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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 22385
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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I have a large garden which has a Tree Preservation Order placed

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I have a large garden which has a Tree Preservation Order placed on it.
On one of my boundaries there is an estate of houses, the owners of which have told me, in writing, that they are concerned that some of the trees appear to be old and they fear they might fall on their properties in high winds. In fact some smaller branches have recently fallen.
A number of branches overhang their properties.
They have also indicated that they are concerned by the number of leaves and saplings which they need to remove from their gardens because of the overhanging trees.
Their light is also affected.
I have spoken to the local Council "tree officer" who has suggested that I undertake a full survey of the trees and carry out the recommendations of the report, after having obtained the required consents from the council. He has not seen the trees.
In discussions with the "tree officer" I suggested an easier solution might be that I apply to have the trees felled and that would alleviate the requirement of a survey and partial cutting of the trees.
He suggested that the council would reject this, as the trees are a visual amenity.
Having said that we have hundreds of trees in our garden.
I am concerned that I could be required to carry out very long term expensive maintainence of the trees.
The tree officer has cited BS 3998 and indicated that it is my responsibility to maintain the well-being of the trees at my expense.
Any advice?
Desmond Ruddy

Hello, I am Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor in a High
Street practice. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008.
During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions
from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other
users, I might not always respond in
, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me
while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to
advise you fully.

Unless I have all the facts that I need, my answer
would not be accurate.

why havent you had arborist report as to condition?

I need the full background details please. Thank

Stuart J and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your very prompt reply.

I received the letter from my neighbours two days ago.

My discussion with the local tree officer was earlier today.

Prior to that I had no indeiction from the Council that they required a

a report from a third party.

I have been in this house for 14 years, I have applied to the Council twice for planning to carry out work on trees, in the first instance it was granted, the second was refused.

On those previous applications the local tree officer came to my house and gave his reason for the decision shortly after.

I can see little reason to seek the opinion of a third party when the decision will be made by an officer of the Council.

Desmond Ruddy


Leave the tree preservation
order aside for a moment.

The tree is potentially
dangerous and therefore if anything falls off it as a result of you failing to
maintain it, and it injures someone, you are liable.

The first thing I would do is
write to the council and tell them that in your opinion the tree is dangerous
and it should be pruned. I would get the neighbour to write to the council in
the same terms.

Both letters need to say that
if anyone is injured as a result of the Council's refusal to let you prune the
tree, you give the council notice that they will be held liable in negligence.

That is the cheapest approach
that you can take.

Unfortunately, at this stage,
you don't have anything to back up your opinion unless you are a tree expert
which I imagine you are not.

It is the cost of the
arborist report which is the sticking point.

You are liable for the cost
of pruning the tree. However without the TPO, you could prune it. What you
could not do of course is fell it (TPO
or not) because to cut such an amount of timber still needs a licence in any
event. It is one of the burdens you have of owning a house with large trees.

What you could do is tell the
council that you are quite happy to get an arborist report and if the arborist
report confirms your view, you will seek the cost of it from the council. You
are of course liable what any work which needs to be done on the tree

There is one final thing you
can do what it is long winded and expensive and that is to apply to the court
for judicial review of the Council's decision not to let you prune the tree.


Does that answer the
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your message.

I will write to the Council today and follow your suggestions.


One other point,

A number of branchs and the trunk of at least one tree are hanging over the boundary, can these be removed without seeking permission from the Council?

Unfortunately, no, purely because there is a TPO on it.


On a
slightly different note, I was reading my local paper recently (at the weekend
in fact) and a guy in Chester had been fined £20,000 for cutting down a Yew
tree in the front garden of some flats which he owned.

It would
give the residents more parking space.

However as
a result of having more premium parking space he will get more rent and the
reality is that within two years he will have recouped is £20,000!

I'm not
suggesting for one minute that you should take a chainsaw to the tree but give
you that as an example of the kind of finds that can be levied for breaches so
be extremely careful