Need a tree survey in Bedfordshire?

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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Tree survey Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire is a densely populated county that puts a high priority on protecting its trees and green spaces. Any planning application for development involving trees is likely to need a tree survey to show how trees will be managed in the scheme.

Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire.

Bedfordshire in the East of England

Bedfordshire’s largest towns and cities include Luton, Leighton Buzzard, Biggleswade, and Ampthill, while Bedford is the county town. Despite the built-up nature of much of this north London county, it is home to 1800 hectares of trees across a total of 123,500 hectares of land.

Trees and beautiful countryside can be found in the Forest of Marston Vale, the Greensand Ridge escarpment, and Dunstable Downs in The Chilterns. Ancient semi-natural woodlands include Putnoe Wood, Clapham Park, and Berry Wood. Tree planting is encouraged by Bedford Borough Council, which has created tree trails in three parks, with more planned, along with community orchards. Tree planting initiatives are also organised at the Forest of Marston Vale and by The Greensands Trust.

Bedfordshire’s planning outlook

Bedford Borough Council is preparing the Local Plan 2040 which builds on the Local Plan 2030 and aims to make the borough a greener, more sustainable place to live and work in. Priorities include meeting growth targets, providing new homes, services, public open spaces, and tackling climate change.

The plan is based on the government Standard Method for calculating housing needs – which equates to 27,100 dwellings over the period of the plan 2020-2040. However, when taking account of existing planning permissions for homes yet to be built and allocations that don’t yet have planning consent, the number of new dwellings to be allocated in the plan is around 12,275. Between 118 hectares and 142 hectares of land are needed to accommodate office warehousing and industrial jobs. New growth is focused on the urban area boundary or adjacent sites, and areas with good rail access.

Protection for trees

Trees can be protected by two main designations: a Tree Preservation Order which applies to individual trees, while conservation areas can protect groups of trees. Permission to carry out works to trees with a tree preservation order attached or with conservation area status must be obtained from the local authority: a breach of this ruling may result in significant fines or criminal prosecution.

A tree survey charts all existing trees on a development site and surrounding trees.

Tree surveys

The British Standard BS5837 survey is the initial tree survey. It involves a professional tree surveyor making a site visit to assess all trees on the site and in the local area, with a view to retaining the maximum number of existing trees. During the survey, trees will be graded from Category A, which relates to the highest quality trees, to Category U for the trees in the poorest condition or nearing the end of their lifespan.

While retained trees in Category A may need to be relocated, Category U trees may be recommended for removal in the tree survey, with new trees planted as replacements. Root protection areas around trees will also be assessed to gauge the impact of development proposals on them.

Tree reports

The written tree report will provide details of all trees on the development site and include a CAD drawing that can be used in support of an application for planning permission. The tree surveyor will also give details of any further tree surveys or tree services that may be needed, such as tree surgery.

Further tree surveys

While the BS5837 may satisfy your local authority in terms of supporting your application for planning permission, some sites with complex tree issues may need further tree surveys. Specialised tree surveys include climbing inspections, a tree constraints plan, an arboricultural impact assessment, an arboricultural method statement, a health and safety survey and a tree protection plan. House buyers may need a pre-purchase tree survey to obtain mortgage approval, and insurers may require mortgage tree reports. A tree safety survey may be needed by a tree owner to assess potential risks.

Do you need to arrange a tree survey in Bedfordshire?

The arboricultural consultancy that you choose should be experienced in completing the type of tree survey that you need to submit to the relevant local authorities. The firm should employ fully qualified tree surveyors who hold the correct licences as they will be able to provide expert advice which will assist with your application for planning permission. Professional tree surveyors will also be aware of any legal obligation relating to existing trees subject to tree protection orders or trees in conservation areas.

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