Pruning and removing trees

Council remains dedicated to addressing your enquiry, promptly and efficiently. Unfortunately, due to the current volume of requests, wait times to attend and complete these works can extend to a period beyond 6 months.

Timeframes are also influenced by weather conditions and emergency works that may arise during this time. Council staff actively assess workloads on a daily basis aiming to resolve each request as soon as practically possible.

We value your patience and cooperation as we strive to ensure the well-being and safety of our community.

Trees on your land

Under Part G - Vegetation Management of Willoughby Development Control Plan (WDCP) there are restrictions on which plants and trees you can prune, remove or transplant on your own property.

It is a Council requirement that all approved Tree Vegetation Permit Application (TVPA) to prune or remove vegetation must be displayed on the front boundary of the property 72 hours prior to and during the course of the works being undertaken.

A permit from Council is required to clear vegetation and prune or remove a tree if:

  • The tree has the following dimensions:
    • A height exceeding 4 metres.
    • A trunk girth (circumference) exceeding 600 millimetres measured at 1.4 metres above ground level
    • A crown spread exceeding 3 metres.

  • The tree is a locally native species that is representative of the original vegetation of the area.
  • The vegetation is within a defined wildlife corridor or has known wildlife habitat value.
  • The tree is visually prominent from the street or surrounding properties and makes a positive contribution to the visual character of the locality.

Once you reviewed the information above, you may elect to complete and submit a Tree Vegetation Permit Application (TVPA). Applicants must supply detailed justifications for the tree works; insufficient information may lead to the denial of the application.

Please refer to the DA tracker for information regarding the application, lodgement or approval of a tree prune or removal.

Trees on your neighbour’s land

  • Council recommends engaging with your neighbour, the tree's owner, to express your concerns and seek their cooperation to alleviate any negative effects on your property.

    The owner must secure approval from Council before performing any remedial action on the tree.

  • Council are not in a position to intervene should conversations with the tree owner fail to address the issues at hand.

    You are encouraged to then pursue mediation through the Community Justice Centres.

The Trees Act 2006 (Disputes between Neighbours) was established to help in cases where a tree from a neighbouring property poses a risk or cause damage to people or property, or a hedge excessively shades a neighbouring property.

However, please note that the Court requires your efforts to sort things out with your neighbour first before it steps in.

Further details are available on the NSW Land and Environment Court website.

Street trees

Street tree pruning

Council will undertake tree pruning to:

  • Eliminate dead, diseased, dying, and defective branches, and remove any branches that pose a danger.
  • Ensure footpath and road clearance for pedestrians and vehicles by crown-raising, provided it does not harm the tree's health.
  • Prune for visibility around vehicle sight lines, signage, and to meet Roads and Maritime Services requirements.

Council will NOT consider tree pruning requests:

  • When trees overhang a property or in cases of unsubstantiated fears about the tree’s health or falling branches.
  • To decrease shading, enhance views, or to improve lighting onto private property or solar panels.
  • For trees that naturally shed leaves, fruit, or bark as part of their lifecycle.
  • We encourage residents to clean up fallen leaves and fruit, placing them in their green waste bin.
  • For trees causing or likely to cause minor damage to property (for example a footpath or driveway).
  • For the use of chemical controls, except where absolutely necessary (e.g. termite control on nature strips).
  • For any practice contrary to Australian Standards 4373, or actions violating laws and regulations protecting trees.
  • For requests based on unsubstantiated claims or the perceived structural integrity of trees.

Request to have a street tree pruned can be lodged online by clicking 'Report or track an issue' or by contacting Council on 9777 1000.

Street tree root pruning

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of services like sewer and stormwater pipes on their property up to the point they connect to public infrastructure, such as sewer mains or stormwater systems.

The leading cause of pipe leaks are aging terracotta pipes, which can crack or have joint failures due to soil movement, attracting tree roots due to the moisture and nutrients leaking into the soil.

Tree roots typically invade pipes through existing fault lines and not by cracking through well-installed and intact pipes. To prevent root damage, it is advisable one replaces old pipes with PVC or UPVC ones, securing them with pressure seals.

Council will not approve tree removals for sewer and stormwater line issues, if there are viable solutions like pipe repair, replacement, relining, or rerouting available.

Eliminating the tree will not repair existing pipe breaches, and other plants are likely to invade these fault lines, if in a position to do so.

Street tree removal

Council will consider a Street Tree removal request under the following circumstances:

  • When trees are unstable and pose an immediate threat.
  • When carrying out emergency works due to significant service disruptions or damage, after all other solutions have been explored.

Council will NOT consider a Street Tree removal request:

  • If the tree is healthy and stable.
  • When no major defects are noted.
  • Due to unsupported fears about healthy trees/ falling branches.
  • For reasons such as improving views, enhancing solar access, or addressing issues like leaf, fruit, sap drops or bird droppings.
  • For sewer and stormwater line issues if viable solutions like pipe repair, replacement, relining, or rerouting exist.

The leading cause of pipe leaks are aging terracotta pipes, which can crack or have joint failures due to soil movement, attracting tree roots due to the moisture and nutrients leaking into the soil.

Tree roots typically invade pipes through existing fault lines and not by cracking through well-installed and intact pipes. To prevent root damage, it is advisable one replaces old pipes with PVC or UPVC ones, securing them with pressure seals.

 Council will not approve tree removals for sewer and stormwater line issues, if there are viable solutions like pipe repair, replacement, relining, or rerouting available.

 Eliminating the tree will not repair existing pipe breaches, and other plants are likely to invade these fault lines, if in a position to do so.

Developers and property owners must account for existing street trees during the design and planning phases of new projects.

Request to have a street tree removed can be lodged online by clicking 'Report or track an issue' or by contacting Council on 9777 1000.

Fallen branches on naturestrip

  • Council can be requested to remove branches that fall from a Council street tree.
  • Council does request residents’ consideration to fit these into their domestic green bins, if possible.
  • It remains the responsibility of the resident to organise a private contractor to have branches removed, should they have fallen off a tree on private property tree.

Ausgrid contractors, when pruning trees near power cables may place these on the naturestrip.  They remain responsible to clear these tree clippings. Should it be required, please lodge an online request with Request Services - Ausgrid or contact Ausgrid on 13 13 88.

Request to have a fallen branches (from Council trees) removed can be lodged online by clicking 'Report or track an issue' or by contacting Council on 9777 1000.

Request a new street tree

  • Except when carried out as part of an approved verge planting, Council does not permit the planting of one’s own trees on the nature strip due to safety and liability associated with underground services.
  • Council undertakes an annual street tree planting program to replace trees that have been removed as well as planting new trees in areas where opportunities for additional planting are identified.
  • The main tree-planting program usually commences in autumn when conditions are optimal for the establishment of new trees.
  • Please contact Council if you would like us to plant a tree in front of your house. Council's Streetscapes team will then inspect the location and determine whether the location is suitable for a new tree.

Tree selections are based on the trees identified in the Willoughby Street Tree Master Plan.

Request a new street tree can be lodged online by clicking 'Report or track an issue' or by contacting Council on 9777 1000.

Powerline clearance

  • Council is not permitted to prune trees that are in close proximity to power cables running pole to pole.
  • Ausgrid is responsible for managing and maintaining the power infrastructure, including tree pruning around power lines.
  • Ausgrid is also responsible for removing the branches/debris after pruning around these power lines unless attended as emergency works.

To address any concerns regarding tree pruning for power cable clearance, please lodge an online request directly with Ausgrid:
Request Services - Ausgrid or contact Ausgrid via phone: 13 13 88.