Trees and hedges

Check if a tree is protected and find out how to apply for any works to trees or hedges.

Trees are protected if they’re within a Conservation Area or have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by a local planning authority in England to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. An Order prohibits the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage/destruction of trees without the local planning authority’s written consent. It is a criminal offence to carry out works to protected trees without this consent.

Trees in a Conservation Area that are not protected by an Order are protected by provisions that require people to notify the local planning authority 6 weeks before carrying out certain work on such trees, unless an exception applies: In conservation areas, notice is required for works to trees that have a trunk diameter of more than 75mm when measured at 1.5m from ground level (or more than 100mm if reducing the number of trees to benefit the growth of other trees). The work may go ahead before the end of the 6 week period if the local planning authority gives consent. This gives the authority an opportunity to consider whether an order should be made to protect the trees.

The .Gov.uk website explains the legislation governing Tree Preservation Orders and tree protection in conservation areas.

Other forms of protection: The tree(s) may not have a TPO or be in a Conservation Area however there are sometimes conditions attached to a planning application that restrict works to trees on site. It is your responsibility to check previous decision notices for these conditions prior to starting work. You can look up previous planning applications for a site on our Public Access system which includes an address search or map search. The decision notice will state the conditions. 

Unless you’re sure that a tree or hedgerow is not protected, then you should not start work on it. We can check this and let you know before you start.

We currently don't have a map showing Tree Preservation Orders online. However if you email a rough location plan to planning@northumberland.gov.uk and provide the address or location of the tree we can check for you. Please include a contact email address or telephone number and try to specify the species and the Planning Service will check and inform you whether the tree itself is protected or it is protected because it is within a Conservation Area. We aim to respond within 10 working days.

You can check yourself to see if the tree is within a Conservation Area on our online map.

Whilst we can check the Conservation and TPO layers we hold there are sometimes conditions attached to a planning application that restrict works to trees on site. It is your responsibility to check previous decision notices for these conditions prior to starting work. You can look up previous planning applications for a site on our Public Access system which includes an address search or map search. The decision notice will state the conditions.

If your tree or trees are protected you will need to obtain permission before starting work. Please ensure there are no nesting birds before carrying out works as the nesting birds themselves are protected even if the tree is not.
An application for consent is required for works to trees that are protected by a TPO or because they are in a Conservation Area.

Submit a 5 Day Notice - dead/dangerous trees

Where a tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or in a conservation area and works are required because the tree is considered to be dead or imminently dangerous, a formal tree works application is not required. However, at least five working days written notice must be given prior to the works taking place. No fee is required.

Required information:

  • Details of the location of the trees
  • An explanation as to why the trees are imminently dangerous, or information to show that they are dead.
  • Photographic evidence is also useful in assisting with these types of notices.  ​

Email your request for a 5-Day Notice to planning@northumberland.gov.uk.

On receipt of a notice, an officer will undertake an assessment. Confirmation will be made in writing to the applicant to confirm whether the works can be carried out under this process.

If the tree is not dead or imminently dangerous you will need to put a formal application for tree works as described below.

Submit an Application for Tree Works 

If you wish to carry out works to a tree that is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or within a Conservation Area you will need to apply for consent. No fee is required.

Required information:
  • A completed Tree Works Application Form. You will need to state what works you want to do to the tree (e.g. Fell T1 - Oak). For how to word this correctly see part 7 of the guidance note below. Please provide a contact email address on your form.
  • A sketch plan showing the location of the tree(s) marking on the number(s) e.g. T1, T2 
  • Any reports required if you have to complete question 8 part 1 or 2 (this is required if the trees have a TPO but are not required if they are simply within a conservation area) 
  • Photographs are helpful (for the purpose of identification/proposal)
Read the Tree Works Guidance Note before completing the application form.

We advise you to make your Tree Works Application online using the Planning Portal website.

Alternatively you can view a printable PDF copy of the Tree Works Application Form. Complete, scan and email your Tree Works application to us at planning@northumberland.gov.uk. 

You will receive an acknowledgement letter once your application is made valid. An application is only made valid if we receive all the information required so please check this before submitting. For trees covered by a TPO the application can take up to 8 weeks for a decision, for trees in a conservation area it’s 6 weeks (from the valid date).
You can ask us to protected a certain tree or group of trees.

Please send your request to planning@northumberland.gov.uk with:
  • a clear description of the location of the trees
  • the species of tree(s)
  • reason(s) for requesting their protection.
The Gov.uk website explains the process involved in making Tree Preservation Orders.
Planting a hedge can be an ideal garden boundary but the wrong hedge may cause problems if it is not regularly maintained.

High Hedges are dealt with under Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. The Government have published guidance on how to settle your hedge differences without involving the local authority.

Read Over the Garden Hedge on the Gov.uk website before you complain to the Council.

Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving your hedge dispute, you are now able to make a formal complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to your local authority. 

Read High Hedges Complaining to the Council on the Gov.uk website before you contact us.

If you are unable to resolve a high hedge issue please: