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Tree assessment reports

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by James Carmichael, 19 Sep 2020.

  1. James Carmichael

    James Carmichael

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    Hi,

    I am not sure if this is just a rant or a request for advice ..!

    I have a semi derelict 1920s garage in my garden that I would like to knock down and replace with a garden room and storage area. The details aren't important; it is unambiguously a scheme that needs planning permission.

    However, my architect has advised me that there are two trees in my garden that may be impacted by the scheme so I need to submit an arboricultural impact report, at a cost of just shy of £1,000, as part of my application. This may result in steps like specialist foundations being mandated.

    The two trees in question are a Norway Spruce that someone put out after they were done with it being a Christmas tree, I'd guess about 20 years ago, and a similarly aged wild sown silver birch. Neither has a TPO and we are not in a conservation area. Birches, at least, are common in the neighbourhood. I can assure you that there is nothing about either tree that makes them of particular merit or amenity.

    I absolutely sign up to my authority's scheme to preserve the tree canopy. I am not interested in avoiding the spend or 'getting off the hook'. However, if I am going to have to spend £1,000 on tree related stuff as part of this process then I'd much rather make a commitment in my application to replace the existing trees if they get damaged, with native species to be agreed with the council, AND use the £1,000 saved to buy saplings to support the (local) Forest of Avon. I'll even commit to planting them.

    That is, I want to create a better outcome. (Before anyone queries it, though, I genuinely don't have the spare money to do the arboricultural report and commit to the Forest of Avon.)

    But, I am told that the only way I can raise this prospect is to submit a pre-planning advice request to the council; the charge for which appears uncapped but around £1,000. And, in any case, the outcome will be they will tell me the policy is the policy.

    I guess I can achieve the outcome I want by chopping down the trees before the planning application goes in, but that just seems to be the wrong behaviour.

    I appreciate policies are there to generate the best outcome overall, averaged across all applications. But, it does seem a frustrating shame that there appears to be no route to negotiate an outcome that would be an improvement on the 'mandated by policy' position.
     
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  3. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    I'm a little confused. Why do(es your architect think) you need permission to chop down the tree?
     
  4. James Carmichael

    James Carmichael

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    Hi Nakajo,

    They don't and I don't. Outside of the planning process, I can chop down the trees with impunity.

    But as the trees are currently there, they are saying we need a report to get through the planning process. I live in Bristol and local planning policy says that the overall tree canopy in the city must be considered in the application process.

    Chopping them down before we get to the planning process obviously gets round the problem, and is a gaping wide loophole, but that seems immoral (it's bucking the system, right?) and seals the fate of the trees.

    Chopping them down might also antagonise the neighbours, as one of them provides some privacy along their border with us. I really don't need to start the planning process by winding them up ...

    My point is that I'd be quite happy with an outcome that says "if the trees survive the build, great, but if not I will definitely replace them". But, I can't have that. I've either got to
    (a) Acknowledge them as part of the planning process and go 'all in' for whatever protections are required to keep them alive or
    (b) Make them definitely dead and chop them down.

    I find the inability to strike a balanced middle ground frustrating!
     
    Last edited: 19 Sep 2020
  5. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    I don't understand why your architect is saying you need an arboricultural impact report? Is it a mandatory inclusion in Bristol?
     
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  7. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    Just chop down the trees. And plant 6 new ones.
     
  8. James Carmichael

    James Carmichael

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    Correct, it's a mandatory inclusion in Bristol where a tree might be impacted.

    I am no expert, but I think the driver is a desire to increase the tree canopy in the city. So, I think the direction is "will a tree be harmed in granting this planning permission?" and they will then attach conditions, like changing the design, mandating replacement trees, .. as required.

    One tactical answer is, as Nakajo has written, is just to chop the tree down pre-emptively. But that has its disadvantages too.
     
  9. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    But probably your architect can't be bothered to shop around for a better price for the report.
     
  10. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Write your own. There is no definition of a tree report, nor who can write one, so you can do your own report, or get anyone to write it. Just include the key items and keep it factual.
     
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