CDC – Countryside Design Statement


This is a somewhat ageing document (June 1998) but does contain some helpful language.
Its stated purpose is” to guide development in the rural areas so that the distinctive character of the district’s countryside and the settlements and buildings within it are maintained and enhanced.”
This surely has to be a key part of our Neigbourhood Plan.
It divides the Cherwell District into landscape types and desribes the landscape and typical buildings.   Bloxham falls into the “Settlements on the ironstone downs” category.

The following is gleaned from the document. You can download the entire document here.

The character area covers the entire northern half of the district to the west of the Cherwell Valley. It also forms part of a larger region, which is fairly homogenous in terms of its geology and architecture, covering parts of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and West Oxfordshire.

The Ironstone Downs consist of marlstone rock beds overlying middle and lower lias clays, except where outcrops of white limestone and Northampton sands have been exposed by uplift.

The southern half of this area is divided into steeply sided, convoluted valleys with narrow valleys floors and rolling, rounded hill lines. The marlstone is less faulted in the northern half, producing an upland plateau-like landscape incised by very steep and often narrow valleys. The majority of this character area drains into the River Cherwell, except for a small area around the Sibfords, which drains west into the River Stour.


(i) The Ironstone Downs is a strongly undulating landscape, which rises to the west forming an upland ridge on the western boundary of the district, over 200m in altitude in part. In places, such as Oatley Hill at 239m, this ridge provides extensive views over much of the western part of this character area.

(ii) Steeply sided, narrow valleys containing small brooks dissect the area, being more defined in the north where they cut through a gently rolling plateau. To the south, however, rounded hills often extend straight from the valley sides. Quarrying has had a considerable impact on the landscape with some reclaimed fields several metres below the natural level of the land.

(iii) Mixed farmland is characteristic of this area. Where the land is gently sloping, large-scale intensive arable farmland predominates. Elsewhere on steeper slopes, small scale grazing land exists with strong patterns of mixed thorn hedgerows containing hedgerow trees such as Oak, Ash, Sycamore and occasional Beech. Remnant heath vegetation also exists on some of the higher ground.

(iv) There are very few extensive areas of woodland. Those that exist are either associated with historic parkland located in the east of the area, or with poor quality soils, especially in association with watercourses and the brow of hills.

(v) This area contains both exposed large-scale arable landscapes and intimate small-scale valleys under pasture. Views from upland locations often encompass both types.

(vi) Roads generally cross the higher ground and traverse valleys, but rarely follow them. Occasionally the roads are raised above the level of the landscape where extensive quarrying has taken place in adjacent fields. Roads are sunken where they cross steep valley slopes.

(i) New roads or access ways should cause minimal disturbance to valley floors, e.g., by careful alignment, the formation of cuttings, planting of hedgerows and other treatment sympathetic to the landscape.

(ii) Trees and hedges should be retained to conserve the small-scale character of much of the landscape. Where new planting is required to help integrate new development into the landscape, this should reflect local landscape structure and character.

(iii) All forms of development need to be sited with care in order to avoid locations where development would be either, prominent, visually intrusive, out of character or would harm a feature or site, which is important to the character of the area.

(i) A large number of closely spaced settlements of an agricultural origin have developed as a result of the soil fertility and water supply. The majority of villages are small in scale, with the exception of Adderbury, Bloxham, Bodicote, Deddington and Hook Norton, all of which act as local service centres and are located in the southern half of this area. Villages are positioned in valley locations, either on the valley sides, e.g. South Newington, at the head of a valley, e.g. Wroxton; or near the top of the valley on the brow of the hill, eg. Hempton.

(ii) Villages are generally only prominent where the valleys are open and wide, e.g. the Barfords in the Swere valley. Elsewhere village location and topography means that many villages are not visible over long distances. Churches located near the highest point of the village provide a landmark in the wider countryside.

(iii) Villages have developed as distinct nucleated features in the landscape, with little development other than farms in the wider countryside. Over time, development has produced a variety of village forms depending on the location of villages in relation to roads. Where only one road exists the villages are generally linear in form, e.g. Tadmarton, however as many of the villages are located at the junction of roads, compact forms have developed over time, e.g. Balscote. The layouts of roads sometimes enclose areas of undeveloped land, which contributes to the character of the village, e.g. Wigginton. At the head of the valleys, the topography actually limits development and therefore helps to shape the form of the village, e.g. Hornton.

(iv) Despite a lack of woodland in the wider landscape, trees and hedgerows are often important features in street scenes and in views of villages in their landscape setting.

(v) Village character varies both within a settlement and from village to village. Terraced properties and high ironstone walls set close to narrow lanes create a sense of enclosure, e.g. parts of Bloxham, whilst small informal verges and small greens create space, e.g. Shenington.

(i) New development should respect the existing setting of each particular village. Landscape constraints are very important in this part of Cherwell District and most proposals, which would have a prominent visual impact on the wider countryside, will not be acceptable.

(ii) The scale, location and layout of new development should carefully relate to the historic form of each particular village.

(iii) Open space, which forms an important part of the character of the village, should remain undeveloped.

(iv) The creation of new public space, which is an integral part of new development, can help maintain the rural character of the villages.

(i) There is a strong consistency in the vernacular architecture of this area. Two storey terraced and detached houses built of ironstone is characteristic. Although the ironstone walling shows considerable variation in character, the most frequently used is small roughly squared rubble laid in courses of unequal depth. Duns Tew is the exception, where limestone predominates. Early 19th century brick buildings are largely found in villages close to Banbury, although other villages on railway lines, such as Hook Norton, were influenced by the introduction of new materials. 20th century development displays a large variety of materials.

(ii) The traditional roofing material of the area is thatch and stone slate. A large number of roofs have subsequently been replaced with plain dark grey slates, tiles and Welsh slate. Red clay or concrete tiles have been used in some modern developments. Roof pitches are generally steep with brick stacks on the ridge line.

(iii) Window types in ironstone cottages are a mix of stone mullioned, timber casement and timber sash, with horizontal alignment being the traditional pattern.

(iv) The majority of domestic buildings face the streets with the occasional house positioned at right angles to the road. Houses are either located adjacent to the streets, often with no pavement, or set back a few metres, sometimes enclosed by low ironstone walls. High ironstone walls often enclose large important buildings and open space. This relationship forms well defined streets.

(v) Farmsteads and farm buildings are dispersed throughout the Ironstone Downs, some close to roads, many at the end of access tracks, away from the main through routes. As a result, these farms either appear set into the hillside or are concealed out of sight.


(i) Ironstone is the only appropriate building material for domestic properties in many village locations. The appropriateness of other materials will need to be carefully considered and will depend on the exact location of the proposal. Limestone will be acceptable in Duns Tew.

(ii) The dominant roof type should be slates and plain tiles of subdued colours appropriate to their locality and thatch. Profiled or interlocking tiles will not normally be acceptable. Roofs should be steeply pitched and chimneys positioned on the ridge line.

(iii) Domestic building form and design should be simple, without elaborate use of porches or dormers. The proportions of openings are important in maintaining this simple form. Timber casement or sash windows should normally be used.

(iv) The mix of terraced and detached houses should reflect the existing character of individual villages. Houses should face streets. Large front gardens will not normally be appropriate. Ironstone walls should be used for enclosure where they will be visible from the public domain. (v) New farm buildings should reflect the rural and agricultural nature of the area in terms of scale and design. They should be sited with great care to avoid prominent or sensitive locations and be accompanied by new planting to integrate them as quickly as possible into their setting.

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