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Report a breach of planning regulations

If you think someone has broken or not followed planning laws you can report it to us. You can check if planning permission has been granted.

Phone us as soon as possible on 01993 861420 if you think there is:

  • harm to a listed building
  • someone cutting down a protected tree
  • a significant health risk
  • danger to the public

For all other planning breaches report them online. Please provide as much detail as possible. Your contact details will not be passed on to anyone else.

Report a planning breach

What happens next

We will investigate and decide what we need to do. In some cases there may not have been a breach so we do not need to do anything.  We try and resolve as many breaches as possible by talking with the land or property owner. Where this is not possible we may issue an enforcement notice which could eventually lead to prosecution.

It can take several months to resolve a case. 

About planning enforcement

A breach of planning control occurs if development is undertaken that requires planning permission and planning permission has not been obtained.  This includes Listed Building Consents and planning permission for a material change of use of land.  A breach of planning control also includes where, development has been undertaken that is not in accordance with the approved plans and/or in compliance with planning conditions attached to the planning permission.

Local enforcement plan

The Council has adopted a local enforcement plan. This explains how planning enforcement investigations are undertaken, the priority in which investigations are undertaken, how planning permissions are monitored, and how alleged breaches of planning control are investigated. The plan also describes the range of enforcement tools available to the Council to resolve enforcement issues.

Commencement of development

It is the landowner’s responsibility to comply with the planning permission and all associated conditions, in all respects. 

The Council encourages landowners to notify the Council when they have commenced  development by way of the commencement of planning permission notice provided with all planning permissions.

Unauthorised development

In many cases, planning permission is required for the development of land or a building (including materially changing its use).  Development without express planning permission is 'unauthorised development' unless the development is considered ‘Permitted Development under the planning Legislation.

Examples of situations of a breach of planning control, include:

  • Developing land without the required planning permission .
  • Non-compliance with the conditions or legal agreement placed on the permission/consent resulting in any permission/consent being null and void.
  • Not undertaking the development in accordance with the planning permission or consent granted.

It is important to note that most breaches of planning control are not criminal offences. However, the exceptions to these are:

  • Undertaking external or internal works to a Listed Building without firstly obtaining Listed Building consent.
  • Display of an advertisement, which requires advertisement Consent, without advertisement Consent having been granted.
  • Non- Compliance with the requirements of a planning enforcement notice.

In these situations, the Council can take legal action which could result in prosecution proceedings and a criminal record.

The Council’s approach to unauthorised development

The guidance the Council uses to make decisions about unauthorised development is contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which was introduced by the government in March 2012 and replaced previous national guidance on enforcement.  Since then the government has produced a Planning Practice Guidance document "ensuring effective enforcement", published in March 2014, updated in 2019, which provides the main background regarding breaches of planning control.

As a local authority, the Council will use the legislative powers granted to us under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007, the Building Act 1984 and Building Regulations 2000, including all other subordinate legislation, to control unauthorised development.

Matters that planning enforcement do not investigate

  • Anonymous complaints.
  • Civil matters.
  • Neighbour disputes.
  • Noise/Waste/Pollution and Nuisance  - Unless covered by planning conditions imposed on an implemented planning permission these matters fall within the legislative powers of Gloucestershire County Council, Environmental Regulatory Services and the Environment Agency, the contact details for which are as follows:

Oxfordshire City Council – 01865 249811 - Monday to Friday 8:00 – 17:00 (excluding bank holidays)

Environmental Regulatory Services - Email or alternatively 01594 810000 9am to 4.45pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4.30pm on Friday

Environment Agency - or alternatively 01142 825312 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.