Requesting a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

Anyone can apply for a TPO on any tree or group of trees. You don't have to own the land where the tree grows.

Several residents have expressed concern about the growing loss of trees in Harston due to housing developments. Trees are important for maintaining the rural look and feel of our village. They encourage biodiversity and help to counter the harmful effects of pollution - much needed with the A10 as our high street. A large and mature treeline forming the boundary between the paddock of 1 High Street and the Three Horseshoes (RIP) will soon be lost, as South Cambs planners waved through plans to build two four-bedroom houses in its garden, including the removal of these trees - cynically described as of 'low quality' by the developer. They are healthy, attractive trees which we feel form part of the protected 'Countryside Frontage' in this part of the village. Unfortunately, wider considerations such as this seem absent from both the District and Parish Council's planning decisions. 

Obtaining a TPO

The good news is that anyone can request a TPO for trees in Harston by emailing South Cambridgeshire District Council at trees.andlandscapes@scambs.gov.uk. They will then determine whether the tree(s) requested have the attributes for a TPO as they have to be in a good physical condition and have public amenity value. You will have to describe what public amenity value they give, or will be lost if they are removed, and locate the trees on a map. Examples of amenity value are given below:

Amenity Value

TPOs should be used to protect selected trees and woodlands if their removal would have a significant impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public. Suggested amenity value assessment criteria for TPOs:

  1. Visibility: trees need to be seen clearly from a public place, such as a road or footpath for the impact on the local environment to be assessed as significant.
  2. Individual impact: the mere fact that a tree is publicly visible will not itself be sufficient to warrant a TPO. You should also assess the tree's particular importance now or in the future by reference to its size and form, special factors such as its rarity or scarcity, its intrinsic beauty, historic value or interest within a local area or contribution to the landscape or to the character or appearance of a conservation area or as a screen eg to an eyesore or future development. In relation to a group of trees or woodland, an assessment should be made of its collective impact; Other factors, such as importance as a wildlife habitat, may be taken into account but alone would not be sufficient to warrant a TPO.
  3. Wider impact: the significance of the trees in their local surroundings should also be assessed, taking into account how suitable they are to their particular setting (including in a built up area), as well as the presence of other trees in the vicinity.

After giving amenity value reasons for individual or groups of trees, they need to be clearly identified on a map - ideally on a 1:1250 OS map and relative to features such as boundaries and giving numbers and species of each or group of trees. Trees may be specified:

  1. Individually (each tree - T1, T2 etc - circled in black on the map)
  2. By reference to an area (boundary of each area - A1, A2 etc - indicated on the map by a dotted black line)
  3. In groups (each group - G1, G2 etc - shown within a broken black line) - used for trees whose overall impact and quality as a group merit protection.
  4. As woodlands (the boundary of each woodland - W1, W2 - etc indicated by a continuous black line).

Any combination of these four categories may be used in a single TPO.

For scattered trees over an area, an area TPO can be made (e.g. 'the trees of whatever species within the area marked A1 on the map' - generally only used as temporary measure in emergencies.

Hedgerow protection

A TPO may be made to protect trees in hedges or an old hedge which has become a line of trees of a reasonable height and is not subject to hedgerow management.

The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 protects hedgerows in the countryside on agricultural land. If the hedge, or part of it that people want to remove is over 30 years old and more than 20 metres in length, it is defined as a ‘protected hedgerow’ and S Cambs must be contacted (email above) before any action can be taken.

If a hedge forms a boundary to a residential property then people do not need S Cambs permission to remove a hedge - unless it is protected by a planning condition or a legal covenant on the house deeds.

A recent example can be found below:

We would like to apply for a Tree Preservation Order for a large, mature sycamore tree at 2 High St, Harston. We believe this tree to be of significant value to the area, both environmentally and aesthetically.

It is an important part of the streetscape, being visible above the Pemberton Arms pub as one enters Harston from Royston Road; and especially from Station Road, where it is the only tree of its size or type when looking north up the village.

From an environmental perspective, the Sycamore is attractive to aphids and therefore a variety of their predators, such as ladybirds, hoverflies and birds. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of a number of moths, including the sycamore moth, plumed prominent and maple prominent. The flowers provide a good source of pollen and nectar to bees and other insects, and the seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Mature trees such as this are tolerant of pollution - ideal for this spot on the busy A10 - and, like all trees, soak up carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

A neighbouring tree of a similar size and age on the same plot was recently felled, changing the streetscape significantly for the worse. To lose this tree would irrevocably damage the character of this part of the village, not to mention the loss of wildlife habitat.