Trees threaten Uckfield homes, residents say

Leylandii tress fall in Oakwood Drive
Leylandii tress fall in Oakwood Drive

A group of Uckfield residents are still living in fear that the next time a gale blows, their houses will be destroyed.

Their concerns focus on a row of 20 leylandii trees twice the height of the homes they face on the other side of Oakwood Drive.

One fell on Christmas Eve last year blocking the path and and damaging another house. And in New Year storms (Sussex Express, January 31,) yet another fell, this time also blocking the road, damaging an 80-year-old woman’s house and smashing a campervan.

Now a third tree fell during high winds on Friday night, writing off a parked car.

The police were informed and at 4am a group of men, presumably from the council, turned up and lopped some small branches, leaving them on the pavement.

Local resident Stephen Barton, 51, said: “This time the road was completely blocked off. People couldn’t get out. Leylandiis have very shallow roots and are not very stable. We are all terrified the next time the wind blows, another will come down right on top of a house.”

He said after the last article in the Sussex Express, about six council workers came along and cut a few branches that were hanging down. “It’s not even as if whole trees come down; they seem to split in the middle bringing trunks and major branches to the ground.”

Stephen, who works as a gamekeeper in Framfield, explained that the land was owned by Federated Homes who built houses in 1987, but went into receivership in 1989.

Residents contacted the council but were told nothing could be done until 25 years after the firm had failed. Stephen added that a few years ago, a group of them sawed off some hanging branches near a layby but the council told them the trees had preservation orders and ‘you can’t touch them’.

A Wealden District Council spokesman said: “Following a visit from our planning enforcement officers on January 31, the council hired tree surgeons to remove some ten large branches from the trees - all those which they considered to be dangerous at the time of the visit.

“The Council has been tracking down the company legally responsible for the trees and will be contacting them to discuss a programme of management work to the trees.

“Following the exceptionally high wind speeds on Friday two further branches fell and we are monitoring the situation to see if further remedial action is necessary in the meantime.”