Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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The LTOA - Caring for the Capital's Trees

Welcome to the LTOA website. The London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) constitutes the professional & technical voice for London's trees & woodlands. Its aim is to enhance the management of the Capital's trees. We hope that you find the LTOA website both interesting & informative. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Update on the current LTOA working parties March 2015

The OPM working party is made up of Dave Lofthouse (Merton), Bill Malin (Contractor), Ben Clutterbuck (Contractor), Howard Booth (TfL), Chris Colwell (Westminster), Mark Townsend (Contractor), Dale Mortimer (Ealing), Gary Rimmer (Brent), Lawrence Usherwood (Brent), Kirsty Hopla (Kingston), Craig Ruddick (Richmond), Dominic Blake (ATS), Gary Meadwocroft (Southwark), Julian Fowgies (Bromley), Raymond Bennet (Hounslow), Richard Edwards (Croydon), Richard Trippett (Bartletts), Daniel Sitch (Merton), Monica Castelino (K & C), Gillian Jonusas (Royal Parks), Ian Rodger (Royal Parks), Ralph Parks (OPM inspector for FC), Craig Harrision (FC), Andrew Hoppit (FC), Alex Needs (Elmbridge), Stuart Hunt (Hillingdon), other London Boroughs and affected organisations. Dave Lofthouse is the chair. This is an ongoing working party including the FC to combat OPM.

The Canopy cover working party is made up of Matthew Thomas (GLA), David Houghton (Camden), Dave Lofthouse (Merton), Rupert Bentley Walls (Hackney), Richard Edwards (Croydon) Barbara Milne (Westminster), Jonathan Robinson (Hackney). The working party has developed a new system called OSCCA (Open Source Canopy Cover Audit) which has been piloted by a few boroughs on local (LB) canopy figures and the GLA area. The guidance documents on how to carry out canopy surveys were launched at the end of 2014.

The PR group is made up of Andy Lederer (Islington), John Parker (TfL), Richard Edwards (Croydon), Nick Harrison (Harrow), Vincenzo DeIcovo (Croydon),  Howard Booth (TfL) and David Humphries (City of London). This is an ongoing working party. The aim is to raise awareness and the profile of the work of tree officers and what the LTOA does.

Risk Limitation Strategy revision group is made up of Peter Osborne (Consultant), Tim Moya (Consultant), Simon Pryce (Consultant), Andy Tipping (Barnet), Dave Lofthouse (Merton), Gary Meadwocroft (Southwark), Jake Tibbetts (Islington), Jim Smith (FC), Michael Sankus (Medway), Richard Edwards (Croydon), Rupert Bentley Walls (Hackney). The group is revising this strategy especially in light of two recent cases Berent and Robbins.

Planning working party is made up of Chris Overbeke (Redbridge), Ian Leonard (Lambeth), Jon Ryan (Islington), Oliver Stutter (Southwark), Peter Osborne (Consultant), Michael Sankus (Medway) Stephen Downing (Enfield), Sue King (Bexley). This group is currently looking at validations also tree and landscape conditions to produce a best practice document.

Principal Officers working party. This working party is open to all principal officers and meets every 6 months.

Surface materials around trees in hard landscapes working party is made up of John Parker (TfL), Pat Langley (Wandsworth), Ernst Erasmas (Southwark), Simon Ffoulkes (Bromley), Howard Booth (TfL), Chris Suthers (Street Tree), Michael Gargon (Street Tree), Michael Sankus (Medway). They are writing a guidance document on the use of various materials.

Biosecurity working party is made up of Kelly King (Camden), Jonathan Meares (City of London), Nev Fay (Treework Environmental Practice), Dominic Blake (ATS), Fiona Critchley (Arb Solutions), Dave Lofthouse (Merton), Jon Banks (Bartlett Tree Lab), Tom Campbell (Hackney). The group has produced a position statement and is now working on a pest and disease matrix.

Contracts benchmarking working party is made up of Andy Tipping (Barnet), Dale Mortimer (Ealing), Howard Booth (TfL), Julian Hill (Redbridge), Nigel Browning (Croydon), Rupert Bentley Walls (Hackney), Andrew Lederer (Islington) Julian Fowgies (Bromley), Neal StLewis (Brent). They are looking at how the various tree contracts are set up across London.

The Massaria working party is made up of Neville Fay (Consultant), Peter Holloway (AA), Jake Tibbetts (Islington), David Humphries (City of London). A Massaria management document has been produced with a technical supporting document to follow.

Human health and trees working party is made up of Andrew Digby (Barnet), Colleen O’Sullivan (Camden), Craig Ruddick (Richmond), Dave Lofthouse (Merton), Jake Tibbetts (Islington), John Parker (TfL), Julie Hughes (Three Rivers), Patrick Richardson (Islington), Paul Frainer (Essex), Richard Barnes (Woodland Trust), Thomas Campbell (Hackney), Vicki Harding (Heath & Hampsead Society). The first meeting of the working party is due soon.


