why protect trees during development?

It is widely known that trees offer many benefits to the built environment, including providing visual amenity, beneficial shading, noise abatement, softening or complementing, and adding instant maturity to new developments.

Therefore it should be no surprise that most people choose to live around trees where possible. By virtue of their intrinsic beauty, trees can increase property values and selling prices by between 5% and 18% (CABE Space, 2005 and Morales et al, 1983) More recently, iTree has been used in London to fully quantify the millions of pounds in ecosystem services that trees provide year on year.

On top of all this, trees are an important material consideration in the UK planning system. We help homeowners and developers throughout London and the South East in obtaining planning permission for projects of all sizes.

understanding bs5837


BS5837, or to give it it's full name; British Standard 5837:2012 'Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction - Recommendations' is the current industry guidance document which is used by local planning authorities (LPA) and all those involved in planning, from large scale developers to individual homeowners, when it comes to assessing, protecting and replacing trees in relation to development.

BS5837 tree surveys need not be arduous. Good quality trees retained appropriately can add thousands to the value of a development, so even for purely economic reasons they are worth preserving as the return on investment can be significant. Problems often occur when tree protection occurs as an afterthought, or worse, when good quality trees aren't protected at all. We encourage all of our clients to contact us for advice sooner rather than later, ideally before any plans are drawn up. 

    The guidance within BS5837 outlines the information required to be collected and submitted by the applicant at various stages throughout the planning process. The amount of information the local planning authority can request can vary depending on the scale of the development and the likely impact on existing trees, but it usually involves the production of a series of documents in a logical order:

    Tree Survey (To BS5837)

    Includes a site visit to collect data on all trees, including accurate location, species, dimensions and condition. The output includes a written report with a Tree Constraints Plan (TCP) a plan view showing all surveyed trees including constraints such as Root Protection Areas, especially useful in the early stages of planning.

    Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA)

    The initial proposed layout is overlaid onto our TCP to highlight direct and indirect impacts both to trees and the proposal. Those impacts are then evaluated and we may recommend mitigation measures to improve the long term relationship between trees and development, especially where we believe that such impacts can risk the LPA looking unfavourably on a proposal. It may also include a plan of retained trees and RPAs overlaid onto a proposed layout.

    ARboricultural method statement (ams)

    The AMS considers all parts of the development including any remaining conflicts, access requirements, site storage and working methods and sets out the specification for all proposed operations within or near the Root Protection Area to be undertaken in a way which minimises the risk of adverse impact on retained trees to an acceptable level. Often produced alongside the Tree Protection Plan which is very effective at visually representing the key areas requiring mitigation. 

    tree protection plan (tpp)

    A plan-view document which indicates the precise location of the protection measures for all retained trees. The TPP will incorporate the mitigation set out in the AMS to ensure adequate tree protection is maintained throughout the proposed development. 

    arboricultural site supervision 

    In addition to the above, Down To Earth also supply additional arboricultural input to help clients obtain planning on particularly tricky sites. Site supervision can be fairly wide ranging and usually becomes necessary where there is a conflict between proposal and RPA, and further information is required to accurately assess the likely impact to trees, or potentially the lack of impact. On one particular site we specified, arranged and oversaw trial excavations which knocked metres off an RPA by proving that roots weren't present.

    About Down to Earth Tree Reports and Consultancy

    Down to Earth delivers high quality consultancy advice and detailed reports on all tree related matters to an extensive list of private and commercial clients. We work closely with each to create concise tree reports produced in a very easy to understand professional format. Our combined wealth of tree related experience has been providing cost effective solutions for all aspects of tree care and management for over 40 years. 


    Trees can have an adverse effect upon a building’s stability depending upon the type and size of tree, type of sub-soil and distance from the building. These issues are multi-disciplinary, and by combining the expertise of building surveyors as well as arboriculturists we can properly address the likely causes and implement appropriate remediation measures.

    In addition to problems of subsidence, the close proximity of trees may cause direct damage due to structures due to the incremental growth of roots or stems.

    We recommend Sinclair Jones for professional building and structural advice.

    Tree Protection Plan BS5837 Survey Report London Kent

    "What if I want to ensure my tree is healthy?"

    There are many factors that can cause stress to trees; poor soil, nutrient deficiency, drought, pests and diseases; these can manifest as visible symptoms such as small, sparse leaves or dieback. But what if we were able to detect stress levels long before they became visible, thereby allowing us to intervene sooner and remedy the problem before it gets worse?

    Down To Earth can carry out tree vitality monitoring and stress detection on any number of trees using state-of-the-art Chlorophyll Fluorescence testing equipment. Testing allows us to compare the gathered data to a strong baseline of thousands of trees of the same species and detect very small deficiencies in vitality. Where appropriate, we can recommend and implement treatment methods to improve and maintain good tree health. Repeat testing can also be used to confirm how effectively a treatment is working.


    Areas we cover

    We cover most of the South East including Kent, Surrey, Sussex, London and Essex.