03 May 2022 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 3 May 2022 at 7:01pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs B Austin, P Cowell (Town Mayor), M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling, H Richards,
C Jones (Chairman), and A Midwinter
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Bretherton (personal) and Champken-Woods (county council business).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest.
3 Public Participation and Public Questions
There was no public participation.
There were no public questions put to the Committee.
The minutes of the meeting held on 15 March 2022 were approved, and signed by the Chairman.
5 Working Groups
a) NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG)
There was nothing to report.
b) Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group (IDPWG)
In Cllr Bretherton’s absence, it was noted that following Full Council’s approval to fund the outstanding balance of circa £83,000 relating to the Cricket Clubhouse Redevelopment through Community Infrastructure Levy and capital receipt fund, this committee would be asked at the next meeting to approve the transfer of the S106 allocation from the Cricket Clubhouse project to new changing room at Southern Road Recreation Ground. An updated Infrastructure Delivery Plan would be produced.
c) Green Living Plan Working Group (GLPWG)
There was nothing to report.
d) Town Centre Working Group (TCWG)
The Chairman thanked the Market Town Co-Ordinator for her report. The Public Art work is progressing well and the ShopAppy initiative seemed excellent. There was a call for a volunteer to take over the running of the monthly Volunteer Drop-In events, and Members were asked to consider if they knew anyone who may be interested.
e) Transport Plan Working Group (TPWG)
Cllr Richards was pleased that the Town Council had supported 20mph in Thame. It was noted that the TPWG would be meeting to look at how a cycling strategy for Thame can be progressed.
It was also noted that the 121 bus service had recently launched, however the timetable had not been widely disseminated. The service is effectively a trial run for the hopper bus, so it is important that the service is well-publicised. The findings of Community First Oxfordshire’s survey earlier in the year had shown a strong preference for active travel however there was still substantial car use.
The new service had been shared through the Town Council’s newsletter, website, and social media. It was suggested that in addition to continuing these methods, the information be shared to the Love Thame Facebook group. It was recognised that other methods needed to be used to reach those who aren’t online, particularly as many bus stops are not displaying the latest timetables. It was suggested that as a relatively low-cost option, the Town Council could look at getting timetables printed, ideally pocket-sized and laminated, and delivered to homes, and key locations such as the doctor’s surgery and care homes. It was noted that there would be a cost to this, and that the 121 service is a 6-month trial and bus timetables are subject to change.
f) Community Facilities Working Group (CFWG)
There was nothing to report.
g) Burial Space Working Group (BSWG)
There was nothing to report.
6 Reports from Town Council Representatives
- Transport Representative – There was nothing further to report given the Transport Plan Working Group’s update.
7 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) advised that Members had received a verbal and written report on the findings of the second TNP2 consultation at an additional Full Council meeting on Thursday 28 April 2022, where it was agreed to instruct the NPCO and Troy Planning to produce a draft plan. The findings of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) were due shortly and would be reported on separately. The SEA findings would also allow the TNP2 timetable to be confirmed and published and would inform a draft plan, which Members will be able to provide input on. With regards to the outstanding housing need, this was now around 50 plus the specialist housing needs from the District Council. The NPCO reported that he and the Chairs of this and the Planning & Environment committee had an initial meeting with the Locality-provided technical support team to discuss master planning, and design guidance and codes, using the existing TNP as a starting point. Members thanked the NPCO for all his work on TNP2.
8 Future Oxfordshire Partnership / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO reported that there were numerous items to report on following several months of no reports. Firstly, it was noted that the response to last year’s Oxfordshire 2050 Regulation 18 Part 2 Consultation is still being analysed.
The NPCO provided a summary of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Progress Report. The Homes for Infrastructure (HfI) Programme seeks to expedite housing delivery, by forward-funding infrastructure, such as transport and schools, up to 2024/25. The review has shown that it is hard to spend this money due to delays in project delivery, and they appeared to agree to use any underspend to forward fund infrastructure where projects are ready to start. Housing projections indicate that completions linked to the HfI scheme will exceed targets by a few hundred homes in the current year. Delivering infrastructure before homes makes the delivery of housing easier and gives greater confidence to the customer. Finally, it was reported that Affordable Housing delivery is lagging due to delays in acquiring planning permission. The Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP) has agreed with Homes England and the Government to maximise delivery in later years to reach the target, in recognition of the difficulties in delivering affordable homes.
The FOP received a presentation from the Oxfordshire Strategic Transport Forum, who are keen to engage more with the FOP and offered to help with a range of policies, such as net zero, and plans, such as the Bus Service Improvement Plan and Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. The Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) was submitted to the Government seeking £54million of funding, however the fund is now oversubscribed due to a significant reduction in funding for BSIPs. Each BSIP across the country has been allocated into pots of varying levels of funding, and it is hoped that Oxfordshire is in one of the more actively funded ones. Enhanced Partnerships exist between Local Authorities and Bus Operators to enable access to bus funding for improving reliability and efficiency, as well as developing strategies, and are due to be submitted to the Department for Transport.
The Environment Advisory Group recognised concern between managing the development of new cycleways and impact on biodiversity. It was felt that the continued use of weedkillers is appropriate to enable the maintenance of cycleways. The advisory group also agreed to have a permanent item on the agenda to discuss ideas and innovations relating to the environment and biodiversity.
A question was raised as to whether money for active travel could be used towards the Haddenham-Thame Cycleway? The NPCO advised he was unsure; however, it remained an important project for the County Council.
9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin advised that following the disruption caused by the Community Housing Fund grant spend deadline, it had been confirmed that this was extended to the end of June 2022. A Thame CLT Board meeting is taking place this week to discuss the timetable. A positive meeting had been held with South Oxfordshire District Council last month, and a grant application was now being prepared for their approval, which included a full costings appraisal that would be subject to further stress testing giving the current inflation. Once approved, Thame CLT can complete its financing arrangements. It was expected that the discounted market sale houses will be £250,000 for a three-bedroom and £210,000 for a two-bedroom, subject to the retail price covenant, grants from Homes England and S106 funding, however it seemed achievable at this stage. Of the 31 homes, 15 will be discounted market sale and 16 for rent. The Heads of Terms are being progressed now with the housing association, and Thame CLT will enter into a joint contractual arrangement whereby the housing association purchases a long lease on the land for the rental homes and will fund and construct them. Thame CLT will retain the land for the discounted market sale homes and fund and construct these. The housing association will act the development agent and manage the project construction stage. Finally, it was noted that there were some legal issues with highways, however there were alternative options if this proved to be difficult to resolve.
A question was raised as to whether the Thame CLT homes for rent would be affected by a recent Government announcement that people who rent should have a right to buy? It was confirmed that CLT homes had an exemption on their rented homes.
The meeting concluded at 7:32pm.
Chairman, 14 June 2022