Getting consent to work on a protected tree

Anyone wishing to do works to a protected tree must first get permission, this page will guide you on this process.

How do I get consent to prune or fell a protected tree?

All applications to work on trees protected by a TPO MUST be made on the standard national application form either on-line or by downloading the form from the Planning Portal. Notifications of work to trees within a conservation area can be submitted either on the application form, or by letter or e-mail but this must still include all the information required by the form.

It is essential that an application CLEARLY sets out what work is proposed. A proposal simply to ‘cut back branches’ is too vague because it fails to describe the extent of the work. Equally, a proposal to fell a tree will not be acceptable unless it is clear which tree is to be felled. Where an application is made for more than one tree it must be clear which operations are specified for each tree. You may find it helpful to consult a Tree Work Contractor or to discuss the proposal informally with the Council before making an application.

Please be aware that Doncaster Council will not be able to validate any application that is vague or incomplete. Please read the guidance notes carefully and make sure that all the information required by the application form is included.

The central Government Planning Practice Guidance - Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in Conservation Areas gives a detailed explanation of the application process and guidance on how TPO applications and Conservation Area Notifications are assessed.

I've submitted an application - what happens next?

Your application will be checked within two working days of receipt to ensure that it includes all of the information required and clearly sets out what work is proposed.

Applications that do not meet the specified criteria will be sent back to the applicant. If the proposed work does not need consent, we will inform you as soon as possible.

If acceptable, your application will be validated and you will be sent an acknowledgement letter, which will contain:

  • an application reference number,
  • the name and contact details of the officer dealing with your application, and
  • the date when you should receive a decision.

Please note that where an application is submitted on your behalf by an agent, for example an arboricultural contractor, all correspondence will be sent to the agent.

We may send a letter to the local Parish Council and to immediate neighbours informing them of the application and giving them an opportunity to comment on your proposal. In addition, where an application is likely to generate a good deal of public interest, Doncaster Council may choose to display a site notice and advertise the application in the newspaper. Details of your application will also be placed in a public register of tree work applications, which can now be viewed on-line via Doncaster Council's Public Access for Planning and can be found in the Planning part of the site by either a Property Search (entering the details of the property) or an Application Search (selecting either 'Tree Preservation Order' or 'Works to Tree in Conservation Area' from the Application Type drop-down list). A user guide is available on the page.

How long will my application take?

You will be given the date by which Doncaster Council should make a decision in the acknowledgement letter.

For a Tree Preservation Order application this is eight weeks from the date of registration, although we aim to make a decision within six weeks. If we do not make a decision within eight weeks you are entitled to appeal to the Secretary of State on the grounds of non-determination. You are not allowed to carry out the works.

For trees within a conservation area, this is six weeks from the date of registration. At the end of the six weeks you are permitted to carry out the works if you have not heard from us.

How can I check on the progress of my application?

Progress can be checked on-line via Doncaster Council's Public Access for Planning by entering the application reference number you will have been sent into the Application Search.

Will anyone need to visit my property?

For most applications an officer will visit the site to assess the impact of the proposed work in detail. Due to the large number of applications received we are unable to make booked appointments for assessing applications. Your application is taken as an invitation to enter your property to view the tree(s) and the legislation also permits this.

Where an application conforms to pre-application advice, is minor, or is made by a contractor known to carry out work to a high standard, a site visit may not always be needed.

How is a decision made?

When considering a Tree Preservation Order application, we will:

  • assess the value of the tree(s) within their surroundings and the likely impact that work will have on the amenity of the area,
  • assess the impact of the proposals on the character and health of the tree, and
  • consider whether any loss or damage is likely to arise if consent is refused or granted subject to conditions.

In general terms, the larger the degree of pruning proposed or the higher the value of the tree(s), the greater the likely impact of the work on the health of the tree or the amenity of the area and the stronger the reasons needed to justify the work.

When assessing a conservation area notification, the main consideration is whether a tree merits a Tree Preservation Order and whether it would be expedient to make one. In order to do this we will:

  • assess the amenity value of the tree,
  • assess the likely impact that work will have on the amenity of the area, and
  • assess the impact of the proposals on the character and health of the tree.

Special attention is given to the desirability of preserving the character and appearance of the conservation area.

Where an application affects woodland trees, the Council will grant consent so far as it accords to good forestry practice unless this is likely to damage the special character of the woodland or the woodland character of the area.

