A LITTLE bit of Switzerland came to Cutteslowe as a new scheme for illustrating the heights of proposed buildings was trialled in the area.

Oxford City Council has been experimenting with a Swiss planning system that involves applicants showing the outlines of a proposed development by using thin poles topped with horizontal markers.

The city has now become the first place in the UK to trial the scheme after city councillor James Fry suggested it after the Castle Mill controversy, which saw student flats built on Roger Dudman Way.

He said: “If you have ever tried to look at the database of new planning applications, it is often very difficult to find something which is drafted by an architect which is easily intelligible to someone who isn’t an architect.

“With this scheme, people have an absolutely clear idea of exactly where the development is going to take place and how high will be.

“Had something like this been available at the time they did the student flats in Roger Dudman Way, people would have had no excuse for not knowing how big it was going to be.”

Oxford University’s student flats near Port Meadow have sparked controversy after blocking off the views of the city’s dreaming spires.

An independent review into the issue commissioned by the city council recommended that the council find a better way of representing how buildings will look once they are complete.

As part of the scheme used in Switzerland – called Bauprofile – 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 councillor Colin Cook, executive board member for city development, said: “We will certainly see what these poles look like and see what the responses have been, but I think there are better ways of achieving the same result.

“There are technologically more superior ways of getting a better impression of what a development will look like.”

On Friday, when the first poles went up, it was used on a proposed city council development at Elsfield Hall in Harefields, where the authority wants to build 17 flats and houses.

The poles were telescopic light weight ones which extend to 10 metres00 and were surface mounted, so were only on site for one day.