If you plan to demolish, renovate, or build a new property on a site that involves trees, you are likely to need a tree survey. Local authorities in East Sussex will probably require a tree report from a professional arboricultural consultancy for any development scheme affecting trees.
East Sussex’s development outlook
East Sussex County Council’s priority is to drive sustainable economic growth, focusing on infrastructure and road projects. It wants to remain an attractive county to live, work, and do business in; its main strengths are the creative industries, the visitor economy, and construction engineering and the aim is to attract and retain businesses.
Due to the benefits that trees bring, from reducing carbon to increasing oxygen in the environment, they are a significant factor in most local plans and development strategies. The county council is also responding to the Environment Act by developing a local nature recovery strategy in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council, working through the Sussex Local Plan Partnership. Ideally, all development will protect and preserve existing trees as well as create beneficial green areas.
Lewes is the administrative centre of East Sussex and Lewes District Council is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and is encouraging tree planting. The county council aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Conservation areas and Tree Preservation Orders
Trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or in a conservation area have precise protections imposed on them. A TPO is issued on individual trees while a conservation area can relate to all the trees within a stated zone. If protected trees are on a development site, prior consent will be needed before any work can take place that may disturb them.
Developers are responsible for checking whether relevant trees have restrictions on them, and the local planning authority must give consent before such trees are disturbed. It may also be necessary to consider whether a felling licence from the Forestry Commission will be needed.
The BS5837 tree survey
The BS5837 tree survey is the first step in the process and it involves a qualified tree surveyor inspecting all the trees on a site. The condition and value of each tree will be evaluated using a grading system: each tree will be given a category according to size, quality, and value. The tree surveyor will then decide on the best approach for each tree in terms of retention, relocation, or destruction with compensation.
The categories range from A (for the best trees) to U, and specific outcomes are assigned to each category. Category A trees have the highest levels of protection as they are regarded as vital to the area’s ecology. They are often large, attractive trees and may also be historically important. At the other end of the scale, Category U trees are approaching the end of their lifespan, or they may be dead.
While an arboriculturalist will aim to retain as many trees as possible, those in poor condition or posing potential issues relating to tree safety may be recommended for destruction. If a category A tree makes it difficult for a scheme to achieve planning consent, it may be moved to a different place on or off the site.
The tree report
A BS5837 tree survey will include information about the survey method and an assessment of all the trees on the site, including root growth and protection areas around trees. The tree report will also include an AutoCAD map of relevant trees and details of the mitigation measures required to allow a development scheme to satisfy the local planning authority and achieve planning permission. If other British Standard tree surveys are required, such as a tree constraints plan or tree safety surveys, it will be noted in the tree report.
A tree surveyor can advise on further tree inspections that might be needed such as an arboricultural impact assessment (AIA), an arboricultural method statement (AMS), or an inspection of wildlife habitats.
Find an experienced tree consultancy
If you need a tree survey, the first step is to contact an arboricultural consultancy with experience in carrying out tree reports to accompany planning applications to the relevant local authorities. Make sure that you use a qualified surveyor who can give expert advice.