Street trees frequently asked questions

Inspections and Maintenance

To find out when the street trees in your ward are programmed for inspections, please view our schedule here.

Why don’t you carry out pruning works to all street trees?

Our tree surveys are undertaken by trained Arboriculturalists who identify any defects and/or hazards. Appropriate management recommendations are made as part of this survey, where required, and pruning undertaken only if necessary. Only trees deemed a high safety risk and classed as dead, dying or dangerous by Hounslow Highways Arboriculturalists, will be prioritised over and above the cyclical programme.

Subsequently, we would not consider additional pruning or removing trees for the following reasons:

  • Loss of light / reduced light to properties

  • Branches overhanging properties and property boundaries

  • Effects on TV reception weather satellite or terrestrial television

  • Obstruction of views

  • Interference with private vegetation

  • Obstruction of telephone / utility cables (these are the responsibility of the statutory undertaker)

and natural or seasonal ‘inconveniences’ such as:

  • Honeydew which is the sticky substance caused by aphids feeding on leaves of certain trees

  • Bird droppings

  • Squirrels allegedly gaining access to properties from trees (they generally climb the property walls)

  • Leaf, fruit or flower fall

  • Smells generated by trees

  • Hay fever or allergies from pollen

Tree Removal

Hounslow Highways is acutely aware of the importance of trees to the street scene and to residents. We are also aware of residents’ concerns when there is a requirement to remove trees. Hounslow Highways takes these concerns very seriously and the decision to remove any tree is never one that is taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration. As part of our contract with Hounslow council, we would only consider removing trees that are Dead, Dying, Diseased or Dangerous. We would not remove a tree without good reason and look to retain street trees where possible.

Do you replace trees if they fall or are removed?

Hounslow Highways is tasked with maintaining the street tree population at the level it was at the beginning of the contract. As a result, we have an obligation to replace any trees that are removed on a 1-1 basis. However, this does not extend to replacing trees that were removed prior to the 1st January 2013 or planting additional street trees. 

When replacing a street tree, it is often not possible to replant at the same location as the site may not be immediately viable or no longer meet the criteria for a suitable and sustainable planting. Therefore, if a tree has not been replaced at the same location, or a new tree has appeared in the street near to you. It is because we are unable to plant at the original location.

There are many constraints in an urban street that mean we cannot plant at a given location:

  • The old location is not viable due to residual roots from the old tree which limit the excavation of a tree pit

  • A minimum 1.5m width of usable footway is recommended by the National Government’s Inclusive Mobility guidance for people with mobility impartments. We are unable to install a tree pit or plant a tree at a location which narrows the footway below 1.5m at any point

  • The impact of tree roots on nearby underground services (Electricity, Gas, Water, Drains, Phone & Fibre optic cables etc.) and the risk of a service strike often prohibits us from excavating a tree pit for tree planting

  • Planting where a street tree would obstruct street and road signs, traffic lights and associated sight lines by approaching vehicles and where they would obstruct street lighting

  • Newly planted trees need room for growth. Planting locations must have sufficient clearance between 3rd party buildings and structures and the mature size of a tree needs to be considered

  • Proximity to existing 3rd party trees and vegetation in private gardens that would overshadow and outcompete the new tree planting affecting its shape and potential for growth, where it can also become a highway obstruction

  • It is preferred to plant between boundaries of properties as opposed to directly in front, minimising obstructions and increasing sightlines

The high growth in vehicle use and ownership means that there is increasing pressure in residential streets for off-street parking and driveway access. The planting of trees needs to be balanced against residents’ parking needs and the damage that new plantings often sustain when in close proximity to cars parked on the adjacent footway

What happens to trees when you renew pavements and/or resurface roads?

It is our default position to ensure that trees are protected during any resurfacing works and alternative engineering solutions will be prioritised over the removal of any street trees during these works. If the pavement is being renewed with paving slabs, it may be required to lay some asphalt in the area surrounding the tree to accommodate the roots as it is more flexible.

Tree Planting

What are the benefits of highway trees?

Street trees are an important part of the urban landscape and have many benefits which are not always obvious. The reasons for maintaining an urban tree population in addition to aesthetics are:

  • Trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide

  • Trees filter, absorb and reduce pollutant gases including ozone, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide improving local air quality

  • Trees contribute to lower dust and noise pollution levels

  • Provide a food source and habitats for a broad range of wildlife

  • Help reduce skin cancers by providing shade from harmful ultra-violet radiation and cooler cars when parked underneath

  • Reduce localised extremes in temperatures – cooling in the summer and warming in the winter

  • Reduce wind speeds reducing heat loss from buildings

  • Mark the changing of the seasons with leaf changes and floral displays

  • Form "green corridors" connecting urban habitats with each other and with the countryside

  • According to research, trees improve concentration levels in schools and reduce stress levels for adults at work when they can see nearby trees

  • Provide a sustainable source of compost from leaves and woodchip biofuel

  • Add amenity value for families and communities

Tree Sponsorship

Hounslow Highways operates a tree sponsorship programme where residents can pay to have a new tree planted on the public highway. For information about how this operates, please go to the tree sponsorship form here and read through the guidelines and FAQs.

Tree-related damage

Please report the following via our report it page:

  • Vandalism or damage to street trees
  • Trees damaging the road and/or pavement
  • Storm damage

If a tree has fallen over, using our report it tool enables us to provide a fast response.

What do I do if I feel that a tree is causing damage to private property?

We would advise that you contact your building insurers who will liaise with us and any other relevant parties to ascertain the legitimacy of a claim. Hounslow Highways is unable to investigate these matters without a formal claim in process.

Private Trees

For enquiries about private trees in conservation areas, or trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), please contact Hounslow Council’s Planning department.

If a private tree is overhanging onto the public highway, Hounslow Highways can instruct the landowner to cut back the overhanging section if it is causing an obstruction. Please report any instances of this here.

 

 

 

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