Redbridge Council directly employs specialists to inspect over 50,000 council-owned trees on a three-year rotation, recommending work to maintain them in a safe condition and within reasonable bounds.
To report a fallen council tree or branch or a private tree or branch that has fallen onto the highway please report the issue here.
For information related to the protection of private trees covered by a Tree Preservation order (TPO) or located within a Conservation area please see the council’s planning department website page for further information.
The council has a programme of inspections to identify trees before they get too dangerous. When necessary, we carry out reactive inspections or emergency work.
The following information is a guide to tree safety. If in doubt about whether a tree is safe or not, please report an issue with a council-maintained tree.
Fallen trees and branches
We provide a 24-hour call out service to deal with broken tree branches and trees that have fallen onto the street or onto council property. To report a fallen tree or branch, please report an issue with a council-maintained tree.
If you or your neighbour’s tree has fallen over into a garden we would normally consider that this matter is for you or your neighbour to deal with.
Leaning treesTrees that have been leaning for more than three years would have been identified and safety work considered. The majority of leaning trees have been leaning for a long time and are considered to have an established lean, which is considered to be secure and the tree is too large to re-straighten. If a tree has started to lean very recently, work may be needed to straighten the tree, if it is still young, or to remove it if it is older as it may be considered to be dangerous. In these cases, please report an issue with a council-maintained tree.
As council trees are inspected so frequently, it is not normal for a tree to become immediately dangerous once it dies and our established work programmes will deal with tree removal work.
Trees moving in the ground
Trees will sway in the wind and this is natural and to be expected. What may be of concern is where a tree starts to move at the base where it meets the ground, causing cracking to the surface, and/or where a previously upright tree suddenly starts to lean. In cases where there is significant movement at a tree’s base, please report an issue with a council-maintained tree.
Decaying trees, fungus and cracking
As council trees are inspected so frequently, we are normally aware of existing areas of decay and fungus. Our established inspection and work programmes will consider if work is necessary to maintain a tree in a safe condition. However, if a crack suddenly appears in a tree’s trunk or large limb, please report an issue with a council maintained tree.
A tree is not unsafe just because it is tall. It is unlikely that we would identify a tall tree as unsafe unless it is dead, moving at the base, or showing signs of significant decay or cracking.
Trees will host aphids that suck sap from a tree. These insects excrete a sugar and water substance known as honeydew.
The production of honeydew will vary each year and on each tree. We do not consider that there is an effective or a sustainable method of controlling aphids; the presence of aphids is considered to be a seasonal nuisance and their presence alone is not considered sufficient grounds to carry out reactive works or to remove a tree. Although it is not normal for us to prune trees to deal with honeydew issues, other works carried out to deal with other issues can reduce these issues.
We do not operate an on-demand tree removal service and the decision to remove a tree is made by the Council.
Dead and dying trees
Trees die or start to decline for a variety of reasons. The decision to remove these trees is made to reduce the risk of falling branches or the tree falling over. As council trees are inspected so frequently, it is not normal for a tree to become immediately dangerous once it dies, and our established work programmes will deal with tree removal work.
Decay and structural weakness
Disease and decay can rot the tree from the inside, causing the tree to become unstable. These rotten trees may still be in full leaf when they are removed, as leaves only need a narrow section of live wood under the bark to grow. If a crack suddenly appears in a tree’s trunk or large limb please report a issue with a council maintained tree.
Trees can be self-sown, as their seeds may be dropped by birds or blown by the wind. On occasion, these trees may grow up in shrub beds, against fences and walls. To maintain the landscape or nearby structures in a good condition, it may be necessary to remove these self-sown trees.
If sufficient evidence has been provided as part of a subsidence claim, then removal work is considered, although, tree removal as part of a claim is relatively rare.
Possible future damage
Unless a tree is considered to be in an inappropriate position, self-sown, growing against fences and walls, it is unusual for us to remove trees to limit possible future damage. Tree related damage is a complex risk that warrants careful consideration. Most damage is not inevitable and is not normally predictable within an acceptable margin of error. The council expends considerable resources in minimising the risk of damage through programmed inspections and works.
Footway crossings, carriage crossings and dropped kerbs
If you apply for a footway crossing, on the council's website page for footway crossings and dropped kerbs, the removal of a tree would be considered; however, the existence of the tree is considered sufficient grounds for the rejection of an application.
