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Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Thursday, 2 September 2010 12:50 UK
Stopping homes subsiding in Hull's leafy avenues
Trees in Hull's Avenues area
Many of the tress in Hull's Avenues area are over 100-years-old

The problem of trees undermining the foundations of houses was highlighted in a recent TV documentary.

The programme, on Channel 4, focused on a Hull family who saw their newly bought home in the city's Garden Village brought close to collapse due to the roots of neighbouring trees spreading beneath the property.

The situation was resolved when the council agreed to let them fell the trees. This required special permission as the district is a conservation area.

The problem of subsidence is an ongoing problem in Hull and the surrounding area. The region's geology means that the vast majority of buildings rest on a bed of clay.

Large trees suck out the water from the clay through their roots. The ground beneath the foundations dry out and the building starts to shift.

The problem is particularly acute in areas that were designed as garden suburbs in the late Victorian and early Edwardian era. Places such as the Garden Village in east Hull and the Avenues in west Hull were laid out with streets planted with large trees, such as Elms, Oaks and Limes.

Broad-leafed trees are especially thirsty, A mature Oak can take over 200 litres of water a day.

Tree sculpture
Some of the dead trees in the Avenues have been carved into sculptures

The problem came to a head in the 1980s when a series of dry summers exacerbated the problem. A court case brought by an Avenues homeowner against Humberside County Council established that the council were liable for damages for subsidence caused by the area's 100-year-old lime trees.

The case led to a mass felling of trees in the area.

Stephanie Wilson chairs the Avenues and Pearson Park Residents' Association. She believes trees are crucial in a built-up environment:

"We love the look of a living monument on the street and the green corridor effect they make."

The council are now managing the problem with controlled pruning and replanting the lost trees with species which do not grow as high or produce long roots.

According to Ms Wilson the actions have eroded the link with trees and subsidence:

"They contain the risk, and the risk is outweighed by the amenity."

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