Tree Preservation Orders – What are they and will they affect my property purchase?
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a local planning authority to protect a tree or group of trees.
If you are buying a property which has a tree located within the boundaries of the property it is in best interests to know if there are any Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) which affect that tree. This is especially important if you are intending to remove the tree from the property or carry out any works to the tree once you have completed your purchase and become the legal owner of the property.
It may be worth speaking with the estate agent or directly with the seller (if possible) to find out if the seller is aware of any TPOs. However, to be absolutely sure, any TPOs which affect trees within the boundaries of the property will be revealed on the Local Search, which is a search carried out as part of the initial searches during a property purchase transaction.
So what if the Local Search does reveal a TPO for the property?
Regulation 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation)(England) Regulations 2012 prevents any person from cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilfully damaging or wilfully destroying any tree to which an order relates except with the written consent of the authority and, where such consent is given subject to conditions, in accordance with those conditions.
If any person cuts down, uproots or wilfully destroys a tree or wilfully damages, tops or lops a tree in such a manner as to be likely to destroy it they shall be guilty of an offence if they have not first obtained consent from the authority.
The authority can refuse to give consent or may give consent with conditions imposed.
There are some exceptions to Regulation 13, for example, if the tree is dead, to prevent a nuisance or if the works are urgent and necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm. Written notice of a period of five working days must be provided to the authority of any proposed works to a dead tree unless there is an urgent risk to safety.
Your conveyancer will be able to advise you further on any TPOs which are revealed in your Local Search and you should be provided with a copy of the Order for safe-keeping and to be passed on to any subsequent owner of the property.