How do trees affect properties?

Trees affect buildings in 2 ways:

  1. In clay soils the removal of the water during the summer and then recharging in the winter allows the clay to swell and shrink
  2. Physical damage when trees are close roots can lift paving and damage drains. Of course they can always fall onto your house and car as my dear friend Andy from Sydenham found out.

Lovely summer months

Long periods of dry weather, dries out the clay that buildings are built on. In the longer term much of the traditional building stock like Victorian and Edwardian terraced housing and suburban buildings constructed during the 1930’s and 1950’s are likely to be particularly affected by this urban heat island effect due to their design and materials used in their construction.

What is a Root Protection Area (RPA)?

A root protection zone is an area around the tree where excavations could damage the tree. With TPO’s prevent the damage of trees and so one must review the guidance of how to prevent damage to the roots occurring during excavations.

Root Code

The Root Protection Area (RPA) is defined in BS 5837

What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

A TPO is a statutory protection afforded to trees under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991. All types of tree can be protected. The Order can cover anything from a single tree to woodlands. Normally, unless a Woodland TPO is proposed, only trees over 3.5m in height are considered for a TPO. Hedges, bushes and shrubs will not be protected.

What happens if I carry out works to protected trees without consent?

It is a criminal offence to cut down, lop, top, uproot or wilfully damage a protected tree in a manner likely to destroy it, without the consent of the Department and on summary conviction you could be fined up to £100,000 (and on conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine).

St. Johns Wood Plain

Croft were involved in a project where the Tpo’ed St Johns Wood Plain tree was damaging a Listed building. Legally the Listed building needed protecting and the insurers wanted it cut down. Legally the TPO’ed tree needed protecting. The case progressed up to the House of Lords! the outcome… the tree won, and the listed building was underpinned.

Are trees in a Conservation Area protected?

Trees in a Conservation Area are also subject to protection as if a TPO is in place. In a Conservation Area anyone proposing to carry out works to trees must apply to the Department which has 6 weeks to consider the proposal and respond. Work can not proceed until the Department has responded or the 6 week period has expired. If the Department considers that the proposed works should not be carried out it will impose a formal TPO to cover the specific trees. In exceptional circumstances, where there is imminent danger, the applicant may proceed, at risk, with works immediately but must satisfy the Department by submitting evidence in the form of a report and photographs.