Latest planning projects

Each week OPT look at planning lists for all the Districts and the City. We regularly attend pre-application discussions with owners and developers, which helps us to give our views early when we are more likely to have an influence. We do stick to matters in the public domain, conservation areas and our wonderful ‘villages within the towns’ with the support of our local members. Small or large, from railings and side extensions to masterplans and multi-million pound developments, we are interested in them all. Oxford is always under pressure to change – OPT continue to do our best, and we are always on the lookout for next year’s OPT Awards winners!

COVID-19

Planning has largely been able to go online, with Oxford City Council holding monthly committees virtually. OPT continue to look at all Planning and Listed Building Consent applications for Oxford City, Cherwell, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils on a weekly basis, commenting and attending committees as appropriate.

South Oxfordshire District Council – Local Plan 2034

The SODC Draft Local Plan to 2034 is currently under examination, the first time this has been done remotely, expertly run by the Inspector, Mr. Jonathan Bore, who also examined the Oxford Local Plan. We have made representations relating to the loss of Green Belt, impact on Landscape and Views, and sites within the Green Belt on the boundaries of the City and being promoted to meet Oxford’s Unmet Housing Need. We have been pleased to be given a seat at the table on Green Belt, and on days discussing the details on the sites at Grenoble Road, Northfield (Garsington) and Bayswater (Barton & Elsfield). The Inquiry runs from July – August and anyone can view the hearing via SODC's YouTube channel.

Oxford City Council - Local Plan 2036

Following an examination, for which OPT submitted a response, the new Oxford City Local Plan 2036 has been adopted. This will be the blueprint for future development in Oxford for the next 25 years. Of particular note are policies regarding high buildings and views of the City, whereby the height that new developments are considered likely to intrude into the skyline is 18.2m (60ft) or ordnance datum (height above sea level) 79.3m (260ft) (whichever is lower). OPT have carefully studied the Plan, which can be downloaded from Oxford City Council’s website HERE.

Climate Change

OPT are founding members of the International Climate Heritage Network who work to mobilise the cultural heritage sector for Climate Action across the globe, and Heritage Declares which links us with other leading heritage professionals promoting environmental awareness and cultural change, shifting conservation priorities without harming cultural significance, and encouraging the adaptation of buildings rather than demolition recognising the importance of embodied energy, and putting climate and ecological sustainability at the heart of planning and design. Historic England’s Heritage Counts study on ‘Carbon in the Historic Environment’ can be found HERE.

OPT is committed to the climate change agenda and our Planning Strategy will address this. We understand the need for an innovative and forward-thinking approach to ownership and to how people will want, and need, to live and travel in the future. We will look to support development in the most sustainable locations with good transport links and hospitals, schools and cemeteries provided for. We will try to hold developers to the requirement in the NPPF to ensure that development does not create a net loss in biodiversity gain. We are also very keen to ensure that no green open space is lost and if it is built upon then public open space is allocated to replace it, at the very least, and in a way that can achieve permanence so that it cannot be lost to development in the future.   

Current issues being considered

Over the past three months we have been busy dealing with Oxfordshire County Council’s early plans for gravel extraction at Nuneham Courtenay which would affect the setting of the Grade I listed Nuneham Park, and working with the developers who are carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment for a large Solar Farm on the northern slopes of land above Grenoble Road. We hope that our input will mean that the applicants consider fully the effects on Oxford’s setting and views both from the installations and ‘glint & glare’ from views to the west.  

There have been pre-application discussions on The Store on the corner of Broad Street and Cornmarket in the old Boswells Store where additional storeys are being suggested, and in the Science Area, a new building on the site of the Tinbergen Building is considerably higher than the 18.2metre height limit that we have been used to seeing in Oxford.