Planning applications frequently asked questions

For information about conservation and heritage see our Conservation and heritage FAQs page

Submitting an application

1. What do I need planning permission for?

See our Find out if you need planning permission page for more information.

Some minor alterations and extensions, particularly to houses can be carried out without the need for planning permission. This work is known as permitted development. You can apply for a certificate of lawfulness application to establish if your building work requires planning permission.

2. How do I get planning permission?

There are multiple ways to apply for planning permission see our Apply for planning permission page. Before you submit your application, use our validation guidance for further information on what you will need to make an application:

  • To ensure you have prepared all the required documents please see our Drawing Standards document for advice.
  • Once you have all the documents required for validation, you can submit an application.

3. How much does a planning application cost?

The fees associated with all types of development can be viewed via the Planning Portal fee calculator.

4. Where can I get an application form?

We encourage you to complete and submit your application online via the Planning Portal website. If you need to download a form, please select visit the Paper Forms page of the Planning Portal website.

5. How do I get pre-application advice?

Our pre-application advice is available through our website, where you can find details on how to apply and what you can expect from this service.

6. What is the difference between planning permission and building regulations?

Building regulations and planning permission are completely separate.

Planning permission covers the principle of development and whether it complies with local and national guidelines and policies.

Building Regulation applications assess the structural aspect of development and to ensure any building works comply with the standards of construction.

For building regulations enquiries please see more information on our Building Control pages, or contact the building control team on 01865 529113.

7. How do I pay?

Details on how to apply and pay are available here on our Apply for planning permission page.

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The decision process

1. What happens once I have sent in my application?

Once we have received your application, we will make sure we have all the details we need. You can view what is needed to validate an application by using our validation checklists.

We will then send you or your agent an acknowledgement letter or email, providing a date by which we aim to issue a decision, and the application number. If we need more information, we will write to you or your agent.

Applications will be returned if we do not receive the necessary information within the required timescale (2 weeks).

Consultation - Most planning applications require a site notice to be put up near the application site to notify any nearby landowners of the proposal to provide them the opportunity to comment. Statutory consultees (e.g. Historic England, The Environment Agency, Highways) may be required to comment on applications.

Determination - The Planning Officer allocated to the planning application will assess the application and may require more information or request changes to the application. They will write a summary report which includes a recommendation based on:

  • Local and national planning policy
  • Government guidance
  • Planning history
  • Any potential detrimental impacts as a result of the development e.g. unacceptable loss of light, privacy or outlook for neighbouring properties
  • Comments from statutory consultees
  • Comments from neighbours.

2. How long does it take before a decision is made?

Once a householder application has been validated, you will normally get a decision within eight weeks. This is dependent on officers’ workload, consultee responses, amendments and correspondence with agents and architects. Where possible, the council will ask for amendments to address any concerns. In these cases, an extension of time may be required as it is unlikely that a decision will be made within 8 weeks.

The statutory time for determination of major applications is 13 weeks or 16 weeks if an environmental impact assessment has been submitted. However, similar to householder applications, where possible, the council will ask for amendments to address any concerns. In these cases, an extension of time may be required as it is unlikely that a decision will be made within 13 or 16 weeks.

3. Who do you consult on applications?

Adjoining neighbours must be consulted on applications. A site notice is placed near the site to notify the public of the application it is not possible to send out individual letters to neighbours. In addition to neighbours, technical, statutory consultees may be required to comment on applications, for example Historic England, Natural England, Highways etc. All comments received will be considered before making a decision on an application.

4. Can I view applications or plans?

All applications and plans can be viewed on our website via our View and comment page.

5. What can I do if I have concerns about a planning application and what happens to the comments I make?

If you have concerns about a planning application and wish to comment, the Planning Officer will consider material considerations. The Planning Portal has guidance on what is considered a material planning consideration. Any comments made on planning applications are publically visible and will include your name and address. Please see our Planning information privacy page for more information on comments.

6. How much time do I have to comment on a planning application?

You will have 21 days to comment on an application.

7. What happens when I have made my comments on a planning application?

We guarantee that all relevant comments received within 21 days will be considered as part of the planning application process.

8. Will an Officer visit the site?

For most types of applications the Planning Officer assigned to your application will need to carry out a site visit in order to carry out an appraisal. The Planning Officer will contact the applicant or the agent to arrange the site visit.

9. What matters are considered in reaching a decision?

The Council is required to make decisions on applications in accordance with the Development plan. There are also supplementary documents that are taken into consideration, these can be viewed on our Supplementary Planning Documents pages.

10. What does a delegated decision mean?

Certain Senior Planning Officers have 'delegated powers' which enable them to determine most minor planning applications without the necessity of being referred to the Planning Committee. This includes the majority of householder applications and other smaller scale proposals.

11. What happens if an application goes to committee?

If a planning application is to be determined at committee, the application will be published 5 working days before the date of the meeting. Please see our Planning Committee Agendas.

You can track applications that you are interested in via our Public Access website, when committee dates are known, all published under the “important dates” tab.

