Safety Surveys – Wakefield District Housing, Various Locations across Wakefield

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Wakefield District Housing is a housing association which had acquired large areas of former council owned land. We were tasked with identifying, surveying and plotting every tree now owned by Wakefield District Housing including all trees within communal areas and those within the gardens of the individual properties.

Each tree was to be tagged and the information recorded saved into a database which we custom built for Wakefield District Housing. When we started the surveying, Wakefield District Housing did not know exactly how many trees they owned, where these were located or what condition they were in. Our task was therefore to identify the trees, record the relevant data (species, age class, stem diameter, canopy spread), make specific comments about each tree with regards to e.g. form, pruning history, note any defects and assess their physiological and structural condition. Where defects were identified which presented a potential hazard or where general maintenance was considered necessary, appropriate recommendations were made, including tree felling or pruning. As many of the trees were located within a residential setting, either within the gardens of the properties or within communal areas close to residential properties, we also had to speak to and address the concerns of the local residents, who often requested that the trees be removed or pruned.

We were therefore required to assess the works which the tenants had requested and find the balance which retained good relations between the tenant and the housing association (by recommending works which addressed the tenants requests), whilst being aware of the budget constraints of Wakefield District Housing and the potential for setting a precedent to the other residents with regards to tree pruning and removal.

Due to the volume of tree data, this information was stored in a database and presented to the client in the form of GIS shapefiles, therefore providing location data alongside the detailed tree measurements, condition details and safety recommendations. In this way, plans and schedules of trees could be easily produced, sorted by area, priority, etc. The survey ran from 2011 until 2015 and by the end of the survey we had identified, surveyed and plotted 31,000 trees. Since we concluded the survey, Wakefield District Housing now run their tree management and maintenance system in house using the database we provided. We still offer tree advice when requested and provide training on an ad-hoc basis.