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Tips for prospective developers

Do you own trees and wish to extend your property or develop on land for the first time?

If so, here are some tips for you:

  • Local Planning Authorities are quite strict regarding safeguarding trees on a development site. They view them as a ‘material consideration’ which means that they have to be considered in the planning process.
  • Trees can greatly enhance a development, increasing the price of the land at the point of sale, although initially you may feel they are an obstacle.
  • The Local Authority will expect you to follow British Standard 5837:2012 in relation to Trees, design, demolition and construction.
  • It is not advisable to clear a site of trees prior to submitting a planning application, as the Local Authority will be able to determine the prior presence of trees and shrubbery from aerial photography websites such as Google Maps or Bing Maps. It may then hinder a successful application.

The best way to gather together all you need is:

1 – Have a topographical survey of the site with the trees accurately plotted.

2 – Instruct a qualified Arboriculturist to undertake a pre-development tree survey. This details all the trees and their condition as well as classifying them according to the British Standard. It clearly defines the trees worthy of retention, and those which are recommended for removal prior to a design for a development.

3 – Pass this report to the designer (for example: Architect, Surveyor, Town Planner) to use when designing the proposed development, whether it is a conservatory extension or a block of 10 apartments.

4 – On many occasions, there is a requirement for a second report known as an Arboricultural Impact Assessment. This is carried out by the Arboriculturist and overlays the plans from the designer. The impact of the design on the trees is made and the interested parties work together to resolve the issues, thus enabling the successful submission of a workable design to the Local Authority.

5 – If the design and construction is complicated, or if the development is in a sensitive area, the Local Authority may request a third and final report to be undertaken, which is called an Arboricultural Method Statement. This document specifies all the necessary processes and safeguards to successfully protect the trees throughout the project duration.

From the experience of some of my clients, it is not always easy to find out how to go about developing on land containing trees, and as such I hope this will prove useful to all.

An old house with a sweeping driveway close to mature trees

Driveway alterations to incorporate a new dwelling and tree protection throughout the site