Need a tree survey in York?

If your development project will have an impact on trees, a tree survey is needed to decide on the next steps to take.

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Do you need a tree survey in York?

Being steeped in history and surrounded by some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside makes obtaining planning permission for development schemes in York a challenge. If you have a development project that involves trees, you can expect to be required to provide a tree survey as part of the application process.

York Minster viewed from the city walls.

York’s history and location

York, in north Yorkshire, was founded by the Romans. Its name is derived from the Brittonic name `Eboracum’, which means place of the yew trees. Landmarks include a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and York Castle, built by William the Conqueror. The city of York is surrounded by an area of green belt and is bordered by the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, the Pennines and the Yorkshire Wolds. Given the beautiful countryside surrounding York and the city’s heritage assets, local authorities prioritise preserving trees and other natural assets when it comes to considering applications for planning permission.

Trees in York

The City of York Council is responsible for approximately 30,000 public trees in parks, open spaces and highway verges across the city, and it aims to protect, sustain and manage trees responsibly and avoid risk to people or property. The council wants to increase the number and diversity of trees and protect them from damage and unjustified removal via arboricultural protection guidelines and relevant legislation such as The Town and Country Planning Act. The council will enforce protection and prosecute those breaching tree protection regulations.

The Treemendous York partnership, formed in 2011 to unite groups with an interest in trees, has a programme of planting over 50,000 trees in greater York. It has links with the Woodland Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, York Natural Environment Trust and many other groups.

York and development

While a new draft local plan is being developed, the current plan aims to guide development where needed while protecting York’s natural and historic environment. A critical element limiting the expansion of York is the open countryside that runs into the heart of the built-up area, including river corridors, plus areas of countryside providing views to features such as York Minster and historic villages around the city.

York’s green belt protects the historic character of the city and the boundary comes close to the urban area. The local council aims to ensure development is sustainable and sympathetic to the environment. Housing provision, green infrastructure and more employment opportunities are a priority, along with extending green areas, especially along the river corridors as they offer ecological biodiversity, fresh air and recreational opportunities.

Trees and development

The council will protect trees and hedgerows of landscape, amenity and nature conservation value by refusing plans which would result in their loss, and will require adequate protection for trees and hedgerows on development sites during site works.

If you have development plans that impact trees, or if there are protected trees involved, you will need a tree survey to enable your plans to progress. A tree surveyor will be able to assess the relevant trees in terms of tree care and tree safety, and recommend a course of action.

Protected trees

There are two main protections for trees: tree preservation orders which can protect individual trees, and conservation area status which protects a group of trees. To find out whether a tree survey is needed to support a planning application, contact the tree officer at the local council. Applying for planning permission without a tree survey when one is needed could result in delays or a refusal. Damaging trees without consent can lead to fines and prosecution.

An arboricultural consultant carrying out a tree survey.

Tree surveys

The BS5837 tree survey

Various British Standard tree surveys exist to meet a range of circumstances. If you need a tree survey, the first step is to contact an arboricultural consultancy and arrange a British Standard BS5837 tree survey. An arboricultural consultant will inspect all trees on the proposed development site and trees close by. Trees will be examined for condition, size and stem diameter, life expectancy, and ecological importance. Each tree will be graded into category A, B, C, or U, accordingly.

The highest quality trees in category A should be retained, while trees in poor condition may be destroyed: it may be recommended that compensatory planting of new trees take place. If category A trees impede the development project and an alternative plan is not viable, an option is to relocate them. The arboricultural consultant will recommend practical solutions for all trees on the site, and as well as providing a tree report, will create a CAD drawing showing all trees present.

Sometimes further tree reports are requested by local authorities, such as an arboricultural impact assessment, tree protection plans, a tree constraints plan, arboricultural method statements, risk assessment, a tree safety survey or arborical supervision and site monitoring. If valuable habitats or protected species are identified on the site, an ecological survey may be required.

Further tree surveys

Mortgage tree reports

Mortgage lenders may request this survey before approving a mortgage application. It involves a tree inspection to assess any potential risk to property or people. Sometimes tree surgery may be recommended to make certain trees safe, or other risk management measures.

Tree condition surveys

This survey will address health and safety issues, perhaps with veteran trees, or a tree owner may be concerned about subsidence risk.

Do you need a tree survey in York?

It is helpful to engage an arboricultural consultancy that’s experienced in carrying out tree surveys for the relevant local planning authority. The firm should employ fully qualified arboricultural consultants who can offer expert arboricultural advice if you need a tree survey to support a planning application.

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