Council Trees

Problems with trees, or requests for work to trees on Council owned land can be reported to our Arboricultural Officer. You can use our interactive mapping service to find out more about Council owned land here

To contact us, please call 0300 123 4000 option 7, or email us.

We do not necessarily carry out work on demand. Each tree needs to be judged on its own merits before the decision is made to carry out work or not.

Tree preservation orders (TPO)

A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by a local planning authority (LPA). This order makes it an offence to:

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

a tree without the LPA's permission.

The purpose of the Tree Preservation Order is to protect trees that make a significant impact on their local surroundings. 

This is particularly important where trees are in immediate danger of being felled or heavily pruned.

All types of trees can be covered by a Tree Preservation Order (including hedgerow trees). The Tree Preservation Order can cover anything from a single tree to woodlands. 

The Department of Communities and Local Government have produced the Protected Trees: A Guide to Tree Preservation Procedures

The guide is designed to help tree owners, the general public and amenity groups.

It answers some of the most common questions about tree preservation procedures. Please note that this document is for guidance only and is not a statement of the law.

Trees in Conservation Areas

All trees in a Conservation Area are subject to controls. These controls enable the Council to protect the special character of the area created by the trees. This means you may need to notify the Council in order to carry out certain works.

To find out whether a particular tree or hedgerow is within a Conservation Area, you can access our interactive map.

Read more about trees in conservation areas on the next page for more information.

Trees in a conservation area

The Local Planning Authority (LPA) are under a duty to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of Conservation Areas.  A key part of the character and appearance may be the trees.

To find out whether a particular tree or hedgerow is within a Conservation Area, you can access our interactive map.

Anyone proposing to carry out works to a tree in a Conservation Area must give at least 6 weeks’ notice to the LPA.

There are exceptions to this requirement. They include when the tree is dead, dying or has become dangerous and should be reported to the authority.

Please use the Planning Portal to submit your proposal electronically. You can also use their Paper Forms generator to download and print out the application form.

The notice period gives the LPA the opportunity to decide if it is necessary to impose a Tree Preservation Order.

They will have special regard to the preservation or enhancement of the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.

If the LPA decides the tree is not a part of the special character or appearance of the area, it may give consent. The authority may also allow the notice to expire without responding.

Otherwise, we may consider imposing a Tree Preservation Order.

It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a tree where notice was required and not served on the LPA.

Trees and development

Landscape guidance

When considering a proposed development, the Council will need to make sure the new development fits in with its surroundings. This is important for everything - from a new porch, to a large commercial building.

An understanding of the character and appearance of the surrounding area is important when considering the design of a development.

The Council will ask the developer to consider existing and proposed landscaping as part of the design process.

Existing trees & landscape features

The developer must consider any existing trees, hedges, shrubs and other vegetation on the site.

Care should be taken to keep as much of this as possible. The new layout should be designed around the existing trees and landscape features.

Existing ponds, streams and hedge banks should be enhanced and developed as ecological features within the development.

Existing vegetation and trees near new buildings, contribute to the character and appearance of the landscape. Achieving a similar character with new planting can be expensive and take time. 

To work out the amount of landscaping needed, it is helpful to seek pre-application advice

Read our guide on Existing landscaping

Requirements of a landscaping scheme

Developers are urged to submit a landscaping scheme at the same time as other details of the proposed development.

What should a landscaping scheme include?

Further References

Our guide to Landscape specifications tells you about information needed by the Local Planning Authority.

Our Joint landscape guidance (Babergh & Mid Suffolk) outlines the principles that developments being built in the countryside must follow.

The Suffolk Landscape Character Assessment has been carried out by all the District Councils and the County Council working together.

Subsidence and trees

What should I do if I suspect a tree is causing subsidence damage?

Trees close to buildings and other built structures can increase the risk of subsidence. This is because roots extract moisture from shrinkable clay soils beneath foundation level.

If you suspect that trees are causing subsidence to your property, it's important to contact your home insurance provider. These trees could be council owned or on neighbouring private land.

Your insurance company will look into your concerns. They may want to investigate the damage as part of a claim.

If they believe that a tree is involved in causing the damage, they will contact the respective tree owners on your behalf.

Where a claim is made against a council owned tree, an appropriate level of evidence must be provided. This evidence will need to demonstrate that the tree is an influencing cause in the subsidence.

Where a claim is made against a protected tree, the following information is normally required:

  • engineer's report on assessment of damage to building
  • plan and profile of foundations
  • full details of all areas of damage attributed to the subsidence. This includes a location plan of the building, in relation to trees on/adjacent to the property
  • soil analysis – including proof of desiccation, details of liquid and plastic limits taken from both a trial pit and control pit
  • tree root identification from beneath foundation level
  • monitoring results preferably for 12 months or more, including level monitoring
  • details of any drainage report carried out for the property
  • details of previous underpinning or relevant building works to the property

Without this information, it is unlikely that the Council will be able to adequately consider any proposed works for an appropriate solution.

Hedgerow regulations

You will need to seek permission to remove all or part of a hedgerow if it is on or runs alongside:

  • Agricultural Land
  • Common Land, including town or village greens
  • Land used for forestry or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
  • A Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest

The Hedgerows Regulations do not apply to any hedgerow marking the boundary of or within the curtilage of a dwelling house.

The best way to apply for permission to remove a hedgerow is to do it online through the Planning Portal. Here you can make your application entirely online by completing an electronic application form and attaching any plans and drawings. These must be in electronic PDF format.

You may still apply for permission by posting us a paper copy of the application form. This can be downloaded from the Planning Portal Paper Forms webpage and printed out.

Useful tree contacts

Arboricultural Officer

Email the Arboricultural Officer

Telephone the Arboricultural Officer: 0300 123 4000 option 7

Public Realm Services

Telephone Public Realm Services: 0300 123 4000 option 7

Suffolk County Council

Visit the Highways Matters website

Suffolk Tree Warden Network

The Suffolk Tree Warden Network was set up in 2017. The group is a self-managed group of volunteers, with links to parish councils across Suffolk.

To become a tree warden, or to find out more, please visit the Suffolk Tree Warden Network website