Policy Option 26 - Culture and Arts

Policy Option 26 - Culture and Arts

Oxfordshire's city, towns and villages offer a variety of cultural and arts facilities that attract visitors well beyond the county's borders. Oxfordshire's world-renowned city of Oxford, as well as many of its traditional market towns and villages, play a role in making the county a sub-regional hive for cultural activity. Rural Oxfordshire too contains a diverse provision, from great houses to the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where rural arts, heritage and cultural activities are well established. As a result, it is considered important to ensure the continued growth of Oxfordshire's diverse cultural and creative industries.

Culture and the arts are a valued part of our society and play a key role in ensuring social wellbeing and community cohesion, as well as having a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Culture and the arts not only enrich our personal lives, but also our economy. In 2011, businesses in the UK arts and culture industry generated an aggregate turnover of £12.4 billion. Cultural and arts facilities additionally serve an educational purpose, as for example, museums and galleries are often utilised by schools and universities for teaching and research.

In recent times the culture and creative industries have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has therefore become increasingly important that they are supported in reflection of the difficulty faced by both industries during the pandemic, and the years that will follow it. It is also important to look forward to how these industries are likely to adapt and change in future. By 2050, these industries will likely turn increasingly more digital, so considering the changing physical nature of cultural and arts facilities is also necessary, as demand for temporary spaces such as pop-up venues may increase, whilst digital media venues may become more prevalent.

Policy Options

In order to ensure the continued growth of cultural and creative industries in Oxfordshire, a preferred policy option is proposed for inclusion in the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 which aims to advance these industries by supporting new strategic cultural and arts facilities across the county that will have regional, national and international draw.

One alternative policy option is to leave these considerations to future local plans, but our recommendation is to put a framework policy in place to enable forward planning by developers in conjunction with the local planning authority where the proposal is likely to impact on more than one district.

Preferred Policy Proposal

Policy Option 26: Culture and Arts

In order to advance Oxfordshire's culture and creative industries, and foster innovation, proposals for new cultural and arts facilities designed to have regional, national and international draw would be supported, including (but not limited to):

New cultural centres, museums, exhibition halls, galleries, and other visual arts facilities.New performing arts centres, concert halls, theatres, auditoriums.

The provision of public broadcasting facilities, including public television, radio stations and other electronic media outlets.

Evening and night-time cultural venues such as public houses, night clubs, cinemas and music venues.

Film production.Associated cultural and arts facilities, including studio and rehearsal space.

Pop up culture and arts venues, such as in vacant buildings.New cultural and arts provision at the great stately houses of Oxfordshire.

We would expect all new culture and arts facilities to meet the following criteria:

Opportunities are taken through design to have a positive visual impact on the local area.    

They must be located within the built-up areas of the city, towns and villages. In the district’s villages, development must be proportionally scaled and in keeping with the character of the settlement. Development outside of these areas will only be supported in exceptional circumstances, for example where it is evidenced that it cannot be reasonably be located in the city, or a town or village in the county, such as at the great houses.

They must be located at sites which can provide excellent transport and connectivity, that are easily accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.

Use of sustainable travel is strongly encouraged and a sustainable travel plan will be required that sets out the details of the bus and rail connectivity that is to be secured.

They must be designed with renewable energy provision and others to help reduce use of carbon.They must have minimal traffic, environmental, visual and landscape impact.

There is no negative cumulative impact resulting from the proposed use in relation to the number, capacity and location of other similar uses (existing or committed) in the area.

We would also seek to protect and retain existing cultural and arts facilities. Planning applications for the change of use of a cultural or arts facility must be accompanied by evidence to demonstrate that the continuation of the use of premises of the existing facility is nor viable. It must be demonstrated that:

all reasonable efforts have been made to market the premises for its existing use; and

all reasonable efforts have been made to support and improve the operation and management of the business; and it is demonstrated that suitable alternative facilities exist to meet the needs of the local community.

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