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.
Tree Preservation Orders
What is a Tree Preservation Order?
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a written Order which makes it an offence to fell, uproot, top, lop, wilful damage or wilful destroy trees protected by a TPO without the Planning Authority's consent.
What is the purpose of a Tree Preservation Order?
To protect trees which are of significant visual amenity value to their local environment.
What trees can be protected?
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; area 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You may request to view a copy of a Tree Preservation Order at reception in the Council Offices (please give 24 hours advance notice) or you can purchase a copy or have a copy emailed to you.
If you are purchasing a property, you 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.
How will I know when a Local Planning Authority makes an Order?
We will write to the owner/occupier of the land where the tree/s is located. If the tree/s overhangs 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 their information.
Will the Tree Preservation Order come into effect immediately?
As soon as the Order 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 or express support for a new Tree Preservation Order?
If you are in receipt of a new TPO and you wish to object 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 the 6 month 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 are now responsible for the tree/s?
No. The owners of the tree/s remain legally responsible for them and like any other owner of trees, ensuring their maintenance and safe up keep. 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 and what is involved?
If you wish to undertake work to TPO tree/s, you must seek permission from the Planning Authority by completing a standard application form number 26. There is no fee for this application process.
To download 1APP form number 26 and guidance notes for proposed works to trees, the subject of a Tree Preservation Order.
To submit via the Planning Portal
or an application form can be obtained by calling 01789 260304 or e-mail email@example.com
The process takes 8 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 arboriculturalist 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 www.tree-care.info/findanarb
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 a Forestry & Landscape Officer will visit the site within the statutory 8 week limit. You must not undertake any works unless you have a Notice of Decision from the Council which grants consent. Consent is valid for two years.
I want to apply to undertake 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, 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 the Government's TPO guide - A Guide to the Law and Good Practice for further information.
I want to apply to undertake works to tree/s causing subsidence damage to property. What information is required?
The information below is extracted is from the Government's TPO guide - A Guide to the Law and Good Practice.
Applicants frequently allege that a tree is causing subsidence damage to a property, but with little or no supporting evidence. There are concerns that where evidence is provided it may not always include appropriate information. It is important that applications which suggest 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 the following information:
- 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, 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 to undertake works to tree/s 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.
The above information is extracted is from the Government's TPO guide - A Guide to the Law and Good Practice.
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 5 cubic metres and as long as no more than 2 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 prior to undertaking any approved work.
Are there any other rules, regulations etc. about trees?
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 prior to work being undertaken.
It is important to survey mature trees for the presence of bats, prior to undertaking works to trees. 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 & Countryside Act are investigated by the Police Force.
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Trees may be on land designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
If the trees are within a SSSI, you will need to seek consent from Natural England for written consent before undertaking any work.
Land and property can be subject to covenants or other restrictions and 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. prior to undertaking works to trees.
You should seek legal advice relating to restrictive covenants.
Some planning permissions may require the retention of trees 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 prior to the removal of a tree. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I always need to seek consent from the Planning Authority before working on a TPO tree?
Generally yes, however there are a few exemptions. The Communities and Local Government leaflet Protected Trees, A guide to tree preservation procedures provides more detailed information relating to exemptions.
As mentioned above, you may find it useful to consult an arborist to provide you with advice.
From 6 April 2012 there have been important changes to the Tree Preservation Order legislation. The new Regulations now 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 8 week process prior to working on dying trees.
- For those trees which are dead, the tree owner or their agent must give at least 5 working days notice in writing (letter or email) to the Planning Authority of the proposed work.
- For those trees which are 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 the above ‘dead', ‘safety issue' exemptions, please provide as much information as possible relating to the condition/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.
5 working days written notices can be sent to the Planning Technicians at the Council marked ‘Urgent' or emailed directly to: email@example.com
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 2 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, vary the decision or dismiss the appeal.
What will happen if I undertake work to my protected 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 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 does not result in the destruction of the tree then you could be fined up to £2,500. In determining the amount of 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.