Chingford News

Chingford woman could face £4.8k council bill over massive hedges

Joyce Noel has been told to cut the fir hedges down to a smaller size or pay a tree surgery bill. Yesterday council contracted surgeons halted work after finding ‘evidence of nesting birds’ , reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

The towering fir tree hedges are at least five metres tall and block sunlight into neighbouring gardens. Credit: LDRS

A Chingford woman who has faced years of complaints from neighbours over her towering garden hedges could face a £4,800 bill from Waltham Forest Council for not cutting them enough.

Sales consultant Joyce Noel, who lives on Priory Close in Chingford, has refused to cut several large hedges which block sunlight into neighbouring gardens, because they contain “seven or eight” wood pigeon nests.

Joyce has resisted trimming the hedges – each at least five metres tall – despite anti-social behaviour orders from the council and long-running complaints from neighbours. 

Yesterday (15th February), the council’s planning enforcement officers called in a large team from its tree surgeon contractors Gristwood and Toms, a locksmith and the police in a bid to cut the hedges.

But the team left within two hours without trimming a single branch, after finding “evidence of nesting birds”.

A locksmith opened the garden door for the council’s tree surgeons yesterday (14th February). Credit: LDRS

The council action followed years of complaints from Joyce’s neighbours which concluded in a remedial notice last month, ordering her to cut the hedge down to 3.5m or face a £4,800 bill for tree surgery work by the council’s contractor.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

The council now claims Joyce will have to pay for the contractors’ time.

When the team of seven tree surgeons and three vans – each towing wood chippers – arrived, Joyce had left her garden gate locked and a note on her door warning that disturbing nesting birds is illegal, regardless of the species.

The 63-year-old told the LDRS she could not be at the address because her 89-year-old father had a medical emergency.

She said the council enforcement team were “adamant” that they would come to trim the hedges, even after she repeatedly warned about the presence of bird nests.

Joyce added: “I don’t understand why they wanted them to be cut down now if pigeons are nesting – knowing that the pigeons have rights.

”It could have been all avoided. We told them [about the nests] on many occasions.”

She also claimed that the council’s own senior planning officer who came to inspect the hedges in January had seen the nests.

A council spokesperson said it had “no alternative” but to take direct action after several years of trying to work with Joyce.

They added: “Contractors attended on Wednesday 14 February and, whilst carrying out full due diligence before starting work, found evidence of nesting birds that meant they could not proceed.

“We are awaiting information about the costs for our contractors’ time, which will need to be met by the homeowner.”

Joyce responded: “The thing is why would I be charged when I already told [the council] pigeons were there and trees had been cut back?

“They had ample opportunity to have a tree surgeon there and they sent the whole team – they had inspected literally about three weeks before.”

Joyce’s neighbours declined to comment.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations