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Family forced to leave their home for a £200k repair
A FAMILY will be forced to leave their home for six months while £200,000 of work is done to repair damage they believe is caused by trees.
Two oaks, in Green Lane, Eastwood, are believed to be causing the damage, but Southend Council has thrown out three bids to fell them.
Tony Martin and his wife, Cheryl, believe the trees’ roots are sucking water from soil underneath their house, causing it to subside.
However, councillors rejected the claims for the third time, arguing the trees had been there longer than the property.
Under British law, a council can be forced to pay the costs of underpinning homes or repairing cracks if it has rejected bids to fell problem trees.
Mr Martin’s insurer, Direct Line, has estimated a £200,000 bill for the work needed to repair his home.
Despite the insurance firm insisting it will reclaim the money from the council, the 51-year-old construction company owner and father to Robyn, 15, and Bradley, 13, said he simply wanted a quick solution. He said: “We will now have to move out for six months while the insurers pay for the house to be underpinned properly.
“It is my daughter’s GCSE year and she does not need the disruption this will cause.”
Members of the council’s development control committee voted unanimously to reject Mr Martin’s latest application to fell the oaks, at the recommendation of the authority’s tree experts. The officers claimed Mr Martin provided no proof as to which tree was to blame for the cracks throughout his home.
Mr Martin argued there was no need to be more specific.
He said: “Holes have been dug which show there are roots from both trees under the house. I’m very frustrated by the whole experience.”
Andrew Lewis, Southend Council’s corporate director for the environment, confirmed the development control committee had refused an application to fell the trees on Wednesday, September 12.
He said: “The committee carefully considered this application in the context of the relevant legislation, but was not satisfied there was sufficient evidence to support the case for the removing both trees.
“These trees are of high amenity value and protected by law for the benefit of the public. Felling should be a last resort and only if there is a compelling case to do so.
“The applicant has the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate over the council’s decision.”