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ScottF

TPO Replacement Tree Sizes

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When replacing TPO trees I've generally offered an extra-heavy standard specimen (14-16cm), properly staked and cared for through to establishment, and that's almost always been taken as sufficient.  To me, extra-heavies offer a pretty optimal balance of year-round availability, ease of establishment and reasonable visual impact.

 

I currently have a development site where some TPO trees, additional to the original consent were removed (due to condition/defects not visible at the time of the original 5837 survey, damage etc), and replacement trees are being asked for by the LA.  Apart from timeliness (some of these trees were removed in 2016 and the site has been largely accessible since then), I have no issue with this, but they are specifically asking for 45-60, semi-mature trees.  They say this is their policy irrespective of tree setting or species, although they do not have a written policy or SPG which states this.

 

I appreciate that the TPO guidance refers to replacement trees "of a suitable size", but has anyone else out there been asked for replacement trees of this size.  Is this reasonable?  Would welcome some thoughts.

Edited by ScottF

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Replacement planting is a duty and shouldn't be used as punishment. The goal is to ensure successful establishment and this is much likelier in smaller trees.

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9 minutes ago, Adam M said:

Replacement planting is a duty and shouldn't be used as punishment. The goal is to ensure successful establishment and this is much likelier in smaller trees.

Agreed.

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13 hours ago, Adam M said:

Replacement planting is a duty and shouldn't be used as punishment. The goal is to ensure successful establishment and this is much likelier in smaller trees.

Surely the goal is to replace lost tree amenity as soon as possible? If so, the largest tree possible should be put in. I don't see where the 'punishment' aspect comes in to it. Are you assuming Councils ask for larger more expensive trees as a punishment? The legislation has appropriate measures for that. Tree replacement is a different thing.

 

I have no position on this, I just amn't persuaded.

 

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1 hour ago, daltontrees said:

Surely the goal is to replace lost tree amenity as soon as possible? If so, the largest tree possible should be put in. I don't see where the 'punishment' aspect comes in to it. Are you assuming Councils ask for larger more expensive trees as a punishment? The legislation has appropriate measures for that. Tree replacement is a different thing.

 

I have no position on this, I just amn't persuaded.

 

I guess the question is of proportionality.  The tree is question was fire damaged by vandals, and a replacement has been requested.  Aside from the supply issue, from a horticultural point of view, semi-mature trees are orders of magnitude more expensive to buy, move around, plant and maintain than an extra-heavy, for instance.  A tree which I could supply and plant as a 14-16 might cost £300, whereas the same species as a 45-60 might cost £1800 to buy, plus £200-400 delivery, plus plant hire, plus a maintenance program. Easily £3k+. From plenty of experience, I would say that extra heavies would catch up with semi-matures in a reasonable time frame.  I'm a practising landscape architect, and would only specify a tree of that large size to a client with greatest ambitions (their choice)and the deepest of pockets.

 

Would it be reasonable to expect a homeowner whose TPO tree has failed, through no fault of their own, to fork out the cost of clearing it up, only to be hit for a bill for £3k+ for the "largest possible" replacement tree?  

 

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Well if it's n fault of their own, they shouldn't be having to replace it at all. Did they wilfully destroy or damage it? If not, no offence,  no replacement requirement.

 

Seeing it from LA side, doing a CAVAT or Helliwell valuation might give £300 for a 14-16 and £3,000 for a 45-60. That's value,  not cost. Which is meant to be a measure of amenity contribution. Maybe LA isn't thinking about cost at all.  I don't sense any punishment motive.

 

But as I say, no offence, no replacement. Initially you said trees 'were removed' but now it's tha they were vandalised. And replacement is being asked for. You could say no and offer a 14-16, explaining that no liability is accepted for the loss (vandalism) and that a semi mature is prohibitively expensive. Put teh offer in writing 'without prejudice' and see if the LA has the temerity to prosecute instead.

 

Smaller trees estabilsh better anyway. Personally I have had very few scrapes with LAs (in Scotland the Councils don't give enough of a damn about trees to prosecute anyway) but 14-16 is as much as I've been asked for. I'm involved in a negotiated removal of 7 or 8 publicly visible early mature Sycamores and the Council is happy with heavy standards.

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What powers do the LPA have to demand a replacement. Has the tree been removed by way of a consented application to fell, has it been removed because it falls within the scope of the exceptions set out in the 2012 Regs, (dead or imminently dangerous), or has it been removed unlawfully.

 

These are the times when the LPA can pursue tree replacement. Either by way of a condition attached to the consent to remove it, or as a duty if removed under the exceptions or without consent.

 

If there's been an application which has been consented but not conditioned requiring replacement, or it's not been removed under the exceptions or unlawfully, then the Council can ask nicely for a replacement, but have no powers to pursue replacement, or demand a particular size or species. 

 

If a conditioned replacement, or a replacement under the duty hasn't been planted they can serve a tree replacement notice. These should be discussed first to agree size, species and location. They must also be served within four years of the failure to plant the tree. You can appeal a tree replacement notice to PIN's, but you are time limited in doing that. 

 

So, what was the process that was undertaken to get the tree's removed.

Edited by EdwardC

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A course of action, as it seems the trees have been removed without permission, may be to try and come to a more reasonable size with the LPA, if they don't budge wait for your Tree Replacement Notice and appeal it on the grounds that the size is unreasonable. 

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If you don't agree with the condition just appeal it.  If the PINs think its unreasonable, then they will change the spec.  I would think in this case they probably will.   

 

I usually condition 8-10cm because they establish better.  I picked up an appeal about 10 years ago as my predecessor had conditioned select standard (10-12) replacements and the tree owner wanted to plant light standard (6-8cm).  The PINS dismissed the appeal and made her plant 10-12cm.  It was a TRN she was appealing which had been dragging on for a while before is started.  The appeal was via a hearing so was assessed by a planner.   I personally think 10-12 is reasonable but I wouldn't go much bigger. 

   

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