Tree protection and planning

Statutory tree protection

We have many trees that are protected under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. For the more information on the legislation of protected trees, refer to GOV.UK and more information can be found in our guide to TPO procedures (PDF , 101KB)

Trees are protected if they are covered by:

  • a Conservation Area
  • a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
  • specific planning conditions

You can find out if a tree or group of trees is protected by a TPO (this service is temporarily unavailable – please email the Planning Decisions Team for information on protected trees) or lies within a Conservation Area.

It is a criminal offence to prune, fell, damage or harm a protected tree, unless the works are exempt. You must get our permission before carrying out any works to a protected tree, or receive an unlimited fine or criminal conviction.  

Trees in a conservation area

We choose conservation areas of special architectural or historical interest, which are often centred around listed buildings. All trees within a conservation area are protected, except where there are exemptions (see below), and consent is required from us for doing any works.

Trees under a TPO

We provide TPOs for the protection of trees or woodlands to stop them:

  1. being cut down
  2. being wilfully damaged or destroyed
  3. being uprooted
  4. cutting roots
  5. lopping (includes roots)
  6. topping

If you are the landowner of a property with a protected tree and it is removed, you will need to replace it.  We may issue a tree replacement notice if this is not done.

Contact us on 020 8379 1000 to arrange to view our public register of all TPOs.  You may also email us to get a hard copy of a TPO for a fee.

Tree works on protected trees

If the work to be done is on your neighbour’s land, you will need their permission, as well as our permission, if it is overhanging your property.

You will need to submit a notification for tree works in a conservation area or apply to carry out works to a tree protected by a TPO.
You will need to include a plan of the land where the proposed work is to be done. For more information about what you need to include with your application, refer to our Guidance Notes (PDF , 101KB).

We may consult neighbours and local interest groups or other statutory bodies where there is likely to be significant public interest.

If you are submitting a notification in a conservation area, the tree needs to have a trunk diameter of 75mm or more when measured at 1.5m above ground level. You will need to give us six weeks’ notice before any works can begin. After the six weeks you can start work as outlined in your notification. In some cases, we may disagree with the works you would like to do and serve a TPO on the tree.

After you apply for tree works to a tree protected by a TPO, we may need to visit the site to assess your proposal and let you know the outcome within eight weeks.  If your TPO application is successful, you can start work according to your tree work proposal and any applicable conditions in the notice.

You will have two years to complete the proposed work for a tree in a conservation area or a tree protected by a TPO. If this is not done or you need to carry out further works, you will need to apply again.

If you would like to apply to carry out works to a protected tree complete the form below:

Apply to carry out works to a tree in a conservation area or protected by a TPO

Exemptions for protected trees

Our main exemptions are as follows:

  • removal or pruning of dead or dangerous trees or branches
  • cutting down or carrying out work on a tree if:
    • it needs planning permission
    • it is a statutory obligation
    • it is to stop a legal nuisance
    • it is a fruit tree that is part of a commercial orchard

If you think a tree or branch is dangerous, we will need written notice as soon as possible. All other necessary works will need five days’ written notice before carrying out the work.

You may need to provide photographic or other evidence to prove that the tree was dead or dangerous. For more information on exemptions, refer to the National Planning Guidance, and TPO.

TPO appeals

You can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate about the decision on your application or a condition of a TPO, or against the non-determination of a TPO if you have not received an outcome within eight weeks.

You will need to make your appeal within 28 days of the date of our decision.

Email your appeal notice and supporting documents or post them to:

The Planning Inspectorate
Registry/Scanning
Room 3/01 Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN

Trees and development planning

We have a statutory duty to consider the protection and planting of trees when giving planning permission for proposed developments.  For more information, refer to sections DMD80 and DMD81of our Development Management Document (PDF , 5MB).

If you are proposing a development you will need to apply for planning permission. You may need to provide documentation for keeping and protecting trees. For more information on our list of our requirements, refer to our Planning requirements.