The applicant in this matter, Mr Royle, is a resident of Newport on Sydney’s northern beaches. He bought his property in 2016 and had been attempting to negotiate with neighbours, the respondents, regarding pruning a bamboo hedge on their property which had grown and caused a severe obstruction to views of the beaches and headlands from the applicant’s property.

The applicant had engaged with the respondents and made unsuccessful efforts to reach an agreement regarding the pruning of the bamboo hedge, including, in February 2020, offering to carry out the pruning himself to “tidy up the bamboo… and [the bamboo] being trimmed down a little whilst leaving full privacy to the rear of your place?”

The respondents submitted that the bamboo hedge contributed to the amenity of their property and effectively concealed the applicant’s chain wire tennis court fence close to the shared boundary, as well as providing them privacy.

The applicant engaged the team at Hones Lawyers and the matter was heard by Commissioner O’Neill of the Land and Environment Court on Wednesday 29 July 2020.

Commissioner O’Neill was satisfied, on the evidence and from her own inspection of the applicant’s property, that the bamboo hedge was severely obstructing the north-eastern view of the beaches from the property. The upper portion of the bamboo hedge obstructed iconic views of Newport and Bilgola Beaches and headlands from the applicant’s property – views that are “highly valued as the jewel of the northern outlook across the peninsula.”

It was determined that the severe obstruction of the view to the beaches from the applicant’s property had occurred since the applicant purchased his property. Commissioner O’Neill was satisfied that having the portion of the bamboo hedge that was causing the obstruction pruned would not interfere with the amenity provided by the hedge to the respondents’ property. The bamboo hedge, when pruned, would still achieve the respondents’ purpose of concealing the chain wire fence and to maintain the visual privacy of the respondents’ property.

The Court ordered the respondents to prune the bamboo hedge to the height of the top of the applicant’s chain wire tennis court fence within 90 days of the orders. The respondents were also ordered to maintain the bamboo hedge by pruning it to a height not exceeding the height of the top of the chain wire fence on the applicant’s property on a regular basis.

You can read Commissioner O’Neill’s judgment here.

Solicitor for the Applicant: Peter Clarke – Environment and Planning Law team

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