The protection of trees plays an important role in conserving the natural environment and makes a significant contribution to the beauty of Stratford-on-Avon District. Where trees are not protected by their Conservation Area status, Stratford-on-Avon District Council has the power to place Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) to prevent inappropriate works taking place.

What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a written order that makes it an offence to fell, uproot, top, lop, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy trees protected by a TPO without the Planning Authority's consent. It purpose is protect trees that are of significant visual amenity value to their local environment. Any tree species can be protected as long as it is of significant amenity value. A TPO can relate to individual specimens, groups of trees, areas of land containing trees or woodlands.

How can I find out if a tree is protected?

To see if there are any constraints and whether or not permission has been granted for works to trees at a location, please contact 01789 260304 or email planning.applications@stratford-dc.gov.uk.

If you are purchasing a property, your solicitor should advise you if any trees at the property are subject to a TPO or if the property is located within a Conservation Area.

Requests for information on TPOs

We are working to make these available to customers on our website. Until this service becomes available, we will forward copy documents to you within three working days.

How will I know when a Local Planning Authority makes a TPO?

We will write to the owner / occupier of the land where the tree or trees are located. If the tree or trees overhang adjacent land, we will also inform the adjacent landowner. Where the owner of the land is unknown, a copy of the TPO will be displayed on the site. A copy of the order will also be sent to the appropriate parish council for its information.

Will the TPO come into effect immediately?

As soon as the TPO is served it comes into effect. This is a provisional order and will continue to provide protection for six months or until the order is confirmed, whichever comes first.

Can I object to or express support for a new TPO?

If you are in receipt of a new TPO and you wish to object to or express support for a new TPO, you must submit written comments to us within 28 days of you receiving notice of the TPO. We have six months to either confirm or not confirm the order, and your objections will be considered by the Area Planning Committee within that time period. Members will either resolve to confirm the order as made, decide not to confirm the order, or modify the order. You will be informed of the committee date and procedure should you wish to present your views at the committee.

If I have a TPO, does that mean the council is now responsible for the tree(s)?

No. The owners of the tree or trees remain legally responsible for them and, like any other owner of trees, for their maintenance and safe upkeep. However, written permission is required from the Planning Authority prior to any works being undertaken to a tree.

How do I get permission for works to a TPO tree?

If you wish to undertake work to TPO tree or trees, you must seek permission from the Planning Authority by completing a standard application form number 26. There is no fee for this application process. You can:

The process takes eight weeks, and it is important to be clear and precise in describing the works proposed to the tree. You may need to provide supporting evidence such as professional advice on tree health and, in cases of alleged subsidence, professional evidence of tree related damage.

You may find it helpful to consult an arborist before you submit an application to clarify what you need to do. They will often apply for consent on your behalf. Information relating to selecting a tree expert can be found at tree-care.info.

Provided all the information submitted is complete, we will notify you that the application is valid. The local parish council and ward members are informed of your proposal and an officer will visit the site within the statutory eight week limit. You must not undertake any works unless you have a Notice of Decision from the council granting consent. Consent is valid for two years.

I want to apply for works relating to the condition of TPO trees. What information do I need to submit with the form?

Written evidence must be submitted with the application form describing the nature of the problem and its impact, and justifying the work proposed. Arboricultural or other diagnostic evidence (e.g. from an entomologist or pathologist) must be provided where the health of the tree is affected by, for example, the presence of pests, diseases or fungi.

If the reasons for the application relate to the structural condition of the tree (e.g. damaged roots or structural defects within the tree, or defects that may be of concern to the current or future safe retention of the tree or parts of the tree), then arboricultural evidence must be provided to support the proposed work.

Please view Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas on gov.uk for further information.

I want to apply for works to a tree or trees causing subsidence damage to property. What information is required?

Applicants frequently allege that a tree is causing subsidence damage to a property, but with little or no supporting evidence, and where evidence is provided it may not always include appropriate information. It is important that applications suggesting that the proposed tree work is necessary to address tree-related subsidence damage are properly supported.

Reports will usually be required from a structural engineer and/or a chartered surveyor and be supported by technical analysis from other experts e.g. for root and soil analysis.

These reports must include:

  • a description of the property, including a description of the damage and the crack pattern, the date that the damage first occurred/was noted, details of any previous underpinning or building work and the geological strata for the site identified from the geological map
  • details of vegetation in the vicinity and its management since discovery of the damage, together with a plan showing the vegetation and affected building
  • measurement of the extent and distribution of vertical movement using level monitoring. However, where level monitoring is not possible, the applicant should state why and provide crack-monitoring data. The data provided must be sufficient to show a pattern of movement consistent with the presence of the implicated tree(s)
  • a profile of a trial / bore hole dug to identify soil characteristics and foundation type and depth
  • the sub-soil characteristics including soil type (particularly that on which the foundations rest), liquid limit, plastic limit and plasticity index
  • the location and identification of roots found. Where identification is inconclusive, then DNA testing should be carried out
  • proposals and estimated costs of options to repair the damage

In addition, the application should include a report from an arboriculturist to support the tree work proposals, including arboricultural options for avoidance or remediation of indirect tree-related damage.

