Oxford Local Plan 2036: Proposed Submission Draft Consultation

Chapter 6- Enhancing Oxford's heritage and creating high quality new development

6. Enhancing Oxford’s heritage and creating high quality new development

Oxford is a world-renowned historic city with a rich and diverse built
heritage. It is highly recognisable by its iconic skyline and its architecture.
Oxford is also a dynamic city that must adapt and change. High quality
design is key to managing this change positively, for the continued success
of the city. Successful new design and the conservation and enhancement
of the heritage of Oxford should not be separated. Managing change
in a way that respects and draws from Oxford’s heritage is vital for the
continued success of the city.

The value and benefits of good design and improvements to quality of
life are so significant that good design is not a nice extra, it is essential. A
successfully designed scheme will be a positive addition to its surroundings.
It may blend in or stand out, but it should not detract from existing
significant positive characteristics in the area, and it may add interest and
variety. A well designed scheme will meet the needs of all users and will
stand the test of time.

i. High quality design and placemaking

Responding to site character and context

6.1 A rigorous design process and design-led solutions are crucial to achieving
new developments of high quality. Design should have a clear rationale
and be informed by the unique characteristics of the site and its setting. To
enable decision makers to properly understand and assess the final design,
the design process must be clearly explained and justified. The design
evolution should follow a logical order of morphological layers, as set out

Contextual analysis of the site and its setting

6.2 All new development should be informed and inspired by the unique
characteristics of the site and its setting, and these considerations should
go beyond the red line of the application site to adopt a truly placemaking
approach. This contextual analysis must be the starting point for designing
new development and this information should be set out in support of
any pre-application enquiry or planning application. The contextual
analysis should consider the history and development of the site and
surrounding area, landscape structure, biodiversity, the pattern, character
and appearance of streets, buildings and spaces. The level of detail in
the analysis should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the
development proposals. As part of the contextual analysis, a constraints
and opportunities plan should be created which will help visually draw out
these crucial elements of the design development. Unique site features
identified will present an opportunity to shape design and offer the
opportunity for reinforcing existing character or creating an individual
character drawing on the context. Constraints identified will help provide
clarity about potential issues and open up the opportunity to explore
imaginative solutions to them. Appendix 6.1 contains more information
about what should be included in as part of the contextual analysis and
constraints and opportunities plan. Existing site features can include, the
topography, views in and out and across, points of connection, existing
natural features and established character, but this list is not exhaustive.

6.3 Regardless of the scale of development, it is likely that the site and its
setting will contain biodiversity or at least it should present the opportunity
for enhancement of this resource. The site will also be located within an
established landscape framework and may well contain natural features
such as trees, interesting topography and water courses, for example.
It is essential to identify these features first to ensure that they can be
integrated as early as possible into the site layout. At the earliest stage
the site’s natural resources should be understood so that the placement of
buildings later makes the most of these opportunities. These will include
the amount of daylight and sunlight it receives as well as climatic conditions
like wind. Where possible, existing trees and planting should be retained,
as this will help to establish character and provide interest more quickly.
This design approach can also help to integrate new development with the
surrounding area.

Site layout informed by contextual analysis and movement needs

6.4 The streets and paths we use are some of the most enduring features of
our built environment and Oxford has many excellent examples of highly
permeable street networks such as those found in the historic core, East
Oxford and Jericho. New development should seek to provide a clear
hierarchy and choice of routes as well as direct and convenient access and
must be designed for different modes of transport and different users,
particularly encouraging walking and cycling. The quality of all routes
in terms of how different people will experience them must be a key
consideration, avoiding inactive edges and narrow pavements for example.
Routes must be designed with all users in mind so that they are truly

6.5 Depending on the street hierarchy, different streets will have different
functions and require different designs and treatment, from a tree lined,
formal, primary street to a calmer, narrower, tertiary street. Focal points
and landmark buildings help aid people’s understanding of a place and can
create memorable routes as well as variety and interest.

