Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
- Introduction to Tree Preservation Orders
- Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
- Trees in Conservation Areas
- Trees on Development Sites
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by the council giving legal protection to a tree, a group of trees or woodland. A TPO prevents the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or destruction of trees (including cutting roots) without council permission. TPOs protect trees for your future enjoyment.
If the tree is protected, you will need written consent to carry out the work. If written consent is not obtained, and work is carried out to a protected tree, the owner or person carrying out the work may be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.
If you wish to find out if a tree is protected by a tree preservation order or for any other TPO enquiries please contact the Planning and Regeneration Service:
- Contact us online
- Write to us at:
Development Management Support Team
6th floor River Park House
225 High Road
What type of trees can be covered by a TPO?
Anything that would normally be classified as a ‘tree’ may 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, providing they offer a reasonable public amenity.
How is it decided whether to designate a TPO?
We will consider requests for TPOs against four 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 or contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area
- the significance of the tree(s) in their local surroundings and wider impact on the environment
- the council can also designate a TPO as a precautionary measure, if there is reason to believe the tree could be at risk in the future.
The council does not normally consider it necessary to designate TPOs for trees which are under a recognised tree management programme, such as street trees managed by the council’s Tree section or trees and woodland managed by the Corporation of London in Highgate Wood.
How can I find out if a tree is covered by a TPO?
To find out if a tree is covered by a TPO you can:
You can also contact the council’s Planning Service.
What if I want to work on a protected tree?
If you wish to carry out works to a protected tree you must apply to the council for permission by completing an Application for Tree Works form which you can find on the Forms and Fees page.
Who can apply to undertake works to a protected tree?
Anyone can apply for permission to undertake works on a protected tree, even if they don’t own it. But you will need permission from the owner.
How long will it take to get permission?
There is no time limit on a response from the Planning Service to an application made for works to a tree covered by a TPO. The council will respond to a notification of works to a tree in a conservation area within six weeks.
What do I do if I’m unhappy with the decision?
You have the right to appeal against a decision and details of how to appeal are sent with all decision letters.
Do I need permission to do emergency work?
If a tree is protected, but is dead, dying or dangerous the normal application process is waived. You must give the council five days notice of your intentions to carry out work. You can carry out work without prior notice if the danger is immediate, for example if the tree is in imminent danger of falling and will cause damage or injury if it does.
If you intend to do this you are strongly advised to collect evidence in the form of photographs, a tree surgeon’s report and an independent witness’s statement. The council may require you to prove that the tree was dead, dying or dangerous at a later date.
Can I comment on an application?
Yes you can comment, but there is no legal requirement for the council to consult on a tree application.
What do I do if I want to protect a tree?
You should contact the Planning Service and state the reasons why it is important to protect a particular tree.
What can I do if a protected tree is damaged without permission?
It is an offence to carry out work to a protected tree without the council’s consent. If a protected tree is damaged or destroyed without permission, the owner or person carrying out the work may be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000 and a suitable replacement tree will also have to be planted, in consultation with the Planning Service.
How do I report unauthorised works to a protected tree?
If you see works being carried out that you suspect may be unauthorised, please contact the Planning Service. If, without putting yourself at risk, you are able to obtain information such as photographs or details of the contractor, this will help the council in any enforcement action.
Are trees in conservation areas protected?
If a tree in a conservation area is protected by a TPO the usual protection applies.
If a tree is not protected by a TPO but is in a conservation area, you must give six weeks notice to carry out any works to the tree. Please visit the Forms and Fees page for a notification form. This only applies to trees that are more than 7.5cm in diameter (or 10cm if the tree is part of a group of trees), measured 1.5metres above the ground.
It is an offence to do work to a tree in a conservation area without consent.
Is my property in a conservation area?
See our Conservation Area pages to check if your property is within a conservation area.
How will I know whether I can do work to my tree?
If the council has any objections to your proposed works we will notify you by letter that we intend to serve a TPO. You will also be notified if we have no objections to the proposed works.
How are trees on development sites protected?
Trees on development sites can be protected by a TPO or by conditions attached to the planning permission, or both.
What conditions can be attached to planning permission to protect trees?
For any work being carried out close to a protected tree the council would require work to be undertaken in accordance with British Standard (BS 5837:1991). An additional condition may be attached to any planning permission granted, which will require the approval of the design of building foundations and layout to ensure that the work does not affect trees on the site.
Is a TPO application required for works to trees on development sites?
If planning permission has been granted, consent is not required for cutting down or carrying out work on trees if this is needed to implement a planning permission. A TPO is overridden if a tree has to be felled to make way for a new building, for which full planning permission has been granted. Consideration would have already been given to the impact of, or potential loss of, any protected trees when assessing the planning application.