We do not remove trees for the following reasons: TV signals, height, leaf or fruit fall, hayfever, blocking light, blocking views or causing shade, insects, honeydew, bird nests or roosts, squirrel activity or a tree’s odour.
Tree pruning works are recommended as part of a three-year programme to maintain trees within reasonable bounds and the current highway tree pruning programme is grouped into the following wards:
- April 2020 to March 2021 - Clayhall, Clementswood, Cranbrook, Ilford Town, Loxford, Newbury, Seven Kings, Valentines
- April 2021 to March 2022 - Aldborough, Barkingside, Chadwell, Fairlop, Fullwell, Goodmayes, Hainault, Mayfield
- April 2022 to March 2023 - Bridge, Churchfields, Monkhams, South Woodford, Wanstead Park, Wanstead Village
What are reasonable bounds?There is a significant variety of species and sites in the borough and tree pruning works are considered on a case-by-case basis. We attempt to balance the needs of our neighbours with the council’s desire to maintain a healthy tree population with a large canopy cover. Pruning works are carried out to produce a well-structured, healthy tree and to reduce their influence on neighbouring properties.
Overhanging branchesWe are not required to ensure that branches do not overhang the boundary with our neighbours; however, we do carry out work to reduce the size of overhanging branches, especially where they are near buildings.
Low branchesLow growth and branches are normally removed every year to remove obstructions to pedestrians, vehicles and to improve problems caused by shade.
Tall treesTrees do not normally become dangerous just because they are tall and it is unlikely that the council will reduce the height of a tree just because of its height. The decision to reduce a tree is considered carefully and these works are normally taken to maintain a structural issue with a tree or to deal with a site-specific issue.
Blocking lightRestriction of light, views, and problems with shade are considered seasonal nuisances and legislation does not normally demand pruning because of these issues. Although it is not normal for us to prune trees to deal with light , other works carried out to deal with other issues can reduce shade.
Leaf and fruit fallThe fall of leaves fruit and other types of seed fall are considered seasonal nuisances and legislation does not normally demand pruning because of these issues. Although it is not normal for us to prune trees to deal with leaf and fruit fall issues, other works carried out to deal with other issues can reduce these issues. If there is significant problems associated with fruit fall on the footpath, then a report may be made on the council’s website page to report litter on the street.
Obstruction of road signs, streetlights and telephone wiresWork is carried out to clear branches from road signs, telephone wires and street lights.
Pollarded treesPollarding is a method of maintaining a potentially large tree in a reduced size. The frequency of work, to remove all new growth from a structural framework or branches, is normally carried out in the winter on a 2 to 6 year rotation and is dictated by the proximity to structures and defects within the tree's crown. Some young trees were planted with the intention to create new pollards, to maintain the character of a pollarded tree lined road and in order to increase species diversity within the borough. The first reduction operation that creates the framework is carried out in the winter when the tree is relatively young. The tree will then produce new growth, that will be thinned out and then reduced again to eventually create the framework of branches that will form the new structural framework of branches.
Most tree removal work is carried out in two stages, the first stage is to remove the top of the tree and the second stage is to remove the remaining stump that may be carried out until several months after the felling work.
Tree planting is normally carried out during the planting season, which is a tree's dormant period starting in November and ending in March.
We planted about 850 Highway trees as part of the November 2019 to March 2020 planting season to replace the majority of trees removed prior to January 2019.
We are currently inspecting highway trees and we are recording necessary work to replace other trees. Our current target is to replace, dead and dangerous trees identified for removal, the empty tree pits and locations containing stumps, as part of the November 2020 and March 2021 planting season.
During future planting seasons our target will be to continue replacing all dead and dangerous trees identified for removal, the empty tree pits and locations containing stumps.
Redbridge council is currently working in partnership with Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure and Trees for Cities to deliver a programme of planting that has and will utilise the borough's open spaces for the benefit of the community. These projects are funded, in part, from the Community Infrastructure Levy and we have completed projects in Loxford Park, Seven Kings Park, Hainault Recreation Ground, Woodford Bridge Green, Barley Lane Recreation Ground, Goodmayes Park.
