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Are tree survey reports needed for all planning applications?

Tree Survey for Planning

Tree Survey for Planning

A tree survey for small trees
Do all trees need a survey for planning applications?

If you don’t consider the trees on your development site as significant, do you still need a tree survey for planning? Perhaps it’s only a small extension, or a rebuild with increased footprint, or the only trees are situated on the boundary or in adjacent land – you may be wondering: is a tree survey report needed for our planning application?

AWA Tree Consultants often provide tree surveys and reports for large-scale housing developments. Our clients include planners and developers of large-scale house building projects who generally understand that getting accurate and reliable tree information early in the project leads to a smoother planning process and ultimately means better places for people to live.

However, many of the tree survey reports we provide are for planning projects for owner-occupiers or very small-scale housing developers. We are frequently contacted by people who are surprised to be told by the Planning Authority that they require a tree survey and report as part of their planning application.

While Local Planning Authorities make the applicant state if there are trees on or near the development site, the problem for small-scale developers, especially individuals with little experience of trees and planning regulations, is that they are often unaware of the requirements for tree surveys for planning. Often the realisation that they need a tree survey report is when all the other planning documentation has been uploaded to the planning portal and the developer is expectantly waiting for a decision on their application. As such, missing the early involvement of a professional tree consultant can lead to costly and annoying project hold-ups.

In our experience, projects that often only involve altering an existing property, or rebuilding in the same or larger footprint, are likely to require a BS 5837 tree survey report submitted to the Planning Authority, if there is a chance of the development work impacting nearby trees.

Most local authorities in our main areas of tree survey work: Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire will request tree survey reports with all planning applications – however small – if there are trees on or near the development site. Anecdotally, it often it seems to be down to how pro-active the tree officer within the planning department is (if the Council have one!).

Not having an expert tree survey undertaken early in the development timetable can provide a big headache for small-scale developers. At worst, there is a danger that not having accurate tree survey and report information can lead to a breach of planning consent, or unauthorised damage to protected trees, which can result in legal action.

The best way to be sure of planning success is to incorporate tree survey information and arboricultural impact assessments very early in the project planning and development stages. If your Planning Authority has asked you for a tree survey report for planning, it is crucial that you seek a suitably qualified arboriculturist to do this.

Once planning permission has been granted it’s also important to read all planning conditions carefully. Planning consents often come with tree related conditions added by the local authority, generally in the form of Arboricultural Method Statements and Tree Protection Plans.

AWA Tree Consultants specialise in expert tree survey reports for planning and development. If needed, we can carry out tree survey reports and arboricultural impact assessments at very short notice to avoid your planning application being delayed. Contact for an immediate quote.

I'm a Chartered Arboriculturist at AWA Tree Consultants Ltd. As well as detailing our recent tree survey and arboricultural consultant work, this blog includes wide ranging arboricultural musings, including tree facts, opinion and anecdotes on trees in human culture.

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