22 December 2015 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 22 December 2015 at 6pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: Cllrs B Austin, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell, M Deacock, N Dixon (Town Mayor), D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery (Deputy Mayor), H Fickling, P Lambert,
A Midwinter, M Stiles and T Wyse.
G Hunt, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Committee Services Officer
Prior to the start of the meeting Council observed a minute’s silence in memory of Nick White.
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Butler (Personal) and Bretherton (Unwell). Cllr Jones (absent without apology).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Cllrs Champken-Woods, Dixon and Midwinter declared an interest in item 5: Goodsons Industrial Mews as nearby residents.
3 Public Participation and Public Questions
Mr David Parker, the architect of the proposed development at Goodsons Industrial Mews and Mr Good, the owner spoke in support of planning application P15/S3848/FUL. Mr Good gave some background on the site. It had been owned by the Good family for 50 years and had been the location of Thame Joinery and a DIY business, both owned by the family. In recent years it had been difficult to let several of the commercial units despite using different Agents. This combined with the crippling business rates had led the family to consider alternative uses for the site.
Mr Parker outlined the various stages which had led to the planning application before Members for consideration. Pre-application advice had been sought from both the Town and District Councils and a public consultation had taken place to which local residents and stakeholders had been invited. The proposed development would retain commercial employment on site and the building from which Lightfoots Solicitors currently operate would be unaffected. The office block fronting Wellington Street would be replaced by apartments with underground parking. Four quality apartments above new commercial premises, together with family housing would occupy the remainder of site. There was provision for affordable housing for which the viability study was currently with the District Council and a new area of public open space. Mr Parker felt the development complied with the policies set out in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan and commended it to the Council.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 1 December 2015 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
5 P15/S3848/FUL – Goodsons Industrial Mews, Wellington Street
The Town Council’s planning consultant presented his report and set out the key elements of the proposed scheme together with key planning considerations. With regard to the principal of development the proposals would retain some of the existing employment on site. Whilst some units had remained unoccupied for some period of time, unit 5 remained occupied and used for employment purposes. It was not considered that the argument set out in Commercial Viability Report was sufficient to outweigh the conflict with the Thame Neighbourhood Plan (TNP) policy.
A Thame specific Affordable Housing and Dwelling Mix Strategy had not been submitted with the application which had made it difficult to reconcile the Mix against TNP policy. Whilst there would be variations in height and scale, the massing and density of development would appear excessive and cramped. The apartment building would be 3m higher than the adjoining two storey residential properties.
Whilst the basement car park was innovative there were issues around the proposed level of parking and practicality of shared / unallocated spaces with residential and commercial users. Which would result in additional and ad hoc parking within the development and additional pressure on on-street parking in Wellington Street.
The submitted application did not contain details of financial contributions by the developer required in the TNP towards the cycle / footpath link between Thame and Haddenham, sports facilities and healthcare.
After discussion Members agreed that they were not against the principle of development on the industrial site but that the application had some way to go before it compiled with Policies set out in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.
RECOMMEND REFUSAL ON THE FOLLOWING GROUNDS:
1) That there was no objection in principle to loss of employment land subject to the long term retention of the employment uses shown to be retained as part of the scheme in units 1-4 and unit 9.
2) That the proposed mix of residential units is not justified, nor does it derive from an objective assessment of the needs of Thame as required by policies H9 and H10 of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.
3) That insufficient viability evidence has been made available to justify a reduction in affordable housing provision below 40%.
4) That the scale, height, density and massing of the proposed development would represent a cramped, over-development of the site that fails to respond positively to the context of the site or deliver a development of an appropriate design quality and would thus harm the character of the area.
5) The proposed density of 60pha did not conform to that of 25pha as set out in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.
6) That there would be an unacceptable increase in the level and perception of overlooking of 68 Wellington Street, to the detriment of the privacy and amenities of the occupiers of this property.
7) That the proposals would fail to provide an appropriate standard of amenity for future occupiers of the development.
8) That the shortfall in parking and the lack of convincing evidence to demonstrate the parking strategy is both practical and realistic, would likely result in additional and ad hoc parking within the site and additional pressure for off-street parking on Wellington Street, the overall effect of which would be to the detriment of the overall quality of the development, be representative of an over-development of the site and potentially contribute to a worsening in the conditions of pedestrian and highway safety in the locality.
9) That the proposals do not provide financial contributions to a range of local services and facilities as required by a number of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan policies.
6 Schedule of Meetings
i) The Schedule of Meetings for 2016-2017 be approved.
The meeting concluded at 6.36pm
Chairman, 19 January 2016