Housing group Places for People seeks up to £200k for subsidence at a property caused by tree roots

Places for People Group, one of the largest property management and development companies in the UK, has launched a legal battle over tree roots.

The company, which has assets of £2.2bn, is suing Wokingham District Council for damages of up to £200,000 after its property at 7 Anson Walk, Reading, was damaged by tree roots.

Places for People Group blames the council’s negligence for subsidence problems at the 1950s semi and says damage was caused by two oak trees and an ash tree at the council-owned house next door.

The oak trees are 14 and 15 metres high, and the ash tree is also 15 metres high, and the company’s loss adjusters and engineers warned the council that the trees were implicated in damage in 2003, according to a High Court writ.

The company’s house had to be underpinned in mid-2005 after the council failed to carry out work on the trees or co-operate with the company, the writ says. Internal walls also had to be underpinned, and the movement of the gable wall caused distortion in roof tiling, which meant that roof tiles had to be reset, it is claimed.

Places for People Group says its efforts to persuade the council to manage the trees were unsuccessful, and the trees and vegetation next door have continued to grow virtually unchecked.

Tree roots have encroached onto the company’s land and reached under foundations, taking away water and moisture, and undermining the foundations, leading to subsidence and damage, the writ says. The company accuses the council of creating a legal nuisance, and is seeking damages including the cost of repairs, and an indemnity against any claim brought by the tenant for distress and inconvenience.

Places for People Group specialises in urban renewal, new building, and sustainable communities, and began life as a housing association in 1965 before growing into an umbrella organisation.