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Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Some people will have seen the branch that dropped from the willow T137 at the entrance to Park Meadow on 21st September. This is something of a wake-up call. By the end of 2022 we will have lost around a dozen trees of the 140 or so on the estate in the one year. The most obvious losses are the five firs in the play area which became unsafe, but we have also lost trees to fungus and old age.

On the plus side we have planted a cherry tree in the Dolls House Square, and a group of residents there has agreed to look after it.

We had our regular biennial tree condition report in July 2022. This made several recommendations as usual:

· Pruning. 36 trees are identified as needing pruning ranging from simple removal of a branch to “formal pruning” to keep them in good shape. We will do as much of this work as we can afford in 2023. We have re-classified the three magnolias as shrubs, and they will in future be looked after by Paul and his team of gardeners.

· The tree Labels need upgrading. The current tags can get absorbed into the trees. The aim is to identify the tree species on new tags

· Monitoring. We anticipate ash dieback, though it is not currently visible. We need to keep an eye on our 8 ash trees, and indeed on all the trees which are currently under stress. A couple of trees have needed urgent aphid treatment. Several trees have suffered from drought. The report identified four trees where watering is especially necessary, and four trees which need further inspection

· Other maintenance. Other items in the report include a few trees where ivy or surrounding vegetation should be removed.

· Council land. Six of the trees on our tree list are on council land and one needs felling and perhaps replacing. We have looked after this land and the trees on it since Park Meadow was built.

We have done further work on the long term plan for trees on the estate, and our expert advice is that 40% of the trees on the estate will need to be replaced in the next 25 years. We feel that many of the few remaining large trees will be at risk if we set a precedent that residents near a tree can request its removal.

We are well aware that whatever we decide to do will upset some residents but as a management committee we need to look after the large healthy trees that contribute so much to the environment, character and value of the estate.

We also need to take account of the resolutions taken at AGMs in 2021 and 2022 that we should follow ABI guidance about tree species and safe planting distance from houses. If we decide that we should temper the guidance in the light of specialist advice, we would need to pass another resolution. If not, we are very restricted in terms of the tree types we can plant between houses. The places where we have some freedom as to what we can plant are limited basically to the play area, as another resolution bars us from planting trees on the council land where we have managed the trees for the last 60 years.

(The ABI guidance is intended to limit the amount that insurers have to pay out on tree subsidence claims. "This list is not exhaustive and should be regarded as a GUIDE only")

We do need to replant some trees, initially in the Play area, and we have set up a small group of interested residents who we hope will, with the advice of our experts, help with decisions on tree replanting and maintenance.

For information the dominant tree types (three or more) from 2022 TCR are

birch 17

crab apple 16

maple 13

cherry 9

ash 8

plum 4

sycamore 4

willow 3

honey locust 3

Magnolia 3 (shrub)

chestnut 3

beech 3

Total 83

A note on the willows

After intensive discussion we decided not to fell two of the three willows, but to prune all three back to the size they were 20 years ago.

We were advised by our insurers that “In the event of a claim you would need to show you did everything possible to mitigate a loss”. This included commissioning a report on the impact of felling the two willows T50 and T119 on soil retention and the subsidence/heave risk. We were quoted around £800 for a report, and advised that this could be inconclusive.

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