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Is it absolutely necessary to get permission for replacing a tree in a conservation area?

(16 Posts)
Lauren1980 Sat 16-Jan-16 14:11:04

I purchased and moved into a flat in a conservation area last year. When I met the neighbours, the first thing they asked me was whether I was going to remove the tree in my garden - since it is ugly and blocks the view/sunlight. Apparently the entire neighbourhood is eagerly waiting for the tree to be removed. I love trees but am keen to replace it with a more attractive species, maybe a magnolia. Now, my question is: since all of the neighbours want to get rid of it, do I really need to go through the council and obtain permission? I know legally I would have to but since I would be replacing it...I was wondering if anyone has done this before, without council approval?
Any experience you can share is appreciated, thank you!
Lauren

DoreenLethal Sat 16-Jan-16 14:19:51

What is the tree?

I have got rid of a tree before, in a conservation area, but it was an apple that was just about to lose it's grip on reality and take out the sides of a canal; we replaced it around 8 years later with some espaliered apple and I've since made the rest of the garden into a woodland garden so nobody can complain at that.

they tend to be more bothered about natives than fruit trees.

TannhauserGate Sat 16-Jan-16 14:21:31

If you remove trees without permission you can be fined. The only trees sometimes exempt are fruiting trees such as apples, pears, plums. You also need to check whether or not there are any tree preservation orders in place.
If you remove without approval, you would have to replace like for like (ie, with mature trees- very expensive!)

TannhauserGate Sat 16-Jan-16 14:23:02

The wording of your conservation area should be online though, so you can check.
If you're organised, you may also find it in the papers from your solicitor.

wonkylegs Sat 16-Jan-16 14:24:34

You really do need to get approval but it's free and it's just a matter of filling in the forms and waiting 6-8wks, generally if you hear nothing you are deemed to have permission. It's really easy and not a hassle, it just takes a bit of time. It's not like getting planning permission for anything else.

marmaladegranny Sat 16-Jan-16 14:24:44

Has the tree got a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on it? You really need to check before felling, even if you plan to replace it. The Tree Warden at your local council may be able to help.

Muskey Sat 16-Jan-16 14:35:40

You must get permission. I live in a conservation area. The people who lived in the house before us cut down two trees in the garden and were fined £1000. That was about 10 years ago so things may have changed. I got permission to cut a tree down and all I was asked to do was to have two trees planted to replace them. Although this may be dependant upon each local council

Lauren1980 Sat 16-Jan-16 17:12:43

Thank you, all of you. This feedback has been really helpful - and means I definitely have to get permission. Having wasted a lot of time and money in the past dealing with sometimes unnecessary bureaucracy, I simply wasn't sure how strict this rule has to be followed. But you've answered that one.

@DoreenLethal - no one really knows what it is, not even a professional gardener could say for sure but guessed it's bay leaf (almost 30ft high..)

TannhauserGate Sat 16-Jan-16 17:52:38

Thick, dark green tongue-shaped leaves? Soft serrated edges?

Tarrarra Sun 24-Jan-16 01:20:41

Phone the tree officer, they are usually pretty helpful and will tell you what to do!

PippaHotamus Thu 11-Feb-16 18:10:03

Oh have you got a photograph we could be nosey with? smile

Fwiw we have just sought informally permission to take down a dying tree, which was in a really bad way, and about to fall on people/cars at any moment, well bits of it anyway.

They said just let them know, because it's exempt from planning due to being unhealthy/dangerous.

I sent an email with a couple of pictures, and got one straight back saying that's fine.

If your tree is healthy and large and not dangerous, then you will need to apply to remove it. It's not just about the neighbours and what they think but about the wider area and agenda - it isn't like planning permission in that respect, and also, there isn't a fee for applying, like there is with a house (that's the good news!)

However it's an offence to remove it without asking first and than means, as others have said, you can be liable for fines up to £20,000 apparently.

So yes, if you want to take it down then contact the council, see if they still have an arboriculture officer, who might well come out and have a gander, and then you can go from there.

It won't be cheap either, to take down - I hope these neighbours are offering to contribute?

You'll also have to deal with some potentially rather large roots when you try and plant something in its place.

PippaHotamus Thu 11-Feb-16 18:11:14

And the council might still, of course, say no, if they think it's an asset to the area or an unusual species.

You don't get many 30ft bay trees!

redhat Thu 11-Feb-16 18:17:48

DH's relatives took down a large established tree in a conservation area and were fined £8k. Don't do it without permission.

PippaHotamus Thu 11-Feb-16 18:21:01

Cor blimey. Reading about it is one thing but actual examples are a bit shocking!

PippaHotamus Thu 11-Feb-16 18:22:41

I mean I didn't think, from the gumph on the website, that they would really actually fine anyone that much iyswim! That must have stung.

redhat Thu 11-Feb-16 18:25:53

Conservation areas are important and trees make a massive difference to the feel of an area. A large established tree will take decades to get to that size and replacing a tree with a new tree isn't going to have the same effect since in all likelihood the new tree will take years and years to get to a similar size.

DH's relatives could fortunately afford the fine and actually knew that they were supposed to get permission. They just thought they'd get away with it. It was an expensive lesson.

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