BS5837 : 2012 ‘Trees in relation to Design, Demolition and Construction – Recommendations’

The latest edition of British Standard 5837, BS 5837 : 2012 ‘Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction – Recommendations’, came into effect on 30 April 2012 and supersedes the previous edition BS 5837 : 2005 ‘Trees in Relation to Construction – Recommendations’.

The previous copy of the guidance was published in 2005 (BS 5837 : 2005 ‘Trees in Relation to Construction – Recommendations) which has been ‘fully revised by a specialist panel’. Public consultation closed in June 2011 and the new revision BS 5837 : 2012 came into effect on 30 April 2012.

BS5837:2012 provides recommendations and guidance for use by “arboriculturists, architects, builders, engineers and landscape architects” and is expected to be of interest to “land managers, contractors, planners, statutory undertakers and surveyors”.

However, and crucially in the undertaking of BS5837 Tree Surveys and the provision of Arboricultural Constraints and BS5837 Arboricultural Reports, the execution of such works us entrusted to appropriately qualified and experienced people. Further, that “a tree survey should be undertaken by and Arboriculturist”.

It is also important to note that “local planning authorities should not rely on planning conditions to secure a tree survey”.

Some of the changes noted within the revised BS 5837 include:

• A simplified document with plain use of English and the removal of many three letter acronyms(BS5837 previously listed, TCP, RPA, AIA, TPP, AMS etc.);

• The suitability of Arboricultural advice using BS 5837 : 2012 for situations where trees might be impacted by construction/demolition related works, i.e.  tree protection needs as part of permitted development etc;

• Implementation of arboricultural advice compliant with BS 5837:2012 at the feasibility stage of planning;

• Further, unity with associated guidance such as the The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) work stages;

• Recognition and guidance relating to ‘Young Trees’, i.e. their future importance and potential for future canopy cover;

• The importance of considered approach to new landscaping in the design process, not Space Left Over After Planning (SLOAP);

• An open approach to the use of appropriate measures for tree protection rather than ‘say’ a Standard protective barrier fence (PBF);

• Alterations in the consideration and determination of access and works within RPAs, i.e. that“new permanent hard surfacing should not exceed 20% of existing hard surfaced ground within the RPA”.

The use of the RIBA work stages and the structure of the new BS5837 apply a differing approach to the Arboricultural undertakings as part of the design process. The Arboricultural advice should be accounted for at a feasibility stage and incorporated into the design. An Arboricultural Implications Assessment is to be undertaken based on the applicable scheme with reference to final design alterations, tree protection measures and mitigation recommendations. Thereafter, the detailed methods can be addressed as planning conditions providing works of significance are outside of retained trees’ Root Protection Areas’ (RPAs – the only remaining acronym within BS 5837 : 2012).

The British Standards Institution (BSI) detail the history of BS5837 such that the first edition of the standard was published in January 1980 (as a ‘code of practice’). In December 1991 the second edition was published (as a ‘guide’), in September 2005 the third edition was published (with an upgraded status of ‘recommendations’) and in April 2012 the fourth and present edition BS 5837 : 2012 was published (again as ‘recommendations’).

For advice relating to trees and design, demolition and/or construction compliant with BS5837:2012 contact Indigo Surveys Ltd and speak to a specialist Arboricultural Consultant.

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