tress in newcastle

Newcastle's trees and woodlands are an important feature of our landscape and townscape, making our city greener and healthier. To ensure that our trees remain for all to enjoy, the Local Planning Authority - in this case Newcastle City Council Planning - have statutory powers to protect trees which are of high amenity value. We do this in three ways:

  • Tree Preservation Orders
  • Conservation Areas
  • Planning Conditions

This page gives advice on protected trees. For the following other tree issues please contact Envirocall.

  • trees on Council land including verges, green spaces and parks;
  • trees in council house gardens;
  • street trees.

If your query is about high hedges, they are covered by the Anti Social Behaviour Act, 2003. Regulatory Services deals with such issues, Email roy.harris@newcastle.gov.uk or telephone Regulatory Services 0191 211 6102. 

What is a Tree Preservation Order?

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO's) can be placed on single trees, groups of trees and even whole woodlands. If a TPO is in force you must apply for consent from us before carrying out any work to the trees covered. Unauthorised work to a protected tree is a criminal offence.

What type of trees can be covered by a TPO

Anything that would normally be called a "tree" may be covered by a TPO. There is no minimum size, but bushes or shrubs of any size can not be protected. TPO's protect trees that make their local surroundings more attractive. Protected trees should normally be visible from a public place, but in some cases other trees may be protected.

Trees in a Conservation Area 

All trees with a trunk diameter of 75mm (approximately 3 inches) or more are protected in a Conservation Area.  You must give six weeks notice before carrying out work to trees in a Conservation Area that are not protected by a TPO. If there is no objection to the work being carried out, then we will let you know, but if we have concerns that the work may be damaging or that the tree should be retained, we will consider giving the tree full protection by issuing a TPO. Unauthorised work to a tree in a Conservation Area is a criminal offence.

How do I find out if a tree has a TPO or is in a Conservation Area? 

Contact the Council's Landscape and Ecology Section giving the address, postcode, location and type of tree. They will be able to tell you if the tree is protected. When you are buying a property the presence of a TPO should be shown by the search of the local land charges register. To check if your property is within a Conservation Area click here.

Permitted Development

Sometimes Planning Permission is not needed for a development, this is called Permitted Development. If a protected tree is near to this development you must also think about whether it will be affected by the work. If the answer is yes then you must make an application for this work: this includes any digging near to the roots. Tree roots stretch out at least as far as the tree's canopy and need to be taken into account.

How do I get permission to work on a protected tree?

If you wish to carry out works to a protected tree you must apply for permission in writing – verbal consent for work is not given.  Application forms are available from the Customer Service Centre in the Civic Centre or on our planning portal. Alternatively they are available to download here.

You must include a plan showing exactly which trees you wish to work on - this need not be to scale. You must also show exactly what sort of work you wish to carry out to each tree and the reasons why you wish to carry out the work: if possible, take a photograph of the tree and mark on the pruning to be carried out so it is clear what work is applied for.  Certain types of work also need supporting information. For example, if you give the reason for work as being safety or damage to property you will need to provide evidence of these problems. More information about supporting information can be found in our guidance notes.

We will write to confirm that we have received your application and will then consider it and let you know the decision within eight weeks (6 weeks for a Conservation Area tree); a site visit is always made.

Before you apply 

It is best if you discuss your needs with an arborist (tree surgeon) before contacting us. For a TPO tree a member of the Landscape and Ecology Team will be happy to discuss your proposals informally before you complete the form. Early discussion gives us the chance to:

  • explore whether an application is needed;
  • advise on how best to present your proposals; and
  • guide you through the application process and our tree protection policies.

The advice and guidance given to you during these discussions is given in good faith, but no officer can give you a definite answer as to whether your proposed works will be allowed until the application is submitted and considered.  We do not give verbal consent for works.

We cannot recommend a particular tree surgeon, but we can provide some general advice on choosing one. The Arboricultural Association also provides advice.

Exemptions from the need to make an application to prune a tree in a Conservation Area or with a Tree Preservation Order

Dead trees and branches

Unless work is necessary because there is an immediate risk of serious harm, five working days written notice must be given before cutting down or carrying out other work on a dead tree. You can remove dead branches from a living tree without notice or consent. Where a dead tree is removed, the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement and the species, position and time of planting will need to be agreed.
Where a tree presents an immediate risk of serious harm and work is urgently needed to remove the risk, tree owners or their agents must give written notice to the authority as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary. Work should only be carried out to make the tree safe to abate the risk. If the danger is not immediate, an application is required.

Work to clear the highway of branches

An application is usually required to prune branches off the highway unless they are at immediate risk of causing actual damage and in this case, only the ‘minimum of work’ to abate or remove the risk is allowed.

Work on fruit trees

Unless you are growing fruit trees as part of running a business or trade, an application is required for their pruning.

Planning Permission

When planning permission has been granted for a development we may add conditions to the consent which protect the trees before, during and after work takes place. You should check with the planning officer dealing with your application if this is needed.

For work to TPO trees and those in a Conservation Area, if you wish to carry out the same pruning work each year then please make this clear on your application. It may be possible to give permission, for a fixed time, for you to do this without the need for repeat applications/notifications.

How to apply to get a tree protected

Generally we issue TPOs where there is evidence that trees are under threat of damage or removal and where they are visible to the public adding to the attractiveness of the area. Anyone who wants a TPO to be considered should contact the Landscape and Ecology Team.

Unauthorised work

Unauthorised work to a protected tree is a criminal offence. If you deliberately destroy a protected tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be liable to an unlimited fine. You could also be fined if you cause or permit such work. Other offences can lead to fines of up to £2,500.  The Local Planning Authority can prosecute when work is carried out on a preserved tree without their consent or without the required notice on a tree in a conservation area or when exemptions are misused. If you wish to report unauthorised work please contact the Landscape and Ecology Section.

Trees and Utilities : Guidance On Working Practices

Trees are important. They provide many benefits - to our health and our environment having social and economic value. The residents of Newcastle and the City Council continue to invest time and money into the planting and care of their stock of trees and people appreciate the contribution trees make to our neighbourhoods.

This guide is designed to help us work with utility companies and contractors carrying out work around trees to ensure that trees are taken into account and not affected by works. It aims to provide good working practices to assist utility companies in planning their activities around trees.

Trees & Utilities : Guidance On Working Practices (pdf, 2.5mb)

Contact us:

Phone: 0191 277 8950

Email: edwina.symmons@newcastle.gov.uk

Landscape and Ecology Team,
Housing, Planning and Transport,
Civic Centre,
Barras Bridge,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 8PH.

If you would like to report any issues with a Council tree, including those on YHN properties, telephone 0191 278 7878 and ask for Envirocall.

Further information

If you would like further information on protected trees please see the government's guidance - Protected trees - A guide to tree preservation procedures (2012)

Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in a Conservation Area

Page last updated: 
19 October 2017
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