Protecting a TPO tree in South Oxfordshire

About This Project


A private house in South Oxfordshire


Tree Frontiers were approached by a client living in a private residential property in a village in South Oxfordshire.  Works to repair the access to the property were considered to be harmful to an offsite protected tree and the local planning authority served a stop notice on all works until an assessment of the condition of the tree had been carried out.  We surveyed the tree and provided a detailed methodology for the reinstatement of the drive using systems to minimise future harm to the tree.  The works proposal was approved by the LPA and the drive reinstated, providing reassurance to the landowner that there would be no further damage to the property and the tree owner that the tree would not be harmed.

The client’s story:

Our client owns a private residential property in a village in South Oxfordshire. The access to the property from the public highway is controlled by an electric gate, the motor housing of which was being flooded after heavy rains and causing the mechanism to fail.  The intention was to excavate the drive to install drainage channels to keep the water out of the motor housing and then reinstate the access.

Electric gate motor housing

The challenge of ensuring a protected tree is not harmed:

A contractor was appointed to install the new drainage system and reinstate the drive with continued use of the electric gate.  A mature tree was growing just over the boundary of the neighbouring property within less than 3m from the edge of the drive access.  When works commenced, the neighbour raised concerns over damage to the tree rooting environment and highlighted that the tree was subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).  The local authority was contacted, and a stop notice was served on the works until an assessment of the potential damage to the tree and its condition was completed and an appropriate works methodology was prepared to ensure the tree was not harmed as a result of the works.

Excavations undertaken prior to Tree Frontiers’ assessment

Why the client chose Tree Frontiers:

Our client contacted the local planning authority for guidance on who could assist with the project, and was advised to look on the Arboricultural Association Directory of Registered Consultants for local practitioners who would be able to help.   Following an introductory call and submission of a written proposal we were appointed on the basis of the confidence the client had in our ability to achieve the project objectives.

How Tree Frontiers responded:

Following instruction we carried out a condition and hazard assessment of the tree, taking into account the works that had been undertaken on site.  The surface of the drive had been removed and excavated to a depth of approximately 250mm, exposing structural roots, although none had been severed.  Our opinion was that the structural integrity of the tree had not been compromised and that although a small extent of the rooting area had been removed, the use of the location as the only access to the property meant that the ground was likely to be relatively inhospitable to tree roots.  We presented our findings and opinions to our client, the neighbouring land owner and the local planning authority, all of whom accepted our recommendations for completion of the project.

Excavations showing exposed roots

Our proposal was for the installation of a three dimensional cellular confinement system under the access.  This would be an infill to the excavated area but would ensure that the ground below the system would be shielded from future harmful activities such as soil compaction or contamination.  It would also have the benefit of acting as a drainage system to limit the potential of further flooding of the electric gate motor house.

Three dimensional cellular confinement system

Placing the underlay

The results:

The local planning authority accepted that the proposed methodology for the reinstated access would provide the necessary protection to a tree subject to a Tree Preservation Order.  A detailed methodology was prepared for the works contractor to follow. The local planning authority confirmed that it was satisfied that the tree could be safely retained and the new drive was reinstated with no further harm to the tree or rooting environment.

The proximity of the tree to the drive should have been a trigger to the contractor appointed to complete the works that there was potential for tree roots to be damaged.  Landowners should be aware that any excavation close to trees can cause harm and in circumstances where the tree is subject to protection, an offence may be committed if suitable measures are not put in place to protect the tree.

If you are planning any works near to trees, check whether the site is in a conservation area or is subject to a TPO and if unsure, please contact us for further assistance and guidance at


Trees and the Law