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Do I need permission to do work to a tree in my garden?

Yes - sometimes. There are a number of trees throughout the town that are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). The order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy the tree or trees in question. The tree under order can be of any size, species or age and prevents anyone from doing works to a tree judged by the local authority to contribute to the character of an area.

A TPO does not mean that the council now owns the tree nor does it mean that they are responsible for the cost of its maintenance.

If you do work to a protected tree without permission you are committing an offence and could be subject to a heavy fine, up to £20,000 for destroying a tree and up to £2,500 for anyone who does not completely destroy a tree but has carried out some other works without consent. If you plan to carry out work to a tree it is important to check with the planning department to make sure it is not protected by an order.

It is important not to confuse trees subject to TPOs with trees located within conservation areas ; the legislation is completely different.

2012 TPO Regulations

On April 6, 2012, the new TPO Regulations 2012 came into force. The regulations simplify the process, and all TPOs, regardless of when they were made, will now come under the new regulations. The streamlined regulations will not change current levels of protection for trees.

 The principle changes that may affect you are as follows:

  • All new TPOs now automatically take immediate effect.
  • You must now give us five days' notice in writing, if you intend to do work to a dead or dangerous tree, except where the works must be done without delay to ensure public safety. In this case you must tell us as soon as possible after the works become necessary. A five-day notice has now become mandatory.
  • Dying trees are no longer exempt from application. You must now submit an application to prune or remove dying trees.
  • Dangerous trees are exempt from full application only where they are at imminent risk of causing serious harm. Very few trees are likely to come within this category.
  • You do not need to apply to remove dead wood from a living tree.
  • Consents to carry out works now carry a standard two-year time limit. If works have not been carried out within two years of consent being granted, then a fresh application must be made. This is the same rule that already applies to trees in Conservation Areas.

The government department for communities and local government has published the following document explaining the main changes to the Tree Preservation Order system: Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012.

Where the guidance/legislation above differs from the council guidance - SPG6 Trees , the former documents take precedence.

Not sure if the tree is protected?

If you wish to confirm whether a particular tree is protected by a TPO or is within a conservation area, you can complete the Request for Information Form . By completing this form and providing a sketch plan of the location of the tree you will be assisting us to accurately identify the relevant tree.

Live in a Conservation Area?

You can use links in the Related Pages section on the right hand side of this page to check the location conservation areas or alternative use the request for information form above.

If you live in a conservation area you should be aware that trees in these areas are also protected. However, unlike Tree Preservation Orders, protection within a conservation area is limited to any tree with a stem diameter of more than 75mm (approx 3 inches) measured at 1.5 metres (approx 4 feet 10 inches) above ground level.

You must notify the council (section 211 notice) at least six weeks prior to commencing any work on a tree. Anyone who cuts down, uproots, tops, lops, wilfully destroys or wilfully damages a tree in a conservation area without giving a section 211 notice (or otherwise in contravention of section 211) is guilty of an offence.

A section 211 notice does not have to be in any particular form but it must describe the work proposed and include sufficient particulars to identify the trees. We would recommend that you use the standard application form for works to trees.

Need to apply for permission to carry out works to a tree?

If you would like to make an application to carry out works to trees subject to a TPO or in a conservation area please use the standard application form and guidance notes. Click on the link to the Planning Applications Forms page to view the form and help text. We would strongly recommend that you seek the advice of a professional arboriculturist/tree surgeon before making an application.

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Crawley Borough Council,
Town Hall,
The Boulevard,
West Sussex, RH10 1UZ

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tel: (01293) 438512

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Crawley Borough Council,
Town Hall,
The Boulevard,
West Sussex, RH10 1UZ

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