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Tree preservation orders

A TPO is an Order made by the Authority to protect trees and woodlands. It can only be used to protect trees and woodlands and it cannot be applied to shrubs, bushes or hedgerows, but an Order may be used to protect trees growing in hedgerows or hedgerows that have grown into a line of trees.

The Authority may make a TPO if it appears to it to be;

‘expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the preservation of trees or woodlands in the area’.

Section 198(1) Town and Country Planning Act 1990

Expedient means there is a risk of a tree or woodland being cut down or being pruned in a way which will have significant impact on the amenity of the area. Mostly a threat to trees arises through development pressure and the Authority will seek to protect trees of high amenity value when granting or refusing planning permission.

Amenity is not defined in the Act, but the Authority will only protect a tree or woodland if there is a reasonable degree of public enjoyment of that tree or woodland. A tree would normally have to be visible wholly or partly from publicly accessible land to be protected by a TPO. All types of trees can be protected not just native species.

Trees can be specified in the TPO either, individually, by reference to area, in groups or as woodlands. If a tree has merit in its own right it will be specified as an individual. Area classification is used as an alternative way of specifying scattered individual trees. The group specification is used for trees whose overall impact and quality merit protection. A woodland classification is used for woodlands which have a defined boundary.

The principle effect of a TPO is to prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, willful damage or willful destruction of protected trees.

To find the locations of Tree Preservation Orders, please contact Planning Services on 01536 464158 or by email to planning.services@corby.gov.uk

Application for consent to carry out works to protected trees

Anyone can apply for consent to carry out works to a protected tree and they do not have to have a legal interest in the land. This situation will arise when a landowner wants to obtain permission to cut the branches of a neighboring tree, which overhangs their property.

An application for consent to carry out works to a TPO protected tree must be made in writing to the Authority on an application form (see below) and be accompanied by:

  • a plan which identifies the tree, or trees to which the application relates
  • information that specifies the works for which consent is sought
  • a statement of the applicants reasons for making the application
  • appropriate evidence describing any structural damage to property or in relation to tree health or safety, as applicable

An application form can be completed online at the Planning Portal website (external link opens in new window) or you can download the to print here. The application form must set out clearly what work is proposed. A proposal to ‘top’ or ‘lop’ a tree would not be acceptable because there are many different ways to ‘top’ or ‘lop’ a tree. If there are many trees on the site it would be helpful to provide a sketch map showing their location. Guidance on completing the application form can be downloaded here.

On receipt of an application the Authority has 8 weeks to make a decision. In dealing with the application the Authority may;

  • refuse consent
  • grant consent unconditionally
  • grant consent subject to conditions.

If the Authority refuses consent, grants consent subject to conditions or fails to determine the application within the 8 week time frame the applicant can appeal to the Secretary of State.


There are certain exemptions from the requirement to obtain consent. Work to a tree, or part of a tree, which is dead, dying or dangerous does not require our permission. However, there may be other considerations - such as whether bats use the tree as a roosting site - and if so the work may be restricted by other regulations.

Anybody proposing to carry out such work that they consider does not require our permission should first notify us and, except in an emergency, allow five working days for us to satisfy itself that the work is exempt. The onus is on the landowner to provide proof the tree was dead, dying or dangerous should the Authority question the reason for removal. Officers of the Authority are happy to meet landowners on site to discuss problem trees.

If we agree that the work does not require an application for consent this does not mean that it is stating that no other regulations apply. For example, Natural England must be consulted if the tree is known to support a bat roost.

There are a number of exemptions from the normal requirement to obtain consent for cutting down or carrying out works to protect trees, further details about exceptions can be found at Regulation 14 of The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012.


Anyone, in contravention of a TPO who cuts down, uproots or willfully destroys a tree, or lops, tops or willfully damages a tree in a way likely to destroy it is guilty of an offence. Anyone found guilty of that offence is liable to a fine of up to £20,000, if convicted in Magistrates Court and in a serious case a person may be committed for trial in the Crown Court and if convicted they are liable to an unlimited fine. If a person has carried out works without consent, but has not destroyed the tree, on conviction, they may be fined up to £2,500.

The latest Government Guidance on Tree Preservation Orders can found here

For more information contact Planning Services on 01536 464158 or by email planning.services@corby.gov.uk

Last updated: Wednesday 9th September 2020 10:53:28 AM
Review date: Saturday 4th September 2021 10:53:11 AM