Design of external areas

6.6 Investing in the quality of the public realm and the space between buildings
is as important as investing in the quality of new buildings, all of which
together, create the places in which we live, work, visit and enjoy. Design
should always be inclusive and the design of the public realm and outdoor
spaces should cater for all potential users. Moreover, the design of external
spaces should seek to create opportunities for people to engage with a
place through their senses.

6.7 Good quality landscaping is a fundamental part of successful outdoor
spaces. It is essential that landscape schemes/designs are evolved alongside
architectural designs to ensure that there is a strong relationship between
buildings and spaces. Trees and plants are important elements of any
landscape scheme as they provide visual interest, adding colours, shapes
and textures that provide a foil to buildings, helping to frame outside
spaces and make them more attractive. The careful choice of hard surface
materials can have a big impact on the success and overall quality of
outdoor spaces. In selecting materials for hard surfacing, thought should
be given to their durability, compatibility with the local context, and
relationship with the overall design vision. It is also important to consider
practical issues of any landscape scheme, such as lifespan (it is important
that the benefits are long term) and how maintenance requirements will
be managed over time.

The built form

6.8 Oxford has a rich legacy of buildings from iconic architectural set pieces to
smaller domestic, medieval houses in the historic core and locally distinctive
buildings within the many villages that now form part of the city. There is
therefore a wealth of inspiration in terms of building form and character
and great opportunity for creative, high quality complementary character
to enhance the existing built form.

6.9 New buildings and alterations to existing buildings should be of high
quality design. They should respond appropriately to the existing form,
materials and architectural detailing and should not have adverse impacts
on existing and neighbouring buildings. Placement, style and proportions
of doors and windows will be important, as will the choice of materials.

Public art

6.10 Public art is an excellent way to add interest, create a sense of place and
provide a focal point. The public art could contribute to creating local
distinctiveness, by saying something about the place it is in. It might reflect
a historic use or event of the area, or the purpose of the new development.
It can inject fun, quirkiness and a sense of personality. Public art should
not be seen as an embellishment of a scheme or appear as an add-on or
afterthought. Rather, it should be part of design considerations from the start
and integrated into the overall design concept. A developer will be expected
to show how public art has been designed in at an early stage. A temporary
piece, an event or a curated space might be accepted if they offer something
worthwhile. Creating multi-functional public art might help to achieve a
well-loved design, for example public art that can be used as seating. Details
of the public art should be submitted with a planning application.

Secure by design

6.11 High quality design means creating places that are safe, and where crime
and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine the quality of life or
community cohesion and resilience. New developments should be designed
to meet Secure by Design principles, which provide a well-established
approach for designing developments to minimise opportunities for
criminal and anti-social behaviour, and for creating spaces that reduce the
fear of crime.

Design review and the pre-application process

6.12 Design quality should be considered throughout the evolution and
assessment of proposals. Early discussion between applicants, the local
planning authority and local community about the design of emerging
schemes is important for clarifying expectations and allowing for the
opportunity for creative ideas and problem solving to add value.

6.13 The City Council will ensure that they have appropriate tools and processes
for assessing and improving the design of development. These include
internal design advice and review arrangements, which should be used as
early as possible in the evolution of schemes. The Council has established a
Design Review Panel which operates under the nationally accepted Design
Review Principles and Practice guidance document. It is encouraged that
all major development proposals are assessed by the Council’s in-house
design team and then by the Panel as part of the pre-application process,
in order that designs can be reviewed and improved at the informative
stage prior to the formal determination of the application.

6.14 In assessing applications, the Council will have regard to the outcome from
these processes, including any recommendations made by Design Review
Panel. However, the design review panel will always remain as an advice
panel and the Council will not fetter its discretion in the determination of
a planning application.

Policy DH1: High quality design and placemaking

Planning permission will only be granted for development of high quality design that creates or enhances local distinctiveness.

All developments other than changes of use without external alterations and householder applications will be expected to be supported by a constraints and opportunities plan and supporting text and/or visuals to explain their design rationale in a design statement proportionate to the proposal (which could be part of a Design and Access Statement or a Planning Statement), which should cover the relevant checklist points set out in Appendix 6.1.

