Tree surveys in Cheltenham – Planning Acceptance Guaranteed (or your money back)
If you’re developing a site in Cheltenham; you may need a tree survey before the local authority will validate your planning application.
Cheltenham Borough Council estimate that there are about 60,000 trees (but probably more) in and around the town. Parkland, street trees, and exotic ornamental trees feature in healthy numbers thanks, in no small part, due to Cheltenham’s history as a Spa town.
Understandably, the local authority is eager to preserve existing trees and plant new ones. Not only because of their aesthetic value but also because of their contribution to the town’s ecosystem services and the wider environmental and human benefits of green infrastructure. Insofar as your planning application is concerned, this means you’re going to have to take any trees on or near your site into account when designing and delivering your scheme.
This isn’t just a tick-box exercise, either. Any trees that will be impacted by your development (whether they’re physically on your site or not) will need to be considered carefully throughout the process. Your local Tree Officer and Planning Case Officer will expect to see details of what you’re going to do to protect those trees and how you’re going to offset the loss of higher quality trees.
This will, of course, include a tree survey. If you don’t get a tree report, Cheltenham Borough Council will, in all likelihood, refuse your planning application.
What if I don’t get a tree survey?
If you don’t get a tree survey when there are trees on your site, the chances of getting planning permission in the first place are slim to none. Go ahead anyway, and you risk serious, criminal, repercussions. A local resident found this out when they received a fine from Cheltenham Magistrates Court for simply pruning (TPO) trees without permission.
Things potentially get even more serious if you significantly harm, fell, or cause the felling of one of the roughly 532 trees in Cheltenham that are under a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or those that are in one of Cheltenham’s seven conservation areas. If you damage one of these trees, you face a fine of up to £20,000. Serious offences can be tried in Crown Court where that fine is potentially unlimited.
Building a greener Cheltenham
All this talk of environmental protections and fines can be intimidating. It can also lead you to think that the local planning authority has an overwhelmingly negative attitude towards development.
The good news is this isn’t the case. At all.
High average house prices and constraints on the land available for development has sparked a significant need for affordable housing in the town. Consequently, delivering affordable housing is one of Cheltenham Borough Council’s key priorities. Between 2015 and 2020, 340 affordable homes were built, and the Local Housing Needs Assessment indicates a need for more than ten times that number of affordable homes delivered between 2021 and 2041. This translates to an average of 194 affordable homes per year, every year. However, only 68 affordable homes were delivered per year, over the last five years.
From this, it’s clear that development will have to happen. Therefore, it’s likely that sensible schemes will have the backing of the local authority through the planning process. Plans for a development near GCHQ are evidence of this stance. The proposed “Golden Valley Development” looks to develop a 154-acre mixed-use site to deliver circa 3,000 new homes as well as cybersecurity business facilities. As well as providing a much-needed boost to the housing stock, this development will also create jobs, enhance the infrastructure of west Cheltenham, and cement Cheltenham’s reputation as an international centre of excellence for cybersecurity.
Of course, not everyone (or even most people!) who need a tree survey is heading up a multi-million-pound development scheme. However, the local authority’s attitude towards these large developments is telling. Positive attitudes here tend to be reflected in the way applications by smaller developers and homeowners are treated. So seeing these developments be considered and receive approval is often good news for development as a whole.
That said, just because the local authority is warm to development, doesn’t mean the local community are. For example, a development that would deliver 350 new homes in the Leckhampton area of Cheltenham is proving controversial. Despite featuring open spaces and additions to the local infrastructure, plans have been met with criticism from residents.
Planning objections are not, however, an insurmountable hurdle. Where trees are impacted by your scheme, a tree report gives the Planning Officer the evidence they need to defend a decision to grant planning permission. And this is just one reason why you should see your tree survey as an investment, rather than a cost.
Your BS5837 tree survey and impact assessment
There are a few types of tree survey, but the one arboricultural report you’ll always need if there are trees on or near your development is called a BS5837 tree survey.
In simple terms, this survey categorises the trees on your site from Cat A (ecologically and/or historically significant trees like the Montpellier Beech in the Montpellier Pleasure Garden before its removal) to Cat U – the dead, dying and dangerous.
Your arboricultural surveyor will then produce an AutoCAD map (also sent to you as a PDF) that you can lay over your design and a report. This report is the really crucial part because it will explain to the local authority how your scheme will protect higher quality trees and justifies the loss of lower quality trees via an exercise called an arboricultural impact assessment.
It’s worth noting that the tree survey process isn’t just for the local authority’s benefit. It protects you too.
By examining the trees on your site, your tree surveyor will be in a position to advise your design team of any risks those trees pose to your development. After all, the last thing you want is for your extension to be ruined by subsidence that stems from nearby roots.
Tree surveys for planning permission
Ultimately, you want planning permission for your scheme.
And, if you have a tree problem, we know that our tree report will get you through planning.
Because as of 2021, we’ve helped somewhere in the region of 15,000 people secure planning consent for their development.
We’re so confident that on the off-chance that our tree advice doesn’t get you planning permission, we’ll give you your money back.
No questions. No quibbles.
Our team of 30+ tree surveyors are the best around, and they’re all employed by us. This means your project will never get palmed off to a subcontractor.
Most of them work from home, too. So, the Arbtecher that arrives at your site has lived and worked in Cheltenham for years (Max). He’ll know all about the local ecology, the policies Cheltenham Borough Council use to make planning determinations, and an awareness of the local interest groups who routinely object to planning applications.
Whilst we use local experts, Arbtech is a national operator with powerful processes that ensure you get your completed tree survey and report in a matter of days.
Two to three days not fast enough?
Then you can invest in an upgrade for a next working day report or weekend survey.
All this comes together to give you the tree survey and advice you need to get planning permission first time, fast.
Trustworthy tree surveys in Cheltenham – hundreds of 5 star reviews
So, if you need a tree survey that contains all the advice you need to get planning permission (or your money back) – choose Arbtech.
Arthur, A. 2021. St Mowden to deliver 3000 new homes and Cheltenham cyber park next to GCHQ. [Online]. Available from: https://www.business-live.co.uk/ (Accessed 15th February 2021)
Cheltenham Borough Council. N.D. Protected Trees. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/ (Accessed 15th February 2021)
Cheltenham Borough Council. N.D. Requirement for affordable housing. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/ (Accessed 15th February 2021)
Cheltenham Borough Council. N.D. The Montpellier beech, Cheltenham. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/(Accessed 15th February 2021).
Cheltenham Borough Council. N.D. Trees and planning applications. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/ (Accessed 15th February 2021)
Cheltenham Borough Council. N.D. Trees. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk (Accessed 15th February 2021)
Clark, E. 2018. Cutting down trees without permission: law and legislation. [Online]. Available from: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/(Accessed 15th February 2021)
Whiteway-Wilkinson, Z. 2021. Huge 250 home development in Cheltenham ‘pocket of peace’ called a ‘no go’ by residents. [Online]. Available from: https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/ (Accessed 15th February 2021)
Wood, S. 2018. Local man pays penalty for pruning protected trees. [Online]. Available from: https://www.punchline-gloucester.com/ (Accessed 15th February 2021)