Trees and Tree Preservation

Trees and Tree Preservation Orders can often cause significant problems when it comes to planning terms for development issues. The subject is covered by cases and legislation and can provide a useful tool for objectors. We work with the leading experts in respect of trees throughout the South East of England and across England. If you have any doubts, it is wise to secure good and early legal advice.

Right To Light & Tree Preservation

Right to light is a complex area of planning law. If you're interested, we have a longer page on which you can read more about our take on right to light.

An important factor in some planning law cases related to trees is the right to light held by yourself, or by a third party. A right to light can mean that there is an obligation to prune or cut a tree back so that a neighbour has acceptable light levels again. If you, or a neighbour, do not want to prune the tree, then this can result in a legal issue and you will probably need professional advice.

You, or your neighbour, may also have additional rights from part 8 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act if the tree blocking light in question is a hedge that fits all these criteria:

  • a) semi-evergreen or evergreen
  • b) over two metres tall
  • c) made up of a line of two or more trees

Bear in mind that simply going ahead with pruning or cutbacks to a tree without going through the proper channels may backfire.

Autumn trees

Tree Preservation Special Cases

There are some special cases that apply to TPOs. In the following cases, you will normally find that you do not need to send the local planning authority your standard TPO permission application form.

If a tree is dead, dying or dangerous, you must replace it, however you must be able to prove that the tree was dead, dying or dangerous, which can be difficult if the tree has already been felled. In addition, in most cases you will need to notify the authority in advance.

Detailed planning permission from a local planning authority that requires you to work on the tree means that you might be exempt from a TPO, as does having to obey an act of Parliament such as the Highways Act.

Work approved by the Forestry Commission should also usually be exempt.

If the tree is a fruit tree, and it is in use as part of the running of a fruit production business, as long as the work is relevant to the business then you will usually be exempt.

You may also be exempt if the tree is categorised as causing a legal nuisance, an important concept in British tort law.

It's the details rather than the broad strokes that matter, so if your case is unusual in some way then professional advice is likely to be very useful.

Our Tree Preservation Experience

We have regular experience of planning authorities who fail to appreciate the law applicable in respect of trees and tree preservation and we are happy to advise developers on a pro-active basis to ensure their proposals are presented in the manner most likely to succeed from the start, or during the process of confirmation, or on appeal. Even basic principles are commonly misunderstood in respect of tree preservation and can lead to unnecessary and extraordinary expense and delays. The only way to be sure of your rights and options is to seek specialist legal advice.

Can We Help You?

Trees regularly cause problems in planning proposals. They also provide a useful tool for objectors. We work with the leading experts in respect of trees throughout the South East of England and the remainder of England. It is wise to secure good advice from us about the potential implications of trees in relation to planning and building issues to ensure that you do not incur fines or are prevented from developing your land. For more information about objecting to tree preservation orders, please read our main page on objecting to tree preservation orders.

Please call us on 01634 811 118, complete our online enquiry form, or email our planning law expert Nicholas Kingsley-Smith.

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