Bradford Council manages around 18,000 highway trees, 267 hectares of park trees and 590 hectares of woodland trees. These trees provide both benefits and challenges in our urban environment.
Trees in parks, woodlands, highway verges and other green spaces create an attractive and sustainable place where people can live, visit and invest. Trees not only look good but also provide many benefits including habitat for insects, bats and birds, shading from summer sun and shelter from winds, carbon capture and storage, interception of rain and removal of dust and grime. Without trees the district would be a poorer and less attractive place.
For some people trees can cause inconvenience where it is felt that they block out light or views, interfere with TV signals, drop twigs, leaves, fruit and sap on to paths, drives and cars. Trees can also become a danger to people and property.
Providing the wider benefits of a district rich in trees and resolving problems with individual trees efficiently and effectively within the resources available is a challenge to both the Council and citizens.
The Council have legal obligations to ensure that the trees on its land or in the highway are safe, are not causing damage to property or obstructing the highway.
As well as meeting our legal obligations we also endeavour to be a “good neighbour” and strive to provide high quality trees that enhance the district and don’t unreasonably inconvenience or distress people who live near them. However, budget constraints have placed greater emphasis on setting priorities that focus on meeting our legal obligations, these are:
Most public trees near private property have been there for many years and help to create a more attractive and sustainable urban environment. Anyone considering buying or renting property near a tree should ask themselves whether or not they are going to be happy living near to trees. We are under no obligation to remove a tree on public land simply because it is disliked or may cause inconvenience to people who live nearby.
Property owners who have trees growing on their land have similar obligations to the Council and are responsible for ensuring that their trees do not pose a danger to their neighbours. Private owners should also ensure that trees and shrubs growing on their land do not obstruct or encroach on the highway, including foot paths.
Property owners are broadly entitled to cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching roots from a neighbouring tree, up to the boundary of their property. If your tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order or is in a Conservation Area any work must be formally approved by Planning. Failure to obtain approval may result in prosecution and a fine.
Bradford District has a Woodland Strategy that promotes increased tree and woodland cover across the district by planting trees. Our guiding principle is to grow “the right tree in the right place”. This does mean that when trees are removed the loss is balanced with new planting in more suitable locations
Trees do not need to be regularly cut-back or lopped and topped. All work on Council trees is carried out to British Standard 3998 Recommendations for Tree Work or better. The standard is designed to ensure pruning is not detrimental to the health, vitality, stability and look of the tree. In practice this means that any form of pruning, with the exception of pollarding will remove less than 15% of the crown at a single time.
Bradford Council has two separate services within the Department of Place dedicated to the management of trees and woodland within the district.
The Trees Team based in the Planning Service deals with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), trees protected by Conservation Areas and trees affected by development. It also deals with the Hedgerow Regulations, High Hedge legislation and breaches of planning control relating to trees.
The Tree and Woodland Section deals with trees and woodland on public land and the highway.
If the tree is on Incommunities land please call 0845 120 8171.
If the request to inspect a tree meets current priorities we aim to inspect it within 4 to 6 weeks. If works are identified these will be given a “work priority”. Where there is high risk of harm these will be dealt with immediately or in an appropriate timescale; medium to low risk trees are placed in the works queue and are generally dealt with in date order.
Descriptions such as “dangerous” and “safe” are relative – there is no single definition. We will refer to a tree as “dangerous” when it is judged to be an “unacceptable” risk that the tree will fail and cause significant harm to people or property. The Quantitative Tree Risk Assessment methodology has been adopted to help determine the level of risk posed by an individual tree. Broadly, if there is a risk in the region of 1/10,000 or higher of a tree failure that may result in significant harm in the next 12 months then we will do what is reasonably practicable to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring. A tree is generally regarded as being “safe” when the likelihood of failure is moving below 1/10,000.
When we receive a report of a “dangerous” tree the inspecting officer looks at a number of things to determine the level of risk, such as, the consequences if the tree fails – who or what will it hit - and the likelihood of it happening. A dead or decayed tree is more likely to fail than a healthy, live tree.
The owner of the land is responsible for trees growing on the land. If the tree is on the highway or Council land please report the details to us by calling 01274 431000. In special cases where a tree on private land is thought to be imminently dangerous and the land owner is not known we have discretionary powers to intervene.
No. There is no general right to light, a view or TV reception and we have no legal obligation to cut back. Before buying or renting a property next to a tree think very carefully about whether you can live with the tree and the outlook. You may consider repositioning your satellite dish, aerial or use a cable service.
No, in the eyes of the law once a leaf, seed or fruit has left the tree, ownership passes to the owner of the land on which it falls.
No. Sap or more accurately honeydew is excreted by insects feeding on leaves in the tree. We do not have any obligation to cut back or remove trees for this reason.
In most cases no. This is often a street cleaning issue rather than a tree issue. You can request street cleaning using our online form or call 01274 431000
No. Although, the owner or tenant has a right to enjoy their property without interference, roots and branches are not an infringement of that right. Where it can be shown that encroaching roots or branches may be the cause of damage then we will investigate and take the necessary action to prevent further damage.
If you suspect damage to your property please contact your insurance company in the first instance.
Yes, a land owner or tenant may cut back branches and roots that encroach on their property but only as far as the boundary. If the pruning work entails working at height, this work is best carried out by a competent tree surgeon. Before cutting back overhanging branches you or your contractor are advised to
Yes, it is possible that in some circumstance the Council may agree to either removal or pruning of a tree where it does not meet current work priorities. Each request is assessed on its own merits, however, there is a clear preference to retain the tree. We may consult with neighbouring residents, other relevant Council officers and Ward Councillors to assist decision making. We can provide a quote for such works– please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01274 431000. There is no obligation to accept the quote and it is recommended that quotes from other contractors are obtained.
We do not get involved in private disputes unless the tree is shown to be an “imminent danger” and the owner is unknown. In some cases the “trees” may fall under the high hedges regulations and we may be able to assist through the Planning Service Trees team.
No, unless the trees are an “imminent” danger, we will not normally intervene.