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, and includes:
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.
Read our brochure: Managing Trees on Private Land (2MB)
Tree Regulations and Canopy Management
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 under SEPP 2017 (vegetation in non-rural areas), and Part B section 16 of our DCP 2013 (228KB) and aims:
To maintain the visual, social and environmental amenity of the area through the preservation of trees and other vegetation.
To identify when Council approval is required to prune, remove or replace trees and vegetation.
To identify those trees and vegetation which are protected by the policy.
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 or works that DO Require a Permit
Development Consent or a Tree Management Permit is required for the removal or pruning of declared (formerly “prescribed”) trees/vegetation as identified under Part B section 16 of our DCP 2013 (228KB), and includes:
Any tree or vegetation on public land, regardless of size.
Any tree or vegetation with: a height exceeding 5m, or a crown width exceeding 5m, or a trunk circumference exceeding 500mm (0.5m) measured at ground level (existing).
Any tree that is identified as a biosecurity risk under the NSW Biosecurity Act, 2015 and is greater than 10m in height;
- Any of the following species of trees or vegetation on land identified as a heritage item under cl.5.10 of NSLEP 2013, regardless of size:
Bangalow Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana sp);
European Nettle or Hackberry (Celtis sp);
Indian Coral Tree (Eryrthina x sykesii);
Kentia Palms (Howea forsteriana sp);
Privet species (Ligustrum sp);
Willow Trees (Salix spp).
Trees or work that do NOT Require a Permit
A Tree Management Permit is NOT required for removal or pruning of trees and vegetation as identified under SEPP 2017 (vegetation in non-rural areas), and Part B section 16 of our DCP 2013 (228KB), and includes:
Trees or vegetation that are justified to be dead as confirmed in writing by a qualified arborist (minimum AQF Certificate 3) and where the tree or vegetation is not required as the habitat for native animals.
Pruning of deadwood from a tree or dead fronds from a palm tree.
Maintenance pruning of trees whereby:
- no more than 10% of the existing crown volume is removed; and
- branches no more than 100mm in diameter are removed and those branches are:
- not located more than 2.4m above ground level where they adjoin the trunk of the tree, or
- located within 1m of existing buildings (including eaves and gutters); and
- all work is undertaken in accordance with the Australian Standard for Pruning of Amenity Trees (AS 4373).
- Maintenance pruning of hedges where:
the hedge is less than 5m in height; or
the hedge is 5m or greater in height, but only where all work is undertaken in accordance with the Australian Standard for Pruning of Amenity Trees (AS 4373) and must be conducted by a qualified Arborist (minimum AQF Level 3);
Trees or vegetation identified as a biosecurity risk (formerly known as noxious weeds) under the NSW Biosecurity Act, 2015, except where that tree or vegetation is greater than 10m in height.
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.
Trees or vegetation that are growing inside a building, where there is a roof over the tree (e.g. within an atrium or internal garden bed).
The following tree and vegetation species:
- African Olive Trees (Olea Africana);
- Bamboo (Bambusa species);
- Box Elder (Acer negundo);
- China Doll (Radermachia sinica);
- Cocos Palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana);
- European Nettle or Hackberry (Celtis sp) - except on land identified as a heritage item under cl.5.10 of NSLEP 2013;
- Indian Coral Tree (Eryrthina x sykesii) - except on land identified as a heritage item under cl.5.10 of NSLEP 2013;
- Privet species (Ligustrum sp) - except on land identified as a heritage item under cl.5.10 of NSLEP 2013;
- Rubber Trees (Ficus elastica);
- Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus sp);
- Umbrella Trees (Schefflera sp); or
- Willow Trees (Salix spp) - except on land identified as a heritage item under cl.5.10 of NSLEP 2013.
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. When a Tree Management Permit is required, you will need to complete:
Tree Removal/Pruning application (for trees on private land)
A Council officer will then contact you and arrange an appointment 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.