Protected trees

There are different ways a tree can be protected:

Conservation area

A conservation area is an area of special historical or architectural interest that we intend to preserve or enhance. Within a conservation area, we have extra controls over several factors including the protection of trees.

There are 20 conservation areas in Southampton, all of varying sizes. Only trees with a trunk diameter greater than 75 millimetres at 1.5 metres above ground level are protected.

Tree preservation order

Tree Preservation Order (TPO) protects individual trees, groups of trees and woodlands. It prevents trees from being lopped, topped, pruned, uprooted, or damaged in any way without prior permission from the local authority. There are over 700 TPOs in Southampton.

Some properties have trees protected by a conservation area and a tree preservation order. For example, trees in a front garden may be protected by a conservation area and trees in the back garden may be protected by a tree preservation order.


Works to a protected tree

If you wish to carry out works to a tree protected by a TPO, you will need to make an application. You can do this either through the online planning portal or by completing the downloadable form.

If you wish to carry out works on a tree in a conservation area, we will need six weeks’ written notice. This notice does not have to be in a specific form, but it needs to include enough information to identify the tree(s) and make clear what work is proposed to which tree. It may be helpful to use our standard application form.

If you are unsure what works are needed, we would recommend getting a tree surgeon to inspect the tree (or trees). This may help you complete the application correctly, or the tree surgeon may submit the application on your behalf, if you wish.

Should you need help finding a tree surgeon, we suggest starting with the The Arboricultural Association.

If a protected tree has been damaged or is considered dangerous, you should use one of the forms on the damage to trees protected by a TPO or Conservation Area webpage.


Request works online

Please check the guidance notes for information on what you will need to provide in the request. This makes sure we have all the information we need to process it.

To apply, you will need:

  • Site location of the tree
  • Clear explanation of what type of work you want done to the tree, including the amount of work, if necessary
  • Sketch plan clearly showing the position of trees, as well as boundaries and adjoining properties (including house numbers or names), names of roads, and the direction of North
  • An account for the Planning Portal. You can register when you make your application

When making a request, please choose ‘Tree works: Trees in conservation areas/subject to TPOs’ from the list of application types.

You can create and save the progress of your application before you submit.

Apply through the Planning Portal.

Request works by post or email

If you are having trouble with applying online, you can complete the PDF application form instead.

You will need to print this out and complete by hand, and return either by email to trees@southampton.gov.uk or by post. Details can be found in the application form.


What happens next

Once we review your request, and we are satisfied that we have all the relevant information, your application will be registered. If we need to contact you for more information this may delay registering your application.

When your application is registered, the tree officer will then assess the works. A decision will be made within eight weeks.

Should the application be refused, you may appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. This must be made within 28 days of the date on the decision notice or before the date the tree replacement notice comes into effect.

You can check on the status of an application for tree works on Public Access.


Penalties

If someone prunes or destroys a tree without giving six weeks’ notice in a conservation area, or without written consent for works to a tree protected by a TPO, this can lead to a fine of up to £20,000.

If the tree or parts of the tree are dead or dangerous then works can be done without a notification. However, it will be up to the person pruning the tree to prove that the tree was dead or dangerous. If you intend to carry out work on a tree in this situation you should give the council five days’ notice by contacting the trees team.


Further information