Guard Street Workington Tree management

Tree 'Ownership' - who do I report it to?

Allerdale Borough Council has the responsibility for trees on Allerdale Borough Council land but there are many areas of land that Allerdale does not own or maintain. To help guide you to the right area of assistance, please view the following information:

1. Is the tree growing through a power cable, electricity cable or phone line?

  • If the tree is growing very close to, through or is affecting a power cable or electricity line you should report it to Electricity North West on 0800 195 4141.
  • If the tree is growing through a phone line cable you should contact the provider of the phone line. If the phone line is owned by BT you can contact them online or phone them on 0800 800 151.

2. Is the tree in a parish or rural area? Is it in a town centre?

  • Cumbria County Council owns and maintains many of the rural areas throughout Cumbria, particularly along the stretches of highways and A roads throughout Allerdale. Cumbria County Council also maintains some areas within towns, particularly along most cycle tracks and certain residential areas such as Portland Square and Islay place in Workington. Trees in these areas may be reported to Cumbria County Council's Highways Hotline on 0300 303 2992.
  • Parish Councils maintain some open spaces within their Parishes. For information on the areas they maintain please contact your local Parish Council.
  • Town Councils also own and maintain some areas; for instance the town centre (main shopping area) of Workington is owned and maintained by Workington Town Council. Your local Town Council will be able to provide you with information on the areas they look after.

3. Is the tree on a housing estate?

Trees on most Social Housing Estates are usually owned and maintained by the housing association that manages the estate (who will be detailed in the deeds or lease agreements of the properties on that estate). A list of the housing associations present in Allerdale are available on the housing association page of the Allerdale website.

Trees on privately owned housing estates are usually owned by the developer of that estate (who will be detailed in the deeds of the properties on that estate), who will normally have private-sector maintenance agreements in place.

4. Is the tree in an Allerdale owned park, street, cemetery, woodland or nature reserve?

If a tree is within an Allerdale-owned park, street, cemetery, woodland or nature reserve and is of a health or safety concern, please contact us on 0303 123 1702.

Trees Allerdale Borough Council Maintains

Allerdale Borough Council (ABC) maintains trees on ABC-owned land. Maintaining a tree does not necessarily mean pruning it but it does mean that trees are checked regularly and trees of a risk to public safety may be pruned, pollarded or removed after assessment. Risks are identified when tree surveys are carried out, or when dangerous trees are reported by the public to the council. If you are concerned about the health or safety of a tree on Allerdale land you can report it by phoning 0303 123 1702.

Please note that Cumbria County Council is responsible for trees along many of the roads in the rural areas. To report trees in these areas telephone the Cumbria County Council's Highways Hotline on 0300 303 2992.

Trees may be growing as part of a street scene, park or garden layout or as part of a reserve or woodland area. The type of maintenance carried out will vary depending on the location of the tree. For example:

  • In formal parks and open spaces some trees will be pruned formally, whereas others will be left to their natural form depending on species selection and the landscape design of the area. In these places most material will be removed off-site if tree works occur, although tree stumps may occasionally be left to remain to increase the habitat diversity of the site.
  • Street trees are usually of species that are low maintenance and should not need to be pruned, although canopy uplifts occur where the trees are obstructing passer-bys along pathways or highways. Where a tree is posing a risk to members of the public the tree is assessed and actions are taken based on that assessment. Trees that are pruned, pollarded or removed have usually been deemed to be dead, dying or dangerous by the assessor.
  • Within a reserve or woodland all species will be left to grow to their natural form, with some weak or spindly trees removed on occasion to open up the canopy as part of woodland management. Trees in these areas will not generally be pruned back or topped as it would destroy the natural form of the tree. When trees are felled within a woodland or reserve most of the dead wood is left lying as dead wood creates a habitat for a diverse range of insects and animals such as hedgehogs.

Most trees on Allerdale land are left to grow to their natural form, with low-maintenance trees and shrubs generally being selected for planting schemes in formal areas.