All applications and notifications will be considered against the Trees & Woodlands Strategy (theme 2 of the Doncaster Green Infrastructure Strategy 2014-2028, adopted April 2014), in particular, sections 3.33B (Principles and Actions) and 3.47 (Reasons for Works).

In line with this strategy, the pruning or felling of protected trees will be resisted, unless:

  • there is a sound reason to justify the proposed work;
  • no alternative solution can be found; and
  • replacement planting is carried out where felling is allowed.

Most tree work applications are dealt with under delegated powers, although contentious applications may be placed before the Planning Committee for determination. In this situation the case officer will write a report outlining all of the important factors to be considered, and will make a recommendation. The report and recommendation will be considered by the Members of the Planning Committee who will make the final decision.

What decisions can Doncaster Council make?

After taking all matters into consideration, the officer appointed to a Tree Preservation Order application will make a recommendation to either:

  • refuse consent
  • grant consent either unconditionally or subject to conditions
  • grant consent for part of the work and refuse consent for other work that is considered unacceptable, or
  • grant consent for less work than was applied for, although in doing so we cannot issue a decision that substantially changes the work applied for.

With a conservation area notification the officer will make a recommendation to either:

  • make a Tree Preservation Order to stop the proposed works, or
  • not make a Tree Preservation Order and allow the work to go ahead.

How will I be informed of the decision?

For a Tree Preservation Order application, we will send you a decision notice, which will set out our decision and give the reasons for it. We aim to dispatch decision notices by post within 3 working days of a decision being made.

Where consent is granted subject to conditions, these will be listed. These will relate to the work that has been allowed. There are three commonly used conditions:

  • to control the standard of the work or impose a time limit other than the standard two years
  • to secure the planting of replacement trees
  • to secure the establishment of replacement trees

Specific conditions may also be attached to limit the amount of work that can be carried out, for example where consent is granted for less work than was applied for. The decision notice may also include information which is included for further useful advice.

For a conservation area notification, if you have not heard from us by the date given in the acknowledgement letter you may carry out the work, but you may do no more work than was included in your notification. If the Council decides to make a Tree Preservation Order to stop work proceeding, we will write to you, enclosing a copy of the Order before the expiry of the six weeks. Details of your rights of objection to the Order will be included.

What if I do not understand the decision notice or the conditions?

Please let us know by contacting the officer dealing with your application, as we try to be clear about what is being allowed.

What if I do not agree with the decision or the conditions?

If you consider that the decision itself or a condition imposed is unreasonable, you have the right of appeal to the Secretary of State. For a detailed explanation of the rights of appeal and the appeals process in relation to TPO applications the Planning Inspectorate guidance - Appeals under Regulation 19 of the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 should be referred to.

Am I entitled to compensation if my application is refused or granted subject to conditions?

No. However, if you suffer any loss or damage as a direct result of the decision you may be entitled to recover compensation from the Council. For a detailed explanation of rights of compensation the central Government Planning Practice Guidance - Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in Conservation Areas should be referred to.

If I am allowed to carry out the work, is there a time limit?

Yes, for a Tree Preservation Order this is usually two years from the date of the decision. However, this may be varied by a condition in the decision notice. For a conservation area notice this is two years from the date that the Council registered your notification (this date will be given in the acknowledgement letter). If you do not complete the works within this period you will have to re-apply for consent.

Do I have to employ an arboricultural contractor to carry out the work?

No, Doncaster Council cannot insist that you employ an arboricultural contractor to carry out the work.

However, a condition is applied to most tree work consents requiring that work is carried out in accordance with a recognised standard. This is normally British Standard 3998: 2010 Recommendations for Tree Work.

What happens if I do not comply with the decision or the conditions?

Unlawful work to a protected tree is a criminal offence. Where work is not carried out in accordance with the decision, or any conditions attached to it, the matter may be referred to the Council’s Legal Services Department to initiate proceedings in the Courts.

Failure to plant a replacement tree, where required, within a reasonable timescale may result in the Council issuing a Tree Replacement Notice. Failure to comply with a Tree Replacement Notice is not an offence, however, the Council may enter the land, plant the tree(s) and recover from the landowner any reasonable expenses occurred. There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State against the issuing of a Tree Replacement Notice. For a detailed explanation of the rights of appeal and the appeals process the Planning Inspectorate guidance - Appeals under section 208 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 should be referred to.

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Last updated: 28 March 2019 07:36:49