Retention of trees with amenity value is a desirable goal in urban development, as it has potential to increase returns for developers; improve the aesthetic environment of people living and working nearby; and to reduce the impact of development on the local community, the wider public.
Pre-application site discussions involving all parties are recommended
Communities and Local Government Guidance for the validation of planning applications identifies the need for pre-application discussions and North East Lincolnshire Local Planning Authority encourages facilitating the availability of pre-application advice. Pre-application discussions are widely recognised as enhancing the speed and quality of the planning system. For pre-application advice please contact the Trees and Woodland Officers on 01472 324273 or 01472 324271.
It is through these pre-application discussions that advice can be given to any tree issues relating to a proposed site. The Tree Officer can identify the information and details that should be submitted with an application for any particular site, and if necessary issue a BS5837: Trees in Relation to Construction Exemption Certificate. Using this approach can help to minimise delays later in processing the application and identify whether any additional information will be required.
The benefits and values of trees in urban areas mostly relate to that which is visible above the soil surface. Arguably, however, it is the capacity of the root system to function in built environment and enable the trees to grow in these distinctly inhospitable situations that is the overriding and crucial factor. It is the root system that experiences the most abuse from construction activities. Unfortunately too little attention is paid to the understanding of the basic characteristics of healthy and vigorous root systems.
Most tree roots occur within the top 600mm of soil, extending radially for distances frequently in excess of tree height. Trees need roots for anchorage, water uptake and energy. Damaging tree roots may kill or weaken the tree and, in some instances, may cause the tree to fall. Tree roots require oxygen to survive. Compaction caused by vehicles can asphyxiate tree roots.
Irreparable damage can occur in the first few days of a contractor’s occupation of a site. The early erection of protective fencing and ground protection to form the construction exclusion zone, before works commence, is essential to prevent damage.
To ensure a harmonious relationship between trees and structures, careful planning and expert advice is needed on their juxtaposition. A good design cannot be achieved without first recognising the constraints of a site. A full tree survey where necessary, allows a real understanding of the site and the limitations that may exist. This will ensure that existing trees are allowed enough space to flourish without causing damage to buildings and nuisance to new occupants. An acceptable design will successfully incorporate any trees without damage or future conflict. The survey information will also help to identify potential areas for new planting and landscaping as well as those trees that can be removed without significant loss for local amenity to aid the development process.