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Trees: A Contentious Issue

Whether removal or retention of trees is preferred, developers must remain aware of the ways in which to work with these ‘material constraints’.

Tree considerations are a vital part of the planning process. The Local Planning Authority (LPA) may require that the best trees be retained within any development. The British Standard BS 5837:2012 provides guidance to ensure retained trees are maintained in the best condition, whilst maximising their contribution to development.

Often causing problems when close to development, trees can affect site conditions through their water demands on surrounding soil, the amount of mess created from debris, the interruption of natural light and even safety concerns, even when there may be no real threat.

Valuable Assets
However, well-placed trees are valuable assets. Extensive research has demonstrated the range of benefits delivered by trees, with studies showing that areas with higher levels of tree cover often have higher property values, increased public appeal, and local residents benefit from both improved physical and mental well-being. Trees also provide valuable screening, shelter and habitat, and they can reduce flooding, temperature extremes and improve air quality.

Learn To Accommodate
There are a number of ways in which trees can sensibly be accommodated within new developments. The most obvious in in the layout design: avoid locating new buildings too close to trees; avoid placing new roads and parking under canopies; consider the impact of trees on the future use of adjacent space i.e. gardens, play areas.

Where constraints are such that avoiding trees completely is not possible, solutions can often be found, such as the use of specialist foundations, reduced-dig construction techniques and manual excavation. Well-considered tree reduction can often both reduce issues and enhance a tree’s appearance.

Richard Parmee, Principal Arboricultural Consultant of agb Environmental added: “Sometimes there is little option but to remove a tree. The British Standard sets out how trees should be assessed and categorised to identify the best trees, with lower quality trees considered to pose no constraint to development.

“Yet, well thought-through replanting schemes can help to mitigate any losses during development and prevent future loss once completed.”

To find out more about tree considerations, accommodation and removals contact Alex Brearley on 01638 663226 or email

Arboriculture, Show All