Draft Core Strategy January 2011

Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

Natural and Healthy Environment

Public realm and green infrastructure

8.32 The condition of the public realm (which includes areas as diverse as Burford High Street and Langel Common in Witney) has a significant impact on the street scene and quality of life and is an important component of the visual, spatial and historic qualities that make an area special. Often no single authority, agency or owner has control over - or responsibility for - the management of such areas. Their maintenance and enhancement forms a fundamental aspect of good design (Policy CS3). Such areas can be further enhanced by the introduction of Public Art (usually created by visual artists and craftspeople for a specific site).

8.33 Many areas within the public realm perform a wide variety of functions. This multi-functionality of space occurs, especially with green space, for example by helping to enhance biodiversity, contributing to water management, creating a sense of place, providing opportunities for exercise, active recreation and healthy living, enhancing image, with economic and social benefits, and helping to adapt to climate change. Protecting and enhancing these areas, and securing additional green infrastructure, helps to deliver sustainable development and communities.

8.34 As a predominantly rural district, it is not surprising that West Oxfordshire has a wide variety of green space, albeit not all publicly accessible. In order to achieve the widest range of linked environmental and social benefits, green infrastructure networks need to be planned and managed. This will be particularly important for those areas of greatest potential change, eg the main towns (where an accessible, green infrastructure network needs to be treated as integral to the design and planning of new development), and where existing projects are already underway or emerging, eg the Lower Windrush Valley Project, the Chimney Meadows Living Landscape Project and Conservation Target Areas.


Key Evidence
  • Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Preservation and Enhancement documents
  • PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment
  • Overarching aim is that the historic environment and its heritage should be conserved and enjoyed
  • Should be seen as part of the delivery of sustainable development and economic viability
  • Assets should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance
  • West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011
  • West Oxfordshire Design Guide SPD


Key Evidence
  • West Oxfordshire Design Guide SPD This sets out advice on improvements to the public realm. Regular maintenance, need to respect and enhance the local distinctiveness and creation of a sense of place are all identified, along with detailed design guidance and examples specific to the district
  • South East Green Infrastructure Framework - From Policy into Practice
  • West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011
  • West Oxfordshire Open Space Strategy
  • Thames Valley Environmental Record Centre (TVERC)
  • Biodiversity and Planning in Oxfordshire
  • West Oxfordshire PPG17 Study
  • Open Space Study of the main towns in West Oxfordshire
  • Natural England database


Policy CS23 - Green Infrastructure

The existing green infrastructure assets* of West Oxfordshire will be protected and enhanced and new multi-functional areas of green space will be created where improvements to the network can be achieved (through extending areas and/or better management), particularly in areas of new development and/or where stakeholder/partnership projects already exist or are emerging.

*Further guidance on green infrastructure will be published, including identifying opportunities for partnership working, strengthening and reinforcing networks, enhancing connectivity and achieving long term management.


Key Evidence

• The West Oxfordshire Sustainable Community Strategy and Action Plan and the West Oxfordshire Health and Well-being Strategy and Action Plan Both emphasise the importance of maintaining and improving the health and well-being of all residents in West Oxfordshire

• West Oxfordshire PPG17 Study This assessed the need, use, accessibility, number and quality of existing open space, indoor and outdoor sport and community recreational facilities in West Oxfordshire. The study found that, overall, the quantity of provision is considered to be adequate but that the quality is inconsistent across the District. For example, the quality of children's play areas in Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton was identified as in need of improvement. Some new facilities have been provided since the study.

• Oxfordshire Play Strategy and Action Plan 2009/11 and Play Policy These highlight the need for greater emphasis to be placed on play, given the demonstrable contribution of play to improving health outcomes, community safety, educational outcomes, social inclusion, enriching cultural life and supporting community cohesion. In terms of public space and the development of the public realm, there is a need to consider the 'playability' of such areas, taking account of facilitating shared intergenerational use of space. Creating safe routes to play areas is crucial.

• West Oxfordshire Built Leisure Facilities Study This study, in part updating the earlier PPG17 Study, has recently been undertaken. Overall, the indications are that West Oxfordshire residents are significantly more active than those in most other areas of England although 23% of the District's population is classed as obese.


Sport, recreation and children's play

8.35 Play parks, playing fields, country parks, sailing lakes, golf courses, allotments and the like, while primarily designed for formal and/or informal recreation purposes, all contribute to the District's open space provision and fulfil the multi-functionality of green infrastructure. Recreational open space and built facilities, such as the Carterton Leisure Centre, are also fundamental to the quality of life and wellbeing of West Oxfordshire's residents, contributing to community-life and bringing health and social benefits.

8.36 Local assessments of recreation provision show some inconsistency in the quantity and quality of facilities within West Oxfordshire. Given the aim of raising recreation participation levels, especially amongst young people, combined with a growing population, there is likely to be greater demand and pressure on existing facilities, giving added emphasis to the need for their retention. The general principle of protecting existing facilities is especially relevant for open spaces with recreational value in a built-up area, as new open space can be difficult to provide here and yet this is where demand is concentrated (see Policies CS23 and CS27).

8.37 Additional provision will need to be made, both through providing new facilities and maximising the use of existing ones, for example through making full use of facilities at schools and village halls, including facilitating shared intergenerational use. We will work in partnership with schools and other organisations to make facilities available to the wider community by maximising the range, quality and effectiveness of joint use provision.