OXFORDSHIRE’S rolling countryside might have nothing on Switzerland’s impressive mountain ranges, but that is not stopping Oxford City Council from taking inspiration from the Alps.

The city council is piloting a Swiss planning system which involves planning applicants indicating the outlines of a proposed new development by using thin poles topped with horizontal markers.

A number of applicants are already in discussions with the council over using the system but the authority will not reveal who and where they are. The idea has been proposed by city councillor James Fry, who represents North ward, as a result of the controversy surrounding Oxford University’s controversial flats in Roger Dudman Way, near Port Meadow.

He said: “I thought that there must be better ways to let people see the true scale of a proposed development on the site where it is actually proposed to site it, rather than having to rely upon architects’ diagrams placed on the city council website. When I asked people about alternative approaches outside Oxford, a good friend said that he had seen an excellent scheme in one of the Swiss cantons.

“To get this moving as soon as possible, I would like to appeal to residents who are thinking of submitting an application, such as for an extension for which they would like to avoid antagonising their neighbours, to get in touch with me and the planning department about volunteering to be part of the pilot scheme, and we will work together to take this forward.”

As part of the scheme used in Basel-Landschaft – called Bauprofil – all buildings of up to three storeys should be fully profiled using poles with horizontal markers.

Whether the roof is pitched or flat should also be indicated using slats.

City council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “Councillor Fry asked whether we could pilot the procedure – where planning applicants are obliged to indicate the outlines of a proposed new development by using thin poles, topped with horizontal markers.

“We have said we will see if any applicants would be willing to put up such poles.

“Whilst we are working to see if this can be arranged on a few sites at the moment, it is not possible to publish details of where and when this may happen.”