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The Gold Coast is a vibrant and attractive city. We are working hard to maintain our enviable lifestyle and ensure our city continues to thrive in a sustainable way.

Tree removal - private land – lodgement process

Please ensure you have referred to the Tree removal – private land page and the Do I need to lodge an application for the removal of vegetation on my property? checklist to determine if an application is required.

An application to the City of Gold Coast is required if the proposed works can not be considered accepted development. The application type is an Operational Works - Vegetation Clearing.

Applications will be assessed against the Vegetation Management Code and any applicable City Plan overlay, such as the Environmental significance overlay maps.

Details in regard to the application requirements, forms, fees and lodgement information is found below.

Application requirements

Click to enlarge Example of drawing showing site plan

Example of site plan

Applicants must obtain written consent from the owner(s) of the land and state their reasons for wanting to damage assessable vegetation.

A site plan should be included with each application containing sufficient details to clearly identify the vegetation of concern to assist with the assessment process. Please note that absent or poorly prepared site plans may result in delays to the application and the applicant being required to provide more details.

Other factors that may impact your application include:

  • approved landscaping plans (these are common in body corporate complexes)
  • trees on common property – an application must be submitted by the body corporate or its representative
  • statutory environmental covenants (to preserve landscape features and vegetation)
  • other conditions of approval requiring the retention of vegetation.

It is important to note that removal of, or damage to, vegetation may require further approvals under additional State and Federal legislation.

It is advised that you have all required approvals necessary before starting works.

You may also have duty of care responsibilities under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to take reasonable measures to avoid or protect wild animals and their breeding places from damage. The engagement of a Wildlife Spotter Catcher may assist you in meeting your duty of care obligations.

Approved building envelopes

Click to enlarge Example of lot drawing showing building footprint

Example of building footprint

Some larger properties may have approved building envelopes.

A building envelope is defined in the City Plan as the area of a lot defined by metes and bounds within which all development including but not limited to a building, structure, private open space, car park, storage, on-site wastewater treatment and associated removal of vegetation must be confined other than a boundary fence. The term does not include a driveway from a road to the building envelope area.

While a building envelope defines the area where all structures must be confined, it does not afford rights for removal of, or damage to vegetation.

Vegetation proposed to be removed within the approved building footprint does not require City approval.

Vegetation proposed to be removed outside the building footprint, but within the approved building envelope (or elsewhere in the lot) will require an application.

Environmental offsets

Assessable vegetation clearing within the City may attract environmental offsets. This requirement is guided by Schedule 6.8 City Plan Policy – Environmental offsets and the 'Environmental significance – Vegetation management' overlay of the City Plan. Environmental offsets are used to balance the impact of the removal of vegetation on site and can be located either on or external to the site at which assessable vegetation removal is proposed.

For further information in relation to environmental offsets, please see the Overview of environmental offsets practice note.

Application forms

There are three different types of Operational Works - Vegetation Clearing applications:

  • Standard tree works not associated with a Building or Development Approval
  • Tree works associated with a building approval
  • Tree works associated with a Development Approval.

Each of these applications requires a different fees and supporting information to be provided, details are outlined in the below sections.

Standard tree works application not associated with a building development

Where a resident of a private property wants to remove a tree or vegetation and there are currently no developments or proposed developments being undertaken on the lot, the resident should complete the following forms and submit to the City for approval before proceeding.

State Government Form 1

Site plan for tree works

Associated fees and charges are listed as OPW (Tree Works) under the Operational Works - Environmental section of the current Council of the City of Gold Coast's Register of Fees and Charges.

Tree works associated with a building approval 

Where a resident of a private property wants to remove a tree or vegetation and there is currently a building approval being undertaken or proposed on the lot, the resident should complete the following forms and submit to the City for approval before proceeding.

State Government Form 1

Application for operational works

Associated fees and charges are listed as OPW Tree Works (Private Works) under the Operational Works - Environmental section of the current Council of the City of Gold Coast's Register of Fees and Charges.

Tree works associated with a development approval

Where a resident of a private property wants to remove a tree or vegetation and there is currently a development being undertaken or proposed development on the lot, the resident should complete the following forms and submit to the City for approval before proceeding.

State Government Form 1

Application for operational works

Associated fees and charges are listed as OPW (Tree Works) under the Operational Works - Environmental section of the current Council of the City of Gold Coast's Register of Fees and Charges.

