Anger as Redwood trees 'pulling up paving' and making pavements 'unsafe' on Luton street

They’re native to California and can grow taller than the Town Hall, so what are these trees doing on a road in Luton?
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Redwood trees planted on grass verges in a Sundon Park street are damaging properties say residents as they call on the council to remove them.

Four large trees on Moira Close can be seen towering above the houses, with residents complaining they are stopping natural light from coming through their windows, while the roots are pulling up their driveways.

Alan Reynolds, 64, has lived on the street for 32 years and says the roots have become an issue in the past year. He explained: “I’m not so much worried about the height, I'm worried about where [the roots] are going.

One of the trees can be seen towering over the houses. (Picture: Olivia Preston)One of the trees can be seen towering over the houses. (Picture: Olivia Preston)
One of the trees can be seen towering over the houses. (Picture: Olivia Preston)

“I don't know what damage is done now, how far under the house it's gone.”

Another resident said: “The roots of these trees are very extensive. And they don't go down, they go out.”

Alan hopes to sell his 1950s semi-detached home but is worried the roots of the Redwoods could ruin the house’s foundations. He said: “For me, this could totally destroy my retirement if all those roots are underneath my house.”

Luton Borough Council contractors repaired a crack in the pavement outside of Alan’s home after he complained about the roots. He said: “All the council did was come down and put a little bit of tarmac in there. They've done a botched job.”

Resident Alan Reynolds, and his block paving. (Picture: Olivia Preston)Resident Alan Reynolds, and his block paving. (Picture: Olivia Preston)
Resident Alan Reynolds, and his block paving. (Picture: Olivia Preston)

The council said: “We cannot confirm who planted these trees but they are not a type of tree that we have planted on highways elsewhere. We have inspected the trees and can confirm that they are Redwoods. They do not need any works at present.

"A highways inspector visited the location last week and noted there are no defects in the adopted footway which warrant repair according to our maintenance plan. We will of course continue to keep an eye on these trees to ensure they are safe."

Coast redwoods can grow between three to ten feet per year and are among the fastest-growing trees on earth.

And it’s not just the damage to the roads and property, Alan is also concerned about the risk to safety the roots pose. He told Luton News: “This has been a danger, people won’t walk down here. Anyone with a mobility scooter, they’re using the roads. If someone falls over, trips on [the cracked pavement], cuts their head open, possibly kills them - you don't know.”

The unhappy residents have voiced their concerns to Sarah Owen, MP for Luton North.

She said: “This is an issue I’ve seen for myself and have heard residents’ concerns on the doorsteps. This isn’t just an issue for Moira Close but also a number of streets across the town.

“There are no quick fixes but as a first step, pavements must be safe for people to use. Then, working with the council and residents, we need to look at the long-term maintenance of trees in our neighbourhoods.”

People living along the road say they don’t know when the trees were planted. Alan said: “It could be 15 years ago, up to 20 years ago. But they have grown substantially in no time.”

Across from Alan, 90-year-old Lawrence Downton has been on Moira Close for 60 years and called the trees “unruly” and “in need of some tree surgery”. While Karol said: “We want trees of a normal size, not a tropical forest, right?!”

Pressure is on Luton Borough Council to sort these trees out. Alan added: “I want it investigated. I want the trees taken down. Simple. It's no good.”