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Driver's narrrow escape leads to a major tree cull

PUBLISHED: 13:02 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:06 07 September 2010

By Marc Mullen A TREE cull is taking place at a Hampstead apartment block two months after a driver and his girlfriend narrowly escaped death. Andrew Lipton was driving down Kidderpore Avenue when a 50-foot maple tree fell from the grounds of the Westfiel

By Marc Mullen

A TREE cull is taking place at a Hampstead apartment block two months after a driver and his girlfriend narrowly escaped death.

Andrew Lipton was driving down Kidderpore Avenue when a 50-foot maple tree fell from the grounds of the Westfield luxury block of flats.

The tree came crashing down on the rear of his Range Rover, narrowly missing him and his girlfriend Natasha King but causing the car to skid out of control and hit an oncoming car.

Since the accident, the freeholder has applied to Camden Council to carry out work on 10 trees and chop down a further eight, including one giant oak in the front garden which is riddled with disease.

Mr Lipton said: "They were very lucky no one was killed when that tree came down. I am pleased something good has come from what happened to us and they are going to take some action.

"I believe they have to show some diligence and demonstrate that they have been taking care of the trees on an annual basis."

Tree expert John Heuch was sent in by Mr Lipton last month, after the freeholder's insurers refused to pay for his car hire bill whilst his Range Rover was being repaired. The insurance company is also disputing physiotherapy bills for Ms King.

After inspecting the stump of the fallen maple, Mr Heuch said: "That someone has inspected it recently and said it was okay beggars belief."

Now the management company in charge of Westfield has called in tree specialists Simon Stephens Associates to inspect all 30 of the trees in the grounds.

The application for the extensive cull comes after ultra-sound tests were carried out. As well as the oak tree in the front garden being felled, the crown of a horse chestnut which is leaning over a neighbouring children's playground is to be thinned by 30 per cent.

In the rear garden two willow trees, two alder trees, a cherry, a sorbus and a birch are to be taken down.

Michael Barnett, director of the Westfield management company, said: "Rather than applying for the two trees at the front, which need essential work, Simon Stephens has submitted his whole work schedule.

"We are bringing in a whole new regime where we will look after the trees on an annual basis.

"We have brought it in after the accident. The council were carrying out regular site visits and I think we were relying too much on their advice as to what needed attention. Now we have brought in experts."

marc.mullen@hamhigh.co.uk


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