The Nature of Advice

The week we felled the timber for the Natural Shoe Store project, I had two other projects involving trees. The differences between the way they were dealt with by the relevant statutory authorities, made me think about the nature of significance and important protection of asset be they natural or heritage. 

Situation 1 – Greenwood Balustrade for Natural Shoe Store, Covent Garden

Felling trees for the Natural Shoe Store project in private woodland, Kent.


Felling in private woodland is licensed by the Forestry Commission. “In any calendar quarter, you may fell up to 5 cubic metres on your property without a licence as long as no more than two cubic metres are sold, no requirements to get permission.” Tree Felling – Getting Permission, FCCS100

Situation 2 – Jeppe Hein’s Rotating Trees, Frieze Art Fair 2008.

Request to excavate 2m3 holes for a slewing rig to rotate 7m high oak trees with a 5m wide crown amongst the ancient oaks in Hyde Park for an artist installation by Jeppe Hein for the frieze art fair 2008.

Trees in Royal Protected by  Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 and permission is required from the secretary of state to “ … attach any article too, climb or interfere with any tree …”


Negotiated by phone with an Arboricultural Officer at The Royal Parks to hand dig holes and not cut more than 8% of any existing trees roots, and if roots over 50mm diameter were found to consult. The Arboricultural Officer agreed to operate watching brief.

Situation 3 – Crown Lifting for Residential Project, Cambridge

Request for a crown lifting and thinning of a sycamore boundary tree set back behind the houses in a suburban street in Cambridge.

Report prepared by an Arboricultural Association Registered Consultant (AARC) to BS 5837: Trees in relation to design, demolition, and construction, recommendations included tree protection and pile foundations and ventilated ground beam.


The tree officer was initially adamant that the application for the proposed extension would be recommended for rejection due to the location of the foundations and need to raise the crown of this tree, a TPO was placed on the tree.  The objection was dropped.


With the right standing, resources, and reputation it is often, it seems, possible to make ambitious interventions, which can seem unfair to those who wish to make modest changes to their protected assets but do not have the resources or knowledge of the system.

As a professional negotiating the world of regulations around significance and impact, I have found that once the principles and experiences of larger projects are established, these lessons can assist those with means that are more modest in achieving smaller ambitions.

Whilst an understanding of legislation needs demonstrated the individual interpretation by officers is often subjective, soft negotiating skills are important, and the argument is worth having.