Trees can uproot your plans
Strict limitations on building near trees, and on removing trees, can easily stitch up your renovation or rebuild dreams.
In the ACT there are two potential types of trees that you need to be aware of on your block:
1. Registered trees are trees identified for their cultural, heritage, aesthetic, or scientific value. They aren’t very common, but you can check if there are any near you at this list .
2. Regulated trees are much more common. A regulated tree is determined by size, and only needs to meet one of the following criteria: 12 metres or more tall; total trunk circumference greater than 1.5 metres at 1 metre above ground level; 12 metres or more in crown width.
If you wish to remove a regulated tree, or do any groundworks within the ‘Tree Protection Zone’, you’ll have to seek approval, and provide a ‘Tree Management Plan’ for construction works. The ‘Tree Protection Zone’ is defined as an area 4 metres from the trunk, or 2 metres outside the canopy of the tree.
To get approval, fill out a Tree Damaging Activity form . You can note on the form that you wish to meet someone at the block to discuss options. It’s worth remembering that the team at the Tree Protection Unit are employed to protect trees where possible, and you will need to meet one of the criteria from the ‘Tree Protection Act’ to be granted approval. These criteria include poor tree health, risk to human safety or damage to property, if the tree is an inappropriate tree species or limiting growth of other trees, and if the tree is obstructing solar access.
If you think your situation isn’t straight forward, you may like to hire an arborist for an independent opinion. They can also advise you on ways to construct within the Tree Protection Zone that meet the Tree Protection Act and won’t damage the tree. They can even prepare a Tree Management Plan for you to seek approval. We often work with the team from Canopy Tree Experts . In extreme situations, it may be possible to override the decision of the Tree Protection Unit by seeking a full Development Application for your project. We were able to do this for one of our projects where there was really no other option for extending the very small house, other than to remove a very large central tree. This process is costly and timely so should only be a last resort.
Finally, what about trees on your verge? Yes, they are also protected. If you are doing works on your block, that are within the tree protection zone of a verge tree, you will still need to seek approval. Or, the same goes if you are changing or moving your driveway. Unfortunately, the approval process is not the same, so for these trees you’ll need to complete this alternate form . When it comes to verge trees, if they are the ‘official designated verge species’ for your suburb, and in good health, the government will be very keen to protect them.
Hopefully this quick introduction is helpful if you are looking at purchasing a new property, renovating or rebuilding. Do remember that all is not lost if you think you have a difficult tree or two – some of our most delightful projects have been born from constraints around particular trees.
Further information on trees either on your block, or on the verge, can be found here .