Planning permission will only be granted where proposals are designed to meet the key design objectives and principles for delivering high quality development as set out in Appendix 6.1.



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ii. Views and building heights

6.15 Land is scarce in Oxford and there is an imperative to use land efficiently.
Taller buildings can positively contribute to increasing density, enabling a
more efficient use of land, and may also be an appropriate built response
to the existing context.

6.16 In Oxford, particular care should be taken to consider whether a new
development might be in the setting of the buildings that create the
iconic ‘dreaming spires’. These buildings are a collection of nationally and
internationally important buildings of historic and architectural significance.
They sit in a compact area in the core of Oxford, which is raised slightly
on a gravel terrace, giving more prominence to these historic buildings
and meaning that Oxford’s unique skyline can be viewed as a single entity
whose composition varies according to the direction of viewing. Oxford’s
iconic historic skyline means that particular care needs to be taken over
the design and placement of taller buildings. Taller buildings should not
negatively impact on views of the iconic skyline. The impact on views from
the historic core to the green hills surrounding Oxford is also important to

6.17 The skyline is characterised by its many pinnacles and the ‘spikiness’ of its
silhouette. The fragility and small height and volume of the spires means
the character of the skyline is particularly vulnerable to change and could
easily be eroded by any bulky element in the skyline.

Building heights and views

6.18 It is important that design choices about building heights are informed by
an understanding of the site context and the impacts on the significance
of the setting of Oxford’s historic skyline, including views in to it, and views
within it and out of it. Taller buildings will be possible in many locations, but
they must be designed to ensure they contribute to the existing character,
and do not detract from the amenity of their surroundings.

6.19 Guidance is contained in the Oxford High Buildings Study about the design
of high buildings. The aim will be to ensure that variability and interest in
the skyline is maintained.

The historic core area

6.20 Although from certain points of view the towers and spires that make up
the historic skyline seem to be spaced very widely, the area from which
the silhouette emerges is, in fact, very compact and does not extend far
beyond the old city wall within the central core. The area within a 1,200
metre radius of Carfax tower (defined on the Policies Map as the Historic
Core Area) contains all the buildings that comprise the historic skyline. New
buildings within the Historic Core Area have high potential to interfere with
the character of the skyline, especially if their height is above that of Carfax
Tower. These will be developments that exceed 18.2 m (60 ft) in height or
ordnance datum (height above sea level) 79.3 m (260ft) (whichever is the

View cones

6.21 View cones are drawn as triangles from important viewing points to
encompass the width of the area containing buildings that constitute
Oxford’s historic skyline. The 10 identified view cones do not represent an
exhaustive list of viewing points that provide an important view of Oxford’s
skyline. There may be glimpses of the famous skyline in other locations,
and tall buildings in particular that are proposed outside of the view cones
might still have an impact on the historic skyline.

6.22 Within view cones, proposed new buildings must not detract from the
skyline and composition and even where they will not intrude directly on
to it, their effect as a frame to it must be considered. However, it is not just
a bulky intrusion into the skyline that might be damaging; the foreground
is also an important element of a view. Development of a low and uniform
height that does not recognise the importance of rooftop detailing and
modulation can detract from the view of the skyline in the whole, as well
as having a negative effect on townscape.

6.23 A View Cones Assessment (2015) has been endorsed by the City Council
and is published on the City Council’s website. It examines the significance
of views, identifying their special qualities. The View Cones Assessment sets
out a methodology for heritage assessment of the Oxford views and applies
this to each of the 10 view cones. It describes and analyses the important
features of the view cones. The Study enables a greater understanding of
the significance of all parts of the view, not just the skyline. It is designed
to aid understanding of the impact of proposals on views, and should be
referred to, understood and reflected in designs within the View Cones
and the setting of View Cones that might impact on the experience and
heritage significance of the view. The contribution of elements of each
view is described. A simplified render has been developed for each view
and key characteristics are picked out with labels. This analysis should be
used to help judge and explain the impact of any proposed development
within view cones on the overall view. It should be remembered that,
while some protected views are partly obscured by tree cover (especially
in the summer) trees may become managed in the views in the future, so
protection of the views is still important.

