Tree Surveys & Landscaping Assessments
What is a Tree Survey?
A Tree Survey is expected to include the following information:-
- A schedule of the trees that are currently present on a development site detailing species, trunk diameters, branch spread in metres, tree heights in metres, tree condition, tree defects, Root Protection Areas (the minimum area that should be left undisturbed around each tree that is to be retained);
- An accurately detailed and scaled Tree Constraints Plan showing tree positions, actual branch spread, Root Protection Areas, current and ultimate tree heights with shadow patterns to identify unreasonable obstruction of sunlight or daylight;
- Photographs of the trees;
- Pre-development Tree Works Schedule;
- Tree Protection Measures scheme to include a Tree Protection Plan showing trees to be retained, trees to be removed, precise location and specification of physical barriers/fences, ground protection measures.
Other issues that may need to be addressed in the Tree Survey are the effects of retained and planted trees on future occupiers that may lead to short and longer term pressure for excessive pruning work or tree removal, in particular:-
- Future shading and obstruction of sunlight;
- Adequate space for trees to mature and avoid dominating of buildings or gardens;
- Potential effects of leaf fall, honeydew, flowers etc.
A Tree Survey should be prepared by a suitably qualified and experienced Arboriculturist.
When is a Tree Survey required?
Where there are trees within the application site, or on land adjacent to it that could influence or be affected by the development (including street trees), information will be required from the applicant on which trees are to be retained and on the means of protecting these trees during construction works. This information should be prepared by a suitably qualified and experienced Arboriculturist.
How should the Tree Survey be used?
The information in the schedule of the Tree Survey should be used to inform the design of the development site layout. In general, the layout should provide for the retention of as much of the suitable existing tree cover as possible and detailed references should be made to the Tree Survey in this respect. In particular the Root Protection Areas identified in the Tree Constraints Plan should be considered as an exclusion zone for any development activity. It should also be used to address any issues in relation to temporary site access, haul routes, car parking, temporary structures and toilets and the storage of materials during construction.
A checklist of potentially damaging operations is as follows;-
- Installation and future maintenance of drainage and services should avoid conflict with trees to be retained;
- Raising or lowering of ground levels;
- Soils compaction caused by construction activity e.g. movement of site plant, machinery and vehicles, storage of materials and debris;
- Dumping or spillage of toxic materials;
- The installation of new surfacing;
- Direct physical damage to tree trunks and branches by vehicles, plant and machinery
Arboricultural Method Statement
What is an Arboricultural Method Statement?
An Arboricultural Method Statement describes the measures to be implemented in order to ensure that adequate tree protection is put in to place during the construction process. Typically a Method Statement would include details on
- Timing and phasing of all tree works related to the proposed development;
- Implementation, monitoring, supervision and maintenance of the Tree Protection Measures;
- Implementation, monitoring and supervision of pre-development tree works;
- Implementation, monitoring and supervision of any approved activity within the Root Protection Area of a retained tree;
- Depth and type of foundation in proximity to retained an planted trees;
- Monitoring proposals to ensure full compliance with all conditions associated with trees.
When is an Arboricultural Method Statement Required?
An Arboricultural Method Statement may be required as a planning condition for any application type that involves development near to trees that are to be retained as part of a development.
Full guidance on the survey information, protection plan and method statement that should be provided with an application is set out in the current BS5837 ‘Trees in relation to construction - Recommendations’ (2012).
Using the methodology set out in BS5837 should help to ensure that development is suitably integrated with trees and that potential conflicts are avoided. Failure to provide sufficient information on trees may result in the application being regarded as invalid.