Mammoth tree smashes into family home after father fought to have it felled

·4-min read
90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice
90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

A FAMILY have been forced out of their home after a mammoth tree collapsed on it during Storm Eunice – despite numerous attempts to have the “ticking time bomb” removed.

Father of three Andrew Large said he is “distraught and absolutely livid” with BCP Council after they twice rejected his and his neighbour’s formal attempts to have two 90ft eucalyptus trees felled back in 2016.

Andrew and his neighbour Mr Paul Kaye engaged in months of discourse with the then Poole Borough Council from November 2016 to June 2017 to remove the trees situated in Mr Kaye’s garden in Broadstone. The pair cited danger of falling branches, impact of light, the fact the tree was not native to the area and concerns it may collapse as primary reasons for removal.

After a split decision, the authority relented to have the smaller of the two trees felled, however rejected an appeal to have the larger tree taken down also. A council report said: “The tree is considered a suitable species for its location and contributes towards the wider tree group dynamic. The proposed felling is considered premature and will have a negative impact upon appearance and character of the street scene.”

Bournemouth Echo: 90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice
Bournemouth Echo: 90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

However, Andrew pointed out that the tree was deep in his neighbour’s garden and made “no difference” to the street scene. Similarly, Paul Kaye said: “It seemed like the aesthetic of the tree was more important to them than the safety of the people who live here.”

In a letter dated January 11, 2017, Andrew wrote to planning officers to express his disappointment at the final decision. He wrote: “If something goes wrong regarding the health and safety of my children or my property including, fencing/buildings/foundations, then I shall be seeking full legal recourse from all parties concerned.”

Just over five years later, on Friday February 18, Andrew was in his house in West Way with his wife and three children as Storm Eunice raged across Dorset.

Shortly after 11am, the giant tree collapsed and destroyed the family conservatory and a third of the roof which their 10-foot chimney fell into, causing a section of ceiling to cave in.

Bournemouth Echo: Ceiling collapse after eucalyptus tree falls on family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice
Bournemouth Echo: Ceiling collapse after eucalyptus tree falls on family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

Ceiling collapse after eucalyptus tree falls on family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

Andrew told the Echo: “This happened the day before my daughter’s birthday and luckily, when it fell, we were in the other side of the house. Ten minutes prior I was in the garden looking at the tree flapping but never did I dream that it would collapse in such a way.

“The noise of the shattered glass was deafening. Our neighbours immediately came out so the sound outside must have been just as bad as inside.

“The thought occurred at the time ‘should I move my family?’ Now the situation has got worse because the roof has dropped and we’re going to be rehoused to a local hotel. I’m just thankful that no one was hurt.

“We’re all in a state of complete shock and it’s caused a lot of stress within the family.”

Bournemouth Echo: Man walks on the 90ft eucalyptus tree
Bournemouth Echo: Man walks on the 90ft eucalyptus tree

Man walks on the 90ft eucalyptus tree

Andrew did express gratitude to tree surgeon Sam Draper who worked late into Friday evening to clear the area and structural engineers Julian Calcinotto and David McLaughlin who have declared the house unsafe.

However, Andrew and Paul believe the whole incident could have been avoided had the council listened in 2016 and 2017.

“It’s just awful and not even irony,” added Andrew. “I think the council will hide behind the excuse that this was an unprecedented storm, but we knew all along this could happen, especially when they gave permission for one tree to be removed which exposed the mammoth tree even further.

“Unless we get better support from the council, I don’t know how we or any of the neighbours can live here with the thought of future storms causing more damage – it’s about peace of mind.”

Bournemouth Echo: 90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice
Bournemouth Echo: 90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

90ft eucalyptus tree falls and damages family home in Broadstone during Storm Eunice

Cllr Mark Anderson, portfolio holder for environment & place, said: “Storm Eunice was the biggest storm seen in 30 years and the entire BCP area was placed under red alert due to its ferocity. Gusts as high as 99mph were reported at points in our area.

“We are sorry to hear that Mr Kaye and Mr Large have experienced damage due to a falling tree. The application for this tree was made in 2016. Trees do change over time and are always subject to the changing forces of nature.

“Sadly, even some perfectly healthy trees have fallen on private land or been damaged under the unique and fierce conditions Storm Eunice brought.”

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