Trees and other vegetation beside roads and footpaths
Plants on private property
Property owners need to ensure trees and other plants on their properties do not create an obstruction or safety risk for people using adjacent footpaths and roads. If you are not sure where your property boundary is, Council can give you an estimated location. You need to employ a surveyor for an accurate boundary.
Before planting near your property boundary, check how big the plants are likely to grow and make sure they are far enough back from the boundary that you will not have to constantly cut them back from the road or footpath.
If you have bought a property that already has plants growing into public spaces, you are responsible for keeping them trimmed back.
Common issues include:
Tree branches hanging too low over public spaces
There should be at least 2.4m clearance over footpaths to maintain pedestrian access and 3-4m clearance over roads to allow access for taller vehicles such as rubbish trucks
Vegetation pushing pedestrians off the footpath
Plants growing into the footpath space can push pedestrians into the road. They can also make access difficult for people with impaired vision or who use wheelchairs, pushchairs and mobility scooters.
Items dropping from trees and plants
Leaves can block gutters and cause flooding. Branches and fruit falling on paths and roads are a hazardous to pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Vegetation blocking visibility for drivers or pedestrians.
Thorny plants or sharp branches that can cause injury
If you have trouble accessing a particular road or path due to private vegetation, notify Council and we will contact the property owners, requiring them to cut their plants back.
Plants on public property
Council plants and maintains some roadside trees and gardens in urban areas. If you are aware of issues with these plants, contact Council so we can assess the situation.
Property owners and residents are not allowed to plant any vegetation in public spaces without written authorisation from an appropriate Council officer because:
- There may be underground services such as water lines, fibre, electricity supply etc under the ground that require ongoing access.
- Inappropriate plantings may create hazards such as blocked visibility on roads and footpaths.
- The space may be needed for public use, such as road widening or a new foot or cycle path.
- Council does not have the resources to maintain vegetation planted by other people. Even if you intend to maintain it yourself, eventually properties change hands and future owners may not be willing to do so.
If you want to plant outside your property boundary, contact Council to apply for permission. If approved, you will need to sign a licence agreement with Council setting out the terms and conditions, and pay the associated fees. You will have to remove any authorised plantings when you sell the property or if the space is needed for public use in the future.
Vegetation planted in the road corridor without permission may be sprayed or removed by Council contractors and the cost passed on to the adjacent property owner.
Trees and rural roadsides
As trees get larger and older, the risk of branches or the whole tree falling into the road increases. For this reason Council does not generally plant in rural roadsides. If you are purchasing a rural property with trees or other vegetation that appear to be outside the boundary, you will likely be responsible for maintaining them.
Under the Waipā District Plan, no trees likely to grow taller than 6m may be planted within 20m of a strategic, arterial road or 10m of any other road or railway in rural areas.
Property owners are responsible for maintaining existing trees and shelter belts on their road boundaries. If individual trees or shelterbelts appear to be a road safety risk, you may receive a letter requiring you to get an arborist’s assessment and carry out any recommended maintenance or removal.
Please check the Waipā District Plan rural zone provisions (p41) or contact our Planning team for more information about tree planting on your property near:
- Property boundaries
- Overhead power or telephone lines
- Lakes, rivers etc.
More information about trees near power lines and the Electricity Regulations 2003 can be found on the Waipā Networks website.