BS5837: 2012 Tree Reports
BS5837 reports are required by local authorities for planning applications to develop sites containing trees. A BS5837:2012 report identifies trees within a site, assesses their health and contribution to the site and provides details on how to protect trees during construction work and into the future.
The British Standard 5837 has been updated in 2012. Make sure your report is written to this new standard or it may be rejected. All Cedarwood Tree Care BS5837:2012 tree reports are written to this new standard.
BS5837:2012 – What is Required?
Local Authorities often request a tree report to BS5837 when a development is being proposed and trees may be involved. Trees are a ‘material’ consideration in the planning process-their needs have to be considered.
The BS aspect is that there is a British Standard covering what should be included in the document. Having a British Standard means that there is national acceptance regarding what should be included in a report.
Professional Tree Assessment
The report begins by assessing the trees for their condition and vigour. These are different: a tree can have cavities and be unsafe, yet still be in good vigour. Cedarwood Tree Care arborists assess how long a tree is expected to contribute to the site -under ten years, ten to twenty years, twenty to forty and more than forty years. For example, a mature Cherry tree which has a typical lifespan of 50-60 years may only have 15-20 years remaining, whereas a mature oak could have several centuries ahead.
It also looks at how each tree contributes to the site and the local setting. Some may be valuable specimens as individuals or within groups, others contribute to the landscape, perhaps by providing a focal point, or screening. Some may be valuable for another reason, such as ecology (providing bat habitats), or because of who planted them. Some trees can fit into more than one category.
The tree assessment provides information that shows which trees are important to the site, and should be retained. We also calculate how much space each tree needs, future growth potential and any pruning works necessary. We can then establish what parts of the site can be developed without affecting the trees, and any design amendments that may be needed. It may be that there are no important trees present, or by retaining a group of trees, valuable screening is maintained. The important factor is that by providing the survey and report as early as possible, the design of the site can reflect any constraints, rather than costly amendments being required later in the process.
Once we know what is worth keeping, we can begin to mitigate for tree removals, where required. We can also ensure that what is being proposed is proportionate. Sometimes, a tree considered valuable to the site has structural or other weaknesses and would be better being replaced.
The report needs to include provision for how existing trees of value will be protected during construction works with the inclusion of an Arboricultural Implication Assessment (AIA). This includes a specification for protective fences, root protection areas, minimum dig access and soil compaction.
The British Standard was updated in May 2012. BS5837:2005 has been replaced. There are some fundamental changes between the two documents. Whilst we are still receiving requests from clients, and local authorities, for reports to the old standard, we are working to the new standard. Reports to the old standard are no longer valid.
Why is one of these reports important? It informs the process and clears the mist. It is a bit like having a house with some valuable furniture amongst the cheaper items and asking an experienced valuer to advise on what to keep.
BS5837:2012 Case Study
When Mr. Collins acquired a redundant hospital site, planning to regenerate it, he hadn’t even heard of a BS5837 report and the issue of trees wasn’t a factor being considered. However, not only is the site within a Conservation Area, but some of the trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, and could not be removed without the permission of the local authority. Whilst many of the trees are of little amenity value, some are valuable and the regeneration needs to be designed to accommodate their retention. In addition, conservation issues such as bats, and landscape heritage, need to be factored in to the proposal.
We arranged for the trees to be surveyed, so that the architects could provide informed plans, and guided Mr. Collins as he negotiated with the local authority seeking approval for his prestigious plans. This has included aspects of design to ensure a quality environment for future residents. And we produced a detailed BS5837 report to accompany the planning application.