Surrey Landscapes and Woodlands
More than any other ecological feature, trees are central to Surrey’s environmental strategy. Like most counties throughout England, the county of Surrey aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, and to meet this aim, Surrey County Council has created a climate change strategy that features the ambitious target of planting 1.2 million trees by 2030. Both rural and urban areas will be included in this initiative, meaning that whether you are planning to demolish a property and build flats to meet the housing demand in the centre of Guildford, or if you are planning an extension to your home in one of the rural towns of Moley Valley, the chances of you having to contend with one or more trees are on the rise.
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 the underlying concern that the development will or is likely to interfere with trees on the development site. While tree surveys can feel like an unwanted inconvenience and expense if one is required, they are not optional and criminal prosecution for damaging trees without planning permission is a real possibility. An example of this would be when a developer and a tree surgeon were each fined heavily by Runnymede Borough Council for damaging 20 trees in Chertsey.
As far as development is concerned, however, 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 of Marketfield Way, and major regeneration works under the Camberley Town Centre Action Plan are underway, including 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. If anything, these schemes demonstrate a positive attitude towards development and regeneration in Surrey, indicating that the local authorities are far from shy when it comes to granting various planning consents.
That said, an open mind to planning comes with the caveat of it being done correctly and in accordance with environmental laws and guidelines. Planners use evidence and policy as the baseline for decisions regarding planning permission. As such, providing that a tree survey has been conducted to a sufficient standard and a tree report has been created with the necessary level of detail following it, the local planning authority should be left with no reason to deny a planning application on the development site.
Conservation, Preservation and Protection of Local Trees
Measures designed to defend certain trees are in place throughout Surrey. Langley Vale Wood near Epsom, for example, contains semi-natural ancient woodland, and the three largest wooded areas within are classed as designated sites of importance for nature conservation (SINC). More than 200 conservation areas are scattered around the county, as well as countless protected trees that are safeguarded by existing tree preservation orders (TPOs).
Although similar in many ways, a conservation area covers a set zone and all trees within it, while a tree preservation order (TPO) typically covers individual trees. In real terms, the higher the potential for protected trees in the local vicinity, the greater the significance of the trees to local ecology, and the more you will need to do to show the local authority that your scheme is in the best interests of the environment and the local community.
BS5837 Tree Assessments
More often than not, any time a tree survey is needed to support planning, the most suitable option will be a BS5837 tree survey. Following a thorough analysis of all trees on the site, professional tree surveyors will assign each of them a grading based on ecological significance and condition. Not only will the grade reflect the current state of each tree but also decide the appropriate next step between the broad options of retention, relocation and destruction.
An arboricultural consultant will always do everything possible to retain the optimum number of trees. Relocation will be applicable if there is no way that the development plans can be changed to cater to healthy and valuable trees, but trees that are dead, dying or dangerous, carry potential risks to health and safety or aren’t worth saving will be removed, destroyed, and compensated for with the planting of new trees on-site or off-site.
After a BS5837 tree survey, the arboriculturist will produce a tree report that will consist of recommended mitigation measures, a CAD drawing of the site to advise the design team, and any other components that will assist the local authority with granting planning permission. The information will often be enough to satisfy the planning officer, but if further surveys are needed, the tree consultant may suggest an arboricultural impact assessment (AIA), arboricultural method statement (AMS), tree constraints plan (TCP), tree protection plan (TPP), or arboricultural supervision and site monitoring.
Discuss Your Needs with Our Team
Whether you have a troublesome tree in Tandridge, an enormous elm in Elmbridge, or a worrying Willow in Waverly, our arboricultural surveyors will give you the tree works and advice you need to keep your development on track. Every single one of our team has heaps of knowledge in tree conservation and experience in completing tree reports for planning permission, meaning you are perfectly equipped to approach planning in line with the expectations of your local council.
Our arboricultural consultancy tree surveys cover all angles and consist of any and all potential approaches to benefit the outcome. On the off chance that a climbing inspection is needed, our team can help, as well as step in with any other tree surveys and reports as needed. Get in touch for a free quote by emailing, calling or visiting our contact page, and from there, we can organise a BS5837 tree survey or any other tree surveys you need and begin helping you with obtaining planning permission.