Connection Between Trees and Development
Only recently, Worcestershire County Council pledged to plant 150,000 trees and create two new woodland areas across an expansive 155-acre site in Evesham and a smaller 9-acre site in Bewdley. The scheme is a mere element within an overarching environmental strategy that will enhance the county’s landscape now and in the future, and it isn’t just the county council that is pushing local tree planting, with Worcester City Council leading a tree planting scheme during the winter of 2020 that prompted the delivery of 6,500 new trees.
As more trees are planted, the likelihood of developers having to contend with trees during a planning project increases, and if they are protected, the consequences can be devastating. As a method of ensuring that no parameters put in place to protect trees are breached through the process of staging a development and meeting obligations to the environment, it would be advisable to organise a tree survey. The local authority could have any number of reasons for requesting tree reports, but whatever the grounds, tree surveys are likely to be applicable any time trees are on or near the development site.
It is vital, however, to note that initiatives such as these aren’t created with the intention of throttling development or stopping it altogether. An ideal outcome in the eyes of the local authorities would be to allow developers and homeowners alike to achieve their aspirations without causing unnecessary harm to Worcestershire’s tree stock. New schemes all over the county are a testament to this and indicate a generally positive stance towards development. Even fairly significant developments are going ahead as planned, such as a proposed development that intends to build 236 new homes in Redditch.
That said, local councils, interest groups, and residents don’t always view development favourably. For example, plans for a 500-home scheme in Bromsgrove were met with hundreds of objections. While planning approval was inevitably granted, the change in decision only came as a result of the town’s failure to meet its housing target, and campaigners are expected to continue in their opposition. Likewise, a contentious planning application to construct a selection of homes in Rushwick that attracted criticism from the local community was rejected by Malvern District Council twice and remains under consideration, with the developer awaiting confirmation of a final decision.
A Developer’s Legal Obligation to Trees
Any time trees are found to be on a development site, a potential hazard arises surrounding the likelihood of them being under certain protections set by the local council. Most commonly, the parameters put in place to defend trees are tree preservation orders (TPOs) and conservation areas, with both options sharing the similarity of needing prior consent from the corresponding local authorities before any applicable trees are disturbed.
Disruption of protected trees could be anything from simple pruning to completely removing or destroying a tree and everything in between. A tree will be considered protected if it is under an existing tree preservation order (TPO) or situated within a conservation area. The main difference between the two is that a TPO is applicable to individual trees and a conservation area applies to all trees located within a chosen zone.
BS5837 Tree Surveys and Reports
On a set date, an arboriculturist will attend the development site to undertake a BS5837 tree survey. A form of assessment initiated for planning purposes and to support the development process, BS5837 tree surveys open up an inspection of all trees present before determining conflicts between them and the planning project. The trees will be handed specific grades based on current condition and value, and the grades will then dictate adequate next steps for the trees.
With a focus on utilising correct information retrieved from the site and predicted tree risk as a result of the proposed development, tree surveyors will always aim to retain as many trees as possible. It would, however, be suitable to destroy any trees that carry a potential risk to health and safety or simply offer no value. A compromise between these two outcomes will be if trees are worth keeping but cannot be retained due to the plans of the development, leading to a need to relocate them.
Before a tree survey can assist with planning applications, the results first need to be compiled within a tree report. The arboricultural consultant will do this immediately after, including notes relating to tree cover and root protection area, a map of trees on the site, and suggested further surveys included within the accompanying tree reports. It can then be submitted to the local planning authority, and providing all of the recommendations put forward by the tree consultant have been satisfied, the planning officer should see no reason to deny planning permission.
Discuss Your Needs with Our Team
Among many factors that make Arbtech different, we employ local experts ahead of subcontractors, enabling all our clients to receive expert help from fully qualified tree surveyors who possess an extensive understanding of Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands. Our arboricultural consultancy extends to all corners of the country, meaning that we can cater to the needs of every client who requires a tree survey and report to bolster their application for planning permission.
Every arboricultural surveyor within our ranks has the training, licensing and qualifications to execute high-quality tree surveys, as well as vast experience dealing with and finding solutions to a wide range of different issues and circumstances. For a free quote, call us, email us, complete a quote form, or visit our contact page, and once you’ve given us your details, we can estimate the cost of a tree survey on your site. As soon as you confirm your intention to continue with us, we can plan a suitable date to conduct a tree survey and assist you with gaining planning consent.