Policy SE 5: Trees, Hedgerows and Woodland

Development proposals which will result in the loss of, or threat to, the continued health and life expectancy of trees, hedgerows or woodlands (including veteran trees or ancient semi-natural woodland), that provide a significant contribution to the amenity, biodiversity, landscape character or historic character of the surrounding area, will not normally be permitted, except where there are clear overriding reasons for allowing the development and there are no suitable alternatives. Where such impacts are unavoidable, development proposals must satisfactorily demonstrate a net environmental gain by appropriate mitigation, compensation or offsetting.

The council will seek to ensure:

  1. The sustainable management of trees,woodland and hedgerows including provision of new planting within the infrastructure of new development proposals to provide local distinctiveness within the landscape, enable climate adaptation resilience, and support biodiversity;
  2. The planting and sustainable growth of large trees within new development as part of a structured landscape scheme in order to retain and improve tree canopy cover within the borough as a whole.


13.37 The National Planning Policy Framework states that ‘planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss’. Trees will be assessed in accordance with the council’s Amenity Evaluation Checklist for Trees and where appropriate protected by the imposition of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) to safeguard their amenity value and planning conditions to ensure protection and prevent damage during the development process.

13.38 'Trees in Townscape', a guidance document produced by the Trees and Design Action Group, states that ‘trees make places work, look and feel better. As well as playing a role in climate proofing our neighbourhoods and supporting human health and environmental well-being, trees can also help to create conditions for economic success. With over 80 per cent of the UK’s population living in urban settings, trees in and around built-up areas – which many call the ‘urban forest’ – have become a key component of the infrastructure that makes places work, look and feel better’.

13.39 The government's Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement 2013 states that ‘the protection of the UK’s trees, woods and forests, especially ancient woodland is a top priority’ and ‘ new and better managed woodland also has a role in making our rural and urban landscapes more resilient to the effects of climate change’

13.40 The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) 2013 also sets out the government's approach to sustainable forestry and helps inform planning decisions by summarising the legislation which affects trees and woodlands, clarifies the role of the Forestry Commission and LPAs in respect of woodlands, setting appropriate standards and sets appropriate standards for woodland management or creation when covered by planning legislation.

13.41 The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) provides an analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits provided to society and continued economic prosperity. The Ecosystem approach encompasses social, economic and environmental factors that are interdependent with biodiversity and various benefits that trees and woodlands provide.

13.42 Trees and hedgerows are an important element of the landscapes and townscapes of the area, where they can make a valuable contribution to visual amenity. They may have historic importance, as part of wider designed landscapes or be keys to the history of the landscape by identifying former highways, settlements or field boundaries. They may also have ecological value, by providing habitats for legally protected and priority species. It is essential that the presence of existing trees be considered at an early stage in the development process and that where appropriate, provision is made for new tree planting. Whilst trees can be seen as a constraint, with sympathetic design they can enhance a development.

13.43 Therefore development proposals which will result in the loss of trees or hedgerows that provide a significant contribution (including trees or woodlands subject of a Tree Preservation Order, hedgerows which are classed as ‘important’ under the Hedgerow Regulations, those classified as UK priority habitat) will be discouraged.

13.44 The council will encourage proposals which seek to increase the planting of woodland and hedgerows to introduce positive sustainable woodland management - particularly in urban areas and the urban fringe, where this will contribute to the enhancement of landscape character, amenity, recreation, health and welfare of residents, biodiversity, geological and historical conservation, ecosystem services, tourism and the economic regeneration of the borough.

Key Evidence

  1. The Natural Environment White Paper ‘The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature’( 2011)
  2. Natural England – Information on Environmental Designations (2012)
  3. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology – Ecosystem Approach (2011).
  4. UK Forestry Standard - The Governments Approach to Sustainable Forestry (Forestry Commission 2011
  5. Trees in the Townscape - A Guide for Decision Makers (Trees and Design Action Group November 2012)
  6. Government's Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement (DEFRA/ Forestry Commission January 2013)

Policy information


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