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Dangerous Buildings and Structures

Southvale Building Control is responsible for dealing with dangerous buildings and structures within the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse districts.

Buildings and structures can become dangerous for a variety of reasons, ranging from a gradual deterioration through lack of maintenance, to a more dramatic cause such as a fire, storm, explosion or vehicle impact. In order to be considered dangerous, a building must actually pose a threat of causing harm to a person. We do not consider buildings, which are simply run down or dilapidated dangerous. Minor items, such as damage to timber fencing panels are unlikely to mean a building is dangerous. Additionally defective garden walls and fences between properties not adjacent to the public highway, are considered an issue to be resolved between neighbours (a civil matter).

What is a Dangerous Structure?

The term ‘dangerous structure’ covers not only buildings or parts of buildings, for example loose slates or tiles, but things such as garden walls, fences or hoardings adjacent to a public highway. Dangerous structures fall mainly into three categories:


These structures are at risk of collapse and must be secured for public safety. If the owner is unavailable, unable or unwilling to arrange for the removal of any danger, our officer will arrange for a contractor to undertake the minimum work necessary to remove the danger. The owner will normally be recharged for emergency works carried out in these cases since the prime responsibility for the condition of a building or structure lies with its owner.


These structures are found to be unstable by surveyors but not imminently dangerous. The owner is given a reasonable time to remove the danger. Failure to respond may result in a Magistrates Court Order being obtained.

Not dangerous

If the reported structure, in our professional opinion, is not dangerous, then we will take no further action.

What will building control surveyors do?

The Building Control surveyor will visit the site to inspect the structure and decide the best action to be taken to remove the danger. The Surveyor can ask a building owner to carry out whatever work is required to make a building safe, or – when needed – employ a contractor to carry out whatever work is necessary to remove the danger. In extreme cases this can result in demolition of the building itself.

A barrier can be put around the area surrounding a structure to ensure safety is maintained whilst the structure is being dealt with. If a structure is next to a public highway and considered imminently dangerous and likely to collapse, the Building Control surveyor may arrange for a builder to remove the danger as soon as possible, normally on the same day. All costs are recoverable from the owner of the property.

How do I report a dangerous structure?

It would help us if you can supply us with all the information about the building or structure and its location.

During normal working hours: Telephone 01235 422700

Please note there is no out of hours service for dangerous structures. If a dangerous structure arises outside of working hours please contact the emergency services by calling 999.

If you live in one of our properties but your tenancy is managed by Soha, you can find out more information about how to contact them if you have any concerns regarding the structure of your building on our information for tenants page.