BEXLEY Council has been ordered to pay £150,000 damages to a Welling homeowner after roots from a tree in Danson Park caused her house to crumble.

Josephine Robbins, who lives in Radnor Avenue, won a High Court ruling on Thursday (August 16) including a payout of £3,000 for distress and inconvenience.

A further £147,081 was paid from council funds to cover the cost of repairing the damage caused by the tree, which is 30m from her semi-detached property in the council-owned park.

The case dates back to September 2003, when Mrs Robbins first found two cracks in the walls at the back of her house, which she has lived in since 1969.

By the summer of 2006, one of these cracks had grown to 2.5cm wide.

In a 170 paragraph ruling, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart highlighted how Bexley Council was aware of the potential damage the black poplar trees could cause.

He wrote: “In my view, by early 1998 the council was on notice that roots from the poplars in Danson Park had been found at distances of 33m or more from the trees and were alleged to have caused damage.

“The owners of at least four properties had made claims in respect of root induced subsidence.

“In my judgement it was reasonably foreseeable by the council that any house in Radnor Avenue with an extension that was within 35m of one of the poplars was at a real risk from subsidence.”

He went on to criticise Bexley Council, stating the subsidence could have been prevented if a “proper and adequate system of cyclical pruning of the poplars” had been in place.

During the High Court hearing, experts said the subsidence had been caused by the trees extracting moisture from the clay soil below the house's foundations.

A Bexley Council spokesman said: "The claim was dealt with by the council's insurers who are currently considering the judgement and the merits of any appeal."