Tree preservation orders (TPOs)

What is a TPO?

A tree preservation order (TPO) gives legal protection to a:

  • tree
  • group of trees
  • woodland

Without written consent, you cannot do any of the following to trees that have a TPO:

  • cut down
  • uproot
  • prune or cut back any branches
  • damage or destroy, including cutting roots

Types of trees covered by a TPO

Anything normally classified as a ‘tree’ can be covered by a TPO.

There is no minimum size, but bushes and shrubs cannot be covered.

In certain circumstances, fruit trees can be protected, provided they offer a benefit to the public.

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Find out if a tree has a TPO

You can:

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Requesting a TPO

If a tree doesn’t have a TPO and you think it should, please contact the planning department.

You must give the reasons why you think a tree needs protecting.

We consider requests against 4 main criteria:

  • the visibility of the tree from a public place
  • the tree's particular importance in terms of its:
    • size
    • form
    • rarity
    • screening value
    • contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area
  • the tree’s significance in its local surroundings and wider impact on the environment
  • whether the tree could be at risk in the future

It’s not usually necessary to designate TPOs for trees which are under a recognised tree management programme, such as:

  • street trees managed by our tree section
  • woodland managed by the Corporation of London in Highgate Wood

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Carrying out work on a protected tree

Before carrying out work on a protected tree, you must apply for permission.

Please complete and return the application for tree works form on the forms and fees page.


Anyone can apply but if they are not the owner, they need the owner’s permission.

How long will it take to get permission?

There is no time limit on a response for works to a tree covered by a TPO.

We will respond within 6 weeks to a notification of works in a conservation area.

Appealing a decision

If you’re unhappy with a decision you have the right to appeal. Details are sent with all decision letters.

Permission to do emergency work

The normal application process is waived if a protected tree is:

  • dead
  • dying
  • dangerous

You must give us 5 days’ notice of your intention to carry out work.

If the danger is immediate, eg the tree is about to fall, causing damage or injury, you can carry out work without prior notice.

If you do this we may, at a later date, ask you to prove the tree was a danger. Because of this, you are strongly advised to collect evidence such as:

  • photographs
  • a tree surgeon’s report
  • an independent witness statement

Commenting on an application

If you would like to comment on an application please contact the planning department.

Please note, we do not legally have to consult on a tree application.

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Conservation area tree work

It is an offence to do work to a tree in a conservation area without consent.

Check if your property is in a conservation area - see our conservation area pages.

A tree with a TPO

If a tree in a conservation area is protected by a TPO, you will need to apply to carry out any work.

A tree without a TPO

If a tree in a conservation area doesn’t have a TPO, you must give us 6 weeks’ notice to carry out work if it is:

  • 7.5 cm in diameter measured 1.5 metres above the ground if a single tree
  • 10 cm in diameter measure 1.5 metres above the ground if part of a group of trees

Please complete and return the notice form on our forms and fees page.

After receiving notice we will write and let you know if we:

  • intend to put a TPO on the tree
  • have no objections to you doing the work

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Development site tree work

Trees on development sites can be protected by:

  • a TPO
  • conditions attached to the planning permission
  • both the above

Consideration is given to the impact of, or potential loss of, any protected trees when assessing the planning application.

If full planning permission is granted, consent is not required to:

  • cut down or carry out work on trees
  • cut down a TPO tree to make way for a new building

Conditions attached to planning permission

For any work carried out close to a protected tree the work must be done in accordance with British Standard (BS 5837:2012).

An extra condition may be attached to planning permission requiring building foundation design approval. This is to ensure the work doesn’t affect trees on the site.

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Reporting unauthorised work to a protected tree

If you see works being carried out that you think may be unauthorised, contact the planning department.

It will help our enforcement action if, without putting yourself at risk, you can get the following information:

  • photographs
  • details of the contractor

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Prosecution for unauthorised work

If work is carried out on a protected tree without permission the owner, or person carrying out the work may be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.

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  • Contact us online
  • Write to us at:
    Development Management Support Team
    6th floor River Park House
    225 High Road
    Wood Green
    N22 8HQ

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    Page last updated:

    November 8, 2022

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