High Quality Design

4.22 West Oxfordshire's towns, villages and countryside have a distinctive character that is worthy of special protection. River valleys and wet meadows, historic parkland, ancient forest remnants, and undulating wolds landscape are important features. One third of the District has national protection through its inclusion within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Government's objective for the planning system is to promote good design that ensures attractive, usable and durable places. This is a key element in achieving sustainable development and is of particular relevance to West Oxfordshire which is characterised by a high-quality and distinctive environment much valued by all those who visit, work and live in the District.

4.23 In 2006 the District Council adopted the West Oxfordshire Design Guide as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) within the Local Development Framework. The purpose of the guide is to describe the qualities and characteristics that make West Oxfordshire special, and to describe the ways in which good design can protect and enrich the distinctive character of the District. In particular the guide seeks to:

  • provide an analysis of the historic variations that exist in the landscapes, settlements and buildings of the District, in order to provide a sound foundation for design guidance that respects these variations;
  • describes strategies for how new development can best respond to these contexts; and
  • provide detailed guidance on a range of design issues relevant to existing and future development.

4.24 We will expect all development to have regard to the guide. Reference should also be made to more specific design advice contained in other supplementary planning guidance covering the District including Landscape Assessments, Conservation Area Appraisals and Cotswolds AONB guidance documents which are key tools for interpreting local distinctiveness and informing high design quality.

CORE POLICY 4 - High Quality Design


High design quality is central to the strategy for West Oxfordshire. New development should respect and contribute to local distinctiveness and, where possible, enhance the character and quality of the surroundings and should:

  • demonstrate high quality, inclusive and sustainable design with the provision of a safe, pleasant, convenient and interesting environment where the quality of the public realm is enhanced and the likelihood of crime and fear of crime is reduced; and
  • not harm the use or enjoyment of land and buildings nearby including living conditions in residential properties; and
  • demonstrate resilience to future climate change, particularly increasing temperatures and flood risk, and the use of water conservation and management measures; and
  • preserve or enhance areas, buildings and features of historic, architectural and environmental importance, including unlisted vernacular buildings and habitats of biodiversity value; and
  • enhance local green infrastructure and its biodiversity, including the provision of attractive, safe and convenient amenity open space commensurate with the scale and type of development, with play space where appropriate.

Designers of new development will be expected to provide supporting evidence for their design approach. They should have regard to specific design advice contained in supplementary planning guidance covering the District. The West Oxfordshire Design Guide, Landscape Assessments, Conservation Area Appraisals and Cotswolds AONB guidance documents are key tools for interpreting local distinctiveness and informing high design quality.