Harpenden woman’s heartache after garden trees are chopped down
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 January 2017
A resident has slammed the council after two trees in her garden were cut down against her wishes and without notice.
Sara High, 51, of Finley Road, Harpenden, has criticised St Albans council after both trees in the garden of her council home were chopped down following complaints that they were blocking sunlight and growing outside of their boundary.
Sara maintained that she had received a letter from the council earlier in the year requesting that one tree in her garden be pruned as it was on the boundary line between herself and her neighbour.
She said that after objecting to the proposed work and after speaking to the council she was reassured that the neighbours had no right to light and so she “assumed that it was all over”.
Sara said that seven months later, in November, she received another letter from the council stating that permission had been given to have one tree cut down, but the work was later suspended so that the council could seek legal advice.
Both trees, one which was a Douglas fir, were then chopped down on December 20 and Sara claims that the work was carried out without any notice given.
She also maintains that she was led to believe that only one of the trees was expected to be pruned, as all letters from the council suggested this.
She said: “Out of nowhere my grandson and I woke up to chainsaws. He was terrified.
“Tree surgeons were up the tree and my grandson was horrified, he was screaming; nobody had told us this work was going to be done.
“Both had been cut down to 6ft and it’s awful; I was not told this was happening, yet the council insisted I had been written to.”
Two days after the trees were chopped Sara said she received two letters, posted by second class stamp, explaining that the work was going to take place, but it was already too late as the pruning was complete.
She added that she did not want the trees to be chopped as they protected her greenhouse and gazebo from being damaged by strong winds. In addition, she said it was the only place where her 16-year-old daughter, who is partially sighted, could sit and use her laptop.
She said: “I just know I’m going to lose my greenhouse; I have a gazebo that sits behind the trees because we get terrible winds, as we are quite high up.
“So, my greenhouse sits underneath them and the gazebo behind it, so it doesn’t blow away.
“My daughter is partially sighted, and it’s the only place she can sit and use the WIFI and all my bird boxes were in the tree when it was cut down; nobody had considered me.”
Karen Dragovic, St Albans council’s head of housing, said that the trees, which were on council-owned land, had appeared to have “self-seeded on the boundary line between the two properties”.
She went on: “The assessment of an expert was that they (the trees) were oppressive and did block light to one house.”
She continued: “One tenant raised concern about the trees earlier this year.
“On consulting with their neighbour, we found they took an opposite view.
“This was an unfortunate dispute and our officers met with the tenants on a number of occasions in an attempt to find a solution they both could accept.
“We were unable to reach a compromise and having looked at all the issues involved, we decided the trees should be removed.”
Ms Dragovic added: “Moreover, they were not specimen trees of any particular merit, nor were they of value to the community.
“There has been extensive communication with both tenants and both were aware that the trees would be removed.”