Pre-development arboricultural reports

Trees form a material consideration in the planning process. Consequently, planning applications for building and/or development, where trees are present on or near to the site, are generally required to include a pre-development arboricultural report in accordance with British Standard 5837:2012 (Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – recommendations). We provide arboricultural advice and services at all stages of a project: from pre-design consultancy to tree management during construction.

Initially, a tree survey/arboricultural survey is undertaken to categorise the trees in terms of their retention value. This is based upon their condition, visual amenity and estimated life expectancy. Using the information gathered during the tree survey, a tree constraints plan (below), showing canopy spreads and the root protection areas of each tree can be produced. This can then be used to inform a feasibility assessment and the design phase of a project.

Following the completion of the final design/layout of the development an arboricultural impact assessment can be undertaken. The purpose of this is to evaluate the direct and indirect effects that the proposed development may have on the adjacent trees and, where necessary, formulate appropriate protection for those trees. The methods and techniques that will be utilised during the project, to ensure that the trees remain suitably protected, are then illustrated in a tree-protection plan and listed in an outline method statement.

Figure 1 form British Standard 5837-2012 showing the design and construction process and tree care
Generally, this level of information is adequate to enable the local planning authority to consider an application. However, in some circumstances further information maybe required. Additional information such as: a detailed arboricultural method statement, an arboricultural site monitoring schedule and/or a landscape design are, if required, stated as planning conditions once permission has been granted.

We appreciate that, occasionally, designs for projects are finalised without realising that an arboricultural report is required, and is only brought to light when the application fails to be validated. Although not ideal, in many cases, we are able to work through, retrospectively, the stages detailed in the British Standard and produce the necessary information required to fulfil the requirements of the planning application.

Example of a tree constraints plan
Building near to trees provides us with challenges to which we endeavour to find innovative solutions. However, it is important to consider that the purpose of British Standard 5837:2012 is to achieve a harmonious relationship between trees and structures that can be sustained in the long term. The most successful way to achieve this is to adopt a pragmatic approach from the outset. This avoids common mistakes such as: attempting to retain trees that cannot, realistically, be suitably protected during the construction process, or failing to provide adequate protection for the trees of high value that are to be retained.

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