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Tree Removal & Pruning Guidelines in the Hobsons Bay City Council


Careful maintenance and preservation of the ecosystem is essential in the Hobsons Bay region, with its suburbs stretching across beaches, wetlands, creeks and grasslands. Situated on Port Phillip Bay and covering approximately 66 square kilometres, Hobsons Bay boasts one of the most environmentally diverse municipalities near the heart of Melbourne. Key to the existence of such rich biodiversity is the cultivation of a thriving urban forest. This requires the regular assessment and pruning of healthy trees, as well as the removal of sick, damaged or obstructive trees. 

In order to ensure that trees are kept both healthy and safe, it is important to have a qualified and experienced arborist provide regular assessments on the state of your private trees. Without the frequent trimming of excess foliage, lopping of overweight branches and extraction of trees that have become infected with disease, private trees can easily deteriorate in health. This can lead to a significant loss of the structural integrity of residential trees and can quickly become a serious hazard for residents, pedestrians, nearby traffic and animals. 

Not only can tree specialists help prevent trees from becoming dangerous, they can save you time and money. With the assistance of our tree surgeons, you can prevent great financial losses incurred from the damage of falling branches, the nightmare of blocked drains from falling leaves and the pervasive environmental issues of diseases and pests. Furthermore, with the help of our local experts you can ensure you abide by the many state and local regulations that can be time consuming to navigate and seriously expensive if violated. Below are our guidelines for following the regulations of pruning and removing private trees within the Hobsons Bay council, however we recommend you speak with one of our local specialists before commencing any treeworks to ensure you have the correct permits and approval. 

Tree Pruning & Removal Regulations

The Hobsons Bay Council website list several factors that they consider sufficient for the removal of trees throughout the region and several that they would consider insufficient. While these are for the removal of street trees, they provide an insight into the values and adjudication process in terms of the preservation of local trees. 

The Council state that they would only consider the removal of trees which are: 

  • Dead
  • Dying
  • Structurally Unsound
  • Due to approved development, likely to become damaged or dangerous

The Council state that they would not consider the removal of trees for the following:

  • Dropping leaves, twigs or fruit
  • Providing too much shade
  • Tree size
  • Personal dislike of a species or location
  • Property clearance

While this criteria reveals the values of the council in terms of the protection of local trees, on private properties trees can generally be removed without the permission of the Council. 

When do you need permission?

If a tree on your private property has a diameter at chest height of 450mm or greater, or is protected through a planning provision or overlay, then you will need the Council’s permission to commence any treeworks. 

The Hobsons Bay Planning Scheme outlines the provisions and overlays relevant to the region. This document, provided on the council’s website, is some 608 pages long with information obscured through legal language and clauses. For help identifying which regulations are relevant to you, contact us and our team will be happy to provide assistance. 

The Victorian Environment, Land, Water and Planning website provides an interactive map that highlights the state and local overlays and ordinances that intersect with your property, making it easier to identify the relevant planning schemes for you.

Native Vegetation

The strictest provision in this planning scheme relates to the protection of native vegetation. A permit is required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation. This permit application must be accompanied by the following:

  • A photograph or site plan (drawn to scale) showing the boundaries of the site,

existing native vegetation and the native vegetation to be removed.

  • A description of the native vegetation to be removed, including the extent and type of

native vegetation, the number and size of any trees to be removed and, if possible, the Ecological Vegetation Class of the native vegetation.

  • Topographic information, highlighting ridges, crests and hilltops, streams and

waterways, slopes of more than 20 percent, drainage lines, low lying areas, saline

discharge areas, and areas of existing erosion.

  • A written explanation of the steps that have been taken to:
    • Avoid the removal of native vegetation, where possible.
    • Minimise the removal of native vegetation.
    • Appropriately offset the loss of native vegetation, if required.
  • A copy of any property vegetation plan that applies to the site

When don’t you need permission?

If your private tree has a diameter at chest height under 450mm and does not fall within any of the local or state overlays and planning scheme protections, then you are free to remove the tree with the permission of the council. 


The council does not provide specific information on the pruning of private trees. Some planning schemes restrict the amount of pruning you can undertake if the tree is native, significant or heritage protected. Regular pruning is essential to the protection and preservation of both the tree and the surrounding ecosystem, so it is highly recommended that you contact us so that a local arborist can inform you as to the restrictions that may apply and assist you in that process. 

Arborist Insights

Around the Hobsons Bay area, our Arborists have noticed a number of critical issues in the trees that residents should make sure to be aware of:

“Cracks in the branches, dead branches, dangerous overhanging branches, Bracket Fungus in the fruiting bodies on the tree…those types of things,” says our local tree doctor. 

While it is important for residents and property owners to be conscious of these issues that are prominent in the region, it is essential that you enlist the help of a qualified tree specialist to assess the health of your tree, as many of these issues can go unnoticed by an untrained eye. 

fallen trees removed

While many of these problems occur across the suburbs of Hobsons Bay, they are often symptoms of other problems, say our experts:

From diseases and old age of trees, to things like possum attacks.” 

While our specialists can identify these issues with an onsite visit, there’s something they wish more of their clients were aware of before they called up:
“Oh wish they just realised how much is involved in a tree business. We’re competing against guys that haven’t got any insurance, they’ve got old equipment, no one works for them, they don’t have work cover or anything like that. And we’re competing against these people all the time,” says our local Arborist. 

So while a lot of people will just look at the bottom line of price, it’s important to do your research and choose a tree service with full insurance coverage, top of the line equipment and training and the time and skill to leave your property in a better condition than it started – that’s why people choose Jim’s Trees. It’s never worth cutting corners, it’ll always cost more in the long run, for your wallet and your environment. 

Cutting to the Chase

At a glance, the Council’s regulations on the pruning and removal of trees throughout the Hobsons Bay region appear to be fairly straightforward. However, a deeper inspection reveals that a myriad of planning schemes and overlays intersect with the local laws to create a web of regulations that can be a nightmare to decode. While trees with a diameter under 450mm are exempt from direct council permission, the native vegetation laws and planning scheme overlays may still prevent you from immediately undertaking treeworks. Furthermore, the council fail to specify the conditions by which you can prune your residential trees. While this article has provided a snapshot of the relevant laws and links to the planning schemes for Hobsons Bay, it is highly recommended that you contact our team today for help with understanding which regulations are relevant to you and for help streamlining the process to taking care of your trees today. 

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