Over-mature, dead and diseased specimens on all Allerdale land are assessed via a tree survey and remedial works (pruning, pollarding or felling) takes place as a result of these surveys. Unless it is an absolute emergency most tree works take place during the autumn-winter months in order to avoid the nesting season and to ensure that the impact on hardwoods is minimalised where pruning or pollarding needs to occur. Tree works are prioritised in order of risk to public safety, with high risk trees being worked on first. Risk is determined by the health of the tree during the tree survey.

General Advice on Trees - what can and can not be done and considerations when buying a house.

If you are a member of the public and have an issue with a tree that is not an immediate danger the following guidance may help:

1. Trees overhanging property boundaries -

If a tree is overhanging the boundary of your property the owner of the tree is under no obligation to prune the tree back unless it is dangerous or destroying property.

If the tree is not in a conservation area, protected by a tree preservation order or protected by a clause in a grant of planning permission you are allowed to cut the tree back to the boundary of the property but not beyond it under Common Law as long as you do not trespass onto the neighbouring property.

Common law rights are intended to allow citizens to carry out the minimum amount of work required on trees overhanging properties but not extensive works. If you carry out extensive works and in so doing you make the tree unsafe, the tree owner may have a case against you for criminal damage. You should be especially careful if you are pruning roots and should obtain qualified arboricultural advice before carrying out any work.

Before carrying out any works it is important that you check the status of the tree with the planning department of the Local Authority and that you observe the following points:-

  • You must not trespass onto the land on which the trees are growing - i.e. you cannot go onto your neighbours' land to carry out the works without their permission.
  • Parts of the tree (whether branches or roots) must not be cut back beyond the boundary for any reason, including anticipation of them overhanging the property in the future.
  • Work on the tree must be carried out in a way that is not detrimental to the tree's health - you must avoid carrying out work that will make the tree unsafe or dangerous and should avoid damaging property.
  • Any parts of the tree that are removed, including fruits, branches and roots, must be returned to the owner of the tree unless they agree that you can dispose of the parts elsewhere.
  • You do not have to advise your neighbour of any works you intend on carrying out but it is polite to do so. If the tree owner agrees to works that are in addition to your common law rights, or if they give you permission to enter their property you should get their consent in writing to protect your own interests.

2. Protected trees -

Trees that are within conservation areas, are subject to a condition of planning consent or are covered by a Tree Preservation Order may still be able to be worked on but permission needs to be granted for any works by the planning section of the Local Authority and works must also have the permission of the owner of the tree.

3. Rights to Light, Views and TV -

There is no legal limit to how high a tree is allowed to grow, and nor is there a legal right to light, a view or TV reception under UK law.

If light, view or television reception is blocked by the growth of a tree the house owner or occupant is not necessarily allowed to cut the tree back or down unless it is within the property boundaries, is not subject to a planning consent condition or a Tree Preservation Order and is not in a Conservation Area.

"Right to Light", "Right to a view" and "Reception Interference" are not commonly accepted as reasons to cut down or reduce the height of a tree, particularly trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders.

4. Problems with leaves, debris and fruits/flowers -

Debris that fall from a tree are not classed as nuisance within legal terms and it is up to the property owner, rather than the owner of the tree to maintain their own paths, gutters and gardens.

5. Buying a new property? Consider the planting schemes around you.

Before buying a property consider if it has trees (no matter how small) around any of the boundaries.

If you buy a property and there is a woodland or a number of trees beyond your boundary fence it is unlikely they will be removed because you have bought the property.

When planning permission is granted for development conditions might be added that requires the submission of and implementation of a landscaping scheme. In such circumstances the trees planted will normally be required to be retained. If work was proposed to trees or other planting is covered by a condition then the written consent of the Authority would first be required. The scheme that is submitted by the developer is usually designed, submitted and implemented by the developer and their contractors.

Species commonly used in developer's planting schemes include Ash, Beech and Sycamores and although they may look small when you buy the property most of these trees will grow 15m+ when they reach full maturity, sometimes growing as wide as they grow tall. Trees within these groups growing within 5m of the boundary fence will often overhang the property boundary so it is important for you to decide if you can live with the future size of the tree if you were to buy the property. Considering whether you are happy to have tree branches overhanging your property or if you are happy to maintain them as per common law is an important decision to make.

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Contact us

0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