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Trees and hedges

 

As well as having a thriving urban core Gateshead has large areas of rural countryside which makes it a very diverse borough. Trees play an important part of forming the character of both urban and rural areas.

Trees are either protected by Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or by the fact that they are situated within a conservation area (there are currently 22 conservation areas in Gateshead). Trees can also be protected by a planning condition on a planning permission.

Tree Preservation Orders

A guide to Tree Preservation Orders from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is attached below.

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Department of Communities and Local Government Guide to Tree Preservation Orders (1.5mb)

A guide to the law and good practice affecting tree preservation orders is attached below but should be read in conjunction with the recent addendum to the law and good practice in September 2008 which is also attached below.

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Tree Preservation Orders: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice (570k)

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Tree Preservation Orders: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice Addendum (225k)

Tree Preservation Orders prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without the Local Authorities consent.

Trees are an important part of our landscape and environment; they take decades to mature but only minutes to remove or harm. Trees soften urban landscapes, adding variety and a sylvan quality to the character of an area. Many parts of the Borough have good tree cover but they are a finite resource and often threatened by development. New planting is essential to replace trees lost through natural decline or development.

TPOs can be placed on any tree that has amenity value. Trees that are exempt from TPOs are those that are dead, dying, diseased or dangerous and fruit trees grown for the commercial production of fruit.

The maximum penalty for carrying out works to TPO trees without consent is £20,000.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 recognises the importance of trees to the amenity of an area. The Council has powers to make Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), to protect trees during development and to require the planting of trees by imposing conditions when granting planning permission.

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a legal document, made and administered by the Council to protect trees by controlling works carried out to trees and woodlands with amenity value.

The Act does not limit the application of TPOs to trees of a minimum size but a TPO may not be used to protect bushes or shrubs. A TPO may be made to protect trees in hedges.

All applications are advertised on the Council's weekly list of applications. A site visit will be carried out and the Council will issue a decision notice. Most decisions are made without referral to Planning and Development Committee. The Council will either refuse consent or grant consent, with or without conditions.

Conditions typically require the planting of replacement trees, where trees are felled, or specify certain standards of work. If the proposed works are considered excessive, but the Council considers that lesser works would be appropriate, it will issue two decision notices, the first refusing consent for the applied works and the second approving consent for lesser works.

If you are not content with the Council's decision to refuse consent or with any requirements made by the imposition of a condition, you may appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

If you wish to carry out works to a preserved tree or woodland you must apply to the Council using the following application form

pdf Application form for Tree Work (400k)
pdf Application form for Tree Work Notes (133k)

Trees in Conservation Areas

The Town and Country Planning Act also makes special provision for the protection of trees within Conservation Areas that are not otherwise protected by a TPO. Six weeks prior written notice is required for works to trees in a Conservation Area. The details required with an application are the same as those outlined for trees affected by a TPO. The Council can then act in one of three ways

Either it can:

  1. Make a Tree Preservation Order if this is justified and appropriate, or
  2. Decide not to make a TPO and allow the six week period to expire at which point the works may proceed within the following 2 years, or
  3. Decide not to make a TPO and inform the applicant that the works may proceed.

A site visit will be carried out and the Council will issue a letter setting out its decision. Most decisions are made without referral to a Planning and Development Committee. The Council cannot refuse consent, nor can it grant consent subject to conditions. This is because the notification procedure is not the same as an application for consent under a TPO.

Please use the TPO form below for notifications for tree work in Conservation Areas.

pdf Application form for Tree Work (400k)
pdf Application form for Tree Work Notes (133k)

Trees Protected by Planning Condition

If the tree in question does not have a preservation order on it and is not within a conservation order please first check that there is not a planning condition attached to any planning permission for the land that would prevent the tree (s) or any hedges and shrubs from being removed.

If there is such a restrictive condition you would first have to make a planning application to vary or remove that condition using a separate planning application form which is attached below along with the notes to complete the form.

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Application for removal or variation of a condition following grant of planning permission (405k)

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Application for removal or variation of a condition following grant of planning permission Notes (20k)

Hedges

High Hedges

Hedges can also add to an areas character but high hedges can also on occasion cause amenity concerns to neighbours. The legislation is within Part 8 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 and relates only to a line of two or more trees or shrubs which are evergreen or semi evergreen and 2m above ground level.

The Council has produced an information leaflet to help customers understand the system the emphasis being to seek to resolve such matters in a neighbourly agreement prior to going down the formal route.

pdf High Hedge Leaflet (302k)

Other useful guidance documents are from the Office of Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) which is now the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

pdf High Hedges (769k)
pdf Over the Garden Hedge DCLG Guidance (1.1mb)

Removal of Hedgerows

Under the Hedgerow Regulations, it is against the law to remove most countryside hedgerows without the permission of the local planning authority. These Regulations do not apply to garden hedges.

To get permission to remove a countryside hedgerow, you must write to your local planning authority.

The way in which the Regulations apply to individual hedgerows is quite complex. It is advisable to speak to the Councils Arboricultural Officer before you formally seek permission to remove a hedgerow.

If the authority decide to prohibit the removal of an 'important' hedgerow, it must let you know within 6 weeks.

To qualify as 'important', the hedgerow must be at least 30 years old and at least 20m long (although shorter hedges can be included if linked to other hedgerows) and meet at least one of eight criteria. These relate to the hedgerow's archaeological, historical, wildlife or landscape value.

If you remove a hedgerow without permission (whether or not it is important), you may face an unlimited fine. You may also have to replace the hedgerow.

More detailed guidance can be found in 'The Hedgerows Regulations 1997: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice' which can be found on the DEFRA website by using the link:- 

http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/land-manage/landscape-features/hedgerows/

Should you wish to apply to remove a hedgerow under the legislation you should use the application form attached below with the accompanying notes to complete the form.

pdf Removal of Hedgerows Form (400k)
pdf Removal of Hedgerows Notes (30k)