Encroachment on Highways

Dear Combertonians,
I have a plea to householders in Comberton. While walking round the village (often during Covid lockdowns), Iíve noticed how in many places, garden hedges have encroached on the highways. This makes walking on the pavements and footpaths difficult or impossible, and is a real problem to mothers with pushchairs or invalids with wheelchairs.

You can see the highway boundary by looking at the line of walls and gateposts along the road. Another key indicator is lamp posts and telephone/electricity posts which were almost always set within the highway area. If your hedge comes further out than your gateposts, or any telephone posts, or next- doorís wall, then you are probably encroaching on the highway. One can also consult old photos of the highway from the early 20th century (from e.g. the Cambridgeshire Collection) to see the original road and footpath widths. If your hedge is encroaching, then please cut it back to inside your property line.

In some cases it may just be that the hedge has not been trimmed or cut back enough, but in other cases, a hedge has been planted far too close to the boundary. Over decades, a hedge, even if trimmed, will grow to at least three feet thick, sometimes more. So the new hedge should be planted with its stems at least two feet inside the property boundary, so as not to encroach beyond the boundary. Iíve seen a couple of new hedges planted right along the boundary line, that are bound to encroach as they grow. If you have one like that, or one planted from bushes or trees that have got out of hand, then maybe itís time to grub it up and replant it further back. Many of the highways in Comberton have been used by pedestrians for a thousand years Ė letís not lose that usability in our generation!

Paul Hardy (paul@paulhardy.net)

Published in Comberton Contact in April 2022