A father who took Haringey Council to the High Court to save a tree from being felled has said he is "saddened by the way the judge ruled".

Andrew Brenner, who lives in Oakfield Road, sought a judicial review against the council's decision to chop down a tree that may not be causing subsidence to his home.

Judge Sir Ross Cranston refused an application for a full judicial review at a hearing on Wednesday (March 29) saying the council had not acted unlawfully in seeking to fell the tree.

Haringey now has the green light to chop down the 123 year-old plane tree outside 61 and 63 Oakfield Road, Stroud Green, after saying it risked a claim of £400,000, increased to £1m if not cut down.

Two insurance companies, Aviva and Allianz, working with loss adjustors Crawfords, believe the plane tree is causing subsidence to two nearby houses. 

The council tried to bring an earlier injunction against Haringey Tree Protectors Ltd (HTP) and Persons Unknown in December to stop protests around the tree so it could be felled.  

It was adjourned to give time for a financial ombudsman report relating to the insurers' handling of the issue to be submitted.

Three days before it was due to be decided at Clerkenwell County Court on March 15, the council took possession of the tree amid disputed claims protesters were trying to occupy it.

But in a last minute intervention Mr Brenner lodged an injunction without giving notice and independently from HTP to stop the tree being felled.

A pre-judicial hearing was agreed on March 17 giving hope to Mr Brenner and HTP that the tree might be saved

Charles Streeton, representing Mr Brenner, said his client had been fighting to get his home underpinned by Aviva since 2014.

Mr Brenner put in a complaint against Aviva to the financial ombudsman in 2017.

The court heard that the ensuing report said the house should be underpinned and the tree not felled.

However, Mr Streeton said that in 2021 Crawfords "found a way to get under the previous ombudsman decision" and argue the tree was causing subsidence to the neighbouring property and had to be chopped down.

The hearing heard the council was told it would be responsible for underpinning costs if the tree remained standing. 

Seeking advice from its legal team Plexus, in March 2022, Haringey accepted liability for the tree and agreed to chop it down.

Following a public meeting in July Haringey's climate change lead Cllr Mike Hakata visited Mr Brennan's home and, Mr Streeton said, "expressed reassurance to him that a final decision about the tree hasn't been made".

He said that the council "acted unlawfully for excluding the relevance of the ombudsman decision" adding: "The whole premise of the council is to reduce liability by avoiding underpinning."

Nicholas Grundy, barrister for Haringey Council, repeated to the court the council's claim that additional climbing ropes had been installed prior to a new attempt to occupy the tree, which was unchallenged.

He said a decision was made in March 2022 to cut the tree "and it hasn't changed".

He added: "The decision was being reviewed but it never changed. The reason it wasn't changed was the advice the local authority received and also Mr Brenner received from the ombudsman was irrelevant."

In summing up, Judge Cranston said that the council had accepted responsibility for felling the tree.

He said the council was "entitled to cut down the tree without restriction" and that Cllr Hakata's intervention was only a "pause and review".

He agreed with Allianz's barrister Jason Evans Tovey, that the tree posed "a nuisance" which was a "benefit to the council" in terms of saved costs to the insurance companies.

After the hearing Mr Brenner said: "I'm saddened by the way the judge ruled. It's an expensive loss. 

"Taking down the tree is going to affect my house directly."

He said he now faces a wait to see if the house is affected by heave. According to the AA, it is similar to subsidence and can cause a building's foundations "to crack and deform".

Jane Leggett, of HTP, said: "We are extremely disappointed at the decision not to uphold the judicial review."

March's adjourned meeting against HTP will be heard on Wednesday (April 5).