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Trees

Information on trees in Waltham Forest, including how to report a dangerous tree.

We are responsible for all trees in the borough's public spaces. This includes trees on streets, in parks, and on Waltham Forest Housing properties.

We are not responsible for trees in private gardens unless they are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or situated within a conservation area.

We can, however, give advice on privately owned trees.

Read the Waltham Forest Tree Strategy 2017-2022 (Word)

Street tree maintenance

We prune and maintain street trees across the borough.

Our current schedule of work is:

1. 2020 to 2021 – Cann Hall, Cathall, Leyton, Grove Green, Leytonstone, Forest
2. 2021 to 2022 – Wood Street, Hoe Street, High street, Lea Bridge, Markhouse
3. 2022 to 2023 – Hale End and Highams Park, Chapel End, William Morris, Higham Hill, Valley
4. 2023 to 2024 – Hatch Lane, Larkswood, Endlebury, Chingford Green

If trees are diseased, dying or pose a danger to public safety, we may fell them.

We will plant replacement trees in the autumn/winter months of the financial year the trees were removed.

What is classed as a dangerous tree?

  • A tree that is in danger of falling over due to disease
  • A tree hit by a vehicle
  • A branch that is hanging or likely to fall off

How to report a problem with a tree

Report a tree problem online

If it's an emergency

Call 020 8496 3000 and give us as much information as you can. For example:

  • where the tree is (including a house number when appropriate, or whether it's in a private garden, park or council property)
  • why you are calling (for example, if the tree needs pruning or removing)

What happens next?

Once we receive your request:

  • We'll pass it to a tree officer who will inspect the tree, normally within ten working days - unless it is dangerous
  • After the tree officer has surveyed the tree, if they decide to act, they'll raise a Works Order request
  • We'll call or send you a letter to tell you what's going to happen

This process can take up to 8 weeks, depending how busy we are. 

Tree Planting Requests

We get many requests for new trees and always welcome ideas for where to plant them. However, we have a limited budget for this, so we must ensure that new trees go where they're needed.

We usually put new trees in places identified as ‘strategic priority areas’ for tree planting. This includes:

  • Replacing trees felled due to disease or structural failure
  • Replacing trees felled due to insurance claims
  • Replacing trees blown over by storms
  • Community-led tree planting by Friends of Parks or London in Bloom groups
  • Woodlands to support biodiversity
  • Housing sites
  • Educational land
  • Public open spaces that lack greenery
  • New development sites
  • Town centre regeneration schemes
  • Highways improvement schemes along key transport corridors and gateways (such as East-West corridors, and North-South corridor)

We will acknowledge receipt of your request, but will not keep your details for GDPR reasons. However we will add your idea to our list of potential tree locations. 

We will inspect all suggested locations to check if they are suitable for tree planting. 

Felling policy

It is council policy to only remove trees in the following circumstances:

  1. Dead
  2. Dying
  3. Diseased
  4. Structural defect
  5. Associated tree root damage
  6. Planning Approval
  7. Highways Improvement

Making a claim against a council tree

Any alleged damage to personal property caused by a Council tree is dealt with by the Council’s Insurance department and should be emailed to insurance-section@walthamforest.gov.uk

Evidence Requirements for Direct Damage

  • To lodge a claim for direct damage your claim must be accompanied by photos, and details of the time, date and place the damage took place

Evidence Requirements for Indirect Damage

  • Indirect damage /subsidence claims are processed in accordance with the Joint Mitigation Protocol used by the London Tree Officer’s Association 

The evidence requirements are determined by the CAVAT value of the tree/s implicated which can be calculated using the quick method.

Cavat values fall into three categories: low being less than £7,672, medium being from £7,672 to £24,858, and high being anything greater than £24,858. As a general rule, more than 90% of trees implicated in insurance claims have a value of more than £8,000, and a minimum trunk circumference of 60 cms

Claims against trees with medium to high Cavat values require submission of the following evidence for processing to commence.

  1. Damage report
  2. Property plan & foundations
  3. Site plan of property & vegetation
  4. Trial Pit / borehole to a depth of 3 metres
  5. Root Identification
  6. Soil property details; liquid limit, plastic limit, soil plasticity (underside of foundations to 2.5m)
  7. Soil Moisture Readings (underside of foundations to 2.5m)
  8. Level monitoring for a period of 12 months

Once we have received all the evidence, a report will be produced, and mitigation works carried out within 4-6 months

Trees on private property

Jurisdiction

The Council has no jurisdiction over private trees on private land because they are the responsibility of the private landowner upon which such a tree is located.

Duty of Care

Every tree owner has a ‘common law’ duty of care to ensure their trees do not pose an unacceptable risk to other people on or adjacent to their land. The landowner must take reasonable care to regularly inspect their trees and undertake essential work such as removing deadwood where it presents a risk to persons or property.

The tree owner also has a duty under the Occupiers Liability Acts to take reasonable steps to ensure visitors or trespassers on their land are safe. In theory, this means that if a tree falls and causes damage to a person or property then the tree owner may be liable, however in practice a landowner will usually only be liable if they are found to be negligent.

If you are in doubt about the condition of a tree, you should seek advice from a qualified Tree Surgeon or Arboricultural Consultant, that may be found at the following websites:

Possible Steps to Take

The best way to deal with a dangerous tree on neighbouring land is to write to the tree owner as soon as possible politely expressing any concerns you have and asking them to have the tree checked by an arboriculturist.

If you still can’t reach a satisfactory conclusion then it may be helpful to ask a third party who is known to both of you to mediate.

As a last resort, it may be possible to obtain a court injunction requiring the owner to deal with the tree, or in limited circumstances, we may be able to use discretionary powers under the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 – Sections 23 & 24 [Dangerous Trees] in respect of dangerous trees located on private land.

This legislation is only used as a ‘last resort’ where it has been proven that;

  1. a tree presents an imminent danger of harm to a person or property
  2. and that the legal owner of the tree has failed to do anything about it

If such as request were submitted to the Council, we would carry out a site visit and establish whether the relevant circumstances apply and if necessary, instigate the appropriate action.

If we considered the tree(s) to be imminently dangerous, a Notice would be served on the owner or occupier of the land upon which the tree is situated, and would

  1. identify the relevant tree(s)
  2. why the action is required
  3. the minimum amount of work that is necessary to make the tree(s) safe, a time period for the completion of the work, which must be not less than 21 days from the date of the Notice
  4. and that if the works are not undertaken, the Council can carry out the work and recover any reasonable costs.

List of local tree contractors

Below are listed a few tree contractors that work in Waltham Forest;

Telephone:0345 873 1500

Tel: 01992 572 717

Tel: 01277 525150

A more extensive list can be found at the following;

You are advised to obtain at least three written estimates and to insist on seeing a current receipt in respect of insurance premiums.