Opportunities for Development and the Environment
A bold commitment from Kent County Council saw a tree planted for every person in the county back in 2019, equating to an estimated 1.5 million new trees. The two reasons for the initiative include it featuring as a key component of their wider environmental strategy that aims to see net-zero carbon emissions achieved by 2050 and a target set by the central government to reach at least 29% of woodland cover throughout the county by the year 2050.
The tree planting drive is expected to have a particularly profound effect on areas with low tree cover, such as Thanet. A distinct lack of trees has led Thanet District Council to include policies in their new local plan that give extra protections to trees on development sites and mandate new tree planting as part of development. Forcing such actions into planning projects will cause consequences for both developers and homeowners with trees on or near their sites, as they will need to integrate the concept.
An ever-increasing focus on trees and the environment shouldn’t, however, be witnessed as an insurmountable obstacle in the eyes of developers looking to come away with a successful planning application. In fact, the focus coincides with enterprise, investment and development in Kent County Council’s 2020-2023 strategic delivery plan. Decision-making from the perspective of the planning case officer will be built on policy and evidence, so even with a growing emphasis on trees, applications for planning permission should move ahead as planned with sufficient evidence.
Across the 12 local authorities in Kent, the tree strategies are taken extremely seriously, leaving no opportunities to ignore the strict parameters and restrictions. For a planning project to be free of concerning obstacles, able to obtain planning consent, and given the leeway to progress into future stages, developers, property owners and tree owners would first need to reach out to a qualified, licensed and trained arboricultural consultant for a tree survey of the development site.
Tree Care and Protection
Potential issues, breaches of law and legal disputes are heightened if a development site has any overlap with a conservation area or if any of the present trees are subject to an existing tree preservation order (TPO). For context, Maidstone Borough Council alone has more than 1,000 tree preservation orders in force and a total of 41 conservation areas, massively constricting where developers can stage projects without problems and making the situation feel like something of a minefield.
A TPO and conversation area are similar in the sense that both are controlled by the local authority and require prior consent before any affected trees in relation to the protections are impacted. Even without ongoing laws, trees remain an element with the potential to cause significant disruption to a development schedule. Aside from the limitations of the local council, a simple street tree, for example, could be a habitat for rare birds, reduce the flood risk, increase oxygen and decrease carbon in the local area, or be considered a critical road safety feature that lowers the average driving speed.
BS5837 Tree Inspections and Reports
A British standard assessment, the BS5837 tree survey is a common component in the planning process any time trees stand between a development and successful planning applications. Immediately after BS5837 tree surveys are completed, a tree report will be issued to the local planning authority with a wide range of supporting information, such as a tree constraints plan (TCP), arboricultural impact assessments (AIA) that expose the root protection area, and an AutoCAD image of trees on the development site.
Over the course of a pre-planned visit to the site, tree inspections coordinated by an arboricultural surveyor will consist of evaluating all present trees and giving them a grade based on condition and value. Trees of the highest quality will be retained at all costs, but if trees are an unavoidable obstruction to the development plans or could cause potential damage, the tree consultant will have no choice but to relocate them. As an absolute last resort, any trees that simply aren’t worth keeping will be destroyed and replaced with the planting of new trees inside or outside of the site.
Other tree surveys include pre-purchase tree surveys for a mortgage provider, tree consultancy services to support a land owner, or arboricultural method statements (AMS). If any of these tree inspections are needed, the arboriculturist will add them to the list of specific requirements that will contribute to planning consent. All information will be contained in the tree survey report ready for it to be submitted to the planning officer to appease any further blockages preventing planning permission.
Speak to Kent’s Top Tree Experts
As an arboricultural consultancy, we operate nationally, but that doesn’t mean your survey will be managed by someone who has been sent to your site from 400 miles away, nor will it be handed off to a subcontractor. Instead, your tree survey will be carried out by a tree surveyor who has worked in and around Kent for years, has experience in various areas of arboriculture such as prior tree surgery or previously operating as an arborist, and specialises in getting clients through planning.
Any uncertainty around choosing Arbtech over other alternatives can be settled by speaking to our team and receiving a free quote before having to commit. All we ask is that you reach out and supply us with the specifications of your site and project, either over the phone, via email, or by filling out our quote form online. One of our team will then attend your site to provide tree surveys, produce a tree report, and give you all you need to satisfy the planning requirements of your local council.