Applying for a Section 50 licence

Applying for a licence to dig up and place apparatus on a public road.

If you, or your organisation, wish to carry out work within, excavate, or break through, the existing adopted highway to install new apparatus, you will need to apply for a Section 50 licence.

Road Opening Licences are issued for such works as sewer connections, trial holes and boundary wall foundations etc.

Work covered by the licence

The term apparatus includes:

  • drains
  • cables
  • ducts
  • sewer pipes
  • water
  • gas pipes

The licence applies to any person or organisation (other than anyone acting under statutory right) who wishes to place, retain, inspect, maintain, adjust, repair, alter or renew apparatus, or change its position or remove it from the highway.

This includes opening up the highway or boring beneath the highway in relation to apparatus in, under, over, across, along, or upon the highway.

This licence can only be granted to the owner of the apparatus. A licence will not be issued to a third party who may install and maintain the apparatus on behalf of the owner. You must apply for a Section 50 licence before the proposed works are due to start.

A competent contractor can help you to complete the application form.​

Read the full guidance notes before you apply (pdf format, 52Kb)

How to apply

Complete the application form (doc format, 61Kb) below, and send it to with:

  • a 1:2500 sketch plan
  • the fee of £725
  • an inspection fee (depending on length of the opening of £150 for each 200m length or part thereof  to cover works and reinstatements)
  • relevant notification forms
  • completed temporary signal form, if required.

Check the full guidance notes for detailed information.

How long will it take

Most applications are likely to be processed within one calendar month and we will then contact you to confirm our decision.

However, there will be occasions, particularly for more complex applications, where the council is unable to make a quick decision or may need more information to help reach a decision.

The council is not liable for any delays arising to your project from a delay to making a decision on your application.

Choosing a contractor

A competent contractor will be able to assist you to complete the application form.

You will need to ensure that he or she has the relevant experience and knowledge of the Act.

They should show you they will use a site supervisor and operatives with the correct accreditation. But it is your responsibility to ensure that they have this accreditation.

If your contractor is reliable and produces quality work he should not have a problem guaranteeing e his works for the required two or three-year period.

Remember, that the licence places the responsibility on you to guarantee the street works and so you should ensure the same from your contractor.

Notifying other organisations

During the period the licence is being processed by the Oxfordshire County Council, the applicant is required to notify all statutory undertakers about the works.

The statutory undertakers are obliged to identify whether their apparatus will be affected by the proposed street works.

The applicant should contact the Streetworks Team to establish if any other undertaker or relevant authorities  have apparatus in the street i.e. other S50 Licence holders.

The applicant is required to inform affected frontages of the work at least four weeks in advance of any activity.  This could be achieved for instance by letter drop or public exhibition.

Forms for required notice periods

Major works

Major works require a road closure or have a planned duration of 11 working days or more.

What you need to submit

Standard works

Standard works have a planned duration of 10 working days or less.

What you need to submit

Minor works

Minor works have a planned duration of three working days or less.

What you need to submit.

Other notice periods

The street authority may need more time to process the application in certain circumstances, for example, for works that may have a significant impact on traffic flow on strategic routes or lead to lengthy road closures. 

Shorter notice periods may also be possible but must be agreed by Oxfordshire County Council in conjunction with the statutory undertakers likely to be affected.

Please contact for guidance.

Traffic signals

Where traffic signals are required as part of the work, a separate Temporary Traffic Signals application form (Form S50-T) (doc format, 120Kb) must also be received together with the main application.

Completion of works

It is the responsibility of the applicant to inform the street authority of the completion of the reinstatement by the end of the following working day, stating whether the reinstatement is interim or permanent using the Notification of Completion of Works form (S50-R) (doc format)

Who to contact

All completed forms and notifications need to be sent to

Notification procedures and general guidance:

Work notification forms:

Timing, Coordination and execution of works:

List of forms