Need a tree survey in Gloucester?

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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Looking to develop and need a tree survey in Gloucester?

Any development plans in Gloucester that will have an impact on trees are likely to need a tree survey alongside an application for planning permission. The local authority’s planning department may well request information about how you aim to protect trees in your plans.

Bluebell woods near Chipping Camden.

Important areas of woodland 

Bordering Wales in south west England, Gloucestershire is home to the Royal Forest of Dean, one of England’s few remaining ancient forests. Once a royal hunting forest, it later provided timber for the Navy’s Tudor warships, and sustainable timber is produced there today. The Forest provides a mosaic of wildlife habitats and it has recently welcomed the return of pine martens and beavers. It’s also home to colonies of greater and lesser horseshoe bats, heathland birds and insects.

The Cotswolds are also located in Gloucestershire and ancient woodland is a distinctive feature here, especially beech, and part of this woodland is included in the Cotswold Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation. Other notable wooded areas are found along the Severn Valley, and around Symonds Yat Rock and the River Wye.

Development in Gloucester

While a high priority is placed on protecting and retaining trees and the natural environment, Gloucestershire County Council acknowledges the need for a wide range of development. The county’s population is expanding and there is a growing requirement for housing and employment; alongside this, improved infrastructure and services are needed. The Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewksbury Joint Core Strategy 2011-2031 states that development must be sustainable and of a high standard to protect the distinctiveness of the county’s locations.

Woodland cover in the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley.

Trees and development plans

Strict rules govern the treatment of trees on a development site, and tree owners who commit a breach of the rules could risk a significant fine. Trees can be given protection in two ways: individual trees can be made subject to a Tree Preservation Order and multiple trees can be protected by conservation area status. Both conservation areas and Tree Preservation Orders are administered by local authorities.

Permission is needed to disturb trees subject to Tree Preservation Orders or conservation area status and it’s the responsibility of developers to find out if trees on site or adjacent to it are subject to either protection. The local council’s tree officer will be able to advise on this. If trees are not subject to protection and need to be felled, it may still be necessary to obtain a felling licence from the Forestry Commission. 

Tree surveys

The BS5837 tree survey

The British Standard BS5837 tree survey is the first stage in the process. It involves a tree surveyor making a site visit and visual inspection of all trees on the proposed development site and surrounding trees. All tree species will be identified and given a condition score.

The tree consultant will grade trees from Category A to Category U according to health, local significance, size and expected lifespan, and work out how to protect specific trees. The tree report will identify the high-quality trees that will need to be retained and provide details of the best way to compensate for the loss of trees in poor condition. This tree survey includes an arboricultural impact assessment to investigate the tree canopy and the root protection areas below ground.

The tree report

While this survey will aim to retain the maximum number of trees, if certain trees are proving a barrier to development, they may need to be moved or destroyed, and new trees planted by way of compensation.

The completed BS5837 tree survey report will contain details about retained trees on your site and information about the best course of action to take to comply with planning rules surrounding such trees. If further tree surveys are required before planning permission can be granted, the tree report will provide details.

Further tree surveys that might be needed

Further tree inspections might be required by local planning authorities. They include Impact Assessments, Tree Condition Surveys, Tree Protection Plans, Health and Safety surveys, Arborical Supervision, Site Monitoring, Pre-Purchase Tree Reports, or Mortgage Tree Reports which may be required by a lender.

Do you need a trusted tree consultancy in Gloucester?

You should identify an arboricultural consultancy with experience in completing tree surveys to support planning applications. Make sure that the consultancy that you engage employs fully qualified consultants who are well-versed in completing tree surveys for the local council dealing with your planning application. Check that the consultants hold relevant licences as they will be able to offer expert advice about your planning project.

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