Trees are often legally protected under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, by way of being either in a Conservation Area or subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), and can sometimes be subject to both types of legislation. Local planning authorities can make TPOs on any tree that they deem to be suitable, and range from individuals to groups of trees, or even entire woodlands. The result being that the cutting down, lopping, topping, uprooting or wilful damage or destruction of any such tree is prohibited without having first applied for and received the local authority’s written consent to carry out works (subject to some exemptions).
Where trees are located within a Conservation Area, the type of protection varies in that the person wishing to carry out work on a qualifying tree must give the local authority 6 weeks’ notice of their intended work, unless one of the legally recognised exemptions apply.
Owners of protected trees must not carry out, cause or permit any of the prohibited activities without having received the necessary written consent. However, owners are still fully responsible for their trees’ safety and maintenance and have the same legal duty of care regarding their trees as does anyone that owns unprotected trees.
Another aspect of tree law relates to disputes about High Hedges, which predominantly involve fast growing conifer species planted as boundary screens. If these are allowed to grow excessively high they can impact on their neighbours’ properties and gardens. Please see below for further information on this subject.
With our wealth of local authority experience in administering all aspects of TPOs, trees in Conservation Areas, and dealing with High Hedge Complaints, we are perfectly placed to assist tree owners by advising on your management options and responsibilities, to ensure that your trees remain safe and healthy.
Tree Preservation Orders and other Protected Trees
We can represent the owners of protected trees, whether affected by TPOs, Conservation Areas or planning conditions, and offer advice or submit applications on your behalf detailing precise tree work specifications in line with the relevant British Standard recommendations (BS 3998:2010), so as to give you the best chance of achieving the outcome you and your trees require.
We can also offer advice and support if your desired works have been refused, and if appropriate we can guide you through the appeal process. Likewise, if you are affected by the making of a new TPO and wish to object to it, we can investigate the appropriateness of the TPO and make formal written representations/objections to the local authority, and if necessary support an appeal to the Secretary of State.
High Hedge Complaints and Boundary Tree Disputes
Although a garden hedge can provide many benefits, they can occasionally become the cause of disputes between neighbours. Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 sets out the legal position regarding such disputes, including how to take legal action through the local authority. Unfortunately this is not a straightforward process and the council will only usually step in as a very last resort, and will only do so if the hedge in question satisfies a series of criteria first.
We can assist in this potentially difficult process by offering advice and assistance to either the complainant or the hedge owner, undertaking site visits to calculate the Action Hedge Height as well as management options. We will happily communicate with all parties involved to resolve the issue before it escalates into a legal dispute, and if the case does proceed to the issuing of a Remedial Notice by the local authority we can act for either party in making appeal representations against this decision.
We have extensive first-hand Local Planning Authority experience of dealing with High Hedge issues so you can be confident that our knowledge and professionalism will give you the best chance of resolving your dispute.
Local Planning Authority Services
We have a strong background in LPA Tree Officer roles, with varied experience across several local authorities including setting up and project managing a review of TPOs. This enables us to offer a locum Tree Officer service, as well as consultancy services to assist local authorities with regard to TPO reviews, processing applications, appeals and enforcement action.
For any local authority across the South of England, please do get in touch if you require assistance in this area of work.