School Boundary Trees

School Boundary Trees

Postby trying2doitright » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:16 pm

Hi everyone.
I live in the end dwelling of a row of four semi-detached council owned bungalows where the back gardens adjoin a large school playing field. When I first moved here in 2008 the school had recently planted boundary trees which at that time posed no problems. However, these boundary trees are now a tremendous height and the overhanging branches are causing much concern to me and my neighbours. The trees block out the light to the back of the properties and the air borne ‘debris’ from the overhanging branches is constant throughout the year. We are all elderly (ages ranging from 70 to 85 years) and trying to cope with the burden of the constant need to clear our back gardens instead of being able to sit bathing in the summer sunshine (as we once used to do) which is proving to be very disheartening and stressful.
During the past couple of months my next door neighbour had frequently visited the school voicing his concerns. However, he has just recently received a letter from them stating that they had had a lengthily conversation with the area housing officer who had informed them that “this had all been looked at and considered quite some time ago by himself and by the school.” That the a)”Council have confirmed that we are under no obligation to cut back or down any of the trees” b) “under the current economic climate, we do not have the budget available to justify the cost to cut back the trees as requested”.
My immediate concern is that a group of overhanging branches are swirling around the construction post and cable from my bungalow (which supplies electricity to my Utility shed) at the least breeze, and come the winter months they whip it with such ferocity during bad weather and storms that I fear their action will weaken the post and overhanging cable. The top of the post/cable is too high for me to reach and I have read that the council gardeners (if employed) will not cut back branches of their height.
I am also concerned about a very tall tree that is positioned about 5 - 6 metres from the middle of my kitchen window. It has lost most of its leaves and what remains (July) are all discoloured and withered. I fear that the tree is dying or may be dead, and worry that if it ‘gives’ in the coming winter months there is a possibility that it may crash through my bungalow roof.
I have reached the depths of despair now. My question is – Is there really nothing that can be done to make the school responsible for maintaining the trees that surround their playing field and form the boundary adjoining my/our gardens?
Any comments/advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby despair » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

firstly any tree near electricity supplies is of great interest to the main electricity supplier who will cut back the trees


2nd if a tree is dying it poses a danger and as such the school /council must take responsibility

I suggest that all of the neighbours write individual complaints to the housing officer over the trees

3rd Jointly get 3 tree surgeons to look at the trees and quote to cut them back

if they are all done at once the cost split between you should not be huge
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby Treeman » Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:08 pm

despair wrote:firstly any tree near electricity supplies is of great interest to the main electricity supplier who will cut back the trees



Nope, that's not part of the network so the DNO wont be interested
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby trying2doitright » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:40 pm

Hi despair, thank you so much for your reply. I will pass on your suggestion to my neighbour’s a.s.a.p. 1) we live in the North East of England. Do you have any idea what a reasonable quote would be in the region of? 2) The housing officer in question has a reputation as being ‘useless’ would we stand a better chance of being heard if we wrote to the area Council Office, and if so – which department would you recommend we send our letters to?
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby COGGY » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:52 pm

How many trees are there? Are they all quite close or spaced out? There is a High Hedge Legislation. I am not sure of how it works, but if there are more than three trees close together and higher than the Act permits I believe you may have a case. Coggy
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby trying2doitright » Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:31 am

Hi Coggy, thank you so much for your reply. How many trees are there – lots and lots? I will try to ‘make’ a picture: - Our complete straight row consists of two sets of semi-detached bungalows (four dwelling places) with four adjoining single garages set side by side to the far end. I live at the opposite end from the garages and the trees start/finish from the outer side border of my back garden and continue right through to the outer wall of the farthest garage. Our back gardens start at four metres in depth (No 1) but increase on the way, up to 5 ½ metres in mine. The school boundary has a 7ft spiked railing all around (placed 1ft away from our 3ft garden fences) and immediately inside the railings there are at least three rows of very tall trees which form a dense ‘wall’. The ‘wall’ is made up of mainly deciduous trees but during the winter months evergreens are obvious, possibly five or maybe more ‘dotted’ here and there. There is a telegraph pole at the side of the first bungalow which is about 30ft high and the ‘wall’ of trees appears to be at least 1 ½ times its height. Do you think that we may have a case?
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby despair » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:16 am

with gardens that small those trees are an abomination

whether they qualify under Hugh Hedge Law is another matter
The evergreens need to touch to thus form a dense hedge in order to qalify

I suggest you all start by writing letters to both Head of Housing
School Governors
your Local Councillor

With their mailboxes full of complaints they may be propelled into acyion

invite your local councillor to view the situation from your gardens
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby Treeman » Fri Jul 29, 2016 9:38 am

Hmmmm
How big were they when planted?
When I first moved here in 2008 the school had recently planted boundary trees

and
There is a telegraph pole at the side of the first bungalow which is about 30ft high and the ‘wall’ of trees appears to be at least 1 ½ times its height


So assuming the trees were about 12 feet when they were planted (its unusual and costly to go bigger) these trees have made it to 45 feet in 8 years, that's impressive bordering on record breaking.

The reason this is worth pointing out is that "team bungalow" will probably end up dealing with professionals and glaring errors like that devalue whatever other arguments you may have.

So much the preamble, to the facts. In principal you don't have a case, the school are under no obligation to do anything unless the trees are causing an actionable nuisance. For the purposes of this conversation that's going to mean causing damage usually by physical contact. In the case of such actionable the tree owner needs to take steps to abate that nuisance, which could be as little as the removal of the offending branch.

What specifically did your rep ask the school to do? The usual request is "chop them back a bit" which is vague and not helpful. Any remedial pruning should be planned and of a sustainable nature, inappropriate or excessive pruning will make things much worse for team bungalow and become an ongoing cost implication for the school.

So get some on site input from a professional and approach the school with a management plan

The tree with problems is another issue, it should be covered in any remedial action plan however if you don't go down that route, you need to formally bring it to the attention of the school.
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby trying2doitright » Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:17 pm

Hi despair, thank you for your remark, it’s a comfort to know that we are not alone in thinking that these trees are an abomination. I had been searching High Trees, didn’t know that there was a High Hedge Law but I will look for that today to see what it covers, out of curiosity. I know that the evergreen trees do not touch each other – well they didn’t last winter! Thank you for all this information, you have been most helpful and it is much appreciated.
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby despair » Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:43 pm

uploading a link to photos of these trees onto a photo sharing website would help

do not forget not only branches of the trees but also roots can be an actionable nuiscance

if the trees have grown that fast it suggests they might be Eucalyptus of some form and thus their roots will be a major issue
They may also be sycamores as these too grow very fast
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby Treeman » Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:58 pm

despair wrote:
do not forget not only branches of the trees but also roots can be an actionable nuiscance


That is correct but, since nuisance associated with roots is nearly always subsidence related it would be an issue for the OP's landlord
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby trying2doitright » Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:04 pm

Hi despair, you must be a mind reader – I have just been into the forum to see if there were any instructions on how to upload photos. Obviously my judgement of height must be terribly wrong. I have found four photos dated from then to now but I am none the wiser on how to upload them. Can you help?
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Re: School Boundary Trees

Postby trying2doitright » Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:57 pm

Hi Treeman, you have made me think about my judgement of height… obviously I have got it wrong but these trees are well above the telegraph pole! I didn’t send a rep to the school – my next door neighbour had gone down to the school on his own accord to raise his own issues about the trees. Apparently he had asked for them to only “cut back the trees”. He is a very keen gardener as his garden proves; it’s kept really beautiful all year round. I have taken heed of your advice about the tree with the problem – I will send the school a letter enclosing a photograph. Thank you
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