May 7, 2012

BS 5837:2012 – A Revised Standard for Trees and Construction

A full revision of BS 5837: Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction, came into effect at the end of April 2012. The purpose of the document, which can play a fundamental role in the success or failure of a planning application, is to assist in achieving a harmonious relationship between trees and structures that can be sustained in the long term.

Trees form a material consideration in the planning process. Consequently, if trees are located on or near a site of proposed development, a tree survey is required to establish any constraints that those trees may present. The document provides guidance and recommendations relating to the consideration of trees throughout the entire design, demolition and construction process.

Although the main elements of the Standard, such as the requirements for a tree constraints plan, an arboricultural impact assessment (formerly arboricultural implications assessment), a tree protection plan and an arboricultural method statement, remain largely unaltered, there are some important changes in the revised document. These include:

• a different rule for calculating the Root Protection Area (RPA) of multi-stemmed trees
• category C trees are now considered a constraint
• new permanent hard surfacing should not exceed 20% of any existing unsurfaced ground within the RPA
• it is no longer possible to displace the RPAs of open grown trees by 20% in any direction
• category R is replaced with category U (unsuitable for retention rather than for removal)
• ancient trees are to be included in the A3 category
• a soil assessment should be included in the process

The revised publication is comprehensive and includes new guidance relating to the most modern engineering and construction methods, such as those required for subterranean development. The increased level of detail included throughout the revised standard will, I am sure, be of benefit to both tree consultants and local authority tree officers.

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