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."