Blenheim itself poses a threat to its world heritage status by promoting overdevelopment within its setting and by neglecting historic buildings within its own grounds, claims a report from a conservation group.

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance.

The annual report of World Heritage Watch (WHW), a network of over 180 groups worldwide which supports UNESCO in getting information about the state of the sites, has published its annual report for 2022. 

In an article Andrew Rein, from Campaign to Protect Old Woodstock, writes that the setting of the WHS is now threatened by "massive housing estates that Blenheim itself is proposing to build".

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He cites the proposed 1,230 homes at Park View which are being built by Pye Homes Limited, a company that Blenheim owns, which would "double the size" of the town.

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And the fact Blenheim has applied for planning permission to build 180 houses on a Hill Rise site and 250 houses on a Banbury Road site.

West Oxfordshire District Council has yet to determine those applications but a decision is expected shortly.

He refers to another area where Blenheim is seeking to build 500 houses.

"The planning authority for that site is Cherwell District Council. Cherwell District Council has not included that site in its local plan because of the effect such a development would have on the setting of the Blenheim WHS.

"Yet Blenheim is pressing ahead with its application for planning permission," he writes.

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He adds that a group of buildings, known as Furze Platts,  are "a defining element of the rural and cultural landscape of Blenheim Park" but have been derelict for at least a decade and no attempt has been made either to demolish them or to restore them.

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"Blenheim has neglected their duty to preserve the WHS and in doing so have degraded its integrity and diminished its outstanding universal value (OUV)," he writes.

Mr Rein urges that a Heritage Impact Assessment be done and calls for a buffer zone to protect the site.

And he wants the UNESCO Heritage Committee to consider monitoring to assess whether the WHS should be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Blenheim have been approached for comment.



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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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