determined in as reasonable and accurate a manner as possible.

If you are made aware that your vegetation is affecting the highway it should be cut back as soon as possible and preferably within a week of a notification letter. It is recognised that this is not always possible but a maximum period of 3 weeks from the date of a notification letter would be expected. If there are exceptional reasons why this cannot be achieved, please call the telephone number on the letter to discuss the matter.

Vegetation can grow very quickly especially during warm wet summer months. It is therefore recommended that allowance is made for this when undertaking work to ensure generous clearances and a reduced future maintenance requirement.

Please ensure that any works carried out does not disturb nesting birds.

Greenery helps the streetscene - why detract from this?

It is accepted that there is potential conflict between an attractive "leafy" street appearance and that of the safety of highway users. In such circumstances safety must prevail.  

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) provide protection for designated trees both from removal or significant pruning. However, highway safety is paramount and permission is not necessary for essential safety work to trees with a TPO.   


Where can I dispose of the debris from the work?

Any "green" vegetation/cuttings/etc can be taken to the Nuffield Waste Recycling Centre, Nuffield Road, for composting. This is free of charge to all household residents within Poole going to the recycling centre in person.  If you have employed a contractor to do the work they may make a charge for disposal.

What if I cannot undertake the work required?

Most work required to overhanging vegetation is of a relatively minor nature and can be readily undertaken by the owner/occupier responsible. Where significant tree work is required it is recommended that this be carried out to British Standard BS3998.

If you cannot carry out the work yourself or need specialist advice please telephone the number on the right.

What if I fail to remove the offending vegetation?

Under Section 154 of the Highways Act 1980, this Authority has the power not only to serve notice to cut back offending vegetation but also to carry out the work itself and recover all costs incurred. Formal notice would be given of this next stage of action but it is hoped that the timely cooperation of residents will make this unnecessary.

Vegetation can grow very quickly especially during warm wet summer months, it is recommended that allowance is made for this when undertaking work to ensure generous clerances and reduce the need for frequent maintenance.