The 'dreaming spires' of Oxford are internationally recognised as a symbol of the city and its renowned University. The opportunity to walk into and through Oxford's countryside setting and look back on the city's domes, towers and spires from the green valley or hillsides is valued by its residents and visitors as a rich inheritance that should be carefully managed for the enjoyment of future generations.
A views policy was first introduced in Oxford in 1962 to protect the character of the city's skyline from the impacts of high buildings, and has served the city for fifty years in successive development plans. Policies HE.9 and HE.10 in the Oxford Local Plan 2001-2016 aim to protect the character of the skyline and manage the characteristics of Oxford's view cones. The skyline's importance is also recognised in other planning policy documents including the adopted Core Strategy Policy CS18, which states that: "Views of the skyline of the historic centre will be protected".
It is recognised that these policies alone are not sufficient to understand and protect the Views. In light of the continuing challenges of building within the city to meet the demands of a modern society and to support its academic and economic communities, Oxford City Council, Oxford Preservation Trust and English Heritage have collaborated to produce an Assessment of the Oxford View Cones.
The Assessment of the Oxford View Cones provides a starting point in understanding the views and their characters as important heritage assets of Oxford. The Study provides a basis of evidence and analysis, examining the significance of each of the 10 protected views as set out in the Local Plan. It helps in the process of assessing the impact of new development proposals and in informing decisions so that the value of the contribution of the views to the city can be sustained.