Permission for works to trees

We want to protect our trees, which are an important part of the natural environment and open space. We strive to retain as many healthy trees as possible in the borough while encouraging the planting of new ones. We also have a role protecting trees in residential gardens and on development sites.

There are three situations when work to trees will need special permission:

  • if the tree is in a conservation area
  • if it has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) attached to it
  • if the tree is protected by a planning condition.

The government provides detailed guidance on TPO’s and conservation areas.

Trees in conservation areas

Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historical importance. You need to notify the council of your intent to prune or remove the trees within a conservation area.

You must give us formal notification at least six weeks before you want to do the work.

The best way to apply is through the Planning Portal. Here, you can complete your application form and upload supporting documents. The benefits of applying online include:

  • you can work on your applications in draft before submission
  • immediate delivery and acknowledgement
  • an online record of your completed application.

There is also guidance on completing the form (PDF) and what supporting evidence may be required.

The information you will need to complete the application includes:

  • the address where the tree is located
  • owner's telephone number and email (where applicable)
  • details of the person who is applying (if different from the owner)
  • telephone number and email of the applicant (if different from the owner)
  • a clear specification of works
  • why the works are needed
  • a plan of the site and any notable features to clearly identify the tree
  • photographs of the tree
  • any additional supporting reports or information that will help us make our assessment (optional).

What happens next

The Council has six weeks within which we can object to your proposals. This gives us the opportunity to protect trees of value which may be harmed by the proposed works. A site visit may be required.

We can only object formally by making a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on the tree(s) concerned. In many cases, where we feel that the works are inappropriate, we may discuss alternatives with you.

If you do not receive a decision within six weeks of your notice then you can carry out the works you gave notice for.

If a TPO is made you will not be able to do the work without making a TPO application for consent. You will have the right to object to the TPO and we will provide details on how to do this on the decision notice.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) make it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a tree without permission. You can be fined £20,000 for destroying a tree with a TPO.

There are about 500 TPOs in the Royal Borough.

List of Tree Preservation Orders

If you are planning work to a tree with a TPO you can apply via the Planning Portal

There is also guidance on completing the form (PDF) and what supporting evidence may be required.

 What happens next

  • We will acknowledge your application within 10 days
  • We will then make an assessment
  • We will get back to you within eight weeks.

You should wait to hear from us in that time. Normally we will get back to you more quickly than that.

A tree officer may carry out a site visit to help them assess the proposed works and they may discuss alternatives with you.

You must receive a decision from us before you can start any pruning works.  

If you do not receive our decision within eight weeks please contact your case officer to ask for an update, stating the application number from your acknowledgement letter.