Trees with Planning Conditions
Many planning permissions for new houses or extensions contain conditions which protect trees and hedges. These may include both the existing vegetation and any new landscaping required by the planning permission. Although the wording may vary, conditions generally require that you obtain the prior approval in writing from the Council for work to trees or hedges.
The purpose of such conditions is to ensure that sufficient trees and hedges remain on the site to retain the character of the area during the transitional period while new landscaping is becoming established. For this reason the more recent conditions only apply for a limited period of 5 years. Earlier conditions may have a 10 year life-span or may not specify a time limit at all but now the Council would regard such conditions as having expired if the permission was implemented more that five years ago.
Nonetheless before starting any work to trees or hedges you are advised to check with the Planning Department whether any conditions apply.
In the case of hedges the condition may specify a minimum height to which the hedge should be maintained. Where a height is not mentioned in the conditions, the practice has been to regard the minimum height of the hedge as being the height at which it has been regularly maintained in recent years. Regular cutting of the hedge to not less than the minimum height would not require permission.
However, permission would be required for a reduction in height to below the minimum height, or for the removal of part, or all, of a hedge. Hedges often have historic value as ancient boundaries and also contribute significantly to the character of an area. Therefore the Council is generally reluctant to allow their removal without good reason.
If you plan to carry out work to a tree or hedge protected by a condition you should write to the Planning Department stating clearly the work you propose and the reason(s) for it. You should also enclose a sketch plan of your property showing the position of the relevant tree or hedge and any other nearby trees and hedges which would help in identifying it easily.
If a tree is to be removed, the Council would normally require a suitable replacement, so it would be useful to mention any replanting proposals in the same letter.