Fund4Trees: grants and bursaries available

Are you looking for research funding in 2015? Can Fund4Trees help?

Fund4TreesSince 2011, Fund4Trees (F4T) has raised substantial funds and our focus is to allocate the money to innovative, practice-based grants and bursaries (see application details in box below).

To date F4T has part funded a high-powered microscope for Forest Research to better investigate acute oak decline and has contributed to the Trees & Design Action Group’s publication Trees in the Townscape: A Guide for Decision Makers. We will consider projects big and small for funding, as long as they meet F4T’s charitable objectives, which are to support sustainable treescapes by:

1. promoting for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment by promoting sustainable treescapes.

2. advancing the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of trees in the physical and natural environment.

3. advancing research for the public benefit in all aspects of trees and to publish the useful results.

Fund4Trees is modelled on the Stihl Tour de Trees (stihltourdestrees.org) and was established in 2011 to organise fundraising events within the UK to raise money for UK-based urban tree research/best practice. Since that time a number of successful sponsored city bike rides have been organised – for example, in London, Birmingham and Glasgow – with well over 100 riders.

Fund4Trees is managed by a Board of Trustees with an independent Research Advisory Committee (RAC). The committee’s role is to evaluate the scientific merit of research proposals/bursaries and to advise the Board in regard to its funding. The RAC comprises a mix of research specialists and practitioners – Jon Banks, Jeremy Barrell, Roland Ennos, Gabriel Hemery, Jon Heuch and David Lonsdale. Jon Banks is the newest member of the team: he is the plant diagnostician for the Bartlett Tree Expert Company Ltd, has been involved in Bartlett research at the University of Reading since 2010 and is a member of the London Tree Officers’ Association’s Biosecurity Working Party.

“Arborists this is our industry and we look forward to your grant and bursary submissions so that Fund4Trees monies can be directed at worthwhile best-practice projects to enhance arboriculture within the UK”.

Grants and Bursaries

Fund4Trees offers research grants of £5,000 and bursaries of £500. Consideration will be given to all applications from those working in the arboricultural and forestry sectors.

For more information about how to apply, visit http://fund4trees.org.uk/grants-and-bursaries.


Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - Basements Policy

by Stephen Fuller, Arboricultural Officer (who will also be doing a presentation about this at the next LTOA seminar)


Almost 75% of the borough is within a designated conservation area. This, together with a limited site area often places restrictions above ground and as a result, basement extensions are often the only way to significantly extend a residential property.

Basement development in RBKC has seen a significant increase with 46 planning applications in 2001, rising to 450 in 2013. The impact on trees is one of many concerns that basement development can bring but other factors such as noise, disturbance and the need for construction traffic management have all meant that a new borough wide approach necessary.

Given the significant level of interest both in support and opposition to the policy, its formulation to assemble an appropriate evidence base took nearly two years. The policy was submitted to the Secretary of State on 28 April 2014 and the Inspector’s report into whether the policy was sound was received on 2 December 2014.

The Inspector concluded that “with the recommended main modifications... the Partial Review of the Core Strategy: Basements Planning Policy local plan satisfies the requirements of Section 20(5) of the 2004 Act and meets the criteria for soundness in the National Planning Policy Framework.”


The principal arboricultural concerns related to the establishment of new trees above basements in a metre of soil where drainage might be limited. The previous basement policy permitted up to 85% of the garden footprint to be developed leaving a thin strip of soil around the perimeter of the property which was likely to be highly compacted. In addition to this, physical root barriers, such as boundary walls, building foundations etc, typically found in a densely built up borough had the effect of restricting certain tree species from utilising soil beyond these constraints, thereby potentially affecting the trees’ health and longevity.


As modified by the Inspector the new basements policy contains 14 criteria a. to n. Those most relevant to trees and the green landscape are listed below:

Policy CL7 - Basements

The Council will require all basement development to:

a. not exceed a maximum of 50% of each garden or open part of the site. The unaffected garden must be in a single area and where relevant should form a continuous area with other neighbouring gardens. Exceptions may be made on large sites;

b. not comprise more than one storey. Exceptions may be made on large sites;

l. include a sustainable drainage system (SuDS), to be retained thereafter;

m. include a minimum of one metre of soil above any part of the basement beneath a garden;


The Planning Inspectorate accepted the argument that developing 85% of a garden and providing only a metre of soil above a basement was not necessarily sufficient to establish large trees taking into account the factors that may cause a constraint to tree growth. Allowing more of the garden to be retained without a basement underneath would help to preserve mature planting and the character of the garden as well as giving more room for adequate tree root development. The fact that the majority of basement development is within conservation areas reinforced the need to preserve the character and/or appearance of the conservation area.

The new basements policy was formally adopted by the Council on 21 January 2015.

The full basements policy can be viewed here:


The inspectors report can be viewed here:



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