Trees & Development

What if there are trees on my development site?

Managing Trees on Development Sites (3MB)



Development applications are required to detail the location and type of any tree or vegetation in the vicinity of the development (both on the subject site and on adjoining land within 5m of the boundaries of the subject site) and must consider the following Council Objectives:

  • Existing trees should be retained and incorporated into proposed developments wherever the existing trees are of appropriate species and have an adequate life expectancy.

  • Where trees are identified to be retained, they must be protected during construction in accordance with best practice. (Refer to AS4970 - Protection of trees on development sites.)
  • An arborist's report is required to be submitted with any development application where works are proposed within 5m of a tree, or where Council deems the vegetation on site is significant enough to warrant such a report.

  • Where an existing tree(s) are approved for removal as part of a development, adequate space in the landscaped area is to be provided for a replacement canopy tree or trees appropriate to the site and scale of development.



Where Council grants a Development Consent or approval of a Tree Management Permit, it may require the replanting of species on the land the subject of the application. Replacement tree species will be specified or approved by Council and will be of a type suitable for the site.

  • Where insufficient space is available on the site of a development, Council may require the planting of replacement trees in a specified location on public land or levy a fee from the developer to fund Council's planting of such trees on public land.
  • All work must be carried out in accordance with the Australian Standard for Pruning of Amenity Trees (AS 4373-07) and Council may condition that the work be carried out by a qualified arborist.


Arborist Reports

North Sydney Council may require an arborist report to be submitted to support an application for tree work or to detail how the tree will be managed or protected on a development site. Any arborist's reports requested by Council must be prepared by a qualified arborist who holds the Diploma of Horticulture (Arboriculture) Australian Qualification Framework (AQF 5) or has equivalent demonstrated experience in high level tree assessment and diagnosis, and is a 'Consultant Member' of Arboriculture Australia, or the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists.

Note - there is a difference in the qualification and skill level between an arborist that prunes or removes a tree (tree worker) compared to an arborist that diagnoses tree health and structure (consultant arborist). A consultant arborist is a specialist in the diagnosis and reporting of trees.

The following details the information that should be provided in an arborists report

  • Name, address and telephone number of company providing the report.

  • Qualifications and experience of the arborist who conducted the tree inspection and prepared the report.

  • Address of the site containing the trees and name of the client (who the report was prepared for).

  • A plan of the site showing:

    • all trees on the site and any trees on adjoining land that are within 5m of the boundary
    • the location of any above or below ground services or structures on the site or within 5m of the boundaries (existing and proposed).
  • A table showing for each tree surveyed:

    • scientific name and common name
    • age class
    • tree dimensions - estimated height, trunk diameter at 1.4 metres (DBH), canopy spread to the four cardinal points
    • summary of tree health and structural condition including estimate of useful life expectancy and tree hazard assessment details.
  • Methods or techniques used in the inspection.

  • A summary of relevant site information such as soils, drainage, pests and diseases, proximity to bushland, habitat values, landscape and amenity values.

  • Supporting evidence such as annotated photographs and laboratory results if relevant.

  • A discussion of all options available, including why they are recommended or not recommended, eg can a built structure be relocated, repaired and tree(s) retained?

  • A description of the recommended protection measures to be put in place to ensure the protection of trees to be retained.

  • The sources of technical information referred to in the report.

  • Provide the scientific and common names of all tree species proposed for planting, including recommendations on the size and quality characteristics of trees to be planted.