Don’t be cowed by the planners

Author: David Archer
Don’t be cowed by the planners


Planners can be heavy handed when it comes to protecting trees – a laudable enough aim but sometimes carried out with little regard for reality.

A recent case is an excellent example of how our planning expertise not only spared our clients prosecution, but left them with an even more attractive garden than they had hoped.

The problem

The problem arose when our clients began a new driveway without planning permission (they did not realise their paperwork was incomplete). They built the drive over part of their property designated as Ancient Woodland, and on land also covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Soon after, council officials served a new Woodland TPO covering the whole of the rest of their garden – something that could even have prevented them from mowing their lawn without permission!

The solution

We researched the situation thoroughly. Without giving too many details here of a complex case, here is a flavour of what we were able to achieve:

  • We proved the woodland was not “ancient” at all – it had not been continuously wooded since 1600 as the definition requires, as the site had been felled during the enlargement of Virginia Water during 1788-90.
  • Two Scots pines the council wanted to protect actually had extensive internal decay, proved by our decay detection tests.
  • We proved our clients could not be prosecuted for breach of a TPO because they had not cut down any trees illegally – they did have the correct permission for those that had been removed.
  • The woodland management plan and landscaping scheme we devised brought in better quality trees and more attractive planting, with greater age diversity of species boding well for long-term management.
  • And they are free to mow their lawn whenever they wish.

The result

Our clients were delighted at the way we resolved what had been a daunting and alarming challenge for them, and they are revelling in the new planting, which shows off the property and the driveway to best effect.

This happy result was due to the exceptional expertise of DAA senior consultant Mark Mackworth-Praed and the lengths we go to prepare for a case. 

Our clients’ verdict: "At all times we felt we were in safe hands and given clear and concise advice and updates throughout. Mark’s in depth knowledge of ancient woodland issues and planning case law enabled us to have a successful outcome to our case.”

Do you have a tree planning problem? Please call us today for advice.