6.24 Some views are from points outside the City Council’s administrative
boundaries. The City Council will work with Vale of White Horse to ensure
these view are protected.

Roofscape and views

6.25 Even where buildings do not intrude directly into the skyline they may
form a frame to it and have to be designed accordingly. To create more
visual diversity that enhances the experience of the skyline, articulation
of roofscape, and relatively short units of building are encouraged, with
features to create a break in the line.

6.26 A maximum ridge or parapet length of 25 metres without either a substantial
vertical or horizontal break or interrupting features is the guideline that will
be followed for Oxford’s skyline. The City Council will resist the loss of any
features, such as chimneys, if the loss would result in a simplification of the

Quality design of high buildings

6.27 Certain aspects of the design of high buildings require particular and
specific consideration. Whether a building is considered a high building
will depend on the context. The High Buildings Guidance Technical Advice
Note (TAN) should be referred to. This includes guidance on differing
heights across the city where the impacts from those heights will be
minimal. Higher buildings may still be appropriate. The TAN also sets out
design considerations for exceeding those heights. Policy DH2 sets out the
requirements for technological representations of the visual impact of high
buildings; non-technical representations may also be appropriate. Higher
buildings will often be appropriate in district centres and on arterial roads.
The massing, orientation, roofline, materials (including colour) and the
relation of the building to the street will also be important. Taller buildings
will need to be designed to avoid potential negative impacts of overshadowing,
reduced internal natural light and wind-tunnel effects. 

Policy DH2: Views and building heights

The City Council will seek to retain significant views both within Oxford and from outside, in particular to and from the historic skyline. Planning permission will not be granted for any building or structure that would harm the special significance of Oxford’s historic skyline.

Planning permission will be granted for developments of appropriate height or massing, as demonstrated by the following criteria, all of which should be met:

  1. design choices regarding height and massing have a clear design rationale and the impacts will be positive; and
  2. any design choice to design buildings to a height that would impact on character should be fully explained, and the guidance on design of higher buildings set out in the High Buildings Study TAN should be followed. In particular, the impacts in terms of the four visual tests of obstruction, impact on the skyline, competition and change of character should be explained; and
  3. it should be demonstrated how proposals have been designed to have a positive impact through their massing, orientation, the relation of the building to the street, and the potential impact on important views including both in to the historic skyline and out towards Oxford’s green setting.

The area within a 1,200 metre radius of Carfax tower (the Historic Core Area) contains all the buildings that comprise the historic skyline, so new developments that exceed 18.2 m (60 ft) in height or ordnance datum (height above sea level) 79.3 m (260 ft) (whichever is the lower) are likely to intrude into the skyline. Development above this height should be limited in bulk and must be of the highest design quality. Applications for proposed development that exceeds that height will be required to provide extensive information so that the full impacts of any proposals can be understood and assessed, including:

(i) a Visual Impact Assessment, which includes the use of photos and verified views produced and used in a technically appropriate way, which are appropriate in size and resolution to match the perspective and detail as far as possible to that seen in the field, representing the landscape and proposed development as accurately as possible
(ii) use of 3D modelling so that the impact of the development from different locations can be understood, including any view cone views that are affected; and
(iii) an explanation of what the impacts will be in terms of the four visual tests of obstruction, impact on the skyline, competition and change of character; and
(iv) reference to how the guidance in the High Buildings Study Technical Advice Note has been followed.

Any proposals within the Historic Core Area or View Cones that may impact on roofscape and the foreground part of views (including proposals where they are below the Carfax datum point, for example plant) should be designed carefully, and should meet all the following criteria:

  • they are based on a clear understanding of characteristic positive aspects of roofscape in the area; and
  • they contribute positively to the roofscape, to enhance any significant long views the development may be part of and also the experience at street level;

Planning permission will not be granted for development proposed within a View Cone or the setting of a View Cone if it would harm the special significance of the view.

