Trees and development

Trees are essential in a warming climate, they cool us down, provide habitat for wildlife and provide a range of health and economic benefits. However, we are still losing large amounts of canopy each year, often as a result of development on private land. 

The City’s Urban Forest Plan aims to increase canopy cover over future decades from 12.4% to 18% by 2040.

To achieve this tree canopy cover target, more trees must be planted and retained on private property. A number of initiatives have been introduced to ensure that trees are considered during development

Priority Assessment for Retained Trees

This service rewards ‘Standard Development Applications’ where ‘Significant Trees’ are retained and can continue to thrive. By choosing to retain a tree, the assessment of your development application will be prioritised.

Please note, any development approved will be conditioned to retain and maintain the nominated tree for its natural life and using this service does not result in any preferential determination of a development.

Eligible Development

Single Houses, Grouped Dwellings, Warehouses and developments in the Industry and Service Station zones can use the Priority Assessment regardless of value.

The following types of development are excluded from using the Retained Tree Priority Assessment process:

a) Development Assessment Panel applications; or

b) land uses that are not listed in Local Planning Scheme No. 3; or

c) proposals of 10 or more Multiple Dwellings (apartments); or

d) proposals of Telecommunications Infrastructure; or

e) proposals of Child Care Premises, where the land use is not a ‘class P use’; or

f) development that has an estimated value of $2 million and over.

What are Significant Trees

A Significant Tree is defined by the City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 3 as:

a)   a woody plant at a height of at least four (4) metres above ground level; and

b)   for a single trunk species, a trunk circumference of at least 500mm at a height of one (1.0) metre above ground level; or

c)    for a multi trunk species, a trunk circumference of at least 250mm at a height of one (1.0) metre above ground level;

This excludes Palm and Cactus species from being eligible as Significant Trees

Before lodging an application

To be eligible, applications must show evidence that the nominated Significant Tree is expected to live beyond the next several years. To satisfy this requirement you can either:

a) Request a free arborist assessment from the City;

b) Submit a current arborist assessment obtained from a suitably qualified arborist , for review by the City.

Request a free Arborist Assessment or to submit a your own Arborist Assessment for review
Click here

Lodging a ‘Retained Tree Priority Assessment’

Use of the City’s Pre-Lodgement Advice process is encouraged before lodging an application for development approval.

Once you’ve received confirmation that the arborist assessment supports a priority assessment, please

a)    lodge your application for development approval here;

b)    confirm your priority assessment by ticking the box;

c)    include your City approved arborist assessment; and

d)    pay your development application fee at time of lodgement.

Retained Significant Trees List

In March 2022 Council resolved to maintain a list of Significant Trees that needed a development to vary the planning requirements (such as setbacks and building heights) to ensure the trees retention.

The City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 3 allows the City to consider any variation to the planning requirements if it results in a Significant Tree being retained.

The list of retained Significant Trees is as follows

SuburbStreetHouse numberTree speciesDevelopment Application No.
Mount LawleyHill View Road14JacarandaDA22/1016
TriggLynn Street50Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)DA21/0755

More information on planning incentives the City is considering to retain trees through development can be found in the 22 March 2022 Council Minutes (Item 12.1/DS2).

Trees on Private Sites

There are requirements relating to trees located on private sites, such as planting, retention and protection through development.

Retention or planting of trees on private land is required

Residential developments valued at $100,000 or above are now required to:

Non- residential developments valued at $100,000 or above are now required to:

  • Retain 1 significant existing tree for each 500m2 of land or
  • Plant 1 new advanced tree for each 500m2 of land where no significant trees exist.

These requirements are outlined in Local Planning Policy 6.11 – Trees and Development, and supplemented by the R-Codes.

Planting of new trees in car parks is required

Local Planning Policy 6.6 Landscaping requires a minimum of 1 tree for each 6 car bays to be planted in new car parks.

How does the City determine the value of a tree?

The City uses the Helliwell system to calculate the monetary value of a tree. This globally recognised system calculates a tree’s financial amenity value using a number of criteria including its life expectancy, tree size, rarity, importance in the landscape and the presence of other trees. This is an important step towards ensuring trees are valued as important community assets.

 

Retain trees during development

Mature trees are valuable assets that add amenity and livability to new developments. Use this simple guide to learn the basic principles around protecting and retaining trees during development.

Learn how to retain trees during development
Click here

Street trees

Street trees contribute to the visual amenity of streets, provide shade and cooling for homes and footpaths, and provide food and habitat for wildlife. Street trees are the property of the City of Stirling and must be protected during development on adjacent private land.

Developments and crossovers must be planned around existing street trees

Street trees will not be removed to allow development on private land. New developments should be planned so that driveways and crossovers do not conflict with street trees and the required setbacks are achieved. Setbacks are based upon tree trunk diameter and are required so that sufficient space is available for future tree growth and to prevent damage to driveways by tree roots.

For more information, visit the crossover page.

Subdivision must be planned around street trees

Street trees will not be removed to allow development on private land. The location and width of driveways on subdivided land will be impacted by existing street trees. Subdivision plans should consider how future homes can be developed and crossovers located while achieving required setbacks from existing street trees.

For more information, visit the crossover page.

Street trees must be protected from damage during development

A physical barrier or Tree Protection Zone must be installed around street trees to protect them from accidental or deliberate damage during construction and development on adjacent private land.

For more information, view the Reserve and Street Tree Policy.

How does the City determine the value of a tree?

The City uses the Helliwell system to calculate the monetary value of a tree. This globally recognised system calculates a tree’s financial amenity value using a number of criteria including its life expectancy, tree size, rarity, importance in the landscape and the presence of other trees. This is an important step towards ensuring trees are valued as important community assets.

Tree bonds are held to prevent damage during development

Bond values are based upon the trees Helliwell value - please see the FAQ above for more detail. Bonds may be forfeited if street trees are damaged or die as a result of development.

For more information, view the Reserve and Street Tree Policy.

Pruning to enable access during development

In some circumstances street tree pruning may be required to allow large vehicles to access development sites. Pruning of street trees by residents, builders or any private individual is forbidden: please contact the City of Stirling to request tree pruning. 

Street trees for new developments

Where no street tree currently exits and the adjacent private property is developed, the City will plant one or more new street trees on the verge. Tree planting is a condition of Development Approval and fees apply. 

Voluntary Protected Tree Register

One action of the Urban Forest Plan is to allow property owners to voluntarily register their trees, which the City will provide assistance to maintain.

Planning Protection

To ensure the ongoing health of trees that the City helps to maintain, Council has resolved to introduce a Voluntary Protected Tree Register, which will provide planning protection for the registered trees.

In May 2022, Council considered Scheme Amendment No.113, and Local Planning Policy 6.17 – Protected Tree Register to introduce a voluntary registry of trees worthy of planning protection.

The matter is expected to be considered by Council again in November 2022, and then referred to the Western Australian Planning Commission for determination by the Minister for Planning.

More information on Scheme Amendment No.113 can be found in the 10 May 2022 Council Minutes (Item 12.2/DS2).

Nominating for Protected Tree Register

Until such time as Scheme Amendment No.113 is endorsed by the Western Australian Planning Commission the City will not be accepting nominations for the Voluntary Protected Tree Register.