If you would like a park to be considered for additional tree planting or you would like to sponsor a tree, please contact Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure.
Schools and other council land
In 2018 and 2019, Redbridge obtained funds from the Mayor of London’s Greener City Fund and the Community Infrastructure Levy to plant 87 trees on the council's housing estates and schools within the borough. For the next planting season, between the November 2020 to March 2021, our target is to plant 75 more trees in schools.
The council's web page for footway crossings and dropped kerbs contains further information and the application form.
If you apply for a footway crossing, the removal of a tree would be considered as part of the application process; however, the existence of the tree is considered sufficient grounds for the rejection of an application.
If there is damage to the footpath or kerb outside your house, please report the problem using the web page for paving and the council's highway department will investigate reports submitted.
You may report an issue with a private tree or shrubs obstructing the footpath or road using the council’s “report it” web page for overhanging vegetation.
Any tree may be protected by planning law (Town and Country Act 2008), so before any tree works commence, it is prudent to check with the council’s planning department to confirm a tree's status.
There are a limited number of official options available that would deal with problems related to a neighbour’s tree, as there are very few restrictions to the size and shape a tree may attain, despite the problems that they may cause.
In the majority of neighbour tree issues, the best course of action is for the neighbours to talk to each other and attempt to resolve the issue amicably without external parties becoming directly involved. It may be necessary to ask on numerous occasions for works to be carried out.
Also, to achieve a result, it may be necessary to seek quotations on behalf of the owner, offer to contribute funds to pay for the work, find out why the owner is reluctant to carry out the work and be aware that the owner may not see any issue with the trees, as they may not cause them the same problems as their neighbour experiences.
The Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003, Part 8 relates to high hedges. The council’s planning department deals with this issue on the planning department website.
Blocking light and height
Restriction of light, views, and problems with shade, fall of leaves, flowers and fruit are considered seasonal nuisances and legislation does not normally demand pruning because of these issues. This also applies to the height of a tree, insects, birds and mammals that may live in or feed from the tree.
A neighbour, under Common Law, may cut back branches overhanging their garden, but only back to the property line and the resident must offer the branches back (not throw them over the fence without notice.) In our opinion, the cost of the pruning work and any disposal of branches would be at the neighbour's expense, not the owners. Additionally, unless the neighbour has permission from the tree owner, the tree may not be climbed or operatives may not encroach over the boundary line (even airspace.) Failure to do so may result in a criminal action.
Trees are not tidy and may appear to have unusual growth or may look ill when compared to other trees. These differences may just be due to the huge diversity of tree species or may actually indicate that the tree is in decline or, stress. The owner has a duty of care to ensure that their property (including trees) do not pose a significant danger (falling branches, limbs or the tree) to neighbouring properties.
However, it is unlikely that the owner or the neighbour can always identify the difference between a dangerous and a safe tree and in these cases a professional opinion may be required. The owner should obtain a professional opinion. This does not mean the neighbour can not obtain an opinion as well.
Tree surgeons can give general advice and they will know more about trees than most of the public and should be able to identify some tree defects. However, it may be necessary to hire a Tree Consultant to carry out a detailed evaluation of tree health. For information relating to Tree Consultants, please follow this link to the Arboricultural Association.
The responsibility for damage caused by tree growth normally falls upon the person who owns the land where the tree is situated. If you are unable to agree on a course of action with your neighbours to contain or repair damage, and damage has occurred, you may wish to make a claim for these damages. Please check your own buildings insurance policy for coverage and see Citizens Advice website page on Small Claims.
We would advise that, before you reach the stage of going to the Small Claims Court, you write to your neighbour to clearly state your position, what action you have offered, will be prepared to offer and, if necessar,y provide a quotation (two may be required) to carry out necessary work.
The council has a contract for tree pruning and felling works with six tree surgery companies. In alphabetical order the six companies are:
Company name: Becker Tree Contracts Ltd
Telephone: 0208 508 3832
Company name: CSG (Usher’s) Ltd
Telephone: 01992 703 840
Company name: Kings Tree Surgeons
Telephone: 01908 585 220
Company name: Principal Trees Ltd
Telephone: 01279 841028
Company name: Ward Arboriculture Ltd
Telephone: 01277 500050
Company name: Wychwood- Tree Surgeons
Telephone: 020 8528 2160