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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.

Works to Trees in a Conservation area

All trees located within a conservation area are protected against pruning or felling and you must notify Darlington Borough Council if you intend to do so.

We need 6 weeks’ notice of any planned works to trees within a conservation area on the following  Tree Works Form (pdf document)

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.

Dead or Dangerous Tree Notice (5-day Notice)

This form should only be used when applying for works to a Tree which is Dead, Dying or Dangerous and is also Protected by a TPO or within a Conservation Area - dangerous means ‘immediate risk of serious harm’

Please do not use this form for any other queries 

If intending to carry out works the tree owner (or contractor on their behalf) is advised to provide at least 5 working days’ notice.

Do this using the submit a notice form below.

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

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
There has been a problem!

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.

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