The View Cones and the Historic Core Area (1,200m radius of Carfax tower) are defined on the Proposals Map.



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iii. Designated heritage assets

6.28 National heritage lists are administered by Historic England. Assets on the
lists are of clear national significance and include listed buildings, scheduled
monuments and registered parks and gardens. Oxford’s historic core has
a distinctive pattern of streets of Saxon origin and world-class buildings of
interest from every major period of British architectural history from the
11th century onwards.

6.29 Oxford has around 1,200 listed buildings, of which almost a quarter are grade
I and II* listed. Oxford has 15 registered parks and gardens. These Historic
Parks and Gardens are protected at a national level. Several of these parks
and gardens have been assessed as being part of the Green Infrastructure
network. Conservation areas are also designated heritage assets. They are
‘areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance
of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Oxford has 18 conservation
areas which are listed in Appendix 6.2 and defined on the Proposals Map.
They include a diverse range of qualities, reflecting the story of Oxford, from
the medieval walled city to surrounding agricultural settlements, the open
green space found in the Headington Hill Conservation Area to the meadows
of the river valleys such as Wolvercote and Godstow. However, they all have
the common element of containing features that link us to our past. The
protection of these features needs to be properly managed, ensuring future
generations will value and enjoy their special qualities.

6.30 Heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource, so it is vital that they are
conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance. Heritage significance
can be represented in an asset’s form, scale, materials and architectural
detail and, where relevant, the historic relationships between heritage
assets. Development that affects the setting of a heritage asset should
respond positively to the assets’ significance, local context and character to
protect the contribution that the setting makes to the asset’s significance. In
particular, consideration will need to be given to impacts from development
that is not sympathetic in terms of scale, materials, details and form.

6.31 Where development is proposed which affects a designated Heritage
Asset a heritage assessment will be required that is appropriate to the
level of significance of the asset. The assessment needs to explain its
significance and the impacts of the proposals. Substantial harm or loss of
significance should be wholly exceptional and could only be justified if it
is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm
or loss, taking into account the significance and benefits of conserving
the asset. Conservation area appraisals (where they exist) are the starting
point for understanding significance and significant features and assets
of conservation areas. Use of the Oxford Character Appraisal Toolkit can
aid in developing an understanding of local context and significance, and
is particularly encouraged in conservation areas in order to inform design
and aid understanding of its impacts.

Policy DH3: Designated heritage assets

Planning permission will be granted for development that respects and draws inspiration from Oxford’s unique historic environment (above and below ground), responding positively to the significance character and distinctiveness of the heritage asset and locality.

In all planning decisions affecting the significance of designated heritage assets, great weight will be given to the conservation of that asset (including its setting where it contributes to significance).

A planning application for development which would or may affect the significance of any designated heritage asset (including, where appropriate, its setting) should be accompanied by a heritage assessment that includes a description of the asset and its significance and an assessment of the impact of the development proposed on the asset’s significance. As part of this process full regard should be given to the detailed character assessments and other relevant information set out any relevant conservation area appraisal and management plan.

The submitted heritage assessment must include information sufficient to demonstrate:

  1. an understanding of the significance of the heritage asset, including recognition of its contribution to the quality of life of current and future generations and the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits they may bring; and
  2. that the development of the proposal and its design process have been informed by an understanding of the significance of the heritage asset and that harm to its significance has been avoided or minimised; and
  3. that, in cases where development would result in harm to the significance of a heritage asset, including its setting, the extent of harm has been properly and accurately assessed and understood, that it is justified, and that measures are incorporated into the proposal, where appropriate, that mitigate, reduce or compensate for the harm;

Where the setting of an asset is affected by a proposed development, the heritage assessment should include a description of the extent to which the setting contributes to the significance of the asset, as well as an assessment of the impact of the proposed development on the setting and its contribution to significance.