At Planning Committee the Planning Officer will present the application and state the reasons for their recommendation. Members of the public can attend Planning Committees and arrangements for public speaking are set out on our website.

Further information on what happens at Planning Committee is available on our Committees pages.

12. How do I contact my Ward Councillor?

See details of your Ward Councillor.

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Once a decision has been made

1. If planning permission is granted, what happens next?

In most cases, you will have three years, from the date of permission, in which to start the development for which permission is granted. We strongly advise that you check any conditions attached to your permission, and comply with them before you proceed. Some conditions require discharging before development can start.

Further consent may also be required for works to listed buildings or works in conservation areas.

Your works may also require building regulations. Please contact our building control team for further information or visit our Building Control pages.

2. How long does the planning permission last?

In the vast majority of cases building work has to be started within three years of the permission being granted.

3. If proposal is refused (permission is not given) what can I do?

Applicants can appeal to the Secretary of State within 8 weeks of the date of the decision for advertisements, 12 weeks for householder proposals or six months in most other cases. The Planning Inspectorate provide further information on appeals.

4. I've got planning permission but I want to change something?

If you wish to make substantial changes to your scheme after planning permission has been granted by the Council, you will need to submit a new planning application.

If you wish to make minor changes to the scheme which has been approved, you may be able to make these changes by making an amendment. Further information can be found on our Amending planning applications and permissions page.

5. Making an Appeal

Further information on appeals is available our Appeal against a decision page.

6. Can I appeal against you giving my neighbour permission?

The planning system only allows the applicant to appeal against a decision made by the Council.

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Permitted development

1. What are permitted development rights?

Some minor works can be carried out without applying for planning permission. These are known as permitted development rights.

See the planning portal for extensive information on permitted development rights: Do you need permission?

The Government has also prepared a helpful guidance document: technical guidance for householder permitted development rights.

Some of your property’s permitted development rights may have been withdrawn. Check the planning history of your property before undertaking any works. Permitted development rights might have been removed on the original planning permission for your house.

Permitted development rights may be different in a conservation area. Details of conservation area boundaries are available on our ‘Conservation and Heritage’ webpages.

Permitted development rights may also be different for a listed building. Check whether your property is listed. More information on our Listed Buildings pages.

For further information on permitted development, visit our Find out if you need planning permission page.

2. Do I need planning permission to repair or replace windows or doors?

For guidance on whether you require permission to repair or replace windows or door, please see the Planning Portal - windows and doors website.

3. How do I find the permitted use of a site?

You can find the permitted use of a site by requesting Pre-application advice.

4. What is a use class?

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes'. It is likely that permission would be required to change from one use to another.

The Planning Portal provides detailed guidance on use classes and what requires planning permission. Change of Use

5. I think one of my neighbours are building something without planning permission, what should I do?

Your neighbour may have not needed planning permission under permitted development. Please see link for further information on permitted development

See link to the planning portal for information on the failure to obtain or comply with planning permission.

For further information on how the Council deals with works undertaken without the necessary planning permission please visit our ‘planning enforcement’ webpages.

6. Can you tell me who owns land, a boundary or fence?

You can find details about non council owned land on the Land Registry website.

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Do I need planning permission for …

1. Do I need planning permission for a dropped kerb or access?

You will need to contact us whether you live on a classified road or not.

If the access or dropped kerb is on a classified road it will require an application for planning permission.

You will also need to contact the Highways Authority – Oxfordshire County Council for their permission and to obtain a license to create a vehicular access.

2. Do I need planning permission to make changes to my front garden?

Planning permission may be required for hard surfaces within the garden of a dwelling. Please see the Planning Portal guidance on hard surfaces.

There is also government guidance to permeable surfacing of front gardens.

3. Do I need planning permission for an outbuilding?

If you live in a house you may be able to construct an outbuilding under permitted development. Please visit the Outbuildings page on the Planning Portal for further guidance on this.

This does not apply to land/garden around a listed building, as planning permission would be required and you may also require Listed Building Consent. Also for flats/maisonettes/mobile homes, planning permission is always necessary for this type of building.

4. Do I need planning permission to run a business from home?

Planning permission may not be required for a householder to run a business from home, providing it does not change the overall character of the property as a residence.

However, some important questions to bear in mind are:

  • Will my business operate independently from the rest of my property?
  • Will there be frequent visitors to my property, including deliveries and/or customers?
  • Am I going to need to employ staff to operate the business?
  • Is my business going to be noisy or cause disturbance to my neighbours?
  • If my business is successful will I want it to expand and grow?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, it is possible that your business will require planning permission.In addition, if you decide to put up a building in your garden for the purposes of carrying out your business then that building will probably require planning permission as well. An outbuilding that is used as a home office is unlikely to need planning permission however provided it would not exceed the limitations of a Permitted Development outbuilding.

Further information on this can be found on the Planning Portal.

You may also need to tell our Council Tax section about your business, and if you are a tenant in your property, you should check with your landlord that you have their permission.

You can ask the Council to confirm whether or not you need planning permission by submitting an application for a certificate of lawfulness.

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