Tree preservation orders

Trees make a major contribution to the quality of the built and natural environment and make a significant contribution to the amenity of an area. They can screen and soften hard landscapes, provide shelter and habitat, and filter pollution benefiting wildlife and improving air quality.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c. 8) the Local Planning Authority (LPA) has a duty to ensure that adequate provision is made, for the preservation of trees and woodlands in the interests of amenity.

It does this by making Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). The purpose of a Tree Preservation Order is to protect trees, which make a significant impact on their local surroundings. This is particularly important on development sites and where trees are in immediate danger.

The effect of a proposed development on trees and other landscape features is a material consideration. The Act places a duty on LPAs, where appropriate, to ensure they make adequate provision for the preservation and planting of trees when granting planning permission by imposing conditions and making TPOs.

The Local Development Framework (LDF) sets out the Council's policies and proposals for the use of land within the Borough and are designed to secure the conservation of natural beauty and amenity of the land. They include policies on measures that the LPA will take, when dealing with applications to develop land, to protect trees and other natural features and provide for new tree planting and landscaping. The relevant LDF policy documents are GR5 and GR7.

In certain circumstances LPAs may consider it expedient in the interests of amenity to make a TPO to protect trees on land before a planning application is made. Tree Preservation Orders can be made to protect individual trees, groups of trees, or areas of woodland. They can include hedgerow trees but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. Trees do not have to be exceptional or unusual individual specimens to merit inclusion in a TPO, but are assessed on their contribution to amenity and the local landscape.

Where there is an immediate threat to important trees or to an individual specimen, the Council can make a TPO to protect the tree(s), which comes into immediate effect and will continue for six months or until the TPO is confirmed, whichever is the sooner. If we decide to make a Tree Preservation Order we will write to the owner and other interested parties, enclosing a copy of the TPO. We will also write to them again when we confirm the Order, explaining their rights and responsibilities.

The effect of a TPO is to make it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without the prior consent of the Local Planning Authority. There are legal powers the Council may use to prosecute offenders. A person who intends to carry out work to a protected tree is required to submit an application in writing for consent under the TPO. Applicants are advised to seek the advice of an Arboriculturalist or discuss the proposal informally with the local planning authority's Tree Preservation Officer before making an application.

An application form and guidance notes with advice for completing the form are available from the links on the right hand side of the page.