Need a tree survey in Berkshire?

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 Berkshire

A tree survey may be requested by one of the local authorities in Berkshire if a proposed development is likely to impact trees on, or close to, a site. Much of Berkshire’s countryside is protected by environmental designations such as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and ancient woodlands: this severely restricts the areas where development can take place and applications for planning permission are closely scrutinised.

An aerial view of Reading in Berkshire.

Development in Berkshire

Berkshire in the south east of the country is governed by six unitary authorities – West Berkshire Council, Slough Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Council, Reading Borough Council, Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council, and Wokingham Borough Council. The county aims to grow via a combination of prioritising development on brownfield land, strategic urban extensions and smaller urban extensions.

While local planning authorities want to retain the attractive nature of the county, housing and industrial development are needed. For instance, the West Berkshire Local Plan Review which will take the area to 2039, is now being examined, and it proposes to deliver between 8,721 and 9,146 homes by 2039 to meet local needs. West Berkshire is highly constrained in development terms: only 15% of its area can be available for potential development in the Local Plan process; most land is unsuitable because the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation covers 74% of the district, while 7% falls in designated flood zones and 6% is covered by ancient woodlands.

Protected trees

Trees are protected from damage or removal by two designations: individual trees can be placed under a tree preservation order, while a group of trees can be protected by conservation area status. The relevant local planning authority will be able to advise you as to whether you will need to submit a tree survey alongside your application for planning permission.

If a tree survey report is required and a planning application is submitted without one, you risk delays and possibly a refusal. It’s important to note that damaging or removing trees without planning permission can lead to fines or criminal prosecution.

An arboricultural consultant measuring a tree trunk.

The BS5837 tree survey

The BS5837 tree survey is the initial tree survey to arrange. It involves a professional tree surveyor making a site visit to assess all trees on the proposed development site and those in the surrounding area. Trees will be graded according to their condition and ecological importance. The high-quality trees that need to be retained will be identified and the appropriate action to compensate for the loss of trees in poor condition will be explained: measures could include tree planting. The tree survey involves a CAD drawing and an arboricultural report that can be used by your design team.

While this initial tree report may fulfil requirements, in some cases further tree surveys are needed. These include Impact Assessment, Method Statement and Tree Protection plans, along with Arborical Supervision, Site Monitoring and Tree Protection Plans. An ecological survey may be required if a site contains protected wildlife species or valuable habitat.

Other types of tree survey

A tree condition survey

As well as assessing the condition of the tree in question, this survey may be needed to address health and safety issues.

Mortgage tree reports

Home buyers may be asked to provide a mortgage tree report or a pre-purchase tree survey by their mortgage lender or insurer before their mortgage application can be approved. The report will examine trees for potential risks to property or people. If hazards such as dangerous branches are found, the report will advise on the best way to rectify the problem, which might involve tree surgery work.

Looking for tree surveys in Berkshire?

If you have a development project and need a Berkshire tree survey, the arboricultural consultancy that you select should be experienced in carrying out the type of tree report needed by the relevant local planning authority. The firm should employ professional tree consultants who hold the relevant licences, enabling them to offer expert advice.

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