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Tree survey Brighton

As trees are given high priority when it comes to applications for planning permission, a tree survey may well be needed to accompany any application for planning consent on a site that will impact trees. A professional tree survey will address any concerns that the local council may have over tree management.

A view from the park adjacent to Brighton Pavilion.

Brighton and development

Brighton in West Sussex is a tightly constrained, compact city situated between the South Downs National Park and the sea. It offers limited scope for expansion and new development has been on brownfield land over the past 20 years. The city is a mix of urban and suburban neighbourhoods, and residential densities are high in the centre. However, demand for housing of all types is high, boosted by the housing needs of over 30,00 students at two universities.

The Local Development Scheme 2023 2026 is under review and aims to address the demand for housing alongside the preservation of Brighton’s cultural assets: there are 34 conservation areas and 3,400 listed buildings there.

City strategy

The Brighton and Hove housing delivery action plan considers citywide strategies and includes a master plan for the eastern seafront to support high-quality regeneration and environmental enhancement while protecting world heritage assets.

Due to a lack of developable land in the city, and a lack of suitable greenfield land sites, the City Plan aims to encourage high densities on brownfield sites in the built-up area, for instance by building taller buildings. However, many brownfield sites have complex design issues due to the impact on neighbouring properties, heritage issues, plus parking and access problems.

Eight development areas are identified which will maximise benefits to the city in terms of transport and accessibility. The strategy makes provision for some housing to be allowed on greenfield sites on the urban fringe, but this is restricted due to proximity to the South Downs National Park, landscape sensitivities and environmental designations.

Protecting trees

Groups of trees can be protected under conservation area status, while individual trees may be protected by a Tree Preservation Order. Permission from the local authority is required before any development begins that will affect trees subject to these designations and breaching the rules risks significant fines.

A tree surveyor assessing a site.

The British Standard BS5837 tree survey

This is the first stage survey to organise and it involves arboricultural consultants making a site visit to inspect all trees on the proposed development site as well as nearby trees. A tree surveyor will assess the life expectancy of trees and pay close attention to protected trees. Tree stock will be graded according to value and condition from category A for the highest-value trees to category U.

Trees in category A will need to be retained in the scheme, while tree removal may be the best approach for trees in poor condition; sometimes new trees must be planted by way of compensation.

Protecting trees is the priority for arboricultural consultants and they will aim to retain the maximum number of trees on a development site. Arboricultural surveys will clarify the best approach to take on development sites.

The tree survey report

The tree surveyor will provide a written report detailing all trees on the development site along with a CAD drawing of the site. The arboricultural report can be submitted to the local planning authority in support of a planning application.

The report will provide all the information needed to enable a scheme’s design team to make informed decisions. Should further tree surveys or tree works be required in relation to development plans, details will be included in the tree report.

Further tree surveys

If a development site has specific tree concerns, more specialist tree surveys may be needed such as a tree constraints plan, arborical supervision, an arboricultural impact assessment to investigate root protection areas, an arboricultural method statement, or a tree protection plan. If there are environmental concerns about a development project, ecological surveys may be needed.

A tree owner may need tree safety surveys to address health and safety concerns or to check for subsidence. Mortgage tree reports to assess potential risks may be requested by mortgage providers or insurers, and home buyers may require a pre-purchase tree survey.

Do you need to arrange a tree survey in Brighton?

If you are considering which firm to use, it’s important to choose an arboricultural consultancy that’s experienced in conducting the type of tree survey required by the relevant local authority. Also, check that the firm employs qualified tree consultants who hold the correct licences as they will be able to provide expert arboricultural advice to help with your application for planning permission.

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