If trees will be affected by any proposed development plans in Croydon, the planning authority is likely to request a tree survey to clarify how they will be managed. Let’s look at Croydon Council’s planning policy and what to do if you need a tree survey.
Development in and around Croydon
Historically a market town, Croydon is now the most populous borough in London. It is surrounded by Green Belt and protection for open spaces in the borough means that over a third of it is open space, which places constraints on housing.
However, the Croydon Local Plan 2018 aims to see development that meets the need for new homes, jobs, schools and healthcare to 2036. It wants to promote the sustainable growth of Croydon suburbs to create new homes, along with protecting green spaces and regenerating the borough’s district centres.
Development must be of high quality
Croydon Council wants to create an environment for inward investment, especially in the Croydon Metropolitan Centre where there is a significant commercial and retail offer, with scope for growth and new businesses to relocate. The area enjoys excellent transport links to Brighton and London, and Croydon is the main business centre serving Gatwick Airport. Increased housebuilding is supported by good infrastructure enabled by Croydon’s Growth Zone status.
The council has several strategic objectives:
- to provide a choice of housing for people at all life stages.
- to be a premier business location in south London.
- to oversee high quality new development and construction work.
- to respect the natural environment, improve the accessibility of green spaces, and enhance biodiversity.
Trees and planning permission
Strict rules apply when it comes to applications for planning permission that may affect trees, and if these rules are breached, significant fines can be imposed. The two main types of protection for trees are the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and conservation area status. Both categories are controlled by local authorities and permission is needed before trees subject to these protections can be disturbed.
A TPO relates to an individual tree while several trees can be protected in conservation areas. It is the responsibility of developers to find out if any trees on or adjacent to their proposed site are subject to a TPO or stand in a listed conservation area. If trees are to be felled, it may be necessary to establish whether a felling licence from the Forestry Commission will be needed.
The BS5837 tree survey
While tree consultants will aim to retain the maximum number of trees, if individual trees are causing an obstacle to a development that cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to move them. If a tree must be destroyed, new trees may need to be planted in compensation. The tree survey will include an arboricultural impact assessment which examines the tree canopy above ground and the root protection area below ground. This will inform the local authority’s tree officer about how you intend to meet your obligations, enabling them to recommend that your planning application proceeds: the planning case officer should then grant it planning permission.
The BS5837 tree survey is the first stage in the process. It involves tree consultants inspecting all the trees on or close to the proposed development site. All tree species will be identified and their condition assessed. The trees will be graded according to size, health, historical expected lifespan, and local significance. Trees will also be assessed for the value they add to the ecosystem. The tree report will identify the high-quality trees that need to be retained and propose the best way to compensate for the loss of lower-quality trees.
On completion of a BS5837 tree survey, the surveyor will complete a report that contains information about retained trees, tree canopy cover, and the root protection area below ground level. The tree survey will also provide information about whether further tree surveys will be needed to help achieve planning permission.
Further types of tree survey
If you are asked to provide further tree inspections these could include Impact Assessment, Method Statement and Tree Protection plans, along with arborical supervision, site monitoring, tree protection plans, and tree care work. Other types of tree surveys include a tree condition survey, a pre purchase tree report, or a mortgage tree report which may be needed to satisfy a mortgage provider or insurer. This survey assesses trees from a health and safety aspect to see if they pose a potential risk of causing direct or indirect damage. Tree consultants may also be required to carry out regular tree inspections.
Do you need to arrange tree surveys in Croydon?
The first step is to contact an arboricultural consultancy with experience in carrying out the type of tree surveys around Croydon that you need. They must be able to provide professional tree reports geared to the specific requirements of the local authority. Make sure that the firm you choose has good reviews and employs fully qualified, professional tree consultants who hold the relevant licences and accreditations.