So, you've found the house of your dreams, but what about the garden? Did you notice the trees? They may be in the garden or growing on land beyond the boundary of your new home. Trees can affect the future enjoyment of your property and garden.
Following your local search your solicitor should ask for a copy of any TPO affecting the property. They will be able to show you the date any order was made, the plan and the schedule (where protected trees are identified) and should be able to explain the consequences. Trees that are protected are shown on the plan either individually (a circle), as a group (a dashed line), as a woodland (a solid line), or enclosed within an area (a line of continuous dots; these dots do not indicate individual trees). Some TPOs may have a combination of categories. Your house will not necessarily appear on the plan if it was built after the order was made. Although there may be no trees on your property, protected trees growing on adjoining land may also affect it and a search will not necessarily show this. Your property may be situated in a conservation area. This should also be revealed on your search and a similar level of protection will apply to any trees on your property.
Anyone can apply to us for consent to carry out work to protected trees and each application is considered on its merit. A TPO is a statement by the Council that the tree is intended to remain unless there is a justifiable reason for it to be removed, such as if it is dead or dangerous. We will be happy to advise you on this. A tree is not generally considered dangerous merely due to its height, spread or close proximity to a building. It will normally take up to eight weeks for us to issue a decision on a tree work application. If you don't like the tree - don't buy the property. Do not assume that you can move in and then prune or fell existing trees.
Trees on your property subject to TPOs remain your responsibility and this includes the cost of maintaining them properly. The TPO is there to ensure that the trees are not removed or made dangerous or unsightly due to poor pruning practice. By investing in your trees you could be directly improving your property and the appearance of the surrounding urban landscape. The presence of mature trees on a property can potentially increase its resale value and provide a more desirable environment.
If you do not believe that you can live in your proposed new home without major tree removal, then you may wish to reconsider at the purchase stage. You are not just buying the house, you are also buying the trees. They come as part of the package, not as an optional extra!
Any prospective buyer would be advised to obtain a full structural survey. In practice it is most unlikely that tree roots will damage a properly constructed house. Trees do not actively seek out house foundations. They influence the sub soil in which they grow due to the amount of water they demand and this can affect the way certain soil types behave. So called shrinkable soils; such as clays and silts change in volume when water is removed or added, causing them to shrink or swell respectively. The effects of such movement on a building can be mitigated by the construction of appropriate foundations, which extend to a depth below that influenced by the roots of mature trees. A full structural survey should address such issues and highlight any areas of concern.
Anyone can apply for consent to prune a protected tree; however, the work will also require the permission of the owner.
Yes possibly, but you must not:
You may also be restricted in the choice of surface you use (a range of products are available on the market for installation close to trees that are designed to reduce the impact on existing tree roots).
Trees are of vital importance in maintaining and improving the quality of life for people who live and work in the Borough. They are one of the most obvious of our natural assets, by virtue of their sheer size and prominence. As they do not last forever and are vulnerable to changes in their surroundings, we must ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the many benefits that trees bring to our environment. They can greatly enhance an area's appearance and character. They provide contrasts of size, colour and texture to the landscape. They provide habitats for wildlife and reflect the changing of the seasons. You could be one of the fortunate people who own an important tree within the Borough.
Trees may pre-date us by many years and survive with our care for many years after we have moved elsewhere. They are part of our legacy to future generations and deserve our care and respect. If you feel you are not able to offer them the basic care, please do not take on the responsibility.
This webpage is a reasonable summary of the legislation affecting protected trees. The information given is brief, limited and for guidance only.
Acknowledgements to Richard Nicholson of East Dorset District Council in the production of this web page.