Trees on Private Land

Planting Trees on Private Land

There is no law regarding what a property owner can plant on their own property however Council strongly recommends careful consideration to ensure selection of a tree that is appropriate to the site. Council uses a comprehensive checklist when assessing a potential tree planting site. The checklist considers:

  • Site conditions such as soils; climatic conditions; aspect; drainage; services; structures; scenic views; solar access; physical access.
  • Desired horticultural characteristics of the new tree such as evergreen or deciduous; height; width; crown shape; vigour; provenance; flowers; fruit.
  • Desired function of the new tree such as shade; screening; habitat; shelter/windbreak; framing of views.

Permits for Pruning and Removal

North Sydney Council has adopted a tree and vegetation management policy which aims to prevent unlawful or unnecessary removal, pruning or destruction of trees in the North Sydney Local Government Area. This policy is enforced though clause 5.9 of North Sydney Local Environment Plan 2010 and has the following objectives:

  • To maintain the visual, social and environmental amenity of the area through the preservation of trees and other vegetation.
  • To describe trees and vegetation that are protected by the policy.
  • To identify exempt tree species and exempt tree works.
  • To make the community aware of the implications for the unlawful removal, pruning or wilful destruction of trees and vegetation within the local government area.

Trees that require a permit

Development Consent or a Tree Management Permit is required for the removal or pruning of the following trees/vegetation:

  • Any tree or vegetation on public land, regardless of size.
  • Any vegetation more than 5m tall on the site of a heritage item.
  • Any other tree with: a height of 10m, or a crown width of 10m, or a trunk circumference of 1.5m measured at 1m above ground level (existing).

Trees or work that do not require a permit

A Tree Management Permit is not required for removal or pruning any of the following:

  • Trees that are declared to be dead or dying as confirmed by an appropriately qualified arborist.
  • Pruning of deadwood from a tree.
  • Noxious weeds as prescribed by the Noxious Weeds Act, 1993.
  • Trees or vegetation that are being maintained or removed by North Sydney Council staff (or their sub-contractors) on land under Council's ownership or care and control.
  • Trees or vegetation that have been authorised to be removed or pruned pursuant to a Development Consent issued under the Act, but not prior to the issue of a Construction Certificate relating to that Development Consent.
  • Cocos Palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) and African Olive Trees (Olea Africana).


Before removing, pruning or proposing development within 5m of a tree in North Sydney, residents and/or contractors are advised to contact Council to determine whether they need to obtain a Tree Management Permit or Development Consent.

Where a Tree Management Permit is required, once Council has received a completed application form an appointment will be made for an on-site tree inspection of the relevant tree(s) by one of Council's Tree Preservation Officers. If the application is approved a Tree Management Permit will be sent to the applicant. Inspections and permits are free of charge. If the tree work requires Development Consent please go to Trees and Development.


Disputes between Neighbours

Council does not mediate in neighbour disputes over trees. The dispute must be resolved before Council can issue a permit.

Property owners are advised to communicate with neighbours regarding tree issues to try and resolve any problems. If an amicable resolution cannot be reached the next course of action would be to involve an independent mediator such as the Community Justice Centre.

If this is unsuccessful the final option is to go to the Land and Environment Court under the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006.

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