An Aussie neighbourly dispute over the height of a hedge has overgrown, finding its way into a court.
A couple was ordered by the NSW Land and Environment Court to keep their hedge at a certain height after two NSW women initiated proceedings against them — following several failed attempts at negotiating themselves.
Catherine L’Estrange and Louise-Anne Louw successfully sought orders for their neighbours Allison and Jason Cunial to prune their hedge regularly to protect the view of the waterfront property they bought in February 2021.
Acting Commissioner of the Court David Galwey made the orders regarding the hedge in the Northern Rivers town of Ocean Shores after ruling the trees were “severely obstructing the applicants’ view”.
“The trees existed here when the applicants purchased their dwelling; however, as their photographs show, the trees were apparently less than 4 metres tall and did not severely obstruct their view at that time,” Mr Galway’s judgment read.
“The respondents have pruned the hedge, but only after receiving legal letters or the application to commence court proceedings. They are approximately 3.5-3.8 metres tall …. but have been taller”.
Mr Galway wrote the parties could have reached a reasonable agreement outside the legal system.
“Although the respondents expressed a commitment to do so in future, their unwillingness to do so until now sways me toward making orders for maintaining the hedge’s height,” he wrote.
While Ms L’Estrange and Ms Louw initially asked for the hedge to be maintained at 3.5 metres high, Mr Galway ultimately ordered they be kept at 3.8m.
He ordered pruning to be done twice yearly and overhanging branches be removed.
But bringing plant-related disputes to the NSW Land and Environment Court does not always end as well for the complainants.
In June last year, a former Australian TV star and his wife won a bitter legal battle to keep three palm trees in the yard of their luxurious Sydney home after neighbours complained they obstructed ocean views.
Lachlan and Karina Daddo and were sued in the NSW Land and Environment Court by neighbours Stuart and Leanne Holdsworth, who claimed the former Neighbours star and his wife formed a “hedge” on their Newport property.
Mr Holdsworth told the court the “iconic views to Newport Beach and Peak surf break” were being obstructed by palm trees in the home across the road, which belongs to the Daddos.
He claimed the three palms form a “hedge” and asked the former actor couple to “remove or prune” the palms and Macadamia tree.
In his judgment, Acting Commissioner John Douglas claimed the trees could not form a hedge as the front tree was planted up to 20 years ago and away from the back palms.
He found the obstruction to be minor and slammed the Holdsworths for bringing the case to court, saying it was “doomed to fail” and they showed a sense of “entitlement” in doing so.
And last March, a NSW woman who claimed her neighbour’s hedge was blocking sunlight to her property was also grilled for wasting the court’s time.
Port Macquarie woman Lynette May Schulze claimed her neighbour Jones Russell’s property severely obstructed sunlight to four windows of her home.
Schulze, who has lived in the same property since 1980, had an agreement with Russell to allow her to trim the 17 lilly pilly trees along the common boundary of the two properties.
Russell’s property has been leased to tenants after he purchasing it in 2018.
Schulze made an application to the NSW Land and Environment Court last year to have her neighbour’s hedge either trimmed every three months or completely removed.
She argued the tenants had been “verbally and physically aggressive” when she had tried to trim the trees to the height of the 1.8m fence because they wanted the trees to be taller in a bid for more privacy.
Acting Commissioner of the Court John Douglas refused Schulze’s application after an onsite hearing.
“The applicant’s nominated district views of native and urban vegetation were not obstructed by the hedge, and nor was sunlight to nominated windows obstructed by the hedge,” he said.
“The hedge was located beyond a sloping lawn at least 10m east of the applicant’s dwelling.”
Mr Douglas said Schulze had wasted everyone’s time, including the court, in making the application in the first place.
— With NCA Newswire