Form lodgement

City of Gold Coast provides the following options for lodgement;

  1. Submit online SmartForm

  2. Mail or lodge in person at any of our Customer Service Centres.

Please refer to our Lodge a development application page for further information.

For further enquiries regarding trees on private property, please call us on 07 5667 5978.

Related information

Jump to key information
  • How can I remove a tree from my private property?

    A simple checklist can be completed to determine if an approval is required for removing a tree on your property.

    Please visit the Tree removal – private land page for further information.

  • I want to put up a boundary fence but a tree is in the way.

    If a tree is in the way of a boundary fence, there are some checks that will need to be conducted in regards to how close the vegetation is to the property boundary fence before any vegetation can be removed.

    Please visit the Common civil disputes involving trees and vegetation page for further information.

  • The leaves from the neighbour's tree drop in my pool – surely that means they have to remove the tree?

    No. In many cases pools are built well after trees have become established. If the trees are not causing any damage and are just dropping leaves then City of Gold Coast would not look favourably at an application for removal.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advice about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • Well, what do I do now?

    It is recommended that you contact one of the following agencies to investigate or assist you in resolving the problem:

    • Legal Aid office (QLD) -1300 65 1188
    • Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. - 07 5532 9611
    • Dispute Resolution Centre - 1800 017 288

    In addition, you can trim whatever is overhanging your property (only to the boundary line).

    In neighbourhood disputes, first try to reach an amicable agreement directly or through an objective mediator such as the Dispute Resolution Centre or the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. Legal action tends to damage neighbour relations. Generally, liaising with your neighbour is better than using a third party.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advice about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • Can I throw the branches back into their property?

    Overhanging branches - you can lop off overhanging branches of a neighbour's tree if the branches are causing a nuisance. You should not trespass on the neighbour's land to do this. However, any branches you lop off belong to them and they cannot refuse to take the branches back if you are unable or willing to dispose of them.

  • What do I do to resolve a dispute about a tree with my neighbour?

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advise about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • My tree branches are going into the power lines; what can be done?

    Contact Energex and they will remove any intruding tree parts from the power lines.

  • Will City of Gold Coast remove the tree(s) on my property?

    No, if City of Gold Coast approves the tree(s) to be removed, you will have to engage your own tree specialist/contractor to do the work.

  • Someone has cut down trees on their property – do they have approval?

    Ring City of Gold Coast (City) on 07 5582 8688 to check if they have obtained approval or if an approval was necessary.

    If you are sure the trees did not meet the self-assessable acceptable outcomes of the Vegetation management code and City approval has not been obtained, then contact the City's Local Law Compliance section on 07 5667 5991 to report a breach. A city officer will go out to investigate the possible illegal removal.

  • I live on a rural block and want to clear vegetation. Do I need to apply to City of Gold Coast?

    Complete a simple checklist to determine if an approval is required for removing a tree on your property. Please visit the Tree removal – private land page for further information.

    However, if the vegetation is classified as remnant, it may have additional protection under State legislation. Any clearing of remnant vegetation regardless of the status (endangered, of concern or not of concern) will require approval from the State Government.

    If you are not sure what remnant vegetation is and you have an email address, lot and Registered Plan details, visit the Queensland Government website to request an emailed copy of your property report with the vegetation category and status clearly illustrated.

  • What is remnant vegetation?

    Remnant vegetation is all intact and predominantly intact vegetation communities, excluding young regrowth. Clarification can be provided via the above web page link.

  • There is a tree on the nature strip or in the park next door to my property and it is dangerous or dead. Can I remove it?

    No. You must contact City of Gold Coast's (City's) Parks & Recreational Services to assess the tree, as only the City or its contractors are allowed to remove or prune trees on public property. Complete our online Report a problem form or or call 07 5667 5974.

  • I want to hire a qualified arborist or tree contractor. What should I do?

    Hiring a tree contractor or consultant deserves careful consideration and caution. A mistake can be expensive and long-lasting, but the right choice can assure safe healthy trees with a longer life. City of Gold Coast cannot recommend contractors, however for information on hiring a qualified and insured arborist in your area, contact the Queensland Arboricultural Association. Please visit the Steps to complete before hiring a tree contractor or qualified arborist page for more information.

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