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.
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.