If you are planning a development scheme in Harrow that will have an impact on trees, you will probably need a tree survey. When you apply for planning consent, the local council is likely to request information about how any relevant trees will be managed.
Development in Harrow
This outer London borough comprises a network of town centres, high-quality open space, extensive areas of Green Belt, and historic assets. Its excellent transport links to central London make it a desirable place to live and work and Harrow Council’s challenge is to accommodate further development to meet local needs while protecting the landscape.
The area comprises inter-war suburbs, Metroland town centres, Metropolitan Open Land, natural green spaces, and parks. There are two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 28 protected areas, and four historic parks and gardens.
The Harrow Core Strategy, which sets out the approach to managing development to 2026, recognises the need for a range of housing to cater to the growing population, along with infrastructure. Core Strategy objectives include protecting the Green Belt, historical and environmental features and preserving the suburban character of Harrow, including its gardens which involves tree management, and protecting the natural environment.
Trees and planning permission
When trees will be impacted by a development scheme, there are strict rules that must be followed. Breaching the rules could mean the risk of a significant fine.
There are two main protections given to trees: individual trees can be made subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or a group of trees can be protected if they stand in a designated conservation area. Conservation areas and Tree Preservation Orders are administered by the local authority and permission is needed to disturb trees subject to these protections.
Developers are responsible for finding out if trees on or close to their proposed site are in a designated protection area or are subject to a TPO: the tree officer from the local council will be able to advise on this. It’s worth remembering that even if trees are not subject to specific protections and need to be felled, a felling licence from the Forestry Commission might be needed. Tree surveys will be able to provide the tree owner with the information required to take a planning application forward.
Stage 1 – BS5837 tree surveys
BS5837 tree surveys involve an inspection of all trees on or adjacent to the proposed development site. A professional tree surveyor will identify all tree species and give each tree a condition score, grading them according to health, size and expected lifespan. Trees will also be assessed for their local significance and their value to the ecosystem. High-quality trees that need to be retained will be identified in the tree report, which will outline the optimal approach for compensating for the loss of lower-quality trees.
A consultant will always aim to retain the maximum number of trees; however, tree removal or destruction may be necessary if trees present an unresolvable barrier to development. One solution may be to plant new trees in compensation. This arboricultural report includes an arboricultural method statement and an arboricultural impact assessment which investigates the tree canopy and tree roots below ground.
The completed BS5837 tree survey report will contain information about retained trees and details about how you intend to meet your obligations surrounding trees. It will also give information about any future work or tree surveys that will be required to support an application for planning consent.
Further types of tree surveys
There are several other types of tree surveys, including Impact Assessment, Tree Protection Plan, Arborical Supervision, Site Monitoring, Tree Condition Surveys, Pre-Purchase Tree Reports, or Mortgage Tree Reports to accompany a mortgage application: these may be required by lenders to assess trees for any risk that they could cause potential damage. A Health and Safety Tree Report will investigate potential issues caused by trees such as hazards from dead branches that tree owners should be aware of.
Do you need to find an arboricultural consultancy in Harrow?
It’s important to engage an arboricultural consultancy with experience in providing tree surveys that contain all the information needed by the relevant local council. The arboricultural surveyors should be fully qualified and hold the correct licences and accreditations. Check that the firm has good reviews and that previous customers, whether residential clients or commercial clients, rate it as providing a professional service.