Tree maintenance, removal and planting policy

This Tree Management Strategy sets out 25 policies that will inform decision making and the tree management approach in the London Borough of Bromley between 2023 to 2027.

Policy 1

Tree removal

Trees will only be removed where there is a risk to public safety, damage to property or removal is in line with good arboricultural practice.

Policy description

Publicly owned trees are a valuable resource, therefore there will be a presumption against the removal of trees wherever possible. However, there are some circumstances where it will be necessary to remove trees, and these are:

  • Where in the professional opinion of the council’s tree team, it is necessary to secure public safety

  • To mitigate building subsidence

  • To abate an actionable nuisance

  • To reduce the risk of the spread of pests and/or disease

  • Where the highway and/or footway condition makes retention unsustainable

  • Where removal is in accordance with good arboricultural practice.


To comply with duties under section 115 of the Environment Act 2021, the council will take steps to consult on any proposed tree removal that is not covered by an exemption under the act. In most cases this will be by placing a notice on the tree at least 10 working days in advance of the felling date.

There are two types of notice:

  • A notice stating removal on the grounds of public safety

  • A notice stating removal in order to abate an actionable nuisance

Where more than one tree is to be removed in one location for any reason, in addition to affixing the notice, officers will notify the relevant ward councillors, residents association or stakeholder/partnership groups by email.

Strategic objective delivery

SO1, SO2

Policy 2

Criteria for tree pruning

The council will apply criteria to determine when trees will be pruned, with pruning action taken only where:

  • There is a risk to public safety

  • It is necessary to abate an actionable nuisance

  • It is necessary to mitigate the risk of building subsidence

  • It is in accordance with good arboricultural practice.

Policy description

To ensure delivery of an impartial and judicious service that allocates resources fairly, the council will only prune trees in accordance with this policy.

Where trees are pruned for public safety, this is to ensure statutory clearance over the highway, footway, cycle lanes and public rights of way.

Where a tree is pruned to abate an actionable nuisance, this is where trees come into conflict with buildings.

Trees may be pruned to mitigate the risk of public subsidence; this is where risk trees have been identified on shrinkable clay soil and been included in the council’s insurance mitigation pruning programme.


The council has a cyclical programme of tree inspections through which remedial works are identified; remedial works may also be identified as part of the 24-hour emergency response service, or in response to reports received from residents.

Strategic objective delivery


Policy 3

Managing expectations

The council will manage expectations about where tree removal or pruning will not be undertaken by identifying examples that fall beyond the reach of Policies 1 and 2 and therefore beyond the responsibility of the council.

Policy description

The council will not remove or prune trees where requests are based on the following issues:

  • Branches overhanging properties. Residents have the right to exercise their right under common law to prune back branches to their property boundary, withal arising disposed of by the resident. Pruning should be carried out following discussion with one of the council’s tree officers and completed to the standard set out in BS3998:2010 Tree Work.

  • Tree size, where a tree is judged to be overly large.

  • Interference with satellite, TV or other media reception. There is no legal right to television reception and there are no legal obligations on landowners to remove or prune trees to improve reception. When positioning a new satellite receiver, it is recommended residents carefully consider existing trees and their potential for growth the avoid issues in the future.

  • Branches or limbs in physical contact with telephone wires. Telephone wires are plastic coated and faults in the line are rarely caused by contact with branches. Residents are encouraged to contact their service provider to report and resolve any faults or interference experienced with their telephone line.

  • Excessive leaf or fruit fall. Seasonal leaf and/or fruit fall should be expected and is not a reason to require pruning or removal of trees. The council will not clear leaves or fruit from private properties but does manage leaf/fruit fall on council owned footways and highways.

  • Problems associated with pollen.

  • Excreta caused by insects or birds. Honeydew (aphid excreta) and bird droppings are not recognised in law as a ‘legal nuisance’ and therefore does not justify removal or pruning of a tree. Hazards on the footway can be addressed by reporting these through Fix My Street. Residents can manage this problem through regular car washing, covering their cars or parking in alternative locations.

  • Obstruction of view. There are no rights associated with maintaining trees in accordance with maintaining views in British law.

  • Lack of light: there is no right to light or shade in British law.


The council will respond to requests for tree removal or pruning where there do not meet the requirements set out under polices 1 and 2 and explain the reasons why no action will be taken.

Strategic objective delivery

SO1, SO2

Policy 4

Tree planting

For every tree removed, the council will plant at least one new tree.

Policy description

Where under policy 1, it is necessary to removal a tree, the council will ensure a replacement tree is planted. The tree will be planted in the same location if it remains viable in accordance with good arboricultural practice. In the event that the location is no longer viable, an alternative location shall be selected.


When the decision to remove a tree is made, a request on the council’s asset management database will be made for a replacement tree of a species suitable for the identified planting location. Subject to the availability of resources, the replacement trees will be planted within the following two planting seasons.

Subject to resources, the council will encourage suitable tree planting initiatives that increase the council owned tree stock.

The council will provide advice and information to support projects that seek to increase tree cover in the borough on both public and privately owned sites.

The council will continue to manage the adopt a tree and Memorial Tree initiatives which are funded privately, on a cost neutral basis.

In selecting trees for planting, the council will ensure that due consideration is given to the relationship between the species and location (right tree, right place).

The objective of tree planting is to ensure that it is appropriate, sustainable, considered and permits the long-term survival of those trees planted so that they fulfil their growth potential and make the maximum contribution possible without causing many of the problems traditionally associated with planting trees in urban areas.

Strategic objective delivery

SO1, SO2, SO3

Policy 5

Managing trees and subsidence

The council will manage its tree stock to minimise the risk of tree-related subsidence, with due regard to the health and sustainability of the trees. Location and species for new tree planting will be selected to minimise the risk of future tree-related subsidence.

Policy description

The council will manage and process subsidence related claims in accordance with the principles of the London Tree Officers Association’s Risk Limitation Strategy and the Joint Mitigation Protocol.


The council will retain trees on shrinkable clay subsoil, where sustainable, in order to maintain the value of the amenity.

The council will continue to manage a programme of pruning as a mitigation measure against subsidence damage, with all regrowth on all risk trees* removed on either a biennial or triennial basis to manage water demand, with frequency dependent on the level of risk.

The Arboriculture Manager or their delegate will oversee subsidence generated claims directed at council owned trees.

If necessary, the council will selectively remove risk street trees, with replacement where appropriate.

The planning tree team will deal with subsidence generated conservation area notifications and Tree Preservation Order applications.

The council will challenge unwanted claims based on poorly investigated and inaccurate evidence, or where in the case of preserved trees where the Town and County Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999 can provide relief from the claim.

Strategic objective delivery

SO1, SO2, SO3, SO4

* Risk trees are those in areas pre-disposed to building movement.

Policy 6

Damage to council trees: Prosecution and compensation

The council reserves the right to prosecute and seek the maximum penalty for anyone found to be:

  • damaging or pruning its trees without permission

  • disposing of tree waste illegally

Policy description



The council will use the CAVAT system to value its trees and will use this information to assist in the management of its tree stock. Any individual or organisation that undertakes actions to damage or remove council owned or protected tree(s) will be pursued for compensation for the full amenity value of the tree as calculated by CAVAT.

Strategic objective delivery