Lewisham Council Homepage Skip navigation

Doing work to trees on private property

​If you plan to do work on a tree on private land, check to see if you need our permission.

If you plan to do work on a tree on private land, check to see if you need our permission.

Tree preservation orders

  • If a tree is subject to a tree preservation order, you must get permission before doing any work that might affect the tree.

  • To check if a tree is protected, email planningtrees@lewisham.gov.uk.

  • If you apply for permission, we will let you know our decision within eight weeks. 

Trees in conservation areas

To check if a tree is in a conservation area:

If the tree is in a conservation area, you may need to apply for permission to work on it.

Which trees need a planning application?

If you are in a conservation area you need to apply at least six weeks in advance if you want to work on trees where one of the following applies:

  • Standalone trees: the diameter (measured from 1.5 metres above the ground) is more than 7.5 centimetres

  • A tree in a group: the diameter (measured from 1.5 metres above the ground) is more than 10 centimetres.

During the six-week period we:

  • can protect trees of value and may make a tree preservation order

  • may issue a letter of no objection

  • may allow the notification period to lapse – after this you can carry out the works you gave notice for, but no more.

We aim to give our decision within six weeks.

How to apply for permission to work on a tree

You also need to send us:

  • A site plan showing the location of the tree(s) e.g. front or back garden.

  • A clear specification of tree works with existing dimensions and reduction measurements. Percentage reductions should be used to specify crown thinning only. For example:

    Rear Garden: ONE Holm Oak (T1 on plan) CROWN REDUCE height by 3m from 20m to 17m, REDUCE radius by 2m from 7m to 5m on S & W compass points.

  • Annotated photographs and supporting information or reports. These will help us assess the proposed tree works quickly. 

Planting new trees

If you're cutting down a tree, we suggest you consider planting a replacement tree.

How to prevent introducing and spreading harmful organisms

You should source plants responsibly from a domestic nursery. To make sure your tree is healthy and not infected by foreign pests or disease, you should buy a tree that is either:

  • UK-grown

  • imported and quarantined for a minimum of one year in the UK before sale.

Find out about pests and diseases that affect trees.

Learn more about preventing the spread of harmful organisms (biosecurity).

Urgent works to dead and dangerous trees

Applications made under the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation)(England) Regulations 2012  in relation to dead and dangerous trees are known as five day notices.

These are applications for:

  • cutting down a tree when the whole tree presents an urgent and serious safety risk or
  • pruning part of a tree that presents an urgent and serious safety risk.

There is not a specific application form for these applications.

Instead, email planning@lewisham.gov.uk with sufficient supporting information and photographs.

Due to COVID–19 restrictions we are unable to visit sites.

Please be aware that it is a criminal offence to carry out works to a tree within a conservation area or a tree covered by a TPO without permission.