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What we think about landscapes

Riders on the Ridgeway Riders on the Ridgeway Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

The diversity of the Oxfordshire landscape is being steadily eroded. There is a spreading blandness and loss of character afflicting Oxford and our small towns and the countryside in which they are set. We're ending up with 'anywhere places'.

We want to:

  • show people why landscape character matters
  • raise awareness about the loss of landscape character
  • understand more about why this loss is happening
  • demonstrate what can be done to prevent further loss and, wherever possible, recover and enhance local distinctiveness
Why is this happening?

The main causes of this placelessness and ‘dulling down’ are the pursuit of economies of scale – leading to increasingly uniform and characterless development – and the fact that the costs of transporting things are becoming cheaper and cheaper in relation to the costs of production.

So we get new houses, farm buildings and other types of development that contribute nothing to the strength of local landscape character. The products sold in supermarkets and shops could come from anywhere. Field boundaries and road verges all become more and more alike. Things like road signs, pavements and public buildings become more standardised across the country. By letting the diversity of our countryside waste away, we are losing a priceless national asset.

Landscape character is what makes one place different from another. It is an important aspect of the beauty of the English countryside. Oxfordshire, and the city of Oxford has a distinctive character that draws thousands of people to it every year, to live, to work, to visit. We work hard to protect this priceless resource.

We want to ensure that the character of local landscape is at the heart of decisions made about planning, design and development.

The solution is to get a grip on what makes a sense of place, whether it is the pattern of woods and fields, local building materials or designs, local foods, markets or traditions. These characteristics can be accurately described and then informed judgements can be made in deciding future change. This process is called Landscape Character Assessment, the most important tool we have for safeguarding countryside character.

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