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Tree preservation orders

The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 protects certain trees.

Trees that have tree preservations orders (TPOs), or that are within conservation areas, are protected.

It is an offence to carry out any work on those trees without permission from the Council. This include trees with a TPO that are found around properties.

The order prohibits:

  • cutting down
  • uprooting
  • topping
  • lopping
  • wilful damage
  • wilful destruction

Trees that are exempt from TPOs are those that are:

  • dead
  • diseased
  • dangerous
  • fruit trees grown for the commercial production of fruit

Unless you’re sure that a tree or hedgerow is not protected, then you should not start work on it.

Felling trees that have a TPO

A structural engineer or arborist must give appropriate evidence if you wish to fell a tree with a TPO.

If you fail to provide this, we will likely refuse your application.

A brief guide to tree work terminology and definitions

For details, see the Arboricultural Association website [external link]

Protected trees in the Borough of Darlington

To find out whether a particular tree is protected, please:

email [email protected] or write to:

Planning Department
Town Hall

We do not provide this information over the telephone.

Issuing an TPO

Planning authorities have the power to issue a TPO for the purpose of protecting any trees that are deemed to be at risk of damage or destruction.

A single TPO can be issued to cover either:

  • a single tree
  • several specified trees
  • a defined area to include all trees within (or several defined areas)
  • a woodland area (or several woodland areas)
  • any combination of the above

TPOs cannot be applied to hedges, bushes, or shrubs.

Trees in a conservation area

All trees located within a conservation area are protected against pruning or felling.

You must notify the local planning authority if you intend to do so.

We need 6 weeks’ notice of any planned works to trees within a conservation area.

This is to give the Council an opportunity to decide if a tree is worthy of further protection. If it is will issue a TPO.

If a tree is in a conservation area and has a TPO, the TPO takes priority.

Works to protected trees

You need permission to carry out any work to trees that have a TPO or that are in a conservation area.

To carry out work on any protected trees, you will need to fill in a tree works form.

Dead or Dangerous Tree Notice (5-day Notice)

If intending to carry out works that are an exception from the normal requirements to gain written consent, the tree owner (or contractor on their behalf) is advised to provide at least 5 working days’ notice in writing, to Darlington Borough Council before doing so.

Exceptions include:

  • cutting down a tree when the whole tree presents an 'urgent and serious safety risk'
  • pruning part of a tree which presents an 'urgent and serious safety risk'
  • cutting down a dead tree

The law makes it clear that in terms of exceptions, dangerous means ‘immediate risk of serious harm’.

Therefore, a risk assessment would address the size of branch or tree (being assessed) and the likelihood of it falling on a vulnerable or valuable target.

How to submit a notice when an exception applies

Email [email protected] with the subject: Tree requests (5-day notice)

The following information must be provided:

  • identify the tree
  • species/type of tree
  • size
  • location
  • describe the planned works
  • describe why the works are an exception
  • include contact details for the owner and contractor/arborist

Within 5 days our Arboricultural Officer will inspect, determine whether works to a tree can be done under a 5-day notice and advise you of their decision.

Tree preservation orders and notices