A resident of Market Deeping recently got in touch with me about the tree in a neighbouring property. He told me it was very tall and was worried out the potential impact on his house if it continued growing or, perhaps worse still, if it fell down.
This post outlines what advice I offered and I share it in the hope that it might be useful to people with tree concerns either in Market and West Deeping or elsewhere.
I’ve started by looking for the tree on Google Maps to try to identify at which property it was located. By knowing the exact location of the tree I could try and work out who had responsibility for the tree.
The location also helped me to determine whether or not the tree was subject to TPO (Tree Preservation Order) and whether or not it was in a Conservation Area. All works to trees with TPOs and/or in Conservation Areas has to have prior consent from the planning authority (in our case, SKDC). If anyone decides to do works to a tree it is worth double-checking this information so that no-one ends up getting fined.
Having established the identity of the tree and the likely owner, and if you are worried that the tree might be a danger to your house there are various things you can do:
- Speak to the owner of the tree.
Pollarding a tree is one of those jobs that easily gets put off. He/she might be in just as much danger as you are and a friendly word of concern from you might be the prompt they need to take action. This doesn’t have to be a confrontation and obviously I have no idea what kind of relationship you have with this neighbour, if any.
Some of my own neighbours once spoke to me about a tree in my own garden. It kept growing without me noticing. The first time I cut it down to half its size and the second or third time I had it removed completely. It wasn’t a very precious tree and I valued the good will of my neighbours more than I valued the tree.
- Speak to an arboriculturalist
In the right conditions, trees can last for hundreds of years. Is there a particular reason why you think all or part of this tree is likely to be is in danger of falling or breaking? A professional tree expert (arboriculturalist) will give you guidance on the health and condition of the tree and how likely it is to fall. I can put you in touch with an arboriculturalist who lives in my ward but there are two potential drawbacks to this approach: a) she might charge; and b) she might need access to the base of the tree.
Perhaps you might persuade your neighbour that the tree should be inspected.
- Speak to your insurance company.
If your neighbour isn’t convinced by a friendly chat they might be more persuaded by the idea that they could be responsible for the costs of damage to your property (and indeed their own). The likelihood of the tree falling down in a storm is only one aspect. There may be other reasons why your insurance is affected e.g. by root damage to foundations, drainage and water courses.
I have put this option last because I think it is the least likely to have any effect. The Council’s tree consultant tends to spend his limited time protecting trees from damage and development. If there was reason to believe the tree was an immediate or imminent danger to life or property then the Council might intervene but I have only heard of this happening once and that was a rotten oak in a school field near Nottingham.
If there are branches of the tree that overhang your property I think you have some rights to trim them back as far as your own perimeter (assuming there is no issue with TPO or Conservation Area) but it is worth trying to speak to your neighbour about it first.
Finally, I would say that, generally speaking, everyone like trees. They don’t answer back nor set out to cause arguments. They provide shade and encourage wildlife etc. If it is the height of the tree which is a problem then it might be easier to persuade your neighbour to pollard the tree by a few metres than to have it cut down completely.
I hope this is useful. Please let me know if you have any other thoughts on trees, especially in the Deepings.