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Tree surveys

When you'll need a tree survey, and what you need to include

Why tree surveys are needed

We aim to keep existing trees on development sites where the trees:

  • aid the beauty of the area, or
  • contribute to wildlife

Development sites are a difficult place for trees to live. Tree surveys consider the trees at the design stage, so they are given protection before the work starts.

To achieve this, you should approach your development in a structured manner. We detail a suggested structure in our flow chart for sustaining trees on a development site document.

For planning purposes, all tree surveys must include trees with a stem diameter of 75mm, measured at 1.5m from ground level. Multi-stem trees must be included if any stem measures 75mm from the growth point.

When a tree survey is required

A tree survey will be required on all trees (both on the site and on neighbouring land) that fall within 15m of any proposed development for:

  • extensions and new builds to the existing footprint
  • construction of ancillary buildings
  • a change of access

When a tree survey is not required

A tree survey is not required when there are:

  • no alterations to the existing footprint of the building
  • no new service runs or trenches
  • no new or moved access

Tree survey information

When completing a tree survey, we strongly advise that you seek the services of a professional arboriculturalist. And you refer to the current British Standard BS5837 Trees in Relation to Demolition, Design and Construction - Recommendations. To find an accredited tree surgeon, please see our tree surgeon list.

All of the trees surveyed must be accurately plotted on a plan (a topographical survey would be the best option) at 1:500 scale with an accuracy of ±0.5m.

A schedule should accompany any plans; this should identify the trees with a unique reference number. The schedule should include:

  • a reference number of all the trees surveyed 
  • the tree species (either common or scientific names)
  • the height in metres
  • stem diameter in millimetres, measured at 1.5m from ground level
  • the extent of the crown spread (North, East, South, West) in metres
  • age class of tree (young, middle age, mature, over mature, veteran)
  • physiological and structural condition of the tree (good, fair, poor)
  • initial management recommendations.
  • estimated remaining contribution in years (<10, 10+, 20+, 40+)

All trees on the plan should be categorised using the colour system from BS 5837 2012.