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New Design Guide website adopted to help create high-quality, sustainable development

An online guide that helps create high-quality and sustainable development in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse has been improved and extended following feedback from users.

The Joint Design Guide is an up-to-date, innovative, concise, engaging and interactive document that acts as a tool for anyone undertaking a development to ensure it fits with the character of the local area

Both district councils working together, launched a consultation on a draft version of the guide at the beginning of 2022. More  than 180 responses were received from members of the public as well as other consultees.

Many responses highlighted the helpful images and interactive maps as well as the easy navigation while others suggested areas for improvement.

Following the feedback, the Joint Design Guide site is now easier to navigate, broken down into more digestible sections and with more relevant pictures and additional annotations and explanations to diagrams and drawings.

It also provides extra guidance on design considerations for renewable energy generation sites.

Comments also suggested more detail was needed on how the design principles in the Joint Design Guide apply to small and rural developments, and this has now been added.

Debby Hallett, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Transformation for Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m extremely grateful for all the helpful feedback we received and happy that most people found the new Joint Design Guide helpful and easy-to-use.

Councillor Anne-Marie Simpson, South Oxfordshire Cabinet Member for Planning, added: “The responses to the consultation are really helpful and will allow us to improve the guide so that we can make sure development in both districts is high-quality and sustainable.”

The Joint Design Guide was adopted by South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council at their respective cabinet meetings on June 23 and June 24.

It means the guide will be a material consideration in future planning applications and replaces the existing individual guides for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils (adopted in 2016 and 2015 respectively).