I want to apply for works to a tree or trees damaging garden walls, drives, drains etc. What information is required?

Claims that damage is occurring to lighter structures and surfaces (e.g. garden walls, drains, paving, drives) should be supported by technical evidence from a relevant engineer, building / drainage surveyor or other appropriate expert.

Do I need any other permission before working on TPO tree(s)?

If you are felling trees outside garden areas then you may require a Felling Licence from the Forestry Commission.

If the trees are located outside garden areas and are also the subject of a TPO, then you should apply for consent to the Forestry Commission rather than direct to the Planning Authority. The Forestry Commission will then consult us on your felling proposals. This procedural route will only apply if you are felling a quantity of timber. You do not require a Felling Licence if within any calendar quarter, the timber volume is less than five cubic metres and as long as no more than two cubic metres are sold.

If you are not the owner of the TPO tree then you will need to seek consent from the owner of the tree before undertaking any approved work.

Are there any other rules or regulations about trees?

Birds

Wild birds and their nests, while in use or being constructed, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This also applies to any eggs that the nest may contain. Therefore, in order to avoid killing, damaging, destroying or recklessly disturbing nesting birds, works to trees should be avoided between March and August inclusive. Trees should always be checked for signs of breeding activity before work is undertaken.

Bats

It is important to survey mature trees for the presence of bats before undertaking works. Bats and their roost sites are fully protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the latter of which deems them a European Protected Species. It is a criminal offence to recklessly disturb or destroy a known or suspected bat roost, even if the roost is only occasionally used.

Offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act are investigated by the police.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Trees may be on land designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

If the trees are within an SSSI, you will need to seek written consent from Natural England before undertaking any work.

Restrictive Covenants

Land and property can be subject to covenants or other restrictions; details can be found in the title deeds of a property or perhaps in the conditions of a lease. It may therefore be necessary to obtain consent from a third party as well as the Local Authority / Forestry Commission / Natural England etc. before undertaking works to trees or hedgerows.

You should seek legal advice relating to restrictive covenants.

Planning Permissions

Some planning permissions may require the retention of hedgerows on a development site and to remove them would be in breach of the planning consent. You should check that there are no restrictions on your development site before the removal of a hedgerow. Contact planning.applications@stratford-dc.gov.uk.

Do I always need to seek consent from the Planning Authority before working on a TPO tree?

Generally yes, with a few exemptions. The gov.uk Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas pages provides more detailed information relating to exemptions.

You may find it useful to consult an arborist to provide you with advice.

On 6 April 2012, important changes were made to the Tree Preservation Order legislation. The updated regulations omit the word ‘dying' from the exemption for the need to seek consent. Instead, the tree owner or their agent will need to seek consent through the normal eight week process before working on dying trees.

  • For dead trees, the tree owner or their agent must give at least five working days' notice in writing (letter or email) to the Planning Authority of the proposed work.
  • For those trees considered to be an urgent and serious safety risk, the tree owner or their agent must give notice in writing (letter or email) to the Planning Authority of the proposed work as soon as practicable after the work is deemed to be necessary. Please note this does not necessarily mean that notice is given after the work has taken place.

For those wishing to undertake work under these exemptions, please provide as much information as possible relating to the condition or structure of the tree. The burden of proof rests with the owner of the tree to demonstrate that the tree was either dead or an imminent safety issue. Evidence should be obtained in the form of arboricultural reports by a qualified arborists, photographs, sections of timber retained on site etc.

Five working days written notices can be sent to the Planning Support team at the council marked ‘urgent' or emailed directly to planning.applications@stratford-dc.gov.uk.

If I get consent for works to a TPO tree, how long does the permission last?

If you get consent for the proposed works, then this consent will be valid for two years from the date of the Planning Authority's Notice of Decision letter.

What happens if my application for work to a TPO tree is refused?

If we refuse your application for consent to undertake arboricultural work to your TPO tree, then you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days of receiving the Notice of Decision from us. Details of the appeal process will be contained within the refusal notice. The Planning Inspectorate may allow or vary the decision or dismiss the appeal.

What happens if I undertake work a TPO tree without written consent from the Planning Authority?

If you deliberately destroy a protected tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be liable to an unlimited fine of up to £20,000 per tree. You may also be fined if you cause or permit such work. If you undertake work to a protected tree without consent but this does not result in the destruction of the tree, then you could be fined up to £2,500. In determining the amount of the fine, the magistrates' court will take into account any financial benefit arising from the offence.

You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if it was cut down or destroyed.

When do I need to plant a replacement TPO tree?

We will normally seek replacement planting, if appropriate, when a tree has been felled or destroyed in breach of an order or because it is dead or dangerous. We may also grant consent to fell a TPO tree but make the replanting of a replacement a condition of the consent.

Last updated on 28/09/2018

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