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Overview

What tree information must I submit with my planning application?  

The council requires a tree survey and plan to be submitted with any planning application where trees are within 10 metres of construction work. This is to ensure that trees on a development site are fully considered as part of the application. A tree protection plan must accompany this document as part of your planning application, in order to prevent damage to trees during construction. 

Tree survey and plan

We recommend that the tree survey and plan are carried out in accordance with British Standard 5837:2012 'Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – recommendations'.

Your planning application may not be registered if you fail to submit a tree survey and tree protection plan. 

Tree protection plan

The tree protection plan (TPP) usually shows the position of protective fencing but may include other measures such as ground protection. Protective fencing is used to keep machinery away from the roots and branches and prevent the storage of materials too close to the trees.

A tree can be damaged in only a few minutes on a development sites and the damage is often irreparable. This damage is usually caused accidentally, because of a failure to appreciate the vulnerability of trees, particularly their root systems.

The protective fencing, or other protective measures, must be in place before any work begins on site, including site clearance or demolition, and remain in place until all construction has finished.

If the council grants planning consent for a site that contains trees we will often make the tree protection plan and tree survey one of the approved documents of your planning permission. Failure to protect the trees on your site could mean you are in breach of your planning consent and we may take enforcement action. 

Arboricultural method statement (AMS)

In some circumstances it may be possible to carry out development inside the construction exclusion zone (CEZ). This would require a level of detail over and above the normal content of a tree survey. 

The most common detail required in an AMS is technical information relating to a 'no dig' solution for footways. Other examples could be specialist foundations requiring a trenchless construction, or retaining walls. 

The AMS is likely to be requested as a condition, however if the council considers conflict may occur it may require you to submit these details prior to determining your planning application. If a developer is aware that conflict will occur it is recommended that the AMS is submitted to support the full planning application. 

Mitigation planting

On occasions there will be justification to remove trees for development. In this situation mitigation planting is expected. Replacement planting of three trees for everyone lost is required, unless the applicant wishes to carry out planting with larger tree stock and has limited space, in which case two trees would be expected. This should be a consideration at design stage as the planning boundary must include enough room to carry out these landscaping proposals.

Replacement trees should be a minimum size of a 'standard tree' 8-10 cm girth.

Where space is limited and the replacement of 3:1 cannot be achieved the use of larger stock such as a select, heavy or extra heavy standard could be used. This will have to be assessed on a site by site basis and on the merits of each scheme.

Whip planting (1+1 transplant 80-100cm) will be accepted if the mitigation planting is for hedgerows or wooded belts. Whip planting will not be approved for replacing the loss of established trees, regardless of condition at planning application date.

The planting specification must adhere to the document below and include maintenance details for five years. 

Checklist

Does your scheme:

  • Include a tree survey?
     
  • Take the findings of the tree survey into account?
     
  • Show existing and proposed ground levels?
     
  • Show the position of protective fencing and specification of the barrier on the proposed layout plan?
     
  • Show the locations of existing and proposed over and underground service runs?
     
  • Avoid temporary or permanent construction activities which may injure trees?
     
  • Include method statements for all work proposed near trees, or within the construction exclusion zone (CEZ)?
     
  • Include detailed landscape proposals showing mitigation planting for trees lost through development? 

Trees in conservation areas

Where works are likely to impact upon trees in a conservation area the district or borough council will require a minimum of 6 weeks notification of details. At this point, the district or borough Councils may place a tree preservation order (TPO) on the trees affected, therefore, early advice should be sought from the district or borough council. Failure to do so may delay schemes.

Are all trees protected in a conservation area?

Yes, they are protected by the provisions in section 211 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. A tree in this instance is anything with a stem diameter above 75mm when measured at 1.5 metres. 

What is the procedure to remove a tree(s) in a conservation area?

If you wish to remove tree(s) in a conservation area it is necessary to give the local planning authority, written notice (by letter or email) of proposed work describing what you want to do, at least six weeks before the work starts. This gives the authority an opportunity to consider protecting the tree with a tree preservation order.

No work should be carried out to the tree until either confirmation of acceptance of the notice has been received, or the six-week period has elapsed. 

What happens if I cut down a tree in a conservation area without giving notice to the local planning authority (LPA) or not waiting for the six-week notification period?

If a tree is cut down, uprooted, wilfully destroyed, damaged (including cutting roots, top or lop), in a manner likely to destroy it, the LPA has the authority to fine up to £20,000 for each offence (each tree).

It is common practice that, as well as the fine, it will be necessary to plant a replacement tree for every tree that was removed or destroyed. 

Are there any exemptions to removing a tree without giving prior notice?

It is not an offence to undertake work to a tree in a conservation area that is dead, dying or has become dangerous. However, the burden of proof that work is exempt from the need for prior notice, because of the condition of the tree(s), lies with the person carrying out the work.

Therefore anyone proposing to do work under this exemption is strongly advised to still contact the Tree/Arboricultural Officer at the relevant district or borough for advice before hand. 

Tree preservation orders

A tree preservation order (TPO) is an order made by a local planning authority (LPA) in respect of trees. A TPO is used to protect trees (including areas of woodland) where they provide significant local amenity benefits.

The order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy the tree or trees without permission from the LPA who made the order.

A guide to tree preservation procedures, produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government is available:

How do I find out if there is a TPO on a land holding?

It is necessary to contact the LPAs within the county. Each district and borough council hold their own complete datasets of trees with a TPO. Each district and borough council deal with this differently. Although a search for a TPO may be free, a copy of the full TPO with map showing trees included may incur a cost. 

How do I get permission to remove or carry out work on a tree protected by a TPO?

You must make an application to the LPA who made the order using a standard application form. The form is available from their websites.

List details of all work you wish to carry out and provide information to support your application, such as professional advice received such as a tree survey. You may also find it useful to refer to their websites which sometimes give further guidance. 

Is permission always required when carrying out work on a tree with a TPO?

There are exemptions, the most common of which:

  • If the tree is a serious safety risk. However, it is still necessary to notify the LPA in writing (by letter or email) as soon as is practically possible with evidence such as a safety inspection.
     
  • If the tree is dead. However, you must still give at least five working days written notice to the LPA in writing (by letter or email)
     
  • Removing dead branches from a living tree. However it is recommended that you make a call to the relevant LPA Tree/Artboricultural Officer, to let them know that the work being carried out is exempt, so that they can reassure any concerned members of the public who contact them when they see work being carried out.

If there is any doubt get advice from the LPA Tree/Arboricultural Officer.

What happens if you carry out work on a TPO tree without permission?

If a protected tree is deliberately destroyed, or damaged in a manner which is likely to destroy it, you could be liable to an unlimited fine.

You can also be fined for permitting the work to take place.

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