Tree-house Felled After Neighbour Complains

Tree-house felled after complaints

Summary of an Article from: EADT24
Suffolk and Essex Online [link to original article]
28 February 2007

Daniel Anderson,13, right, and Mackenzie Gooch,10, look up at what is left of their tree house. Photos by Tudor Morgan-OwenDaniel Anderson,13, right, and Mackenzie Gooch,10, at their tree house. Photos by Tudor Morgan-Owen

A tree-house built by 13-year-old Daniel Anderson with his younger sister Olivia, 10, opposite their home in Long Melford has been torn down after neighbour complains it was an “eyesore”.

Their mother, Lindsay Anderson, said: “The children were very proud of their little tree-house – it was a very funny design with a little ladder and a box for a roof and sides. They even had a carrier bag for rubbish.

“I also liked it because it meant I could see them from the garden. They were not doing anything naughty or being rowdy, just having some traditional fun.” She said: “The children spent many happy hours outside building. They made a funny looking ladder, worked as a team to measure and saw wood, made trips in and out of my shed to get nails and tools, and every now and then I watched them carrying bits proudly up to the green to erect their house.”

“I was absolutely thrilled to see them happily pursuing such a healthy and normal childhood activity in the fresh air. At the end of the day they were all pink cheeked and hungry. I pride myself on the fact that my children don’t hang around on the street. Yet this attitude and our disappearing countryside are pushing our children into mischief.”

But when the neighbours complained the children came home devastated after being told that their precious house was an eyesore. One disgrunteled resident said: “I think where the tree-house was put up could be very dangerous, to the kids and also for the environment with nails banged in the trees. There are some lovely places for the children to play around here and I am not against building tree-houses – I encouraged my children to do that in our garden. But I just think there is a time and a place and this is the wrong place.”

I think this is another classic example of how neurotic adult safety fanatics can impose harm on young people’s development in their community. Children exposed to this kind of petty constraints to their freedom to play are often prone to turning to anti-social outlets and developing poor respect for authorities. And, no wonder. As adults many of us would never stand for an infraction on our basic freedoms.

And, the arguement that treehouse is somehow dangerous to the environment is an ironic misstatement. Sure many nails are not so good for trees, but they are minor and definately not a threat to human health. I’d wager that the emissions from the complaining neighbour’s daily activities (car, home heating, electricity usage, etc.) is many time more detrimental to the environment than the kid’s treehouse would ever be.

To exert muscle power climbing and cobbling scraps of recycled wood together in a tree is one of the most environmentally benign activities children could engage in. Videogames, by contrast, consume between 100 and 500 Watts of electricity to play. And the physical health benefits of being active outside far outweigh the potential harm from an accident. Children are not best served by excessive safety controls — they need to be free to learn and play for themselves.

For more on this topic see this previous blog post.