Oxford Heritage Asset Register

Recording and protecting our valued heritage assets.

10 May 2012

The Oxford Heritage Asset Register (OHAR), supported by funding from English Heritage, will be compiled by local residents in collaboration with senior council officers and other stakeholders. The project is still in its early stages: there is an informative introductory report on Oxford City Council’s website.

English Heritage have published a Good Practice Guide for Local Listing: Identifying and Managing Significant Local Heritage Assets as a consultation draft.

For the Oxford OHAR, local residents will be invited to prepare character statements that highlight the key features of the local historic environment of each area, which will then be used to identify the heritage assets for the register. The character statements will also provide a more general evidence base that identifies the value of the city’s historic environment as seen by its community.

Candidate heritage assets will be assessed by a review panel consisting of local organisations concerned with local heritage, including Oxford Civic Society. The assessments will be made against locally established criteria, building on the experience of English Heritage and other bodies. The results will be used to assess the significance of heritage assets and to ensure that, where appropriate, they merit consideration during the planning process.

The review panel has met twice, in December 2011 and March 2012. The second meeting reviewed some draft criteria for the OHAR and considered how they might work in practice using some ‘live’ examples suggested by community groups. Feedback from these groups on the draft criteria has been generally favourable. Suggestions for improvement included the consideration of industrial heritage and strengthening the definitions of aesthetic value and artistic interest to bring out the potential interest of designed parks and gardens.

During 2012 and 2013, the OHAR will cover four trial areas of the city:

  • East Oxford (St Clement’s, St Mary’s and Iffley Fields Wards);
  • Summertown district centre and environs;
  • West Oxford (including parts of Carfax and Jericho and Osney Wards);
  • Blackbird Leys

The Oxford City Council web site address shown above is still in development. It contains links to a number of relevant information sources on heritage assets, good practice and local plans. In time it will contain an online nomination form to help people propose a candidate building or place for the heritage asset register and search the register.

Oxford Civic Society welcomes this initiative and will work towards making it a success.