Huge council payout for home damaged by neighbour's tree

Spreading roots caused subsidence

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House damaged by tree

A Derby couple has received a £38,000 payout from the council after a ten-year battle over a 58-foot tree that damaged their home.

Bill and Mary Nicholson, 79, first spotted cracks in their home caused by the cedar tree's spreading roots back in 2006. Soon, they affected every room in the house.

With the agreement of the neighbour who owned the tree, the couple asked the council for permission to take it down.

But the council claimed the tree made for a 'diverse, attractive and healthy environment', and refused, putting a tree preservation order in place.

"It's a big tree, and the roots go a long way - it's an unsuitable tree for the location, but obviously it was planted a very long time ago," Mrs Nicholson tells the Daily Mail.

"This battle has been ongoing for ten years - the neighbours have been asking for permission to take it down, but every time the council put a tree preservation order on it, and then say no - they say such a beautiful tree is an asset."

But the couple's insurers got involved and took legal action against the council to recover the costs of strengthening the house's foundations. And, with compensation for the Nicholsons included, it's now been ordered to pay out £38,000.

Meanwhile, there's a similar battle brewing in Northampton over a lime tree. For two years now, one resident's toilet has been backing up regularly with the entire street's sewage, but red tape has meant nothing has been done.

When a tree's roots encroach on your land, it's legal to cut them back to the boundary - though no further. And if you damage or kill the tree, you can be sued for trespass.

Where a tree preservation order is in place, though, you'll need written permission before even pruning the tree - let alone cutting it down. There's a risk of a heavy fine or even prison.

It's possible to appeal against a tree preservation order to the Secretary of State: there's more information here.

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