Draft Local Plan October 2012

Public Realm and Green Infrastructure

7.19 High quality, accessible space is highly valued by the public. 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. Such areas can be further enhanced by the introduction of Public Art (usually created by visual artists and craftspeople for a specific site).

7.20 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 providing a wide range of ecosystem services, helping to enhance biodiversity through improved connectivity, linking urban areas to their rural hinterlands, contributing to water management, creating a sense of place, providing opportunities for exercise, active recreation and healthy living, enhancing image, and creating places where people want to invest, generating jobs and businesses. It therefore has economic and social benefits and mitigates the impact of climate change.

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

7.22 The draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) identifies some potential improvements to the District's network of Green Infrastructure and where appropriate, development will be required to provide or contribute towards the provision of necessary improvements.

CORE POLICY 19 - Public Realm and 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 to achieve improvements to the network (through extending areas and/or better management), particularly in areas of new development and/or where stakeholder/partnership projects already exist or are emerging.

New development should not result in the loss of existing green infrastructure unless replacement provision is made and is demonstrably better for the green infrastructure network in terms of quantity, quality, accessibility and management arrangements. Where appropriate, development will be expected to provide or contribute towards the provision of necessary improvements to the District's network of green infrastructure.

New development should not result in the loss of open space, sports and recreational buildings and land unless up to date assessment shows the asset is surplus to requirements or the need for and benefits of the alternative land use clearly outweigh the loss and equivalent replacement provision is made. Where appropriate, development will be expected to provide or contribute towards the provision of necessary improvements to open space, sports and recreational buildings and land.

*A Green Infrastructure Study (2011) has been undertaken for West Oxfordshire. 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.