Trees and the Development Process

Trees can greatly influence the planning and use of a site and are a material consideration in the planning system.

Since Government Circular 02/2008 and its guidance document Validation of Planning Applications were published, it is now a reality that councils can refuse to validate planning applications if essential tree information is missing. Where there are trees on or close to a site, all new planning applications must be accompanied by the following information:

  • Plan to a suitable scale, with north point, showing tree survey information, retention categorisation and root protection areas
  • An assessment of the arboricultural implications of development; detailing trees to be retained/removed and appropriate protection measures
  • An arboricultural method statement detailing the means of tree protection, implementation and phasing of works
  • Survey and report must be undertaken by a competent arboriculturalist

Development in the modern planning system is complicated, and trees are just one of many obstacles on the way to securing planning consent. We understand how to progress tree issues quickly because we know what councils need and we have the expertise to package that information in a way which maximises the chance of success.

This insight is based on our regular interactions with tree and planning officers, which can provide us with an edge when handling your projects. From pre-application discussions to the final discharge of conditions, we minimise delay by delivering what councils want, when they want it, in a format that is easy for them to process. We know time is money, and understand that your success depends on our ability to deliver the right information to the right people, as quickly as possible.

Our development services are intentionally flexible so as to suit your specific needs, the following is an idea of the services we provide:

Feasibility consultancy

Often, it can be valuable to take advice on the feasibility of developing your site in the context of trees; it may be cost and time effective to use one of the following services:

Site visit and informal advice on development constraints: This advice is useful in delivering an indication of development potential before committing to buying a site or for site owners who are unsure of the potential. This is a favoured option because, through a visit and discussion, we can provide a preliminary estimate of the development potential without the expense of a land survey or design work.

Tree constraints plan (TCP):

In order to maximise the development potential of a site you must properly consider the tree constraints upon it. Our constraints report identifies the area available for development on a plan, with further explanations and clarifications in the text.

To produce this report, we will visit the site and collect tree data as recommended in BS 5837. This will be presented as a formal report including a plan illustrating the tree constraints. As advocated in BS 5837, this constraints information is intended to guide the design process and is not necessarily needed as supporting information with a planning submission.

Design consultancy

Advice on layouts produced independent of tree constraints data:

This informal advice is useful where you already have a draft layout but have not prepared it with the benefit of tree constraints advice. Following our site visit, we will informally advise where adjustments might be appropriate to improve the chances of a successful planning application.

Formal desktop study for 1APP verification:

If trees are obviously not going to be affected by the development, we can often set this out in a desktop study using aerial photos instead of visiting the site. We then package our assessment as a formal letter, which still complies with the 1APP requirements, but significantly reduces the cost of the advice.

Arboricultural implications assessment (AIA):

This is our principal formal report for supporting planning applications where there may be an impact on trees. It is technical in nature, setting out the tree details, what the impact of the proposal will be and how the trees to be retained will be protected during development. Its focus is a plan showing all the trees by number and category, the location of the proposed development and the location of the proposed tree protection.

Arboricultural method statement (AMS) incorporating Tree protection plan (TPP):

In some instances, where a council understands and accepts the impact of a proposal on trees, the arboricultural implications assessment report can be superseded with a more concise arboricultural method statement report. This is a formal report focusing on tree protection details, with illustrative specifications that cross-reference to a location plan.

Post-design consultancy

Formal arboricultural method statement to discharge a planning condition:

Quite often, councils issue consents without seeing any detailed tree protection proposals. Instead, they secure the provision of these details through a planning condition requiring an arboricultural method statement. We produce this formal report by visiting the site, assessing the trees, identifying the trees to be lost and setting out the tree protection details for those to be retained. Its focus is on illustrative specifications for all the protective measures, which cross-reference to a location plan. Our arboricultural method statement plan separates out the trees to be removed from those to be retained, making it very useful for the tree felling contractor.

Site supervision to discharge a planning condition:

Where a planning condition requires arboricultural supervision, it can only be effectively discharged through a written certification of compliance. We can confirm that compliance by visiting and issuing formal certificates in a manner that is convenient to the site operation, whilst still satisfying the council monitoring requirements.

Planning Appeal Statements:

We are able to provide Proofs of Evidence and Statements in support of appeals in relation to development for Public inquiries and Informal Hearings. In addition we are able to provide expert witnesses to appear at an Inquiry on behalf of the developer.