Daniel Craig

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James Bond actor Daniel Craig and his Oscar-winning wife Rachel Weisz are embroiled in a property dispute after a neighbour claims that a large plane tree in the Hollywood couple’s back garden is causing damage to their home.

Claiming that the tree, which is thought to be between 50 and 80 feet tall, is causing subsidence, Craig’s neighbour has put an application to the local council for the tree to be felled.

While the couple are not thought to be challenging the application, other residents in the area have objected to the felling of the tree, which they claim is part of the area’s natural landscape.

Reviewing the dispute, Mark Underhill – National Operational Accounts Manager in Simpson Millar’s Conveyancing Department – explains why the neighbour’s property damage highlights the need for rigid checks before buying a home.

Roots causing subsidence

Craig’s neighbour is claiming that the large plane tree, which could grow up to 150ft, is causing subsidence in their North London Victorian house, built in 1850 and thought to be worth around £5million.

Camden Council is now reviewing a planning application from the neighbour for the plane tree, along with another smaller plane tree, a group of Hornbeam trees and some pear and beech tress also in the couple’s garden, to be felled.

The neighbour claims that cracks of varying size have appeared in their bathroom, two bedrooms, a living room, their conservatory, a utility room, and a hallway.

An engineer’s report, acquired by the homeowner, states that the trees in Craig and Weisz’s garden have caused the subsidence.

A subsidence specialist agrees, as another report in the application claims that the moisture extracting influence of the trees’ roots has caused shrinkage of the property’s clay subsoil, which has resulted to the property damage.

Felling dispute

Craig and Weisz are not expected to oppose the application; however other residents in the area in Camden are campaigning against the council taking action, as they claim that it would be unforgiveable to fell a tree that had been standing for so long.

One local resident, who is believed to overlook the Hollywood couple’s garden, was quoted in the Telegraph as saying:

“This tree has been part of my family’s life since we moved [to the area] in 1966. It has been a feature of our children’s growing up, always there as a reminder of the beauty of nature in a dense central urban area.”

“These trees are not just aesthetically beautiful; they have been part of this neighbour­hood, its feel, for so long. To have it taken away like this – well, it will be like losing a limb.”

“We have lost so many trees in this stretch over the years. It used to be so, so much greener, with wonderful, mature back gardens throughout the neighbourhood – trees have been continuously cut back over fears of subsidence.”

The consultation period for the planning application ended recently and Camden Council are now considering responses before making a decision on whether the requested trees should be felled.

Importance of a property survey

A tree root causing damage is not rare and highlights why a thorough property survey should be taken out before a house is purchased, as Mark explains:

“This is yet another topical news story that shows the importance of undergoing thorough checks before purchasing a home, as problems can arise from the most unsuspecting places.”

“It is understandable why local residents are trying to preserve the natural beauty of their area but if these tree roots are causing property damage I suspect the council will approve action to be taken to stop the cause of the subsidence.”

“A property survey reveals underlying problems, such as subsidence, before a purchase has been made so it is always worth undertaking this thorough check before purchasing a property, especially as structural defects later down the line will almost always prove costly.”

“When you are looking to purchase a home, which for most people is the biggest investment of their life, make sure that you hire a professional and experienced Conveyancing solicitor that will be able to advise on the most thorough checks and surveys to uncover potential hazards.”

Written by Mark Underhill.

For more information on conveyancing and the services offered by Simpson Millar, please call:

0808 129 3304

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