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If you want to get planning permission for your development and there are trees on or near your site, one of the Surrey local authorities may ask you for a tree survey. There are many reasons why they might make this request, but all of them share one thing in common; your development will or is likely to interfere with the trees on or near your site.
Trees are central to Surrey’s environmental strategy. The county, like most others, plans to be carbon neutral by 2050. To meet this aim, the Surrey County Council has created a climate change strategy that features the ambitious target of planting of 1.2 million trees by 2030. This tree planting drive isn’t unique to one particular area of the county, either.
Both rural and urban areas will be included in this initiative. This means whether you’re planning to demolish a property and build flats to meet housing demand in the centre of Guildford, or you’re planning an extension to your home in one of the rural towns in Mole Valley, the chances of you having to contend with one (or more) trees are on the rise.
Surrey’s Tree Surveyors – 100% success rate at planning
Of course, this begs the question of whether or not you actually need a tree survey at all. The only organisation that is competent to give you the definitive “yes” or “no” answer you need before you submit your planning application is your local planning authority. This is because every site, development proposal, and tree are different. Therefore, it’s in your interest to get in touch with them as soon as possible if you are in any doubt. If you don’t, and it turns out that you need a tree survey, you run the risk of your planning application being refused.
Now, what we can say is that if there are trees on or near your site, it’s likely that you will need a tree report before you can get planning permission.
But even a tree survey isn’t a cast-iron guarantee that you’ll be granted planning consent (unless you choose us – more on that later) because your planning Case Officer will take lots of factors into consideration when they make their determination. Simply put, measures put in place to protect a plane tree that’s one of many that line a street in Woking will probably not suffice for an ancient oak that’s a critical ecological feature in the Hogsmill Open Space nature reserve in Ewall.
Then there are conservation areas where the protections afforded to trees are even more robust. For example, Langley Vale Wood near Epsom contains semi-natural ancient woodland; indeed, the three largest wooded areas within are designated Sites of Nature Conservation Importance.
In real terms, this means the greater the significance of the trees to the local ecology, the more you’ll need to do to show the local authority that your scheme is in the best interests of the environment and the local community.
Developing Surrey for the future – Tree Consultants
As far as development is concerned, there are plenty of opportunities for investors, businesses, and homeowners alike in Surrey.
For instance, December 2020 saw the first signs of construction starting on Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s multimillion-pound development – Redhill’s Marketfield Way. Major regeneration works under the Camberley Town Centre Action Plan, spurred by Surrey Heath Borough Council are also underway. These include a 5.5-acre site offering opportunities for mixed-use development and the acquisition of a disused office block that will be converted into 116 town centre apartments.
These schemes demonstrate an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards development and regeneration, indicating that the local authorities are not shy of granting planning consents. However, they cannot allow construction that comes at the expense of the environment, and with the upcoming introduction of the Environment Bill, these attitudes are likely to harden.
Fortunately, Planners make decisions based on policy and evidence, and they are given considerable latitude to exercise their professional judgement. Ultimately, the question of whether or not they grant you planning permission is one of balance. And, importantly, if they do grant you a planning consent, they’ll need to be able to defend their decision.
This requires evidence and, if you have trees on or near your development, is where your tree report comes in.
BS5837 Tree Surveys for planning permission in Surrey
If you decide that you need a tree survey, or one of the local authorities instructs you to obtain one, you’re first going to need a BS5837 Tree Survey.
You’ll be pleased to hear that these tree reports are relatively straightforward and, if you choose Arbtech, fast (you’ll only wait a maximum of 1-3 days for your survey and report). We don’t need much from you to get the job done, either. All we need from you is a time, place, and a copy of your site plan – your expert arboricultural surveyor will do the rest!
In simple terms, a BS5837 tree report looks at all the trees on or near your development and assigns them a grading based on their ecological significance and condition. Then, your surveyor will produce a CAD drawing and report for you and your design team. Their report will detail exactly what you need to do to protect and retain the higher quality trees on or near your site and, if necessary, compensate for the loss of lower quality trees.
Often, this will be enough to satisfy the local authority, but, in some cases, you will need further surveys. These include Impact Assessment, Method Statement & Tree Protection plans, and Arboricultural Supervision and Site Monitoring.
Whilst tree surveys can feel like an unwanted inconvenience and expense if one is required, it’s not optional. Criminal prosecution for damaging trees without planning permission is a real possibility. Locally, a developer and tree surgeon were each fined heavily for damaging 20 trees in Chertsey following prosecutions brought by Runneymede Borough Council.
It’s an unnecessary risk to run, too. Because, as of 2021, our tree surveys have helped thousands of people in Surrey to secure planning permission. We’ve been undertaking tree surveys for 16 years now and work on around 3000 projects per year, so if you’ve got a tree problem, we’ve probably seen it (and solved it).
In fact, we’re so confident that our advice will get you through planning that we’ll give you your money back on the off chance that it doesn’t.
No questions. No quibbles.
Surrey’s Most Trusted Arboricultural Consultants
Our Tree Surveyors are the best in the business.
Every single one of our 30+ strong team has heaps of experience in completing tree reports for planning permission. Better yet, tree surveys for planning are all they do so we can guarantee that your report will be completed by an expert with 100% focus on getting people through planning.
So, whether you have a troublesome tree in Tandridge, an enormous elm in Elmbridge, or a Willow in Waverly that’s causing you to worry our Tree surveyors will give you the report and advice you need to keep your development on track.
Get a tree survey in Surrey with comprehensive advice you can trust
If you want your tree survey to be managed by a local specialist and contain all the advice you need to get planning permission (or your money back) – choose Arbtech.
Comeau, D. 2020. How coronavirus is affecting Redhill’s Marketfield Way development. [Online]. Available from: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/ [Accessed 9th February 2021]
Rowlands, R. 2021. Developer and tree surgeon fined thousands after damaging protected Chertsey trees. [Online]. Available from: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/ (Accessed 9th February 2021)
Surrey County Council. 2020. Surrey’s new tree strategy. [Online]. Available from: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/ (Accessed 9th February 2021)
Surrey Heath Borough Council. N.D. Camberley Vision. [Online]. Available from: https://www.surreyheath.gov.uk/ (Accessed 9th February 2021)
Woodland Trust. N.D. Langley Vale Wood. [Online]. Available from: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ (Accessed 9th February 2021)