In Burge & Anor v South Gloucestershire Council , home owners won £25,000 in compensation from their local council because the roots of an adjacent oak tree (subject to a preservation order), undermined their conservatory.
The conservatory had to be demolished and rebuilt
The claim was under Section 203 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
The council, whose lawyers referred to it as a ‘candyfloss conservatory’ , claimed that because the tree was protected it could not be felled to avoid causing damage and that in any event, the conservatory had been built on inadequate foundations not according to industry standards and but for that, the damage would not have occurred.
The judge ruled that the damage was ‘reasonably foreseeable’, the home owners were ‘perfectly entitled’ to put their trust in the professional builders they used to construct the conservatory and it would never have been damaged had it not been for the council’s refusal to allow the oak tree to be felled.
Council Lawyers are concerned that this decision exposes local authorities to unjustified compensation claims relating to poorly built structures damaged by tree roots.