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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

Don Diffey, of Oak Lane, Upchurch, appeals to AmicusHorizon and Swale council to fix tree problem

03 December 2013
by Andy Gray

Don Diffey claims huge trees at the front and back of his house will cause catastrophic damage were they ever to blow down.

The 80-year-old retired carpenter said a 100ft lime tree and an 80ft evergreen Holm Oak, which stands 15ft from his neighbour’s backdoor, are a year-round nuisance.

Don Diffey with the offending tree outside his house in Oak Lane, Upchurch.

Don Diffey with the offending tree outside his house in Oak Lane, Upchurch.

They block sunlight, cover properties in bird droppings and fuel a perpetual fear that a storm could send them crashing into his and nearby bungalows.

He said: “The trees are huge. I’ve been told they are in good condition, but we’ll keep being told that until one falls down. And if they do, it could destroy any one of eight houses in the vicinity.

“If trees this size were outside a school, something would be done about it.
”But because they’re here, it won’t.”

Mr Diffey, who has lived at his current property in Oak Lane, Upchurch, with wife Beryl, 79, for 50 years, said his campaign to have the trees shortened has support from Upchurch Parish Council.

A preservation order prevents the trees from being chopped down, but Mr Diffey is appealing for the towering trunks to be regularly shorn.

A spokesman for AmicusHorizon, the housing association which owns the neighbouring bungalows, said: “We’ve had no complaints regarding trees on Oak Lane.

“Our estate services team are happy to inspect trees if residents feel they may need pruning.”

Mr Diffey, a grandad-of-three, said after Swale council rejected his pleas to have the trees removed, the matter was raised in 2003 with then deputy PM John Prescott, who was at the time responsible for local government.

Don Diffey outside his home in Oak Lane Upchurch

Don Diffey outside his home in Oak Lane, Upchurch

It led to the height of the Holm Oak and the Lime being reduced by 20%. But he claims both grew back taller, requiring more action to be taken.

He said the decision to site the housing development - which was completed about 30-years-ago - near to existing greenery, was a bad one.

“I would argue that these old people’s bungalows should not have been built so close to he trees in the first place,” he said.

“The matter is ongoing and all the time the trees are getting bigger and more dangerous.”

A council spokesman said: “I can confirm we are reviewing the letter received regarding trees at the property in Oak Lane, Upchurch.

“Safety of residents is paramount and we’ll work with partner agencies to do what we can to assist.”

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