The maintenance and management of trees on The Dulwich Estate is an onerous responsibility for the Charity, both as a landowner and as Managers of the Scheme of Management. Where trees are implicated as the cause of structural movement to a property, insurers will, almost inevitably, seek to have them removed and failure to do so will expose the tree owner to claims for subsequent damage to the property.
Following structural movement at 11 College Road, three trees facing the property were implicated as the cause. These are situated on the ‘Manor Waste’ - land owned by the Estate - as shown below and which is defined as an Amenity Area under the Scheme of Management.
Insurers for the owner of the property wanted all three trees removed and one (an Ash) was removed. Of the remaining trees, the Tulip Tree is a fine specimen and of considerable amenity value and whilst a common specimen, the Copper Beech also contributes to the amenity of the area. The Estate was therefore reluctant to remove these trees and sought alternative ways to mitigate the risk of future damage to the house. After much negotiation between insurers (and lawyers!) acting for both the Estate and the house owner, it was agreed to put in place a root barrier.
This entailed digging a trench 4 metres deep and 450 mm wide, which was filled with concrete and lined with a membrane, across the 34 metres frontage of the property. The excavations had to be very carefully undertaken in order to avoid damaging a main sewer and the services to the property: two gas, one water and three electrical mains. The cost of this was £32,000; the Estate managed to persuade its insurers to contribute £20,000 and the balance is recoverable under the Scheme of Management.
The Estate was very pleased with the performance of the contractor - the works went according to plan and with no disruption to the services, and no complaints!