Tree survey in Chester

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 in Chester

Trees and woodland areas are valued highly by Cheshire West and Chester Council and for planning applications to succeed, all concerns about trees on a site must be dealt with correctly. While they can present a barrier to planning permission, issues surrounding trees can be mitigated with the right professional advice: trees are not an insurmountable problem in some cases.

Local authorities need to encourage development schemes and in Chester, the Chester One City Plan demonstrates that the council is keen to progress development and generate investment in the city.

Chester Cathedral.

Trees in Chester and Cheshire  

The Cheshire West and Chester area contains around 28,000 trees and over 500 hectares of woodland, and according to a 2016 study, tree canopy cover in Chester was 14%. There are a total of 173 conservation areas between Cheshire’s two local authorities – 96 in Cheshire West and Chester and 77 in Cheshire East – and thousands of tree preservation orders are in place across the county. If trees are damaged in a conservation area, a fine of up to £20,000 can be handed out, while higher penalties can be imposed for damaging trees subject to a tree preservation order (TPO).

To progress with planning applications involving trees, developers must ensure that all conditions relating to the relevant trees have been addressed: a tree survey carried out by a professional arboricultural company can advise tree owners on the best steps to take.

A tree consultant carrying out a survey.

Tree surveys

Developers must check that any tree in question is not subject to a TPO, in a listed conservation area, or subject to existing legal conditions. The local planning authority must give consent before trees with these restrictions are disturbed. A TPO is issued on individual trees while conservation areas can relate to trees within a stated zone. It may also be necessary to consider whether a felling licence from the Forestry Commission will be needed.

The BS5837 tree survey

If you have a development site and are concerned about its potential impact on trees, a tree surveyor may need to be consulted, according to local planning authority requirements. The initial assessment is the BS5837 tree survey, which involves a professional tree consultant inspecting the development site and surrounding trees. The tree inspections will calculate the condition and value of each tree, using a grading system, looking at size, quality and value, and place them in a category. The tree surveyor will then work out a tree management plan identifying the optimal approach for each tree in terms of retention, relocation, or destruction with compensation.

Category A trees are regarded as critical to the local ecology and may also be historically important; they are often large and visually appealing. Category U trees are dangerous, have nearly reached the end of their lifespan, or are dead. The range of categories between A and U range from good to bad, with outcomes set for each.

Protect trees where possible

A tree surveyor will aim to retain as many trees as possible, especially those in good condition, while trees in poor condition or presenting hazards to people or property may be recommended for destruction. Valuable trees that obstruct the development may be moved elsewhere on or off the site, according to the arboriculturalist’s recommendations for tree management.

On completing a BS5837 tree survey, a report will be completed containing information about how the survey was carried out, a comprehensive assessment of trees on the site including tree protection plans, and an AutoCAD map of trees present. The tree report will provide details of the mitigation measures necessary to help development plans proceed through the planning process and satisfy the local planning authority. The survey will also state whether further British Standard detailed tree surveys are required such as a tree constraints plan or a tree protection plan.

Other types of tree survey

Tree condition surveys

These detailed tree surveys will address health and safety issues via a tree risk assessment and investigation into trees’ physiological and structural condition.

A mortgage tree report

Homebuyers may need this type of report to satisfy mortgage lenders or insurers. A tree surveyor will assess relevant trees in terms of their safety and potential risk of tree failure. It may indicate that tree works must be carried out.

Find a reputable arboricultural consultancy

If you need a tree survey, the first step is to contact an arboricultural consultancy with good reviews and experience carrying out tree survey reports that support planning applications to your local council. Make sure that tree surveyors are fully qualified and hold relevant licences and accreditations.

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