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Tree survey Birkenhead

Trees and green spaces are highly prized by local authorities on the Wirral. An application for planning permission may well need to be supported by a tree survey if there are trees on, or in close proximity to, a development site. The information contained in the tree survey will help you with future decision making regarding possible land use on your site.

Birkenhead town hall in Hamilton Square.

Birkenhead in the north west of England

Situated on the Wirral Peninsula on the banks of the river Mersey, Birkenhead is in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Merseyside, and is controlled by Wirral Council. The Cheshire section of the Wirral is governed by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Birkenhead expanded rapidly during the Industrial Revolution: Britain’s first street trams were introduced there, the town was connected to Liverpool via the River Mersey tunnel and shipbuilding began in 1829.

In recognition of the beneficial social and cultural values that trees provide in industrialised areas, Birkenhead Park and Hamilton Square were laid out. Birkenhead Park opened in 1847 and is home to 1,450 trees. It is the largest of the estimated 121 parks and playgrounds across Birkenhead.

Despite once being an economic powerhouse in the north west, Birkenhead has fallen into decline over recent decades with many areas suffering from deprivation and limited housing options.

The development outlook for Birkenhead

In 2020 Wirral Council announced a 20-year plan, the Birkenhead 2040 Framework, which aims to improve the environment and regenerate parts of the local area. Trees represent social and cultural values and in recognition of the benefits that trees provide, Wirral Council’s Tree, hedgerow and woodland strategy aims to boost the region’s tree population and plant thousands more young trees. Over the 10 years of the strategy, 210,000 more trees will be planted in a bid to extend Wirral’s treescape, double the canopy cover and enable more people to enjoy the social effects of trees.

Land use

The new Wirral Local Plan’s priorities are `brownfield first’, using previously developed land before any other type, as well as preserving trees in urban areas and on private land. A key aim is to halt the decline experienced in the metropolitan borough of Birkenhead over recent years.

The Plan would like to mirror Liverpool’s successful regeneration and boost urban areas with new high-quality homes and different land uses including increasing the tree population.

Protection for trees: tree preservation orders and conservation areas

As well as their contribution to climate change, trees provide shade and the urban forest brings greenery into built-up areas. Trees viewed as valuable by a local authority can be made subject to two protections: individual trees can be protected by tree preservation orders (TPOs) while a group of trees can be covered by conservation area status. Consent must be granted by the local authority before such trees can be disturbed.

An arboricultural consultant conducting a tree survey.

Tree surveys

The BS5837 tree survey

This initial tree survey involves an arboricultural consultant visiting the development site and recording field data about all trees present. Trees subject to tree preservation orders or in a conservation area will be dealt with accordingly. Data commonly collected includes information about root growth, characteristics present, tree cover, ground cover and the condition and biological importance of the whole tree population. As well as trees on the site, nearby trees will also be considered.

Field data

During the tree survey, trees will be graded from Category A, for the best trees, to Category U for those in poor condition. Usually, Category A trees will need to be retained or relocated if they prove to be a barrier to progressing planning applications. While arboricultural consultants aim to retain as many trees as possible, certain trees may be destroyed: compensation measures include planting trees.

The tree survey will detail additional data variables along with mitigation measures. As well as providing a written tree report, the arboricultural consultant will create a CAD drawing detailing the site’s whole tree population. Data collection methodology will be provided in an arboricultural method statement. While BS5837 tree surveys may fulfil local planning authority requirements, sometimes further tree reports are needed before planning permission can be granted

Further tree survey options

Depending on a site’s characteristics, a local planning authority might require further detailed information which could be provided by a site monitoring and tree protection plan. An arboricultural impact assessment may be needed to further investigate ground cover and trees’ root growth, or a tree condition survey may be needed to address health and safety issues.

Tree reports for mortgage purposes

Mortgage lenders might require tree safety reports before approving a house buyer’s mortgage application. Trees will be assessed for any potential risks to property or people and if hazards such as dangerous branches are identified, the arboricultural consultant will recommend the best course of action, which may involve tree surgery work.

Looking for tree surveys in Birkenhead?

Find an arboricultural consultancy that’s experienced in completing a range of tree surveys for the relevant local authority in the north west, and specifically to accompany applications for planning permission. The firm should employ arboricultural consultants who are fully qualified. This will ensure that you engage a consultancy that can offer expert advice to help you make effective management decisions when considering planning applications for different land uses that affect Wirral’s treescape.

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