Trees in Conservation Areas, your property land or potential purchase.

trees in a forest with sunlight streaming through

This page is designed to provide answers to some typical questions about trees in Conservation Areas. It is not intended to be a statement of the law. If you have queries, please contact Tree Surveys & Reports for a free over the phone consultation.

What is a Conservation Area (or CA)?

Every Local Planning Authority is under a duty to determine, from time to time, areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. These areas are then designated as Conservation Areas by the Council, and are thus made the subject of legislation designed to maintain their special character. At the present time, there are over 100 such areas in Warwickshire and the Midlands, ranging from larger town centres and shopping areas (such Leamington Spa, Stratford upon Avon and Kenilworth to more rural village settlements (Hampton-in-Arden or Cubbington) to small hamlets or individual roads throughout the Midlands and Warwickshire.

1. What about trees in CAs

Where a tree (or trees) stands within an area already designated as a CA, current planning legislation requires you to give the Council at least six weeks’ notice of any intention to fell or prune it. Failure to do so can be an offence in certain circumstances (see later paragraphs). This gives the Council time to consider your proposals and to decide whether, in the best interests of the tree and the local area, a Tree Preservation Order should be made to protect it. The requirement to give this notice is found within Section 211 of the Town & Country Planning Act, 1990, and for that reason can be referred to as a Section 211 Notice.

So I can’t touch any trees if I live in a CA?

You do NOT need to give a Section 211 Notice to the Council of an intention to fell or prune a tree in a CA provided that the following circumstances apply:-

  • for work which would also be exempt under the legislation governing Tree Preservation Order – protected trees

    where planning permission has been granted for development and the tree is shown to be removed on an approved plan or where the removal is to be carried out by a “statutory undertaker” (gas/water/electricity company) in accordance with their operations;

    for the cutting down of trees in accordance with a felling licence granted by the Forestry Authority;

    for work on trees on land occupied by the local planning authority and carried out with their consent;

    for work on trees which have a diameter of less than 75mm (3 inches) or, if the work is carried out to improve the growth of other trees, less than 100mm (4 inches), measured 1.5m (5 feet) above ground level.

2. How do I give notice?

Most Councils have produced a form of Notice, which you can use for this purpose, to be filled in and returned together with supporting information (plans, photos, any information provided by independent tree surgeons) as necessary. The legislation governing trees in CAs does not require you to use a local planning authority form if you do not wish to, however: All you need to do is provide the Council with a written description of the works you propose to carry out, together with sufficient particulars to identify the tree(s) concerned. This must be sent to the Council to arrive no later than six weeks before your intended start date.

Most people who apply to this Council choose to do so on the Council’s own form. Use of the form ensures that the Council has all the information it needs to consider your proposals fully. Alternatively applications can be made through the online planning portal

What happens next?

Upon receipt of your Notice, the Council will acknowledge it in writing or email. While the Council is not required to publicise the Notice, it has a policy of informing neighbours and other interested parties, such as Parish Councils and local councillors, of such proposals. Other publicity of the Notice will be undertaken by the Council, if the proposals are considered likely to affect the nature and appearance of the CA within which the tree(s) stands.

Interested parties are given 21 days to comment on the proposals and any comments received will be taken into account when a decision is made. The matter will be dealt with by planning officers, in consultation with the Council’s specialist tree and landscape officers, and, where appropriate, with guidance from its Conservation Advisory Committee. This is made up of both elected ward councillors and representatives of other bodies such as residents’ associations, amenity societies and conservation groups.

3. Can the Council just refuse the Notice?

The Council cannot refuse a Notice. It can deal with it in one of three ways:-

  • it can decide not to make a Tree Preservation Order on the tree(s) and allow the six week period to expire, at which point the proposed works may go ahead within 2 years of the date of the original notice;

    decide not to make a Tree Preservation Order and inform the applicant that the work can go ahead;

    make a Tree Preservation Order on the tree(s).

It cannot refuse consent, nor can it grant consent subject to conditions, as with a planning application, because a Notice is not the same as an application, under current Tree Preservation Order legislation.

What happens when my Notice is considered?

The main concern of the Council, when such a notice is received, is whether the tree concerned is worthy of further, legally binding protection through the serving of a Tree Preservation Order. The main issue it must consider is the need to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the CA, as well as taking into account the outcome of any publicity. If the tree does not merit a Tree Preservation Order, then the Council can either allow the six weeks’ period to elapse, or write to the person who gave the notice to inform them that the works can go ahead.

Even if the tree is of sufficient quality to merit a Preservation Order, the Council may decide that it would not necessarily be appropriate to make one. This could be because the particular works proposed are appropriate or necessary, or in line with good arboricultural practice.

lf an Order is made, it is important to stress that an application for consent to carry out works to a tree covered by a Preservation Order may be made at any time and the Council may indicate, if they are in a position to, what sort of work (if any) it is prepared to consider.

4. What happens if I carry out work to a tree in a CA without giving six weeks’ notice?

Anyone who cuts down, uproots, tops, lops, wilfully destroys or wilfully damages a tree in a CA in contravention of section 211 of the Act is guilty of an offence. The same penalties apply as those which relate to the contravention of a Tree Preservation Order. For example, the felling of a tree in a CA without first giving the appropriate period of notice is liable on summary conviction for a fine of up to £20,000; if a tree is lopped in a way that is not likely to destroy it, a fine of up to £2,500 could be imposed.

Someone in my road (which is in a CA) has chopped down trees without consent – what happens now?

If a tree in a CA is removed, uprooted or destroyed in contravention of section 211, the owner of it is placed under a duty to plant another tree of an appropriate size and species at the same place as soon as reasonably possible. This also applies if a tree is removed, uprooted or destroyed or dies at a time when work on it is authorised because it is dead or dangerous or causing a nuisance. The Council has the power to serve what is known as a Tree Replacement Notice under section 207 of the Act, whereby it can specify the exact species and location for the replacements.

Remember – if you’re in any doubt, ring Tree Surveys & Reports for advice or help.

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Mark Hayes, Banbury

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