Tree Permit Assessment Process

The City of Ryde’s Urban Forest Team assesses all Tree Permit applications.

The team will inspect each tree listed in your application. It is not essential for you to be there during the inspection, unless supervised access is needed. You may request an appointment, although this could cause a delay.

If the form is completed incorrectly or insufficient information is provided, the Urban Forest Team may ask for more information and will not assess your application until the missing information is provided. This will cause a delay in processing.

Next, the team will assess your application and check whether it is in line with the aim of Development Control Plan Part 9.5 (Tree Preservation) to protect the urban forest. For more information on matters considered when assessing Tree Permit applications, refer to the assessment criteria listed below.

The following are not considered valid reasons for removing a tree:

  • to construct a fence 
  • to reduce leaf, fruit, resin or bird droppings into gutters, downpipes and pools 
  • to improve street light or views 
  • impact on minor structures 
  • damage to buildings or structures which have not been built in accordance with planning and environmental legislation in force at the time of construction 
  • damage to buildings or structures where tree sensitive construction measures could be taken to preserve the tree 
  • bushfire hazard control works not undertaken by the NSW Rural Fire Service in the instance of an emergency 
  • root damage to a water, drainage or sewer system that is old (eg terracotta pipes) or in poor condition.

The City of Ryde will not consent to:

  • pruning not in line with Australian Standard 4373 - 2007 Pruning of amenity trees 
  • the topping or lopping of a tree 
  • any pruning of public trees.

As part of the assessment process, the Urban Forest Team may decide that more technical information needs to be supplied on top of what was submitted with the application. Such additional information may include, for example:

  • an arboricultural report (the type and issues to be addressed may be specified by the Urban Forest Team) 
  • aerial inspection 
  • root mapping 
  • testing via a sonic tomograph or resistograph 
  • a pest control report 
  • a structural engineer’s report 
  • a plumber’s report 
  • a report to clarify the content of any other report submitted with the application.

The information must set out reasons supporting your application and demonstrate that the assessment criteria have been considered.

It is important that all documents are by qualified authors and completed appropriately.

Assessment criteria

The City of Ryde may consider the following criteria when determining a Tree Permit application. This list is not exhaustive.

For applications to remove a tree

1. The tree’s surroundings:

  • Is the tree part of Urban Bushland?  
  • Is it significant as a single specimen or as part of a group of trees?  
  • Does it have heritage, cultural or ecological value? 
  • Is it registered on the City of Ryde’s Significant Tree Register? 
  • Is it prominent because of its height, size, position, or age? 
  • Does it form part of a screen or hedge planted for landscape amenity, noise abatement, microclimate or privacy? 
  • Is the growing location suitable for the tree? 
  • Is the tree self-sown?

Call Customer Service on 9952 8222 to find out if any part of your property is categorised by the City of Ryde as Urban Bushland.

2. The physical characteristics of the tree

  • What is the tree’s height, branch spread, trunk diameter and life expectancy?

3. The health of the tree

  • Is the tree dead or in irreversible decline? 
  • Is it infested with pests or diseases which have significantly weakened the tree, for which there is no practicable treatment or control? 
  • Is there is a fruiting body of pathogenic fungi, with a consecutive decline of the cambium around the wound (a canker), and a rate of decay greater than the rate of new tissue growth?

4. The form and structural condition of the tree

  • Are there are structural cracks and fractures on the branches, or at the junction between two trunks, that cannot be fixed without significant loss of living tissue? 
  • Does the tree have a large number of epicormic shoots that are poorly attached through incorrect previous pruning, and further pruning cannot rectify the problem?

5. Safety

  • Has the tree moved in the ground, or is there an obvious lifted mound with exposed broken roots? 
  • Have many large branches or the trunk been broken during a storm? 
  • Does the tree pose an imminent potential risk to human life or property?

6. Damage

  • Is the tree causing damage or potential damage to a home, outbuildings (eg garage, carport or shed), retaining wall, driveway or path? 
  • Can the damage or potential damage be controlled by installing a root barrier? 
  • Can the damage be alleviated by selective root pruning that will not harm the vitality of the tree? 
  • Can the damage be minimised by replacing old structures with new (eg terracotta sewage pipes with sealed PVC pipes)? 
  • Can the damage be minimised using alternative construction methods (eg pier and beam footings or suspended slabs)?

For applications to prune a tree

  • Does the tree have a pest infestation or disease and will selective pruning of the crown (in accordance with Australian Standard 4373 2007 - Pruning of amenity trees) improve its health? 
  • If the tree has structural defects, will selective pruning of the crown (in accordance with Australian Standard 4373 - 2007 Pruning of amenity trees) improve its form or structural condition? 
  • Will pruning (in accordance with Australian Standard 4373 - 2007 - Pruning of amenity trees) reduce conflict with nearby structures or services? 
  • Will pruning of the roots reduce damage or impact on nearby buildings, structures or services, while not having a detrimental effect on the tree’s vitality?

Council’s decision

After the Urban Forest Team assesses your application, a decision will be sent to you by mail. If the Tree Permit is refused, the letter will set out the reasons for refusal. All Tree Permits are provided in writing, not over the phone or in person.

Permits may be issued with specific conditions, such as a requirement to plant a new tree to replace any tree you remove. Refer to Section 6 of the Urban Forest Technical Manual for information on replacement tree planting. Tree Permits are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

How to request a review

If you do not agree with the decision, you can request a review. You need to submit your request in writing to the City of Ryde within six months of the date your application was refused, together with the appropriate fee (see the Fees and Charges).

It is recommended that you submit documentation to support your reason for a review. Documentation that is recommended includes:

  • Independent Arborist Reports evaluating the risk of danger the tree poses to human life 
  • Qualified and licensed plumbers reports on damage to drainage 
  • Structural engineers reports on damage to legally constructed buildings

These reports must meet the requirements of the Urban Forest Technical Manual(PDF, 434KB). If these documents are requested by the review panel, this may prolong the response time for determination.

The second review may be requested by Council’s Works and Community Committee.