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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Beautiful mature street tree in Cavendish Road scheduled for removal -- help!

Coming home from yoga tonight, I noticed, with shock, that the beautiful tree outside no. 42 is scheduled for removal.It's the usual: the tree is healthy, but there is, it seems, an insurance issue.  On the sign around the tree, it says that it "has been implicated in damage to an adjacent property". And that "works will commence shortly". No 42 is up for sale, so I imagine this is how this has come up.

I feel devastated by this. I can't let this happen. My younger daughter is in tears. The tree has been there since when we moved into the house opposite, when she was born, and has been an important presence for all of us ever since.

Is the nicest remaining street tree on Cavendish Road (a tall tree was removed not long ago near the top of Cavendish Road, and the site has been paved over, so I think there are no plans to replace it), and tends to be full of birds and birds' nests (though less so this year, as it has been pruned recently).

I've written to the planning department, but I'm not sure how much that is going to help in the face of an insurance company. 

I'm happy to do pretty much whatever it takes to stop this -- any help, advice or support is appreciated.

Tags for Forum Posts: cavendish road, cavendish tree, insurance, protection, tree removal, trees

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I think I would be devastated if a tree was damaging my property, even one "full of birds' nests"!

having had a similar tree damage my house and cause subsidence I think the needs of the occupants outweigh those of the birds

It's never good to see a healthy tree cut down but I suspect if your walls were full of cracks because of its invasive roots, you might think differently.

Trees are sometimes replaced by species which are known not to cause problems with nearby buildings. Perhaps you could propose that to the council as something positive, acceptable to you and the people actually affected by the current tree?

Have you tried contacting Tree Trust for Haringey?  I don't have contact details but their website is here

You could also try the local Friends of the Earth groups or the Green Party (I saw recently they were involved in a campaign against street trees being felled in Sheffield).

It may be worth ringing the Council (there is usually a phone number on the tree notices) to ask them to provide more details of when & why the tree is going to be removed.  Then you have more of a starting point for challenging whether it is necessary.  The Council have a tree strategy which may provide useful information, though it looks like it's not up to date.

There's a useful report on the value of London's trees in reducing pollution etc here to help with writing any objection letters.

Maren, I sympathise with how you feel about the loss of a favoured tree. Sadly the Council have been removing quite a few trees fomr around the borough, including from the Ladder. Until quite recently they were being replaced. A reply from Haringey's tree officer five years ago included the following:

Between 2004 and 2011, a total of 124 street trees were removed from the ladder roads (31 were removed during the last planned work programme in summer 2008), but 308 new trees were planted during this period. Therefore, we have increased the local street tree population by 184 trees.

In more recent years, with the current funding restrictions, replacement is on a longer cycle.

The most common reasons for removal are:

  • Extensive damage to footpath, remedial works in the past have failed to alleviate this issue. Also tree has outgrown its current location (refer to section 5.3 ‘tree renewal’ of the tree strategy*.)   
  • Ganoderma at base Tree has outgrown its current location (refer to section 5.3 ‘tree renewal’ of the tree strategy.) Also tree has been vandalised   
  • Phellinus pomaceus present Tree is dead Ganoderma at base Phellinus pomaceus present
  • Leaning heavily and damaged Very significant lean unsafe
  • Extensive decay in trunk
  • Tree is decline, thin canopy
  • Tree is decline, decayed branches in canopy
  • Main branch is decayed, if tree was retained and branch removed, the large pruning wound would leave the tree susceptible to decay of main trunk
  • Inadequate rooting - Tree is not secure in ground - Trees will be re-staked and monitored

I suspect that it's under the reason given in the first bullet point that subsidence-causing trees are removed. I suppose that with their duty of care, the Council have little option but to remove trees. I don'y know how our council compares with others in how they manage street trees.

I've found the Council's tree officer, Clare Papparlardo very helpful. If you do contact her, do let us know the outcome.

