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Tree and Conservation Areas

Tree and Conservation Areas

  • What is a Tree Preservation Order?

    A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is used to protect trees that are good examples of their species, contribute to the appearance and amenity of an area and/or have any cultural or historic value.

    It is criminal offence to cut down, uproot, prune, or otherwise destroy or damage a tree protected by a TPO without the Authorities consent and can result in fines in excess of £20,000 per tree.

    TPOs are made by the Local Authority where you live when they consider it expedient to do so, for example, when trees are perceived to be under threat of being cut down or damaged.

  • What types of TPO are there?

    There are four types of TPO as follows:

    • Individually specified trees: An Individual TPO protects trees that have grown up individually and are largely unaffected by competition from nearby trees. These will be individually named and numbered represented as individual black circles on the TPO plan, for Example: T1 Oak.
    • Groups of trees: A Group TPO protects trees that have grown up as part of a group of trees that have become co-dependant on one another affording each other mutual shelter. These will be represented as a broken black line on the TPO plan and the numbers of each different tree will be recorded, for example: G1 2 Oak and 1 Beech.
    • Trees specified by reference to an area: An Area TPO (commonly mis-named a ‘blanket TPO’) protects all the trees that are present within an area at the time the Order was made. Each area will be represented as a dotted black line on the TPO plan but the numbers and/or types of trees will not be recorded, for example: A1.
    • Woodlands: A Woodland TPO protects all trees within the defined area present and future; it is the woodland that is being protected not specific trees and includes woodland regeneration and successive tree specimens. Each woodland will be represented as a solid black line on the TPO plan, for example: W1.
  • Can I object to the making of a new TPO?


    • When a TPO is made, it takes immediate effect, but remains provisional for a period of up to 6 months.
    • If you wish to object to the TPO you will need to submit your written objections to the Council within 28 days of the TPO being made.
    • Any relevant written objections received within 6 weeks of the TPO being made will be referred to the Council’s Planning Committee and Members who will consider those objections when making a decision whether or not to confirm the TPO with or without modification.
    • Once confirmed the TPO takes permanent effect.
    • If the TPO is not confirmed it will lapse.
    • You may not object to a TPO once it has been confirmed.
  • What is a Conservation Area?

    A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. Trees often make an important contribution to the character of Conservation Areas, and are therefore given special protection.

    You are required to give the Authority, 6 weeks formal written notice of your intention to carry out the pruning or felling of any tree within a Conservation Area greater than 7.5cm in diameter (as measured at 1.5m above ground level).

    The Authority will decide whether or not it wishes to control the proposed works in any way. If it does, then it will make a TPO within the 6 weeks notification period. If you still wish to carry out the works then you will have to make a further application under the TPO. The penalties for unauthorised felling or works to trees in Conservation Areas are the same as for trees protected by a TPO (see above).

  • What type of trees are covered by TPOs?

    Any species of tree can be protected by a TPO.

    Trees are assessed on their merits according to certain criteria, such as health and stability, visibility from a public place, contribution to the character of a locality, cultural/historic/habitat value and rarity/progeny.

    If the tree scores highly enough and is considered to be under threat it may be possible to make a TPO.

  • Trees protected by Planning Condition

    The Authority, when granting Planning permission for development, may require existing trees to be retained as a condition of the Planning Permission, even if they are not protected by a TPO or in a Conservation Area.

  • How can I request a tree be protected by a Tree Preservation Order?

    The Local Authority will only make a Tree Preservation Order if it can be demonstrated that the tree is under threat and that the tree is worthy of protection.

    If this is the case and the tree appears healthy and stable, is visible from a public place and its removal would significantly harm the appearance of the area, please contact your Local Planning Authority.

  • How do I apply for consent to carry out work to a tree protected by a TPO, or give Notice of proposed works to a tree within a Conservation Area?

    You will need to apply to the local planning Authority concerned, if you reside in Winchester, Chichester, East Hampshire, Horsham or Lewes contact them direct, anywhere else within the SDNPA send the application to the SDNPA.

    You may wish to contact us directly or submit via the planning portal. You are advised to seek the advice of professional qualified contractor prior to submitting the application as they will be able to advise what works are likely to be acceptable.

    For works to trees covered by a TPO it usually takes up to eight weeks from the receipt of your application until a decision is made.

    For works to trees in a Conservation Area, it will take up to six weeks from the date that you sign and submit the form to the Authority. The applications are free of charge.

  • I think my tree is dead. Can I remove it?

    Any protected tree that is dead or dangerous is exempt from the TPO and can be removed without the need to submit an application, or a notice in the case of a tree in a Conservation Area. However, the onus of proof rests with you.

    If you wish to remove or lop such a tree, best practice dictates that you provide the Authority with five days written notice of the proposed works. A site visit will then take place to check that the tree is dead or dangerous and if this is the case, the work can then be done. There is a legal duty to plant a replacement tree under these circumstances unless the tree was within a woodland TPO.

    The 5 day notification only applies to dead trees; it is an important point and needs to be clear.  To avoid confusion and misinterpretation, we would recommend simple reference to the Government Guidance.

  • Can protected trees be felled to enable development to take place?

    If an application is received to develop on land affected by a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Area the impact on the trees will be considered as an integral part of the whole assessment of the proposal.

    If full planning permission is granted for a development and the approved application specifically shows that a protected tree will need to be removed to carry out the development then it will not be necessary to obtain a further consent from the Council.

    However, if the approved application does not specifically show that a protected tree will need to be removed to carry out the development, if permission is refused or if the permission granted is only outline planning permission, then written consent to fell the protected tree (s) would still need to be obtained.

  • What do I do if I think someone has damaged or felled a protected tree?

    Contact Planning Enforcement at the SDNPA via enforcement@southdowns.gov.uk

    If the tree(s) is within one of the recovered area for example Arun, Brighton and Hove, Wealden, Eastbourne, Mid Sussex or Adur and Worthing, we will check to see if they are acting on any consent granted via an application, or undertaking work that is covered by an exemption to the TPO, for example: the tree or branches being cut are dead or dangerous.

    If you reside in Winchester, Chichester, East Hampshire, Horsham or Lewes contact them direct.

    If we have no record of work taking place or any authority having been given, and the trees appear to be protected we will inspect them within 24 hours of the initial enquiry, and often much sooner. If it is a tree within one of the other Authority areas as detailed in Point 9 above go to that Authority direct.


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