Introducing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050

Aspiration 1 - Protect Environmental Quality

36 Oxfordshire has an attractive and diverse landscape with high quality built and natural assets. The heritage of places such as Oxford city centre and Blenheim Palace and the character of historic market towns and villages are real assets to the county. The county has substantial areas of internationally and nationally valued habitats and landscapes set within a mosaic of other areas of important wildlife habitat, high quality landscape, productive agricultural land, significant rivers and wetlands. Oxfordshire's farmed, rural and settled landscapes are valued for being accessible through the extensive public rights of way network.

37 These aspects are in large part what makes Oxfordshire so special and make it a desirable place to live and work. It is a key aspect of the tourism economy in the county, attracting visitors and supporting jobs. It is likely that the quality of the environment in Oxfordshire sets it apart from other "competitor" economies in the UK and further afield. This plays a large part in attracting investment and employees to help grow local businesses.

38 There is a long-term responsibility on us to ensure that these environmental and cultural assets are maintained and enhanced for the benefit of future generations of Oxfordshire residents. There is also a clear short to medium term benefit in terms of preserving our quality of life and the county's distinctive character.

39 The implication of this aspiration is that consideration (based on a clear understanding) of the environmental assets of the county should be fundamental to the choices made in the plan. Choices such as the locations of new developments should be led and guided by information on the value and quality of the environment. This may mean that development options that provide opportunities for improvement to and enhancement of the natural and built environment (and access for them to be enjoyed where appropriate) would be favoured. Future development will have to be designed to anticipate and mitigate climate change.

Draft Objective 1

To maintain and enhance the historic built and natural environment of the county through strategic investment and high quality design and to capitalise on the benefits these assets contribute to quality of life and economic success

Draft Objective 2

To protect and enhance the County's distinctive landscape character, recreational and biodiversity value by considering the benefits these assets bring when selecting areas for growth, by optimising densities, by improving connectivity between environmental assets and securing a net gain for biodiversity.