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Statement on trees in Moremead Road and Senlac Road

Despite the best efforts of our Tree Services team, the Council has unfortunately been left with no option but to remove two trees in Moremead Road and one tree in Senlac Road.

In both cases, the trees concerned have been implicated in subsidence of nearby properties.

We know many residents are understandably concerned about the removal of these trees. We want to provide clarity about why this is happening and reassure residents about the steps we have taken to try and avoid this outcome.

We remain committed to planting new trees across Lewisham, as part of our mission to create a greener borough and become carbon neutral by 2030.You can read more about our work to protect and nurture our trees in this blog from Cllr Patrick Codd, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport.

Why is this happening?

In both cases, the trees we are having to remove have been implicated in subsidence of nearby properties. As a Council, we have a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent damage occurring to a third party’s property.

Failing to remove the trees would be in contradiction of the professional advice given by our insurers and could lead to the Council incurring considerable costs as a result.

At a time when we are facing significant financial pressure due to funding cuts from central government and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a responsibility to minimise financial risks and additional costs, so that we can continue to fund vital local services.

As a result, while we would have wanted to avoid this outcome, we have no option but to remove the trees.

Moremead Road

Since the first report of subsidence by the property owner in 2016, we have explored all options for retaining the two trees in Moremead Road.

After a detailed study, we cut back the branches and leaves of both trees by 50% to significantly reduce the amount of moisture each tree needed. Consideration was also given to introducing barriers to stem the spread of the trees’ roots, but this would only have provided a temporary solution and was therefore ruled out as a viable option.

As a result, removing the trees is the only viable option at this stage.

We will be planting more trees on the green where the two trees are being removed and will be working with local residents to select the species of these.

Senlac Road

Since a report of subsidence by the property owner in 2011, we have explored all possible options for retaining the tree in Senlac Road.

After a detailed study, we cut back its branches and leaves by 50% in 2012, 2015 and 2019 to significantly reduce the amount of moisture it needed. We also investigated the possibility of introducing barriers to stem the spread of the tree’s roots. This was ruled out as there was not enough room between the tree trunk and the property wall to fit a root barrier. In any event, a root barrier would only have provided a temporary solution. 

As a result, removing the trees is the only viable option at this stage. The damage being caused by tree to the property has also had a considerable impact on the resident affected, as illustrated in MyLondon news.

We will be planting two new trees in Senlac Road to compensate for the loss of this tree and will be working with local residents to select the species of these.

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