Trees & development


When planning a development, any trees or vegetation located on site or on adjoining land  must be shown in detail on the development application and consider the following Council objectives:

  • Developments should be designed to minimise or avoid potential conflict between trees and structures
  • Existing prominent trees should be retained and incorporated as part of the design
  • Trees identified to be retained are to be protected in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4970 – Protection of Trees on Development Sites
  • Arboricultural impact assessments are required for trees with moderate or high retention values that may be impacted by a proposed development
  • To maintain Waverley’s urban canopy cover, where trees are approved for removal, sufficient landscape area must remain to allow for replanting of replacement trees.

Click on the links below for information on:

Location of trees on site plans
Arboricultural Impact Assessment Report
Tree assessment criteria
Tree protection on adjacent sites
Tree bonds
Construction hoardings
Significant and heritage trees and trees in urban conservation areas
Exempt and complying development
Replacement planting

Location of trees on site plans

All trees located on site must be shown on the site plan for all development applications. This includes trees on adjacent properties and any street or public trees within 4 metres of the site. The site plan must include:

  • the exact location of all relevant trees, with each tree numbered
  • for each tree: the common or scientific name, height, canopy spread, trunk diameter at 1.4 metres above ground level and number of trunks, if more than one
  • which trees will be retained, removed, pruned or transplanted.

Before plans have been developed it is advisable to have a qualified arborist do a pre-DA assessment of trees located on site and any adjacent trees that may be impacted by the development. The assessment must be in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 4970 – Protection of Trees on Development Sites. The assessment will:

  • identify trees worthy of retention
  • inform and advise of any potential hazards
  • minimise impacts on prominent trees by suggesting appropriate construction methods or design if necessary
  • help ensure the retention and protection of trees
  • minimise delays in the development assessment process.

The report must accompany the development application.

Arboricultural Impact Assessment Report

When a proposed development is deemed by Council to have an impact on trees with a moderate to high retention value, the applicant will be required to submit an arboricultural impact assessment report. The report must be prepared by a qualified arborist who has a Diploma of Horticulture (Australian Qualifications Framework Level 5). Please note there is a difference in skill level between an arborist that prunes trees and a consultant arborist.

The report is to include as a minimum:

  • Details and estimates of Tree Protection Zones and Minimum Setback Distances for each numbered tree based on the Australian Standard AS 4970 – Protection of Trees on Development Sites.
  • A separate tree plan clearly showing all trees to be retained/removed/transplanted and each tree numbered.
  • Tree assessment and retention value based on an industry accepted standard.
  • A comprehensive discussion/assessment of the impact of construction works including:
  • Details of any soil modification i.e. cut and fill, excavations
  • Details of any tree pruning for building clearance or tree health
  • Site works including hoardings; temporary site structures; wash-down areas  and vehicle access
  • Impact of the proposed building structure and location of services
  • Impact from landscape modifications on site trees
  • Details of any replacement planting
  • Root mapping report where required
  • Tree protection plan detailing tree protection measures and signage
  • An outline and time frame of WHS and tree protection procedures to be followed on site and appropriate induction for all on-site staff and sub-contractors
  • A post construction tree maintenance/monitoring program which can be used as conditions should the application be approved.

Reports must:

  • be in accordance with the Australian Standard 4970 – Protection of Trees on Development Sites
  • include recommendations for minimising loss of landscape amenity
  • be thorough, balanced and objective in assessing the impact on a tree/s health and condition
  • identify each tree with reference to the site plan
  • meet the criteria as outlined in the Appendices – Arboricultural Reports for Tree and Development Applications and the Waverley Tree Management Policy.

Tree protection on Bondi Beach

Tree assessment criteria

The assessment for removal or pruning of trees forms part of the development application process.

In evaluating an application to alter or remove a tree on private land, the assessment will consider:

  • the environmental, cultural and amenity value of the tree
  • the effect on the health of the tree from branch and/or root pruning
  • whether the tree shows poor form and shape/vigour  typical of the species
  • its location within the construction zone of the proposed building and whether design modifications can be made to minimise damage to the tree’s root zone and canopy
  • whether the tree is located in a habitat corridor and provides habitat or fauna canopy connectivity
  • the evaluation and recommendations of any arborist reports
  • the occurrence (or lack of) other vegetation nearby and whether appropriate replacement species can be planted.

Tree protection on adjacent sites

Trees adjacent or within four (4) metres of the site and identified as medium to high retention value and potentially impacted by the development process require protection measures in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 4970 - Protection of Trees on Development Sites during the demolition and construction phases of development.

An Arboricultural Impact Assessment is required to provide recommendations for tree protection. See appendices for report requirements.


Tree bonds

Conditions and/or bonds will be applied where necessary to ensure maintenance procedures are followed for the protection of trees on adjacent public land or for the successful establishment of new trees. Compliance reporting is required for the duration of the bond. This bond may be wholly or partially forfeited if the tree is structurally damaged or removed during demolition or construction.

Construction hoardings

Applications to erect construction hoardings on public land must show the locations of any tree within four (4) metres of the proposed hoarding footprint. A bond for the protection of trees affected by a proposed hoarding will be imposed and may be forfeited if the tree is damaged or removed during demolition or construction.

Significant and Heritage trees and trees in urban conservation areas

For trees listed as heritage, on the Significant Tree Register or considered prominent in an urban conservation area, an Arboricultural Impact Assessment must be submitted with the development application.

In the case of heritage trees or those listed on the Significant Tree Register, the architectural proposal should aim to integrate the tree with the built form and promote its environmental values.

Exempt and complying development

Minor and small scale development often does not require development assessment by Council. This type of development is identified as 'exempt development' or 'complying development'.

However, if trees, located on site or adjoining land and protected by the Waverley Tree DCP, will be affected by construction or demolition works a development application permit may be required.

Replacement planting

To maintain urban tree canopy cover, replacement planting is a condition of approval for development applications. Replacement trees must be an advanced approved species and be planted and maintained to maturity.

Where there is insufficient space for replanting an advanced tree, the applicant is to provide offset planting on public land. This will be undertaken by entering into a deed of agreement with Council.

Audit checks of replacement planting will be carried out by Council.