Buildings, landscape features and trees all contribute to the special character of a Conservation Area. The importance of trees in Conservation Areas is recognised in the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) which makes special provision for trees in Conservation Areas which are not already protected by a Tree Preservation Order.
Section 211 Notice
Under Section 211 of the Act any one proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a Conservation Area is required to give the Borough Council six weeks prior notice (a Section 211 Notice).
A Section 211 Notice can be completed online at the Planning Portal website (external link opens in new window) or you can download the Section 211 Notice Form to print. The Section 211 Notice 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. The Authority will give free advice to anyone who has a tree in a Conservation Area or requires help in submitting a Section 211 Notice, alternatively guidance on completing the form can be downloaded here.
Certain works to trees are exempt from the requirement to submit a Section 211 Notice:
- cutting down trees in accordance with a felling licence granted by the Forestry Commission;
- work which is exempt from the requirements to apply for consent under a TPO. A land owner would be prudent to contact the Council prior to trees being felled under this exemption because the onus is on the tree owner to prove the tree was exempt;
- work on a tree with a stem diameter not exceeding 75mm, measured 1.5m up the main stem (or 100mm if the felling is to improve the growth of other trees, ie thinning operations).
What the Authority will do
On receipt of a Notice the Authority has 6 weeks to consider whether to protect the tree(s) with a Tree Preservation Order.
The Authority will deal with the Notice in one of three ways:
1. make a Tree Preservation Order if it considers the tree to have amenity value;
2. decide not to make a TPO and allow the 6 weeks period to expire, at which point the proposed works may go ahead as long as it is carried out within 2 years from the date the notice was received by the Authority;
3. decide not to make a TPO and inform the applicant the work can go ahead prior to the end of the 6 week period.
The Authority cannot refuse consent nor can it grant consent subject to conditions.
Anyone who cuts down, uproots, tops, lops, wilfully destroys or damages a tree in a Conservation Area may be guilty of an offence. The penalties for such an offence are the same as those for contravening a TPO. The maximum fines in a Magistrates Court are £20,000 for destroying a tree and £2,500 for works carried without consent which do not destroy the tree.
Trees located on private land within a Conservation Area are not owned by the Authority, nor is the Authority responsible for their safety or cost of maintenance.
Further guidance can be found on the National Planning Policy Guidance here.
For more information contact Planning Services on 01536 464158 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org