Tree protection

There are three types of tree protection to be aware of should you wish to work on a tree;

Tree preservation order (TPO)

Conservation Area

Trees protected by planning conditions

Check tree restrictions

Tree preservation order

A tree preservation order (TPO) is an order made by the council which makes it an offence to carry out any of the following works without the consent of the council:

  • Cut down
  • Uprooting
  • Topping
  • Lopping
  • Wilful damage or
  • Wilfully destruction

All species of trees which are considered to have public amenity value can be made the subject of a TPO. This protection does not include hedges, bushes or shrubs.

Applications to fell or carry out works to trees protected by a TPO should be determined within 8 weeks of the application being received. If the decision is not made within this time the applicant may lodge an appeal with the Secretary of State against the council's failure to make a decision.

It is an offence for anyone to contravene the provisions of a TPO. Anyone found guilty of this offence is liable, if convicted in a magistrate's court, to a fine up to £20,000.

Request a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

If you wish to make a request to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to protect a tree, a group of trees, an area of land where trees are located or a woodland with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) please apply using our TPO Request form.

The LPA has adopted a TPO assessment method that it will always use when considering to serve a new TPO. This evaluation considerations are as follows:

  • public visibility
  • individual impact (condition, retention span, local importance, other factors)
  • wider impact
  • expediency (management of the tree and threats to the tree)

The LPA normally consider that trees within Streets or Green Areas controlled by the Council are under good arboricultural management given that the London Borough of Sutton has an adopted Tree Strategy.

However, there might be occasions when the LPA might wish to protect trees that are within the ownership of the Council. In, these circumstance the online TPO request form should be completed.

All new requests for TPO’s could take up to 12 weeks to be considered by the LPA depending on the likelihood of tree(s) works taking place and the amenity value of the tree(s).

The LPA will write to inform you of its decision once it has undertaken an assessment using its TPO assessment method.

Conservation Area

It is offence to carry out the following works:

  • uproot
  • cut down
  • top
  • lop
  • wilfully damage or
  • wilfully destroy

to any tree located within a conservation area that measures more than 75 millimetres in diameter when measured 1.5 metres above the ground.

Anyone wishing to carry out works to such a tree in a conservation area must give notice to the council in writing at least 6 weeks before they wish to carry out the work.

It is an offence to carry out the works unless you have given notice in writing to the council, and either:

  • you have received a decision; or
  • 6 weeks have expired since you served a valid notice on the council and you have not received a decision

Anyone found guilty of this offence is liable, if convicted in a magistrate's court, to a fine up to £20,000.

If the council does not determine the application within the 6 weeks referred to above the works may automatically proceed providing the works are carried out within 2 years of the notice.

Trees protected by a planning condition

The council also has powers to impose conditions upon the grant of planning permission for development, to ensure that existing trees worthy of retention are protected and not damaged during and/or after construction. The council will also promote high quality tree planting within new developments in order to maintain and enhance the Borough's local landscapes.

Prior permission will be required from the council before the following works can be carried out to trees protected by conditions:

  • fell,
  • lop, or
  • prune

Depending on the wording of the planning condition, you may need to submit a Planning application and pay a fee.

Applications to fell trees protected with planning conditions should be determined within 8 weeks of the application being received. If the decision is not made within this time the applicant may lodge an appeal with the Secretary of State against the council's failure to make a decision.