The Town & Country Planning Act (1990) provides the legal framework for Councils to control works to protected trees. The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation)(England) Regulations 2012 provides the detailed rules on how TPOs are administered. Details of both can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ although updates and changes are pending.
The work that is specifically prohibited without Council permission is (a) cut down; (b) top; (c) lop; (d) uproot; (e) wilfully damage; or (f) wilfully destroy any tree described listed in a TPO.
In Conservation Areas, and as long as no Tree Preservation Order applies, tree owners can give notification to Councils of their intention to undertake tree works under Section 211 3(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Councils then have the option either to serve a Tree Preservation Order OR to ignore the notification OR to issue a letter of no objection. A few Councils still try to "refuse" such notifications or issue conditional consents, both of which are not valid procedures.
However, what happens when your application is refused? You can appeal the decision but you can improve your chances of success with professional support. Having worked for several councils and successfully appealed against tree work refusals I can assess your chances of success and advise you accordingly.
Jon Heuch maintains the TPO pages for www.isurv.com - the online source of advice for RICS (Chartered Surveyors). Unfortunately it is a subscriber only service.
Tel 01233 713 657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org