Where a proposed development will lead to substantial harm to or loss of the significance of a designated heritage asset, planning permission will only be granted if:

(i) the harm is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm or loss; and

(ii) the nature of the asset prevents all reasonable uses of the sites; and

(iii) no viable use of the asset itself can be found in the medium term (through appropriate marketing) that will enable its conservation; and

(iv) conservation by grant funding or similar is not possible; and

(v) the harm or loss is outweighed by the benefit of bringing the site back into use;

(vi) a plan for recording and advancing understanding of the significance of any heritage assets to be lost, including making this evidence publicly available, is agreed with the City Council.

Where a development proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to a designated heritage asset, this harm must be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. The justification for this harm should be set out in full in the heritage assessment.

Conservation areas are listed in Appendix 6.2 and defined on the Policies Map.



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iv. Archaeological remains

6.32 Much of Oxford’s history, especially in its historic core, lies buried beneath
the ground. Listed buildings can also contain important archaeological
evidence about their past, building techniques and traditions. Oxford has
a rich archaeological heritage, from prehistoric times to the modern day.
A better understanding and appreciation of the archaeology of Oxford
and helps us to understand its heritage. Archaeological remains can’t be
renewed so it is essential they are managed carefully and treated with
respect. It is important that Oxford’s archaeological legacy is protected
and where the loss of archaeological assets can be justified opportunities
to investigate and record archaeological remains are fully realised when
development takes place.

6.33 The unique archaeological heritage of the city encompasses a wide variety
of asset types. Some of these are formally designated as Scheduled
Monuments however many assets of comparable significance are not
currently designated and warrant appropriate protection through the
planning system. Notable assets include prehistoric domestic, ritual and
funerary sites located across north Oxford and the remains of an important
Roman pottery manufacturing industry to the south and east of city.
The town is also distinctive for its middle-late Saxon urban remains, its
emergence as a major cloth trading town in the Norman period and
for the numerous assets associated with Oxford’s development as an
international centre for academic study including the remains of multiple
religious institutions, academic halls and endowed colleges. Other assets
of particular note include the town defences, the distinctive remains
associated with the medieval Jewish Community and the Royalist Civil War

6.34 The policy is designed to ensure that the significance of Oxford’s
exceptional archaeological legacy is sustained and that where the loss or
harm of archaeological deposits is warranted development results in a
thorough investigation of the impacted archaeology. The policy will ensure
developers consider the potential existence of archaeological remains on a
site at an early stage.

6.35 The City Centre Archaeological Area (defined on the Policies Map) has an
exceptionally high concentration of archaeological remains, as do some
allocated sites (noted in Chapter 9 against the relevant site allocation
policies). Any significant breaking of the ground in these locations will
require an archaeological assessment. An archaeological assessment may
also be required outside of these areas, where it is suspected there are
archaeological remains. There are known concentrations of past human
activity in many parts of Oxford, and early discussion with the City Council
to ascertain whether an archaeological assessment is required is strongly

6.36 Where deposits exist, information defining the extent and character of
these should be included in the planning application. Early assessment and
field evaluation to inform sensitive design is recommended. Design should
aim to preserve significant archaeology in situ. The presence of deposits
or remains will require care in layout of designs to mitigate adverse effects
that may result from poor siting of foundations, drainage features and hard
landscaping. Where the loss of archaeological assets is warranted by the
merits and public benefits of the development archaeological investigation
and recording, public outreach, storage of artefacts and the publication
and dissemination of results may be an acceptable alternative. In these
cases, the potential for design that makes some acknowledgement of
the understanding of the past that is gained through the archaeological
discoveries should be considered. Understanding and incorporating
archaeological remains into current designs will add interest and local

6.37 Owing to the richness of archaeological remains in Oxford, especially in
the historic core, and because of the significant development pressures,
many works are carried out that affect the archaeology of the central
area. Such development may have cumulative impacts on certain asset
types; there is a danger that allowing the recording of deposits rather
than preservation in situ for several individual developments will lead to
significant degradation of the archaeological record. In those cases, further
work to ensure adequate contextual assessment and mitigation may be
required, that takes into account cumulative impacts.

