Jeremy Barrell warns over 'unworkable' tree retention revision

New guidance on consideration that should be given to trees by developers could significantly reduce the ability of investors to realise the full potential of sites, according to a planning-orientated tree consultancy.

Barrell Tree Consultancy claimed that the revised BS5837: Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction, published by the British Standards Institution, means that developers will now have to consider the impact of projects on "poor-quality trees", which used to be considered expendable if they significantly constrained development.

Managing director Jeremy Barrell highlighted that the old standard had a clear presumption that category C trees "will usually not be retained". This limited the extent to which local planning authorities could use the existence of poor-quality trees to thwart development, the consultancy argued.

The revised guidance abandons that stance by stating that "relevant constraints should be plotted around each of the category A, B and C trees", without stipulating that category C trees should not be a material constraint, said Barrell.

"This could have a dramatic impact on the capacity for investors to realise the full potential of development sites," he added.

Local planning authorities could now insist that virtually every tree on a development site is considered as a material constraint, Barrell argued. "This is simply unworkable - it will sterilise efficient development on the bulk of sites with trees."

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