15 March 2016 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 15 March 2016 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, M Deacock, N Dixon (Town Mayor), D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery (Deputy Mayor), H Fickling, C Jones,
A Midwinter and T Wyse.
G Hunt, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Butler (Personal), Cowell (Business), Lambert (Business) and Stiles (Unwell).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Cllrs Champken-Woods, Dixon, Midwinter and Wyse declared an interest in item 4 as they live close to the Goodsons Industrial Mews site.
3 Public Participation and Public Questions
Mr Parker of David Parker Architects Ltd spoke in favour of the planning application P15/S3848/FUL, Amendment No. 1. The changes to the scheme reflected a reduced density with the number of affordable dwellings increased. Although the level was below 40% this was supported by the Financial Viability Study. The principal flats building had been changed considerably and now reflected the detailed conversations that had taken place between the District Planning Officer and the developer.
With reference to the Town Council’s planning report, Mr Parker commented that the site was covered entirely with buildings of poor external quality and hard surfacing and therefore the viability to develop the site would be of a higher density than 25pha. The mixed proposal was not retrospective and reflected what the Town Council had requested. Mr Parker felt the Town Council recognised in principle that the site needed to be redeveloped.
The parking provision was not substandard but robust and supported by the County Council’s Highways Department. The scheme put a high proportion of the parking below ground which the Town Council had welcomed.
The large crown roofs of the flats had been changed to conventional double pitched roofs reducing the bulk. The overlooking of no. 68 Wellington Street had been reduced and no objection to the scheme had been received from the occupants.
Mr Parker accepted some of the comments made with regard to the Financial Viability Report were fair and would be passed to the District Planning Officer.
With regard to the gardens, the majority were south facing and most were 30ft in length. All the upper floor flats had balconies and some had roof terraces which was reasonable for a town centre site.
Finally, this was the fourth time Mr Parker had attended a meeting on this scheme and he expressed his disappointment that no credit had been given to the consultation that had taken place with the Town Council and local residents.
4 P9576 – P15/S3848/FUL
GOODSONS INDUSTRIAL MEWS, WELLINGTON STREET
Amendment No. 1
The Town Council’s Planning Consultant stated that he had prepared a detailed report in December on the development. This had been written following a detailed evaluation of all the issues raised by the proposal and included a visit to site to review the proposals in context.
The amended planning application now showed a reduction in the number of units by two. Changes to the fenestration to the rear of units 1-4 over the employment area. An addendum to the Design & Access Statement and a Financial Viability Assessment that sought to justify below 40% affordable housing on site had been made available.
Largely the issues remained the same as those raised in December. With regard to matters of employment, it had previously been agreed to raise no objection subject to retention of the identified employment areas.
The reduction of two units did not address the issues of scale, bulk, height and massing that had previously been raised nor the effect on the bungalows along Wellington Street. The principal block, positioned 14-15m off the boundary would still result in overlooking to No. 68 Wellington Street.
After discussion Members felt the amended planning application had not addressed the previous concerns raised. In particular with regard to overdevelopment of the site and ‘shared’ parking allocations between residential and commercial occupiers of the site.
RECOMMEND REFUSAL ON THE FOLLOWING GROUNDS:
1. That there is no objection in principle to the 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, including the removal of permitted development rights for the conversion of commercial buildings to residential;
2. That the proposed housing mix does not derive from an objective assessment of the needs of Thame as required by policies H9 and H10 of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. That the proposals would fail to provide an appropriate standard of amenity for future occupiers of the development.
6. 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.
7. That the proposals do not provide financial contributions to a range of local services and facilities as required by a number of the TNP policies.
Furthermore, the evidence set out in the Viability Appraisal requires scrutiny in respect of the following matters:
• The re-sale values attributed to the Podium Apartments appear ‘light’ when considered against other comparables;
• Details have not been provided as to why it is necessary for Unit 9 (at least as part of the re-development proposals) to be held vacant during the construction period given that the building is not directly affected and appears to benefit from separate rights of access and contained parking;
• There are some minor inconsistencies between the details in the Viability Assessment and other submitted documentation;
• That, notwithstanding the other objections to the scheme, an appropriate ‘clawback’ provision should be included in the S106 Agreement that ensures, on an open-book basis, that if profit levels/re-sales are secured above that anticipated in the Appraisal, then the difference (in financial terms) is provided to the District Council and re-invested in the provision of affordable housing in Thame.
Comment: The Town Council expressed disappointment that the 40% affordable housing requirement had not been met.
5 Branding and Website
Members noted the update on the website and re-branding project.
Connect Internet Solutions had been awarded the contract for the re-development of the Town Council’s website and branding scheme. One of the first tasks was to develop a new branding scheme for the Town Council that would be implemented across all print and digital media. After discussion Members preferred the two bar cross without the hatching in logo A and the font Martel Sans.
i) Logo A, Font D and Secondary Palette (option A) be approved as the preferred options for the new branding scheme.
The meeting concluded at 7.30pm
Chairman, 26 April 2016