Draft Core Strategy January 2011

Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

Natural Resources

Sustainable construction

8.16 The Government wants local authorities to contribute to the move towards a low carbon economy, helping to meet ambitions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and secure more renewable energy. The CAG Study concluded that in West Oxfordshire these objectives can most easily and effectively be achieved through the adoption of the Code for Sustainable Homes (a national system for measuring the sustainability performance of new homes) and BREEAM requirements (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method - a similar construction standard for non-domestic buildings).

8.17 While the Code/BREEAM should lead to the greater use of decentralised and renewable or low carbon energy, the big advantage of using the Code/BREEAM is that it also addresses the wider issues of sustainable design and construction, contributing to a range of policy objectives, such as ensuring high standards of water efficiency and the protection and enhancement of ecological features onsite.

8.18 As a general principle, all developments will be expected to meet or exceed relevant national minimum standards for sustainable construction. All sites allocated through the Core Strategy will be expected to exceed the minimum standards; for example, on these larger sites the potential to exploit renewable energy sources is greater, especially where CHP/DH can be used.

8.19 In West Oxfordshire, where water scarcity, surface water run-off, ecology and the aim of achieving low carbon and renewable energy are the important issues, particular emphasis in achieving these elements of the Code/BREEAM will be required. The use of local sustainability targets have been trialled since Summer 2010; these will be reviewed in the light of experience, government advice and the adoption of Policy CS21 and further local sustainable construction planning guidance will be published.

Policy CS21- Sustainable Construction

All new development (including new buildings, conversions and the refurbishment of existing building stock) will be required to achieve high standards of sustainable design and construction and, in particular:

new dwellings will be expected to achieve at least Code for Sustainable Homes (or equivalent) Level 3 with immediate effect, Code Level 4 from 2013 and Code Level 6 from 2016

  • on residential sites where CHP/DH schemes are feasible, at least Code Level 4 will need to be achieved with immediate effect
  • all non-domestic developments will be expected to achieve at least BREEAM ‘very good’ from 2013 and BREEAM ‘excellent’ from 2016
  • all non-domestic developments on larger sites (of over 1000 m2 floorspace) will be expected to meet BREEAM ‘very good’ or equivalent with immediate effect.

Within strategic development sites specific elements/themes of the Code for Sustainable Homes/BREEAM will need to be achieved, relating to water consumption, surface water run-off and ecology. Minimum acceptable levels will be identified.

Where developers cannot meet the above requirements, they will need to provide robust, open book accountancy evidence to demonstrate why it is not feasible, viable and deliverable.
Natural resources

8.20 The prudent use of natural resources is an important principle of sustainable development which means, for example, ensuring greater efficiency in the use and management of resources, the reduction of pollution and waste, improvements to water and air quality, and the protection and enhancement of features of importance, including wildlife and landscapes. The use of the Code for Sustainable Homes and the BREEAM Standards will help address these issues; Policy CS22 will ensure explicit consideration is given to the efficient use and management of natural resources.


8.21 The use of policies in this Core Strategy (eg on green infrastructure, biodiversity and sustainable construction) and adherence to national guidance and policy will assist in achieving the objectives of the Water Framework Directive and actions of the Thames River Basin Management Plan, including the requirement to protect and improve the status of water bodies, including their ecological value.

8.22 The River Thames and its tributaries contribute to the character of the District. After heavy rain many of these water courses flood. Flooding from surface water drainage, ground water and sewers also occurs.

8.23 In terms of development in flood risk areas, a sequential approach will be followed. Inappropriate development will not be allocated or permitted in flood risk zones 2 and 3 (which have higher probability of flooding), areas at risk of surface water flooding or areas with a history of groundwater flooding, or where it would increase flood risk elsewhere, unless there is over-riding need, an absence of suitable alternatives and flood risk can be satisfactorily addressed. All development at risk of flooding will require a Flood Risk Assessment.

8.24 The need for water management is especially relevant for West Oxfordshire, not just associated with the issue of flood risk (as exemplified by the summer floods of 2007) but equally water scarcity at times of drought. The District lies within an area of 'serious' water stress where there are limited water resources and yet a high and growing demand for water.

8.25 National advice, the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and the West Oxfordshire Design Guide provide guidance on the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) - drainage systems that mimic natural patterns and can ease surface water run-off and help avoid soil erosion. The use of SuDS will be required as part of any new development.


8.26 The Upper Thames Valley and its tributaries, particularly the Lower Windrush Valley, has been a major producer of sharp sand and gravel. Elsewhere in the District quarrying of rock takes place. Extensive areas of sand and gravel remain but, as a finite resource, it is essential these minerals are used efficiently, especially as, lying within historically important and biodiversity rich areas, their exploitation has a major impact upon the quality of life of local communities and the environment in general. Increased emphasis must be placed upon more sustainable construction methods than use of primary land-won aggregates.

8.27 The future minerals strategy for Oxfordshire is being pursued by the County Council through its Minerals and Waste Development Framework. Mineral deposits are protected through identified safeguarding areas; here Oxfordshire County Council is consulted on development proposals which may prejudice future removal of minerals (see Figure 4.1 Page 17).


8.28 There is a significant need for new recycling and composting facilities to reduce the quantities of waste disposed through landfill. Waste management facilities outside the two main landfill sites in the District (Dean Pit in the north and Dix Pit in the south) are expected to be small in scale providing local facilities only. Some new facilities may be satisfactorily accommodated on existing employment sites.

Policy CS22 - Natural Resources

All development proposals will be required to show consideration of the efficient and prudent use and management of natural resources, including:

  • minimising risk of flooding
  • making use of appropriate sustainable drainage systems
  • making adequate provision for the recycling of waste
  • using recycled and energy efficient materials
  • minimising waste
  • maximising passive solar heating, lighting, natural ventilation, energy and water efficiency and reuse of   materials
  • causing no deterioration and, where possible, achieving improvements in water or air quality.

Key Evidence
  • The Thames River Basin Management Plan This sets out actions to help meet the Water Framework Directive requirement to protect and improve the status of water bodies, including their ecological value.
  • West Oxfordshire Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) This looks at a variety of sources of flooding, including from surface water, and at the implications of future climate change. It provides further detailed guidance for developers www.westoxon.gov.uk/LDFappraisal
  • Environment Agency Source of information on eg groundwater vulnerability maps and groundwater source protection zone maps
  • West Oxfordshire sustainable construction interim planning advice 2010
  • Air Quality Management Plans

Historic environment

8.29 The large and particularly rich stock of West Oxfordshire's heritage, archaeological and architectural assets, which includes the World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace, plays a significant role in defining the character of the District and its historic environment, the individuality of its settlements and links with the area's tourism role, economic prosperity and the quality of life of those living here. It is important, therefore, that these assets are protected, conserved and, where appropriate, enhanced. Our internationally and nationally designated assets will receive the highest level of protection.

8.30 The sustainable management of the District's historic environment needs to be based upon an understanding of its significance and vulnerability to change. Local assessments, appraisals and guidance assist in this understanding. Any development proposal needs to ensure it respects existing local character and identity. For country estates, which in West Oxfordshire contain many heritage assets, the production of well researched and justified Estate Management Plans will provide an invaluable basis for the consideration of future proposals. The Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site Management Plan (2006) helps to ensure the conservation and preservation of its Outstanding Universal Value.

8.31 The best way to secure the upkeep of many heritage assets is to keep them in active, viable and appropriate use, consistent with their conservation. A particular challenge for the future will be adaptation to climate change and embracing new technologies without harming the special character of the District. (The Council has published guidance on 'greening' historic buildings)