Man 'lucky' to escape death after 100ft pine falls on South Woodford home (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Pine tree falls on a house in The Drive, South Woodford
QUESTIONS are being asked of Redbridge council after a 100ft pine tree fell onto a South Woodford home.
Domestic helper Krishna Kunwar, 38, narrowly escaped being killed in the incident, after leaving a playroom just moments before it was destroyed by the tree which fell from the next door neighbour's garden.
He said: “I was cleaning in there and walked through to the pool room next door.
“There was a loud crash and I went back and the room had been destroyed.
"I am lucky to be alive and thank God I was not killed.”
Raj and Neelam Kumar, who own the house in The Drive, were both out at the time and were shocked when they heard about the incident which happened last Wednesday.
Mrs Kumar, 65, said: “My son called me and said there’s been an accident a tree has fallen on the house. Then he said something about Krishna, but I couldn’t hear because the signal was bad.
“I just panicked, because I thought Krishna has been hurt. It was a relief when I got home and found he was alive.
“But of course the damage is terrible. Our grandson plays in that room with his friends. If it had fallen an hour later he would have been home from school and in there.
“The thought makes me shiver.”
Mr Kumar, 65, a director of a travel company in Gants Hill, said he expected repairs to run to as much as £70,000.
“What angers me is that we asked our neighbour to chop this tree down some time ago, but the council refused him permission,” he added.
“It was leaning over very precariously, and look what has happened. Why was this tree allowed to remain?”
Neighbour Seeralan Govindaraju, 50, wrote to Redbridge Council about the tree in 2009.
He said: “When our neighbours said they were worried about the tree falling, of course we applied to have it removed.
“But the council just refused outright, they never even came to inspect it. I feel that they should at least have come to evaluate it.”
Mr Kumar is worried about another tree at the front of his property and says he contacted the council about it before last week’s incident, but that they refused consent to remove it.
A spokesman for Redbridge council said: "Redbridge Council refused permission for the complete removal of this tree in 2009 as the applicant failed to provide evidence to justify its removal.
"As part of the decision the Council made it very clear that in order to have sufficient evidence to make such a decision a climbing inspection needed to take place.
"Before the Council can agree to the removal of important protected trees, it must be provided with evidence to justify this.
"This was clearly requested and advised by the Council in its decision. None was provided as part of the application nor subsequently.
"The owner of the tree/applicant is responsible for the tree's safety and therefore for arranging for the necessary inspection and further application to the Council; it is not the responsibility of the Council.
"After giving this advice the Council did not receive any further applications for the removal of the tree."
The Council says it has no record of any application to remove any trees at the front of the Kumar's property.
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