The legal framework for tree preservation in a Conservation Area

Sutton Poyntz, and parts of Preston, sit in a Conservation Area. Trees are given special protection as a result. Before doing any work (maintenance as well as felling), owners must consult with the Borough Council's Trees Officer. The following is a short account of the legal framework:

Tree Preservation. The legal framework under which trees are given protection in Conservation Areas such as Sutton Poyntz is found in Sections 211-214 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990. Under Section 211, all trees in a Conservation Area are given the same protection as trees that have been made subject to a Tree Protection Order (TPO). The powers of a TPO are described in Sections 198(3)(a) and 198(6). This has the effect of preventing the cutting down, topping, lopping, damage or destruction of any tree without official approval (trees that are dead, dying, or dangerous are exempted under the law, but for the sake of clarity it is always best to talk to the Council's Trees Officer).

What is a tree? The definition of a tree, for these purposes, can be found in Section 15 of the Town & Country Planning (Tree Preservation) Regulations 1999. Trees are not protected if the main trunk has a diameter smaller than 75 mm at a height of 1.5 m (very roughly, if you can enclose the trunk in your two hands held at chest height). Larger trees, with a diameter up to 100 mm, can be removed if the only purpose is to improve the growth of other trees (again, it is a sensible precaution to talk to the Council's Trees Officer).

Fruit treesSection 14 of the same Regulations specifically permits the pruning of fruit trees "in accordance with good horticultural practice". Commercial growers are in addition permitted to remove fruit trees, but most people need approval.


Our policy

The following is the text of our old Society Trees Policy, which has now been absorbed into our new Planning Policy:

Trees obviously form a significant part of the natural beauty of the village. As Sutton Poyntz is in a Conservation Area, any significant work done to trees in the village needs planning permission.

Frequently, trees are planted without noting that they will grow larger in the fullness of time and they will need more space that the original planting allowed. Trees can also become a danger to property or people, or the position of trees can affect the quality of life of the local residents - and remedial action will be required.

The Sutton Poyntz Society policy shows preference for the non removal trees - particularly of indigenous trees - and if this cannot be achieved then the replanting of suitable replacements. Our policy notes that there will be occasions when this is inappropriate and common sense must prevail; generally, we defer to the specialist knowledge of the planning authority's Trees Officer in such cases.