Policy Option 06: Protection and Enhancement of Historic Environment

  • Oxfordshire has a rich and varied cultural heritage that defines the distinctive character of the county with a wealth of heritage sites, from the prehistoric, the Roman occupation and the Saxon, Norman, Medieval, post-medieval and Victorian periods.
  • There are numerous fine examples of heritage assets throughout the Oxfordshire landscape include the Neolithic long barrow at Wayland Smithy, the Iron Age hillforts such as Uffington Castle and Sinodin Hill, Roman temples at Frilford, Wiggington and the Lowbury Hill and the chalk figure of the Uffington White Horse, one of the most iconic examples of Iron Age art in the world.
  • In addition, the county contains the internationally renowned medieval collages and buildings of Oxford, one of the region's most important tourist destinations. Other significant heritage assets include Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site, Rousham Park and former RAF Upper Heyford. These heritage assets, as well as locally listed buildings, form a valued and important resource that underpins Oxfordshire's distinctiveness and sense of place. 
  • It is vital that the Oxfordshire Plan recognises the importance of the county's cultural heritage, not just in defining the sense of place and identity, but for the value that it brings to the local economy, supporting the enterprise base and attracting significant tourist spending through the visitor economy.
  • These archaeological and historic heritage assets are a finite resource that are highly valued by the local community as well as both nationally and internationally. They form an important backdrop to the characteristic sense of place of Oxfordshire that makes it such a vibrant and attractive place to live and work. The historic environment also plays an important role in community identity. These irreplaceable historic assets are easily disturbed and destroyed by unsympathetic development unless carefully managed.
  • Approaches to the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment and heritage assets are well established in national and local policy through local plans. The Oxfordshire Plan has the potential to add value by setting a positive strategy for the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment at a landscape scale.
  • Historic Landscape Characterisation identifies specific characteristics of an area or to better understand what makes a place special or distinct and helps to build an understanding of sensitivity, vulnerability and capacity for change. Historic landscape characterisation mapping has been undertaken for the whole of Oxfordshire in order to identify broad historic landscape types across the county.
  • This assessment gives a broad understanding of the county’s historic character and indicates patterns of historic and current land use. As the assessment covers the whole of the Oxfordshire landscape, it also gives an understanding of archaeological potential within different parts of the county as well as the potential to support biodiversity, so there are synergies with other parts of the Plan relating to climate change and the natural environment.
  • An understanding of the historic importance of landscapes can help shape the Oxfordshire Plan spatial strategy to ensure that they are protected and enhanced for the value that they bring in terms of recreation, education, sense of place and historic character.

Preferred Policy Option

  • The preferred policy option is to establish a positive strategy for the conservation and enhancement of Oxfordshire's historic environment, due to the significance and importance of Oxfordshire's historic environment on the identity, sense of place, health and wellbeing and prosperity of Oxfordshire’s communities.
  • The Oxfordshire Plan should have regard to the location, scale and importance of Oxfordshire's heritage assets in terms of shaping policies, defining the spatial strategy and determining the spatial distribution of growth. Further detailed evidence on heritage impact will be required as the Oxfordshire Plan evolves.

Policy Option 06: Protection and Enhancement of Historic Environment

The Oxfordshire Plan would establish a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of Oxfordshire's historic environment at the strategic scale, taking account of the county's historic environment and heritage assets including historic landscapes, archaeology, Scheduled Monuments, World Heritage Site, Historic Parks and Gardens, Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings and their settings.

Development proposals would be required to assess the impact on the historic environment and heritage assets including both known and potential heritage assets including assessing the likelihood of currently unidentified assets being identified.

Regard would be had to the county's Historic Environment Record and local assessments relating to heritage assets including important views, conservation areas and locally listed buildings.

Detailed historic characterisation work would be required to assess the impact of major development, including new settlements, urban extensions or rural development including proposals for the Oxfordshire Plan and spatial strategy on the significance of heritage assets.

Development should conserve and enhance the historic environment and the setting of heritage assets.

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