Overhanging tree concern for Thetford woman

A mother locked in a decade-long battle with Norfolk County Council about an oak tree overhanging her back garden fears it will cause serious harm after her son was injured by a falling branch.

Joanne Jenkins had asked for the tree to be cut back on several occasions during the past 10 years, but, despite visits by council officers, nothing has been done to secure the area.

She now fears the tree, which sits on the Iceni Way, Thetford, but overhangs her garden on Coriander Drive, may cause somebody serious injury or damage to her home.

Mrs Jenkins, 47, a receptionist who lives with her 10-year-old son, Jack, and husband, Carl, a tanker driver, and who has an adult daughter, said her son had recently been left with bruising when he was hit on the shoulder by a falling branch while on a trampoline in the garden.

“Imagine if it had hit his head,” she said. “When I bought the house the tree was only up to the top of the fence and now the trunk is pushing against it. I’ve also got a friend who works for the forestry and he said with an oak tree the roots can be three times as long as the height. I’m just waiting for an accident to happen but I think the house might be more of an urgent problem because it’s pushing against the pipes.”

Mrs Jenkins added that she was also worried about possible subsidence, could not grow grass at the bottom of her garden as it did not get enough water because of the tree’s roots and would ideally like the lower three branches cut back.

The house was also burgled in 2010, when, she says, thieves used the tree to get into the garden.

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“CID came and said there were footprints all the way up the garden and they said that they probably climbed the tree,” she said. “We also get a lot of children climbing up and hanging over - It’s intrusive.

“I love nature, don’t get me wrong, but I think this is a health and safety issue. It’s just all awful - I’m getting fed up and depressed and low and it’s taking over.

“I want to move out but like my husband said, who would buy the house?”

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “Having visited the resident and inspected the tree we are proposing to remove the small areas of naturally occurring deadwood within the tree and carry out a minor reduction to the crown on the east side over the garden.

“The tree in question is the subject of a Tree Preservation Order administered by the district council. The consent of the district council is required before work to reduce the crown can be carried out.

“If the resident feels that further work should be carried out then they can apply to the district council, explaining what work they would wish to happen. The district council will then consider whether that work is appropriate.”