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Works to trees (tree preservation orders and conservation areas)

This page contains information on works to trees and restrictions relating to tree preservation orders (TPO) and trees located within conservation areas including how to submit an application.

Introduction

Trees are an important part of the character of this borough and it is important that the planning system plays its part in maintaining this character.

The development control system can protect trees in a number of differing ways. In development proposals the presence of trees is a material planning consideration, whilst in conservation areas trees have a degree of protection under the Town and County Planning Act 1990. A local planning authority can also make a tree preservation order to ensure that trees worthy of retention are retained for their amenity value.

Conservation areas and trees

Trees in conservation areas are often a very important feature and contribute to the overall character of the area. The importance of trees in conservation areas is recognised in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which makes special provision for trees in conservation areas which are not already protected by a tree preservation order.

Under Section 211 of the act any one proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a conservation area is required to give the local planning authority six weeks prior notice.

On receipt of a notice the authority has six weeks to consider whether to protect the tree(s) with a tree preservation order.

The authority will deal with the notice in one of three ways:-

  • make a tree preservation order if it considers the tree to have significant amenity value,
  • decide not to make a TPO and allow the six weeks period to expire, at which point the proposed works may go ahead as long as it is carried out within two years from the date the notice was received by the authority or
  • decide not to make a TPO and inform the applicant the work can go ahead prior to the end of the six week period.

The authority cannot refuse consent nor can it grant consent subject to conditions.

If a tree preservation order is made, this is usually done by means of an emergency order which lasts for a period of six months. There is no right of appeal against the making of a tree preservation order. However, further consultation with local residents is carried out at the time of making the order and the local authority has six months to either confirm, modify or effectively revoke the preservation order.

Tree preservation orders

Tree preservation orders are made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 2012.

A tree preservation order or TPO is usually made by a local planning authority (LPA) to protect specific trees (or a particular woodland) from deliberate damage and destruction, which could include felling, lopping, topping, uprooting or otherwise wilful damage. Emergency TPOs can be made very quickly although obviously any trees subject to the emergency order need to be worthy and capable of protection anyway.

The making of a TPO is a discretionary power and is not a statutory function. Although it is possible to make TPOs on any trees, in practice they are most commonly used in urban and semi-urban settings, for example gardens and parkland. A TPO is to protect trees for the public's enjoyment. It is made for the 'amenity' of the tree or woodland, and this can include its nature conservation value but more often means its visual amenity.

Not all trees are suitable for protection. A TPO may only be used to protect trees and cannot normally be applied to bushes, shrubs or hedges. If a tree is 'dead, dying or dangerous' then it is normally not suitable for a TPO either - although defining these conditions is very hard and often needs expert advice.

If you would like a tree to be considered for protection, then you can write (or e-mail) the Planning Control section at the Council - see contact address shown on this page. It would be helpful to include the location of the tree(s) and some photographs. On receipt of such requests, the Council will consider the amenity value of the trees and if appropriate make a Preservation Order.

What do I do if I want to do works to a tree in a conservation area or subject to a tree preservation order?

Just because a tree is located in a conservation area or that it is covered by a tree preservation order does not mean you will be unable to carry out any works to it. However, you will need the permission of the local planning authority before you can carry out any works. To carry out works to trees covered by any of the above forms of protection, you will need to submit details of those proposals using an application form and providing specific information regarding:-

  • the reasons for the proposed tree work,
  • identification of all the trees to which your submission relates on a site location plan or site sketch plan and
  • provision of exact details of the proposed work.

Once all of the above information has been provided to our satisfaction we will acknowledge receipt of your application and advise when a decision should be made by. The relevant application forms and guidance notes are attached below.

How to submit an application?

There are essentially three ways you can apply for to do works to a tree or trees.

You can apply on-line using the Planning Portal. This enables you to submit your application electronically.

You can also download a copy of the application form and guidance notes below.

Application form 31

Notes for guidance

Further information on the Council's validation document can also be found on the how to submit a planning (or associated) application web page.

Alternatively a paper copy of the forms can be collected from the Council Offices or sent out to you on request.

What happens next?

The local authority will notify local residents and consider the merits of the notification/application and will make a formal determination on the proposal. This process will take up to six weeks for a notification of works to a tree in a conservation area and up to 8 weeks for an application for works to a tree subject to a tree preservation order.

If an application is refused, or allowed subject to conditions, or if the Council fails to decide the application within 8 weeks the applicant has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate under the provisions of section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).

Further information on making an appeal against such decisions can be found on the Planning Portal web site on the Tree preservation and replacement appeals page.

Tree preservation orders – replacement trees

If a tree subject to a TPO is felled there is a duty to plant a replacement tree. This applies in the following circumstances :-

  • If the felling is in breach of an order, or
  • except in the case of woodland, because the tree is dead or dangerous, unless the planning authority says you need not, or
  • if you are given permission to cut down a protected tree but replanting is a condition of its consent, or if you own protected woodland and permission is given to cut down trees, except where this is for thinning, making way for approved development, or the replanting requirement has been waived by the Secretary of State. The local planning authority has legal powers to ensure that a replacement tree is planted when required. The original TPO will normally cover the replacement trees.

Tree in or near development proposals

Where planning permission is required for new development, the presence of existing trees can influence the acceptability of such proposals. The local planning authority positively supports the retention of landscape features such as hedges and trees.

Other regulations

In addition to the regulations relating to conservation areas and tree preservation orders, there are two other pieces of legislation to consider – the Hedgerow Regulations and provisions relating to high hedges. Further details on both of these subject areas can be found on the relevant pages of this web site.

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