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Quick question re tree pruning ( regarding permissions)

Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 607
I'm hoping some of you will have experience of this.

I am in a conservation area in London , and have a small courtyard at the back which has a border round the edge , which prior occupants saw fit to plant with shrubs and trees ( far too close together for eventual size) . The aspect and surrounding building structures mean these mostly grow spindly and tall towards the light. But they are still trees.

Some are exempt from council notification for any pruning ( because they are below the 75mm diameter threshold) .  However, there are  3 holm oaks which are , variously , 75-125mm diameter at "regulation" height. These are planted no more than 60/70 cm from each other and the canopy of leaves growing into each other causes fungal disease etc, as well as blocking light.

I don't think holm oaks  like hard pruning anyway ( please tell me if i am wrong) , i know from the government website that dead material can be removed without permission, but do I  need to notify council even if what I  ( and/or a qualified gardener - its too piffling a job for a tree surgeon) am doing is basically removing crossing ( but non-dead) small 1 inch type branches or just thinning out twigs to give a better shape?

I know the council will not withhold permission ( no TPO on anything  , not viewable from a public space, and there is no cost involved of doing the notification, and plenty of others have had them done)- while I do not want to break any rules , it seems like a waste of council employee time - especially these days-  to notify what amounts to a light trim rather than a complete change of hairstyle , especially if it needs to be done a twig or two at a time every few months ( which would be my preferred approach, especially for stuff I feel competent doing).

Any thoughts appreciated.
Kindness is always the right choice.


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,674
    Holm oaks can grow absolutely enormous and I would be very wary to letting them grow in a very small space but in the event that you do want to keep them, I would just go ahead and trim them as you want without notifying the council.
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 607
    @Lizzie27 I'm with you -- would not have been my choice to plant at all ( and it took me a long time to realise they were not bays- thanks to this forum-  else would have done something sooner), and at some stage may need to come out , but access for requisite machinery is challenging so "maintenance" probably has to be the way forward for now at least until such time as we decide on more major works to the place.
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,674
    Good luck with the work Desi.
  • cmarkrcmarkr Posts: 123
    It's not really your decision to make whether to notify them, you've got a legal obligation. Try requesting permission to perform regular pruning on an ongoing basis to keep them at their current height and see if you can get blanket permission to do that rather than having to make regular submissions.
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 607
    Thank you @cmarkr - that is a good idea - i will see if some kind of broader / longer standing permission can be granted 
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 15,707
    edited December 2021
    I'm in a conservation area but have never heard of anyone here being careful with pruning, apart from TPOs. I guess it depends what aspects are covered in the covenant. Have you checked that anyone at the council or neighbours give a toss?
  • StephenSouthwestStephenSouthwest Southwest EnglandPosts: 374
    I sometimes find myself with a similar dilemma - garden trees in a conservation area, and not wanting to   waste the council's time.  My current approach is to seek permission if it is going to affect the neighbours, or is a tree with some particular value. So I'd seek permission if reducing height of a tree which neighbours see, or the larch, for example, but not to trim or prune one of the birches.
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 607
    Thank you both for your thoughts @Fire and @StephenSouthwest - neighbours don't care (they do see the trees -- basically the border runs just inside the terrace boundary wall  if anything they would probably be happy to have the pruning to get more light and a better tree shape to look at ) . Perhaps I'll just try to talk to one of the tree people in the council first and ask ahead of any official notification. I think I have enough info now, thank you all
    Kindness is always the right choice.
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