Tree guidance

Guidance on tree ownership and maintenance.

Report illegal work to protected trees or report trees which you think should be protected

Email (link sends email) or call 01276 707100.

Responsibility of trees

The owner of a tree is responsible for it's maintenance. This also applies if a tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order.

Tree ownership

The owner of the land on which a tree is rooted is the owner of that tree. If a tree is on the boundary of two properties the deeds to those properties should be referenced to establish the property boundaries. The tree is within the property which contains the majority of the stump.

If the tree is on land of unknown ownership, Land Registry (external website) should be able to help identify who the land belongs to.

Overhanging trees 

If the tree is protected, you will need to follow the relevant procedures which are outlined on the protected trees webpage. Pruning of overhanging branches only, which would make the tree one sided or unbalanced, would not be agreed.

If the tree is not subject to any restrictions imposed via a Tree Preservation Order or conservation area controls, then you have a Common Law right to prune overhanging branches back to the boundary only of your property. You cannot go beyond your boundaries and may not enter adjacent land to carry out the work. It is always advisable to be polite and to inform your neighbour of your intention to prune their trees and to agree the method of disposal of the prunings which remain the property of the tree owner. Please note, the tree owner is not obliged to pay for, or undertake the pruning of limbs overhanging a third party property.

Dead or dangerous trees

Any protected tree that is dead and/or assessed by a specialist to be imminently dangerous can be removed without the need to submit an application to gain consent of the Council.

If a part of a tree poses an imminent danger for example, split or hanging limb, the part which poses the danger may be pruned without an application to gain consent. However, the onus of proof that a tree was dead or imminently dangerous rests with the tree owner and the advice and guidance and written opinion of a qualified arboricultural specialist is needed.

It is often difficult to tell if a tree was dead or dangerous from the stump remaining after felling. If you plan to remove a tree without an application, and if safe to do so, it is advisable to give the Council five day's notice in writing and marked for the urgent attention of the arboricultural officer. This will give the officer an opportunity to make a site visit to check that the tree is dead or imminently dangerous and confirm that it can be removed without consent.

If the Tree Officer has not visited the site prior to a trees removal it is a good idea to take photographs of the tree which clearly shows its condition. Please note, protected trees removed by way of exemption [dead] or five days notice may need to be replaced and the Council will issue a Tree Replacement Notice, which is a legally binding condition. 

Copies of Tree Preservation Orders

A copy of a Tree Preservation Order can be obtained from the Land Charges team. Find out more on the local authority search webpages.

More information

You can also contact the Council with any questions by email (link sends email) or call 01276 707100.