'Uproar' at decision to fell protected oak tree in Hainault

An arboricultural assessment found that the 8m oak was causing structural damage to the nearby community centre

An arboricultural assessment found that the eight-metre high oak was causing structural damage to the community centre - Credit: Graham Hatt

Residents in Hainault are in “uproar” at the proposed felling of a protected oak tree outside New North Road Community Centre.

An application to remove the eight-metre tall oak – which is subject to a tree preservation order – was registered at the beginning of June, citing damage to the walls of the community centre.

Twenty-one people sent written objections to Redbridge Council, but a decision was made on July 23 to approve the cutting down of the tree.

Sandra Laing, a 54-year-old trainee teaching assistant who lives in Huntsman Road, one road back from the tree, said she was “disgusted” by the decision.

“There’s a lot of uproar about it,” she said, “It’s been there so long, it’s part of the community.”

The property is council owned and is leased to the Hainault and Chigwell Muslim Association, who in late 2018 informed the council that cracks were appearing inside the building on a number of walls.

An independent arboricultural assessment report found that the damage had been caused by the tree.

A council spokesperson said: “It is with a heavy heart that we came to the conclusion that unfortunately there was no option but to remove the tree, to prevent further structural damage to a much-loved community centre.”

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Some residents felt that other approaches, such as a crown reduction or the installation of root deflectors, should have been considered.

In an email seen by the Recorder, council planners explained that the tree was too close to the property for such measures and that the cost of retaining the tree and paying for the cost of the repairs and structural underpinning works would be unfeasibly large as well as disruptive to building users.

A council spokesperson said: “Redbridge Council’s policy is always to protect trees wherever possible.

“We have not taken the decision lightly and did consider all other options before removing the tree.”

It has promised to replace the oak with a new tree, to be sown in the first planting season which runs from November to March.

The species of the new tree has yet to be decided.

The oak can be felled any time up to two years after the date of the decision notice.