In assessing the suitability of development proposals, the District Council will seek to ensure that new development blends into its surroundings. This is important if it is just a porch to a large commercial building or factory. An understanding of the character and appearance of the surroundings of the site is an important first step in considering how the development may be designed to blend in. In order to assist with this, the District Council may ask developers to carefully consider existing and proposed landscaping as part of the design process.
Existing trees & landscape features
Consideration must be given to any existing trees, hedges, shrubs and other vegetation on the site. Care should be taken to retain as much as possible and the new layout should be designed around the existing trees and other significant landscape features. Particular attention should be paid to existing ponds, streams and hedge banks where there is opportunity to enhance and develop them as ecological features within the development.
Existing vegetation and trees in the vicinity of new buildings creates a maturity of landscape, positively enhances the development and can add significant value. To achieve a similar value with new planting can be expensive and take decades to attain the same effect. In order to ascertain the extent of the tree and landscaping requirements it may be helpful to discuss the proposed form of development with the Local Planning Authority
Where there are existing trees and hedges on the site the following points must be considered:
- The survey of existing trees, shrubs and hedges should must be undertaken in accord with The British Standard “Trees in relation to construction - Recommendations” (BS 5837) by a person competent in arboriculture and the design informed by the tree constraints plan derived from that survey.
- Is a baseline ecological assessment required where the site contains significant natural features such as hedge banks, streams, ponds, woodland or large mature trees etc.?
- Check whether any of the trees are the subject of a Preservation Order, within a Conservation Area or are protected by planning condition? Please note that all trees and hedges are considered a ‘material consideration’ in any planning application whether protected or not.
- Will trees adjoining the site boundary be affected by the proposed development i.e. those whose crown overhang the site boundary or are close enough to affect the site in terms of root encroachment, shade, or screening?
- All trees and hedges to be removed and those to be retained must be clearly marked on the plan to scale. A schedule detailing any tree surgery works must be provided.
- What are the necessary steps to be taken to avoid potential root damage to buildings, roads and underground services?
- The ground level in the vicinity of existing trees should not be changed as this inevitably affects their health and stability.
- Trees and hedgerows should be clearly marked on ALL site plans so that site operatives are in no doubt as to which ones are to be retained and protected.
- Outline and detailed larger applications should be supported by an Arboricultural Implication Assessment, Arboricultural Method Statements and a Tree Protection Plan in accord with BS 5837. Pre application advice should determine the levels of detail required particularly on small sites.
- Do existing trees or hedges provide screening for the site in the landscape or adjoining properties and if they are to be removed is there adequate provision made for replacement planting?
- Where trees or hedges are to be removed the council will wish to see adequate replacement planting that is in keeping with locally found species and will provide sustainable long term features that enhance the development.
Requirements of a landscaping scheme
Developers are urged to submit a landscaping scheme at the same time as other details of the proposed development. Landscaping schemes should include the following:
- Drawings should be clearly legible and based on an accurate site survey. Final landscape schemes must overlay the final development layout drawing.
- The scale of the drawings should be adequate for a detailed landscape scheme ie 1:500, 1:200, 1:100 or 1:50, as appropriate.
- A north point, scale bar and a key to any symbols used. Note that keys should rely on symbols and not colour coding to ensure legibility as a black and white copy.
- Clear identification of existing site and landscape features such as trees and hedgerows. The full extent of the hedge and tree canopy spread should be shown to scale together with clear indication of whether they are to be retained, removed or replaced as per BS5837. They should be clearly and separately identified from proposed planting.
- Means of protecting existing site features such as trees and hedgerows during construction as per BS5837. The type and position of this protection should be clearly identified as per the submitted Tree Protection Plan.
- Proposed planting to include a schedule showing details of the species to be planted, the numbers or densities of each, the planting sizes for each species, planting specification (pit size for trees), method of support (trees) and the method of weed control e.g. mulching and future maintenance to ensure that the planting will survive and mature.
- Existing and proposed levels together with cross and long sections (as necessary).
- Details of boundary treatments including walls and fences and hard materials for paths and other surfaces.
While this document needs some updating, the landscape guide below is a useful document in respect considering landscaping schemes for development and the extent of information normally expected by the Local Planning Authority.
Landscape Spec for Development
The Council takes the view that there is a need to safeguard the character of both districts countryside by ensuring new development integrates positively with the existing character. Therefore, a Landscape Guidance has been produced to outline the main elements of the existing character and to outline broad principles that all development in the countryside will be required to follow
The Suffolk Landscape Character Assessment that has been carried out jointly by all the District Councils and the County Council.