Mighty oaks from little acorns grow – if you manage trees properly

Principle Estate Management has issued an 8-point plan for creating a proper tree management programme within the grounds of properties.

The initiative comes after the Birmingham-based company had to act for one of its clients which had mislaid the tree plan for one of its large sites. The simple plan includes:

  1. Survey – Commissioning a survey from a qualified arboriculturalist (tree specialist) in accordance with the latest standards (BS5837:2012) to produce a plan.
  2. Site Plan – Making sure this referenced site plan shows the location of each tree within the development, with a description of species, height, spread and condition.
  3. Quotes – Obtaining prices for any works recommended by the arboriculturalist.
  4. Review – Carrying out an inspection and review every two-to-three years.
  5. Budget – Ensuring the estimated costs are included in annual budgets to deal with works when required.
  6. Engagement – Agreeing works with the property client and discussing with residents.
  7. Consideration – Further consultation and engagement with residents when considering replanting.
  8. Recycling – Dealing with any chippings – either using in gardens as mulch or compost, or removing from the site.


Brett Williams, managing director of Principle, said: “We all love trees, especially mature ones. They’re not only aesthetically pleasing but are an essential part of ecosystem, usefully taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

“There are millions of important trees in UK cities and towns, including hundreds of thousands in gardens such as the communal grounds around blocks of flats, housing all sorts of wildlife like birds, insects and bats.

“But trees in our managed areas are not necessarily in a natural habitat and so we need to manage them, as we cannot leave them to grow wild if we want the best from them and the best for them.

“Tree surgery is not cheap, as it’s specialist work that needs to be undertaken by skilled qualified contractors, and therefore estate managers need to research, plan and budget properly to do this both legally and successfully.”

Mr Williams explained how earlier this year Principle dealt with the large site in Edgbaston, Birmingham where the client had lost the tree plan.

He said: “We located the consultant and obtained a copy report, discovering that works were due.

“One tree had deteriorated and needed to be felled as soon as possible, while other works also needed to be undertaken.

“We needed consent from the city council as the site was within a conservation area, and the space was also within the Calthorpe Estate which meant we needed their consent too.”

Mr Williams said that if an estate manager can show it is actively managing tree maintenance works – including removal where required – it was not normally a problem with local authorities and other bodies.

This still means carrying out works properly, including formal consultation processes, selection of appropriate contractors, taking their insurances, risk assessments and methods into account.

He added: “Most importantly, estate managers should have a replanting plan, one which carefully considers future heights, shapes and spreads, the speed of growth to maturity, proximity to buildings, roads and paths, and even leaf, flower and fruit colours.

“In the case of our Edgbaston client, we are planting around a dozen trees this autumn, mostly British natives which will fit in with the general parkland planting style, but also a couple of other specimens for added interest.

“This tree planning and maintenance is just another example of specialist matters that managing agents need to consider as part of their daily jobs where the usual rules apply: be aware of issues, get specialist advice, and consult with all stakeholders.”

Mr Williams is a Chartered Surveyor and a past-chairman of ARMA.