Trees on private property

Getting approval to remove or prune a tree on private property

If you want to remove or prune a tree that's on private property you may need approval. You'll find all the information you need about the different types of approval, the approval process and how to apply below.

Most species 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.

Note: The state's environmental planning policy - Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas (Vegetation SEPP) was introduced in 2017. This policy changed how and when you need to apply to Council for approval to prune and remove trees on private property, including the need for development consent for heritage trees. The policy also covers assessment time frames and an appeals process.

The policy repealed clauses 5.9 and 5.9AA of the Randwick Local Environmental Plan 2012, which previously covered preserving trees and vegetation. Protected trees and exemptions under the Randwick Comprehensive Development Control Plan 2013 have not changed.

Types of approval

Approval to remove or prune a tree on private property is provided by either applying online for consent (register or login to your Online services account, then choose "Tree application" under "Submit an application") or by downloading a Tree Permit Application PDF, 87.66 KB.

The cost for the inspection of one tree is $74.00 and $27.00 per additional tree to be inspected and assessed. This cost covers the inspection and evaluation of nominated trees and a written determination by a Council tree officer.

You may require a Development Application for Tree Works PDF, 104.52 KB if:

You can either apply for development consent to remove or prune any such trees by either applying online for consent (register or login to your Online services account, then choose "Heritage tree application" under "Submit an application") or by downloading a Development Application for Tree Works PDF, 104.52 KB.

The inspection fee for a Development Application for Tree Works is $116.00 per tree to be assessed.

Approval process

After applying, we will visit the property to assess the tree. The inspection is from the ground only and does not include internal diagnostic tests, pathology diagnosis, pest/disease identification or climbing inspection.

Additional information may be requested by the Council officer inspecting the tree to help us make a decision.

You don't need to be present during the inspection. We will contact you to arrange a suitable time and access for the inspection. If you want to be there, please indicate on the Tree Permit Application PDF, 87.66 KB or Development Application for Tree Works PDF, 104.52 KB.

Assessment can take four (4) weeks, depending if neighbours need to be notified.

Completing the work

Once the request to remove or prune has been approved you will need to organise the work to be carried out. We do not carry out approved private tree removal or pruning works.

As a condition of approval, applicants may be required to engage the services of a qualified arborist. A list can be found on the Arboriculture Australia or Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists websites.

Replacement trees

A condition of consent for removal of a tree usually stipulates that a suitable advanced native replacement tree is planted. This is to ensure there is no net loss of trees/canopy cover. Replacement trees are to be maintained in a healthy condition until maturity.

Where there is insufficient space for replanting an advanced tree, you will need to provide offset planting on public land under our direction.

Trees on residential property

You will need a permit if the tree is on your own property unless the tree is a declared noxious weed or is dead, dying or dangerous.

You will need a Development Application for Tree Works PDF, 104.52 KB if:

Trees on rented property

If you are the tenant of a property you will need a Tree Permit Application PDF, 87.66 KB.

You will need to obtain the written consent of the property owner before lodging a permit application. Fees are to be included with the application form.

Trees on Strata or Company Title property

If the tree is within a strata or company title property you will need a Tree Permit Application PDF, 87.66 KB.

If the tree is growing on property owned by Strata or Company title, the permit application must be signed by an authorised officer under Common Seal. The application must also include the minutes from a meeting of the Body Corporate or Executive Committee where agreement on the management of the tree/s has been made.

Pruning or removing trees on your neighbour's property

If you want to prune a tree that is on your neighbour’s property, you need to submit an application. You will also need the written consent of the tree owner to enter and undertake any tree works within their property. Without such consent, we can only issue an approval to selectively prune branches that are within your property.

Work can only be conducted within your neighbour’s property if they have given written consent. Applications to remove a neighbour’s tree without the tree owner’s consent will not be accepted.

Tree subject to existing Development Consent

You must advise us if the property is subject to a current Development Application or Development Consent that affects the tree.

If you still want to carry out works to a tree contrary to a condition of a current Development Consent, you will need to lodge a Section 96 application PDF, 91.11 KB requesting an amendment to the development consent, before we consider your proposal.

Review of Determination of Tree Works permit

Any applicant dissatisfied with our decision can request a review, by completing an Application for review of determination of Tree Works form PDF, 69.44 KB outlining the reasons and attaching any new information. This should include a detailed arborist's report, a structural engineer's report and/or a plumber's report with diagrams of any affected/damaged pipes and/or underground services.

Upon receipt, we will review the documentation/new information to either approve or refuse the review.

Review of Development Application Determination

You have the right to request us to review the determination of an application. Any application or conditions refused by us may be reconsidered under the Act.

If you are dissatisfied with our determination, you may:

  • Apply for a review of the determination by lodging a Request for Review of Determination form PDF, 96.71 KB with Council (the request must be made in writing and the review determined within 6 months of the determination date); or
  • Appeal the decision at the Land and Environment Court (the appeal must be lodged within 6 months of receiving your determination).

Tree Management for bushfire protection

The NSW Rural Fire Service Code permits the removal of trees within bushfire prone land for the purpose of protecting your property.

There is no designated bushfire prone land within the Randwick Council area so the Code cannot be applied for the purpose of removing trees.

You can view your property via the online assessment tool provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service.

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