Policy DH4: Archaeological remains

Within the City Centre Archaeological Area, on allocated sites where identified, or elsewhere where archaeological deposits and features are suspected to be present (including upstanding remains), applications should include sufficient information to define the character and extent of such deposits so far as reasonably practical. This information should generally include :

  1. a Heritage Assessment that includes a description of the impacted archaeological deposit or feature (including where relevant its setting), an assessment of its significance and  the impact of the proposed development on its significance, in all cases  using a proportionate level of detail that is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal . The Statement should reference appropriate records (including the information held on the Oxford Historic Environment Record); and
  2. if appropriate, a full archaeological desk-based assessment and the results of evaluation by fieldwork (produced by an appropriately qualified contractor. Pre-application discussion is encouraged to establish requirements). In the City Centre Archaeological Area where significant archaeological asset types can be shown to be subject to cumulative impact from development, the desk-based assessment should contain appropriate contextual assessment of this impact.

Development proposals that affect archaeological features and deposits will be supported where

they are designed to enhance or to better reveal the significance of the asset and will help secure a sustainable future for it.

Proposals which would or may affect archaeological remains or features which are designated as heritage assets will be considered against the policy approach as  set out in policy DH3 above.

Archaeological remains or features which are equivalent in terms of their significance as a scheduled monument are given the same policy protection as designated heritage assets. Proposals which affect the significance of such assets will be considered against the policy test for designated heritage assets set out in policy DH4 above.

Subject to the above, proposals that will lead to harm to the significance of non-designed archaeological remains or features will be resisted unless a clear and convincing justification through public benefit can be demonstrated to outweigh that harm, having regard to the significance of the remains or feature and the extent of harm.

Where harm to an archaeological asset has been convincingly justified and is unavoidable, mitigation should be agreed with Oxford City Council and should be proportionate to the significance of the asset and impact.  The aim of mitigation should be where possible to preserve archaeological remains in situ, to promote public enjoyment of heritage and to record and advance knowledge. Appropriate provision should be made for investigation, recording, analysis, publication, archive deposition and community involvement.



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v. Local heritage assets

6.38 Oxford City Council maintains a list of local heritage assets known as the
Oxford Heritage Asset Register (OHAR), which is a register of buildings,
structures, features or places that make a special contribution to the
character of Oxford and its neighbourhoods through their locally significant
historic, architectural, archaeological or artistic interest. The OHAR provides
the opportunity to identify those elements of Oxford’s historic environment
particularly valued by local communities. Buildings and structures on OHAR
are not given any statutory protection from demolition.

6.39 The policy will ensure that heritage assets of local importance will be a
material consideration when determining planning applications. Locally
important heritage assets can be added to the list when they are identified.
The policy sets out criteria describing a local heritage asset. If these criteria
are met an asset can be added to the Oxford Heritage Asset Register
following approval at a Planning Committee or City Executive Board.
Assets can be nominated by members of the public or during the planning
application process.

6.40 Local heritage assets and their setting often make a place special and
they should be given consideration at the design stage to ensure that any
adverse impacts are either avoided or mitigated and that local character is
enhanced or conserved.

6.41 Assets within conservation areas are not included in the Oxford Heritage
Asset Register. Individual assets of local heritage significance in conservation
areas are identified as part of the process of preparing a conservation area
appraisal. They should be considered in planning applications that affect
them or their setting in the same way as assets on the Oxford Heritage
Asset Register.

Policy DH5: Local Heritage Assets

Assets will be considered for inclusion on the  Oxford Heritage Asset Register if they have:

  • heritage interest that can be conserved and enjoyed; and
  • value as heritage to the character and identity of the city, or area, or community ; and
  • a level of significance greater than the general positive characteristics of the local area.

Planning permission will only be granted for development affecting a local heritage asset (or setting of an asset) if it is demonstrated that the significance of the asset, and its conservation, has informed the design of the development proposed.  In determining whether planning permission should be granted for a development proposals, which affects (directly or indirectly) a local heritage asset (that is not designated), consideration will be given to the significance of the asset extent of impact on its significance, as well as the public benefits that may result from the development proposals.

