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Trees and development

Good quality trees, particularly established trees, can enhance any new development by providing an immediate appearance of maturity. Careful planning at the design and construction stages are the key to ensuring that new developments can be accommodated on a site without damage to existing trees, and to avoid tree-related problems in the future. Equally, new landscaping schemes and planting can help to enhance a site.

You can read detailed guidance on this subject, but we have some outline guidance provided below.

If you are developing a site in the district, find out how we can help using the links below:

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Work with our team

Our arboricultural officers work closely with prospective planning applicants, planning officers and construction professionals through all stages of a development proposal - from informal pre-application advice for applicants, reviewing site design and layout through to monitoring construction sites and approving the planting of new landscaping.

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What must I submit with my planning application?

A tree may take a century to reach maturity, but it can be damaged in only a few minutes on a development site. Irreparable damage is frequently done to trees in the first days of contractors occupying the site. This damage is usually caused accidentally, because of a failure to appreciate the vulnerability of trees, particularly their root systems.

To protect against this, we require a tree survey to be submitted with any planning application where trees are on, or close to, the site. This helps to ensure that trees on a potential development site are fully considered. In order to prevent damage to trees during construction the council also requires a tree protection plan as part of your planning application.

Meeting the right standard

We recommend that the tree survey and plan are carried out in accordance with British Standard 5837:2005 'Recommendations for Trees in Relation to Construction'. 

The Arboricultural Association can help you find an arboricultural consultant to provide a survey and plan for your site. In addition, the Institute of Chartered Foresters maintains a directory of forestry and arboricultural consultants. Your consultant can also give you expert guidance on other tree issues such as tree protection measures.

In some instances your planning application may not be registered if you fail to submit a tree survey and plan.

About a tree protection plan

The plan usually shows the position of temporary protective fencing but may include other measures such as ground protection. Protective fencing is used to keep machinery away from the roots and branches and prevent the storage of materials too close to the trees. The fencing needs to be in place before any work begins on site, including site clearance or demolition, and remain in place until all construction has finished.

If we grant planning consent for a site that contains trees we will often make tree protection a condition of that consent. Failure to protect the trees on your site could mean you are in breach of your planning consent and we may take enforcement action.

Our arboricultural officers are specialists in the area of trees and development and work closely with our planning officers. They are able to give you pre-application advice as part of the planning department's pre-application advice service or you can contact them on 01543 308207/308185 for assistance.

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Landscaping for new developments

When planning consent is granted for a new development the council often makes soft landscaping - the planting of new trees, hedges and shrubs - a condition of the consent.

In order to discharge a landscaping condition you need to provide the following:

  • a plan showing the position of the new trees, hedges and shrubs to be planted and
  • a list giving the species, quantity and sizes of the trees and shrubs to be planted and
  • the maintenance regime that will be carried out whilst the planting is establishing.
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Designing a landscape scheme 

A landscape architect can design your landscaping scheme for you, liaise with the council on your behalf and engage contactors to implement the final design and maintain the landscaping until it is established. Some landscaping schemes, such as tree planting in paving, require specialist tree pit design. Your landscape architect or our arboricultural officers can give you more advice. Please remember to take account of the proposed position of new trees when planning the route of underground services or the positioning of lights and CCTV cameras.

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Specifying trees and shrubs

The size of shrubs is usually given as the size of the pots they are supplied in, for example five litres. The size of trees may be given as their trunk girth, for example 14-16cms. We recommend that container grown trees are used in the district because we have found that they establish more successfully than bare root or root-balled trees. They are also easier to transport and handle.

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Maintenance of trees on new developments

Watering new trees is vital for their establishment. This is particularly important in our district because our soil tends to be mainly sand and gravel, which drains very quickly. If newly planted trees that are part of your landscaping scheme die, we may enforce the replanting of the trees. To avoid costly replanting we strongly advise that a sufficient watering regime is included within your maintenance specification.

We recommend that new trees are watered regularly for the first two or three years after planting, depending on their size. We suggest watering two times per month in March and September and four times a month April - August inclusive, with enough water to fully saturate the soil. If too little water is used the tree roots will grow close to the surface and will easily be damaged by a drought. You can help the water get deep enough by including a tree irrigation tube in your tree pit when you are planting your tree.

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Get in touch or visit...

Our location and travel details >>

Phone our contact centre: 01543 308 000
District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 6YY

If you need to contact a team direct, please visit our contacts page for team phone numbers and email addresses.

Opening times

Our main reception at Frog Lane in Lichfield is open Monday - Friday, 8.45am - 5.15pm. Our phone lines close at 5pm.