The Oxford Preservation Trust has two major schemes — the highly successful awards now in their 37th year which celebrate conservation projects, new buildings, landscape and community schemes and Oxford Open Doors which take the general public behind the scenes of buildings that are not normally accessible.

But in recent years the level of business support for the trust has increased significantly thanks to its corporate membership scheme which now numbers 35 companies.

As a result, it has been decided to develop a new programme to recognise this significant level of business support.

OPT director Debbie Dance said: “We can get behind closed doors and we found that our corporate partners like to visit buildings that are real talking points.

“For example, we visited the restored University Church in Oxford and the renovated Oxford University Museum of Natural History before they were open to the public.”

As a result, OPT has launched its Oxford Building Excellence initiative supported by Cumnor Hill-based building firm Beard, the company behind the University Church of St Mary the Virgin project.

Beard managing director Mark Beard said: “We live in a wonderful city but that would not be possible without the physical envirnonment — the fantastic buildings and the atmosphere they create.

“It is great to be involved in creating history going forward, creating buildings that will stand the test of time.”

Ms Dance stressed that OPT is not just about the history of Oxford.

“We are interested in all new buildings, as well as those that have been restored. It has always been about meeting change rather than stopping it since the Trust was set up in 1927.”

Ms Dance said Oxford Building Excellence was a way of recognising the efforts of the people behind the construction and restoration of buildings in Oxford and the county.

“It is a combination of people behind the building that make it successful. These are often local people and we want to give those teams an opportunity to talk about it.”

One of the buildings to be launched under the scheme will be the Edward King chapel at the Ripon College site, Cuddesdon.

“The architect (Niall McLaughlin) and those who constructed it will be there,” said Ms Dance.

“The idea is to run a programme of events mostly aimed at corporate members and people in the business community who are interested in the Oxford Preservation Trust.”

Oxford Building Excellence is designed to run hand in hand with the awards scheme and Open Doors, offering access to an even wider range of people than before.

Other examples include the new quadrangles, buildings and bridge at Pembroke College, the Bodleian Library and the new Radcliffe Humanities building (formerly the Radcliffe Infirmary) in Jericho.

Ms Dance said: “There are constantly new buildings and developments taking place including Exeter College, Worcester College, the library at Magdalen College and Queen’s College.

“Some of the best new buildings are owned by the colleges — they are building for the long-term.

“The reality is that if Oxford University is going to compete with the best it has to continue to develop and change.”