Clare Pappalardo 
Senior Arboricultural and Allotments Officer
Haringey Council 
Arboricultural and Allotments Service 

5th Floor, Alexandra House, 
Station Road, London, N22 7TR

Tel. 020 8489 5774
Email: clare.pappalardo@haringey.gov.uk

If you look at the "trees" tag I've added beneath the original post, you'll see quite a few other posts on this issue.


*Section 5.3 of Haringey's 2008 Tree strategy (Note that this ay have been superseded by the "Draft Tree Strategy 2014-2018" Both documents are attached).

Tree renewal

Some species of tree become unsuitable to their location as they mature because of their size, rooting habit and close proximity to structures. They may cause physical damage to the public highway or to adjacent structures. This damage results in increased Highway maintenance and Insurance costs.

Where the problems and likely future maintenance costs are so great that appropriate pruning cannot remedy the situation, trees will be removed and replaced with a more suitable species. Trees may also be removed which are over mature and require annual or bi-annual pruning or have a reduced life expectancy.

The phased removal and replacement of unsuitable trees will produce a more sustainable tree population that is diverse in age and species. This will provide short and long term benefits for residents as nuisance issues and maintenance costs will be reduced, allowing resources to be used for other improvements to the local environment. 

Tree renewal works will be undertaken during programmed maintenance works or where the damage caused has been identified as an immediate hazard to the public or a structure. 


I think the insurance industry has got an awful lot to answer for - they constantly force tree removal for no good reason. Their attitude seems to be that it costs them nothing to fell, which reduces risk, even though there was no risk.  So we can never prove what would have happened if the tree were allowed to remain.

There is clear expert evidence that most trees do no damage and some species cannot possibly and that's provable too but the insurers won't take the trouble.

The only way forward I can see is for the Government to intervene on an industry-wide basis. Individual insurers and their underwriters simply ignore individual pressure.

Lots and lots of perfect trees keep getting unnecessarily removed - nobody has the time or patience to address the issue - politicians have other fish to fry. The various tree trade bodies depend on the insurers and aren't going to bite the hand that feeds them. The few national tree bodies/charities don't seem to have the resources for a fight.

All in all, pretty gloomy really!

I agree Chris. We have been dealing with a subsidence issue with our house for a few years now. The first reaction of the insurers was to blame the street tree immediately outside. They dug a trial pit on our property and couldn't find any roots. It was only after a year that they put a camera down the sewer and found that it had collapsed under the house. Blaming a street tree is easy and cheap as it pushes the problem on to the local authority.

"I think the insurance industry has got an awful lot to answer for - they constantly force tree removal for no good reason."

I am wondering if I should send this discussion to a good friend whose wife is paraplegic as a result of a tree falling on her. She managed to save the lives of her two children, but her her life ruined was the cost.

I am not saying that this particular tree on Cavendish Road poses such a risk or that it isn't worth fighting for (although I personally think something like filtering Wightman road 1million times more important), but I am saying that there is one "good reason" I can think of why an insurance company might want a tree removed. It's fine to question a decision but not always presume nefarious motives on the part of the council.

It often comes down to the maths Knavel. The insurance company almost always sticks in a tree damage claim against the owner of the tree (in this case the local authority) if there is one nearby. The tree owner then has a choice, commission and prepare a surveyors report to refute the claim or take down the tree. The expensive survey is normally just the start of an equally expensive process which may end with the removal of the tree anyway. A lot of councils just do a calculation and come down on the side of tree removal purely on cost.

By the way, if the tree is sending roots down so deep that it is actually damaging the foundations of a building it is both alive and well anchored so would have a very low risk of falling.

We have small back gardens and our neighbour has two large trees, an oak and a silver birch. The birch is about house height with the oak rapidly gaining on it. When building an extension recently the building control officer looked at the trees, pondered a bit and then made us deepen our foundations to 1600. It cost us a few grand more. So it's not just insurance claims...

That's interesting. My house suffered with subsidence (2004) and the surveyor determined that the underpinning needed to go down to 3000. This was necessary because the clay above had been made unstable by street plane tree roots.



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