HOMEOWNERS are being warned that they may be forced to keep unwanted trees if they let Redbridge Council know about them.

When Nick Hayward, 36, bought his house in Albert Road, South Woodford, last year, he sent an email to the council asking whether there was any tree preservation order (TPO) on the elderly Lime tree in his back garden.

There was not but, prompted by his inquiry, council officers slapped a TPO on it before getting back to him.

Mr Hayward is angry that it is only because he asked that he is prevented from getting rid of the tree which he claims towers over his house, blocks out the light and takes up most of his garden.

He said: “I feel very strongly about any organisation gaining information via deception and do not expect it from a council which is exactly what is happening here.

“The people we bought the house from said there were no conditions on the tree. I thought I had better ask anyway, but I wish I hadn’t bothered now.”

The case has once again shone a light on the council’s protection of the borough’s trees, after it emerged that a historic Plane tree at the former Woodford Green home of Prime Minister Clement Attlee was unprotected when it was felled earlier this year.

Neighbour David Pearce of The Green, said: “I applaud the gentleman in South Woodford for being so honest, but it does highlight just how many trees are unprotected.

“The council needs to disclose all the trees that have TPOs, so the public can be more proactive about ones they are concerned about.

The council told neighbours at the time that it was compiling a list of trees it wanted protected, but was concentrating on the south of the borough.

Cllr Nick Hayes, the cabinet member for planning, said the council was planning to make it easier to access TPO information online, but added: “A lot of the work we do is reactive.

“While it might theoretically be possible to survey the borough one street at a time, it would involve an enormous amount of money.”

The TPO on the tree in Mr Hayward's garden will be discussed at a meeting of the Council's Regulatory Commitee on May 8.

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