Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask if any of the trees that are mentioned on the order have been destroyed by the storm are actually on your land please? I appreciate the order does not refer to specific trees but it should refer to groups. Do you have the TPO plan?
Were any trees removed with the works carried out under the planning permission you refer to on your land?
Thanks. Have you enquired with the local authority as to whether there were any TPO consents applied for by the developer that built the property?
Have you looked at the planning permission and officers delegated report for the permission for your property?
Thank you. The starting point here would be to carry out some initial information gathering, some of which or potentially all of which you may have already done and depending upon the amount of documentation your local authority has already placed online, may take little or no time at all.
the initial documents to consider obtaining would be the true preservation order itself along with the plan associated with the order to ascertain which trees are affected so far as it is possible to determine from the same. if you consider that it is clear or possible from that document that there may be some trees which are or could be identified as previously being on what is now your land then it would be as well to obtain a copy of the planning permission for the construction of your property together with the plan associated with the same along with the delegated officer's report to ascertain to what extent trees were identified as being protected and what measures were taken in respect of the same. planning officers reports can be very detailed though to some extent less so 15 years ago.
if you consider that these documents taken together are inconclusive in terms of demonstrating that there were no affected trees on what is now your land, you may wish to consider approaching a tree officer at the council asking that he confirms that there are no trees protected by a TPO located on your land according to the councils records, enclosing a copy of your title plan for his reference
the council are required to keep records in respect of works carried out to trees. these records are formed from a combination of applications by the public for works to be carried out to protected trees and council inspections both routine and as a result of a report from a member of the public. If the councils records are up to date, he may be able to confirm by reference to the same that there are no trees noted as being located on your land. where he is not able to confirm by reference to his records alone, it may be that a brief survey visit will be required to update his records and allow him to confirm accordingly.
There should be no suggestion that you have breached any TPO. The only reason you may wish to contact the council as above is to establish precisely which trees on your land if any the Council considers are affected by a tree preservation order. Quite often it is not possible to determine precisely which trees are affected by a tree preservation order there is reference to groups of trees and in particular where a tree preservation order is an old document and whether this is the case, it is a question of the council stating its position as to which trees it considers are protected and if this is disputed by you, you can challenge this view.
the council are required to confirm to you upon request which trees specifically are or are not affected by a tree preservation order and obtaining a letter confirming this information will enable you to identify precisely which trees are or are not affected by a TPO. It would also identify if the council considers any trees have "gone missing" though realisitically the council are unlikely to pursue any action at this stage even if it did because the burden of evidence after so long would likely be too high
there is no need to attend with a tree professional intially - unless he is offering his services for free of course in which case there is little to be lost. You can go to the council offices but you should be able to at the very least make the initial contact in writing and you may be able to resolve the matter entirely with the personal contact required tool. Tree officers are generally relatively helpful unless they think you are deliberately trying to damage protected trees. in the probably unlikely event that the Council claim that you have removed trees without permission or something of this nature at that stage you may wish to involve the tree professional to support you but it is unlikely such an event to arise in thse circumstances.
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