Why are they chopping down two fine oak trees in Central Milton Keynes?

MK Council is planning to chop down two healthy oak trees in an old hedgerow running between North  12th and North 13th St, CMK. Why? Because an insurance company claims that the trees are causing subsidence in a nearby flat, and the claim against MK Council as landowner could amount to £50k. Officers valued the trees at just £15k, and decided they had to go. Oddly, very few people heard about this case and only one objection was lodged (from a partner at David Lock Associates, urban designers, whose property adjoins the lane.) Sadly, MK Council gave permission to tear up the Tree Protection Orders and have the oaks felled.

photo: David Chandler

Rough justice for these old oak trees?  photo: David Chandler

Enter one tree surgeon, with a conscience.

Instead of giving the Council a quote for axing the trees, one tree surgeon asked if was really necessary to fell the oaks, and eventually alerted Xplain. The trees are two of the few remaining oaks in Central Milton Keynes, forming part of the historic Saxon route known as Common Lane.  They also provide food and shelter for a huge variety of wildlife.

All too often, says the tree surgeon, trees are blamed for subsidence when the problems are really due to poor construction. In this case, cutting down the oaks will not only fail to solve the problem but probably create a worse one which is ground heave (caused by upsetting the water balance in the surrounding soil).

Xplain has put this case to a chartered surveyor, several architects and two more tree experts, and they all agree: felling the oaks is not the solution, and will probably make things worse.  

Xplain understands that another tree surgeon has now agreed to fell the trees, but it’s not too late.

Please email the leader of MK Council Councillor Andrew Geary asking for an urgent stay of execution while options are pursued. These include:

  • digging a root trench between the trees and nearby flats
  • investigating previous problems with this development which were due to poor construction*
  • challenging the insurance company’s ‘evidence’ that the trees are to blame

*I know, because I used to live there. Around 1986, just a few years after completion, ‘subsidence’ cracks appeared in flats near the oak trees, and NHBC had to pay out for remedial work. Significantly the trees were not blamed – surveyors put the problems down to inadequate foundations and shoddy construction.

1 thought on “Why are they chopping down two fine oak trees in Central Milton Keynes?

  1. massugo na otoko

    Invariably insurance companies recommend cutting down trees at the slightest sign of a crack in plaster. They know they will get their way as the property owner wishes to avoid an excess on their insurance or if the tree is in public ownership the Council will be advised to cut the trees down to avoid an inflated claim for remedial work. I would question if £50,000 of work is actually necessary. It might be but the dwelling must be in serious prospect of falling down for that amount of work to be done.


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