Your local planning authority wants to see how your scheme balances the need to retain high quality trees and yet achieve your development ambitions. British Standard 5837:2012 defines this as an arboricultural impact assessment. Put another way, “how does my development impact upon trees, and vice versa?”
Your arboricultural impact assessment will, broadly, cover three principle areas of potential conflict between bricks and mortar and your trees:
Our arboriculture team has helped thousands of schemes, large and small, sail through planning by providing timely advice on scheme tweaks and engineering solutions that help you achieve the development you want, while securing the buy in of your local authority’s Tree Officer.
Below ground, we talk about how we help you resolve the root protection areas of your trees and what you intend to do in this area. Above ground, we refer to your plans for the transportation of and storage of materials, and well as the physical dimensions of your proposed development, to support the notion that the trees are not at risk due to the complexity of your demolition and construction phases.
And finally, in reference to shading, we ensure that you’re not at risk of refusal because your local planning authority wants to avoid future pressures for works and removals of high quality trees that were originally retained by your scheme, for reason associated with shading, debris or leaf litter.
Our arboricultural impact assessment are drawing-based, which ensures that all of the relevant information is presented to the end user (your architect and the local authority Tree Officer) in a format that is clear, concise, user-friendly and in line with their expectations. In fact, we regularly receive written praise from local authorities when our customers submit out work, which has more benefits than you might think at first.
Simply put, the more clearly you set out information and the easier you make life for the (typically, under-resourced) Tree Officer, the more likely that his or her report to your Case Officer will be favourable. We even discovered recently that the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham e-mail out copies of our tree surveys and arboricultural impact assessments to developers, as a ‘how to’ for building within root protection areas:
…I attach above 4 documents (produced for the developer of another property in Hammersmith who was proposing to construct lightwells near a large street tree) as examples of the sort of detail that can be provided. The developer commissioned a root investigation and arboricultural implications report to ascertain the extent of root activity and to assess the possibility of excavating within the 7m radius of the Root Protection Area. Ruskins carried out the root investigation and Arbtech produced the report.
Mark Waters, Arboricultural Officer – London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
As recommendations go, we’re pretty happy with that.
Here, we aim to provide you with detailed information about arboricultural impact assessments (AIAs) and some links for you to follow if you want to continue your research, both on and off our site. The aim of this page then, is to demonstrate why undertaking an AIA is not only required for to validate your planning application, but is also critical to helping you staying on time and budget, by flagging up any tree-related dramas as early as possible!
The current iteration of BS5837 was published in May of 2012; entitled ‘Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations.’ The standard includes a (somewhat unnecessarily complicated, in our view) flow chart that attempts to align the stages of arboricultural input for design, with the RIBA design stages.
Clearly one of the first steps in this flow chart is to produce a tree survey and constraints plan, in order that the realistic constraints to development presented by trees are known at the outset. Once completed, your architect will produce your scheme in line with your aspirations – though in the real world, normally this has been done weeks or even months before an arboriculturist is involved – and send your development plans to us for review and comment. The way we provide our commentary on your design and how it sits with on and off-site trees, is known as your arboricultural impact assessment.
As you can see, rather than provide our written commentary in a lengthy, drawn out report that the reader (your local authority’s Tree Officer) has to sit and constantly cross reference with your tree constraints plan drawing, we take a more practical and much faster approach by incorporating all of the relevant information into one drawing document, using clear, strong visuals.
This way we can reveal the (hopefully) minor conflicts between trees and your scheme, and provide a concise commentary about how those issues will be dealt with more precisely in the final stage of your arboriculturist’s input; the method statement and tree protection plan.
An arboricultural impact assessment, and a tree protection plan drawing, are both documents that pertain to British Standard 5837:2012. They both deal with the precise methods and mechanisms for protecting high quality trees that you have chosen to retain in your final development scheme.
We have a whole page dedicated to this part of the process. You can read more on our Arboricultural Method Statement and Tree Protection Plan page.