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Tree survey Birmingham

There are over 1 million trees in Birmingham, one of the UK’s greenest cities, and while major commercial and residential development is planned, ecological features like trees are given high priority and will not be sacrificed for building schemes. If you have a development site and need a tree survey in the Birmingham area, it’s important to use a firm that employs fully qualified tree surveyors to guide you through the process.

Edgbaston Reservoir on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Birmingham in the West Midlands

Economically, Birmingham’s strengths lie in professional and financial services, digital media, the car industry and environmental and medical technologies. The UK’s second city, it has undergone a programme of economic regeneration and environmental improvement since the 1980s. Birmingham City Council wants to promote development while protecting the city’s green spaces; biodiversity is a priority and trees are key to this.

Over a fifth of its area is green space – there are 30 conservation areas, 15 parks and gardens, allotments, playing fields and important nature reserves including 2,400-acre Sutton Park, a national nature reserve and designated Site of Special Scientific Interest comprising thousands of trees.

Planning outlook

The Birmingham Development Plan 2031, part of Birmingham’s Local Plan, has a sustainable growth strategy that identifies areas for development and regeneration. The vision is for Birmingham to be a green city by 2031 that meets the needs of its inhabitants. This means building attractive sustainable neighbourhoods and improving green areas.

Priorities are brownfield regeneration, protecting heritage assets and the historic environment, enhancing natural environments to allow biodiversity and wildlife to flourish, and creating a green infrastructure network through the city linking to open countryside. Aims include protecting and enhancing natural environments in line with the principles of the Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area and taking account of the Arden and Cannock Chase and Cank Wood National Character Areas identified by Natural England.

Birmingham and trees

Trees cover some 23% of the city’s land area, a woodland resource referred to as The Birmingham Forest. Trees are increasingly recognised for their importance in maintaining biodiversity and helping tackle climate change. There is a wide variety of trees in the city, and they are seen as a valuable environmental asset, helpful in terms of climate change, i.e. water run-off, pollution interception and temperature control. Every opportunity to plant new trees will be taken, especially large species. Planting new woods and orchards helps tackle urban heat islands and encourages biodiversity; hedges are also valuable in urban areas.

Protection for trees

Individual trees may be protected by Tree Preservation Orders, while conservation area status can protect trees standing in a group. Permission is needed from local councils before any development takes place which will impact protected trees and breaching this ruling may result in significant fines. 

A tree surveyor assesses the quality of trees on a site.

Tree surveys and reports

The initial survey is the British Standard BS5837 survey which involves arboricultural consultants making a site visit and inspecting all trees on the proposed site and surrounding areas. Trees will be graded according to a universal mitigation hierarchy to identify the optimal outcome for each tree.

The best quality trees will be graded as category A and will need to be retained, while others which may pose a health and safety risk or obstruct plans in an unalterable way, may be relocated or destroyed. The poorest quality trees will be rated as category U. Arboricultural consultants always aim to retain the maximum number of trees on a development site. The tree survey report will provide details of the optimal approach to take.

Tree report

The written arboricultural report will assess all trees on the site and include a CAD drawing, which can be used in support of an application for planning permission. Should further tree surveys be required in relation to design demolition and construction plans, the report will include details.

Further tree surveys

If a site has specific needs and complex tree problems, specialised tree surveys may be needed to work out the best way forward. These include a tree constraints plan, an arboricultural impact assessment, an arboricultural method statement and a tree protection plan. House buyers may need a pre-purchase tree survey while mortgage providers and insurers may require mortgage tree reports. Tree safety surveys may be needed by a tree owner to investigate potential risk factors.

Do you need a tree survey in Birmingham?

Engaging the right firm will mean that you are given the correct information to help you gain planning consent. Identify an arboricultural consultancy that employs qualified tree surveyors who hold the correct licences. They should be experienced in conducting the type of tree survey required by the relevant local authority.

Arboricultural consultants will be able to provide guidance about any legal obligation to individual trees or trees in a conservation area during any design, demolition and construction works and help your scheme through the development process.

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