Tree preservation orders (TPOs)
Some protected trees in the borough are subject to tree preservation orders (TPOs). TPOs can cover anything from a single tree to woodlands.
It is an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy these trees without our permission.
Purpose of TPOs
TPOs aim to protect trees which make a significant impact on their local surroundings. They are particularly important where trees are in immediate danger.
How TPOs are made
When we make a TPO, we will write to the owner and other interested parties, enclosing a copy of the order. To object to or support an order, write to us within 28 days, giving reasons and details of the relevant trees.
These comments will be taken into account when deciding whether to confirm the order. We can make an order with immediate effect which will continue for six months, or until it is confirmed, whichever comes first. The order can be modified when it is confirmed, e.g. by excluding some of the trees.
Once confirmed, TPOs remain in force indefinitely.
Responsibilities for tree owners
If you own trees with a TPO, you are responsible for them, their condition and any damage they may cause. You must apply for permission before carrying out work, unless the tree in question is dead or dangerous, in which case you would need to give us five working days notice under the dead and dangerous exemption.
Requesting a new TPO
You can contact us in writing by email or post to request for a new Tree Preservation Order (TPO). We will consider serving a TPO where there is a specific threat to the appearance or existence of trees that provide significant public visual amenity or where their removal would be detrimental to the local and wider landscape, so it is important that the request is clearly justified.
Including photographs of the tree, taken from a public place, will help us to decide whether the creation of a TPO is warranted.
We will send you a full response within 20 working days.
We are unlikely to grant requests for trees which:
- Are young or non-established
- Are large (or have the potential to get large) and situated too close to a building or structure, causing potential obstruction and unreasonable relationship.
- Are dying, dead or dangerous
- Do not offer a ‘perceived visual amenity’, for example, are within a back garden and cannot be viewed from a public place
- Are not under a clear threat of removal or pruning which may impact upon the amenity
In urgent cases, when there is an immediate danger to trees and they are under realistic threat from removal or drastic pruning, we can make an emergency TPO. For example, if a property developer has just bought a piece of land to build on and trees are present. In such situations we will consider verbal requests.
However, if the Forestry Commission has given aid under a forestry grant scheme, a TPO can only be made with the Commission's permission.
Trees on Crown Land
We must seek permission from the relevant authority before an order can be made for trees on 'Crown Land'. Crown Land includes land belonging to government departments or land held for the Queen by a government department.
Contact Customer Services
For tree enquiries, contact our Customer Services Team.
Telephone: 020 8891 1411
Our office hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Outside these hours for emergencies such as fallen trees, call Careline on 0845 600 7413.
Up to: Protected trees
Updated: 03 August 2021