Removing & pruning trees

Check the rules

We love our trees. Council is responsible for the management of trees throughout the Randwick City area. We have rules about when you can prune or remove a tree.

On public land 

Council is responsible for the management and maintenance of trees on public land including streets, parks, reserves and open space areas. Read more about trees on public land.

On private land 

Most special of trees on private property are protected by our Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP). Application for the pruning or removal of private trees may be made in the form of a permit or development consent. Read more about trees on private property.

You must obtain consent from Council to remove/prune:

  • ANY palm tree (except Cocos palms), 
  • cycad or tree fern of ANY size on your own property
  • ANY tree in recognised bushland 
  • ANY tree on public land or any hollow bearing tree/s.

Council consent is also required for any tree works proposed for trees with:

  • a height equal to or exceeding six (6) metres;
  • a canopy width equal to or exceeding four (4) metres;
  • for a single trunk tree species, a trunk circumference equal to or exceeding one (1) metre at a height of one (1) metre above ground level; or
  • for a multi-trunk tree species, a combined trunk circumference (measured around the outer girth of the group of trunks) equal to or exceeding one (1) metre at a height of one (1) metre above ground level.

You require development consent to prune/remove ANY tree if you are within a Heritage Conservation Area, if the tree is or forms part of a Heritage Item, forms part of an Aboriginal object, is within an Aboriginal place of heritage significance or if the tree is listed on Council's Register of Significant Trees. For pruning of a minor nature that will not have an impact on heritage significance or amenity, a tree permit application only is required. Development consent is also required for tree works on land that is listed on the State Heritage List.

Rather than removing a tree, you may consider having the tree's canopy thinned out to obtain filtered light. A qualified arborist will usually be able to open up the canopy of a tree in a way that will allow considerably more light to penetrate.

With larger trees this process will probably have to be repeated every few years. However, thinning out the canopy is an effective way of both preserving a tree and retaining your access to sunlight.

The following will not generally be considered as justifiable reasons to remove a tree/s or native vegetation within private property:

  • leaf drop into gutters, downpipes, pools, lawn areas, etc;
  • to increase natural light, where it is the sole consideration;
  • to improve lighting into private property;
  • to enhance views or reduce the height of trees;
  • to reduce shade created by a tree/s;
  • to reduce fruit, resin or bird droppings falling onto driveways and/or cars;
  • minor lifting of driveways, front fences, paths and footpaths by tree roots; or
  • potential damage to sewer mains or stormwater pipes, unless supported by written expert advice and only where reasonable alternatives are not feasible (e.g. relocation or encasement of mains and replacement of damaged pipes in PVC plastic).

When approval is not required to remove or prune a tree on private property

Approval to prune or remove a tree on private property is not required where particular exemptions apply.

These exemptions include:  

  • if the tree is dying or dead or is a risk to human life or property and is not required as the habitat of native fauna (http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/cpp/AssessHabitat.pdf);
  • if the tree is growing within two (2) metres of any building (excluding an outbuilding) measured horizontally from the closest point of the trunk at one (1) metre from ground level to the closest point of the vertical alignment of the building structure which must be the eave, guttering or fixed awning of the building;
  • tree works to give effect to a development consent that permits the pruning or removal of the subject tree/s;
  • tree works on public land owned or under the care, control and management of Council and carried out by persons authorised by Council;

If you would like to remove a tree or vegetation you believe to be exempt you will need to show us you have researched the situation and documented it.

You also do not require Council consent to remove any of the following tree species:

Botanical nameCommon name

Alnus jorullensis

Evergreen Alder

Arecastrum romanzoffianum

Cocos palm

Bambusa species

Bamboo Species

Celtis occidentalis

Hackberry

Cotoneaster species

Cotoneaster

Cupressocyparis x leylandii

Leyland Cypress

Erythrina species

Coral tree

Ficus elastica

Rubber tree

Lagunaria patersonia

Norfolk Island Hibiscus

Ligustrum species

Privet

Morus species

Mulberry

Nerium oleander

Oleander

Ochna serrulata

Ochna

Olea europea var. africana

African Olive

Populus species

Poplars

Salix species

Willows

Schefflera actinophylla

Umbrella tree

Toxicodendron succedaneum

Rhus tree

Evidence required

Prior to removing an exempt tree, details of the tree species, its condition, location, the risk it poses and digital photographs should be collected and provided to us. A report by a qualified arborist is required as evidence for removal of a tree that is dying, dead or dangerous.

Trees removed by the State Emergency Services (SES) require a written statement to substantiate the reason for removal.

Check before you remove a tree

Although our consent is not required to remove trees that fall into the above categories we strongly recommend you contact us on 1300 722 542 prior on the day the tree is being removed with details of the property address, species of tree/s being removed (if known), reasons for removal and the name of the contractors engaged to undertake the works.

This will ensure we have the relevant details in the event the removal is reported to avoid any potential conflict between the tree owner and neighbouring property owners or residents.

Back to top