Publicly accessible recording should be made to advance understanding of the significance of any assets to be lost (wholly or in part) in a manner proportionate to their importance and the impact.



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vi. Shopfronts and signage

6.42 Outdoor advertisements and signs can impact on amenity and public
safety, and therefore sometimes require planning permission. Well-designed
signs and advertisements will integrate well with buildings and
the character of an area as well as meeting the commercial need for the
advertisement. However, obtrusive designs and unthoughtful siting of
signs and advertisements can have a detrimental effect on visual amenity
or on the character of an area, particularly in conservation areas.

6.43 The policy approach will ensure adverts and signs that require planning
permission (or listed buildings consent) are of a design, size and materials
that complement that character of buildings they are on and the surrounding
public realm. The policy will ensure visual pollution and clutters are avoided
and will help to maintain Oxford’s historic shopfronts. Compromises may
need to be made to ‘corporate’ designs in particularly sensitive areas to
meet the requirements of the policy, for example internally illuminated box
fascias and projecting signs will not be generally appropriate in conservation

Policy DH6: Shopfronts and signage

Planning permission will only be granted for the display of an advertisement, shopfront, sign or canopy where the design, positioning, materials, colour, proportion and illumination are not detrimental to assets with heritage significance or  visual or residential amenity, as demonstrated through the following criteria, all of which should be met:

  1. the design responds to and positively contributes to the character and design of existing buildings and surroundings; and
  2. public safety would not be prejudiced; and
  3. visual pollution and clutter are avoided; and
  4. historic shop fronts are retained



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vii. External servicing features and stores for bikes, waste and recycling

6.44 Bike storage is essential in Oxford, where travel by bike is already an
important mode share, and where an increase is being encouraged. Retrofitting
of bike stores can lead to poor facilities, which detract from the
overall design of a development. For flats particularly, convenient, secure
cycle parking needs careful thought, early in the design process.

6.45 Given that the total amount of waste generated in Oxford is expected to
rise (due to the rise in the number of households) maximising the potential
for residents to recycle as much waste as possible will be very important.
Ensuring that there is adequate, well placed space for the range of bins
required will enable this, and also ensuring that these bins do not detract
from the appearance or amenity of the street. It should also be ensured
that bins are located and stored in such a way that they can be collected

6.46 Servicing features such as meter cupboards, pipes and gutters, flues, vents,
satellite dishes and aerials can sometimes be designed as an integrated
element of the architecture that can contribute positively to the overall
design of a building or development architectural feature that benefits
the overall design. Chimneys and drainpipes, for example, can help to
break up the monotony of a terrace, showing the individual units within
the whole. Detailing of these features can be an important contributor
to the character of an area. However, servicing features can also create a
cluttered appearance and detract from design of an otherwise successful

6.47 The aim of the policy is to ensure that provision for bins and bicycles is
considered as an integral element of the design of a development, from
the earliest stage in the design process whether they are included within
the main buildings or as freestanding buildings. Consideration from an
early stage in the design process will ensure that it is designed in the best
way. Guidance on the numbers and sizes of bins that are required for
different types of development and design and placement of stores is set
out in the City Council’s Technical Advice Note on Waste Storage. This will
be revised to also include advice on bike storage.

6.48 The policy approach seeks to ensure that careful consideration is given
to the positioning, design and materials used for external servicing
features. Where it would be inappropriate for them to be designed as
an architectural element, they should be hidden as much as possible and
located sympathetically, for example on less prominent elevations, grouped
together and aligned where possible.

Policy DH7: External servicing features and stores

Bike and bin stores and external servicing features should be considered from the start of the design process. Planning permission will be granted where it can be demonstrated that:

  1. bin and bike storage is provided in a way that does not detract from the overall design of the scheme or the surrounding area, whilst meeting practical needs including the provision of electric charging points where appropriate; and
  2. external servicing features have been designed as an integrated part of the overall design, or are positioned to minimise their impact; and
  3. materials used for detailed elements such as for stores or rainwater goods are of high quality so they enhance the overall design and will not degrade in a way that detracts from the overall design



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