Watch the introduction to Planning Enforcement video and click on each heading below to learn more.
Introduction to Planning Enforcement
As the local Planning Authority, we have a duty to ensure developments are carried out in line with the latest planning guidance and regulations, and any planning permission we have granted. A breach of planning control could be:
- building work
- change of use of an existing building or land
- works to a listed building
- the display of an advertisement
- activity in breach of a planning condition
- works to a protected tree
We are grateful to those who contact us for being our eyes and ears on the ground.
On receipt of a report, we assess the level of planning harm to determine our next steps. This is so we can prioritise and intervene more quickly on cases that are causing or could cause significant planning harm.
Our approach is to work positively and constructively with anyone responsible for a breach. It is not to punish everyone that carries out unauthorised work.
Alternative sources of help
Use our contact us page to report other matters to the relevant team, such as noise nuisances, bonfires and dangerous structures.
Other agencies may be better placed to help with your query:
- Find and report road or street problems – Oxfordshire County Council
- Report areas and incidents of illegal parking – Oxfordshire County Council
- Advice on neighbour disputes – Citizens Advice
- Health and safety concerns – Health and Safety Executive
- Wildlife crimes including disturbing nesting birds or protected species – Thames Valley Police
Information on high hedges can be found here.
Check if planning permission is needed
Some building works and activities can be done without the need for planning permission, under what is called permitted development regulations set by the government
- Use the Planning portal website common projects and interactive guides to see if the project could be done without planning permission
- The government also provide householder technical guidance
Please speak to your neighbour first as they might have already found out if planning permission is required.
A friendly conversation with your neighbour could result in them making minor alterations.
If you are concerned about tree works, use our interactive map to check if a tree is protected by a conservation area or tree preservation order.
If planning permission is needed, search for a planning application
We may have granted planning permission for the development. You can search for planning applications using our interactive planning map
There is a tour which will guide you through using the map.
If an application is required for works to protected trees, search for a tree works application by:
Read our Enforcement Statement
If you still believe there has been a planning breach, our planning enforcement statement sets out how we carry out investigations.
- For data protection reasons we will not provide updates on ongoing cases, even to those who report suspected breaches
- We can only consider action against building work or conversion of existing buildings to dwellings that has taken place in the last four years, unless it relates to a listed building
- We cannot take formal action against the following if they’ve been in place for more than 10 years:
- Material changes of the use of land
- Breaches of planning conditions
- New dwellings built without planning permission
You can help us look into a possible breach of planning control by providing us with as much information as you can.
Before you complete the reporting form, please make sure you have the following to hand:
- Photographs showing the activity
- Location of the activity
- Why the activity is a breach of planning control
- How the breach is affecting you and why it is harmful
- Planning application reference and condition number (if applicable)
If you require assistance completing this form, please call our customer service team on 01235 422600 with the above information to hand and they will complete the form with you over the phone.
What happens next
- We will acknowledge receipt of the completed form within two working days.
- We will review the information provided and if there is a breach of planning control, we will triage the case within 5 days of acknowledgement to assess the level and scale of planning harm.
- If the breach exceeds our threshold, an officer will carry out a site visit and any further investigation necessary.
- Cases under the threshold will be assessed without a site visit.
- It can take many weeks to investigate and resolve a planning enforcement case. Please see our Enforcement Investigation Process for an indication of timescales.
- Upon completion of our investigation, we will inform those who have contacted us of the outcome. We will not routinely contact you or provide updates in the meantime