06 April 2021 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 6 April 2021 at 7:45pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs B Austin, P Cowell, M Deacock, L Emery, H Fickling, C Jones (Chairman) and A Midwinter
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Bretherton (personal), Dyer (personal) and Tipping (business). The Acting Town Clerk had given her apologies.
All Members who were present were able to be seen and be heard.
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 23 February 2021 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
5 Working Groups
Members received reports / updates from the chairmen of:
a) The NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG)
The Chairman advised there had not been any meetings since the previous NPCC and therefore nothing to report.
b) The Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group
There was nothing to report.
c) The Green Living Plan Working Group
Cllr Fickling advised that Thame Green Living had assisted the Town Council with its response to the County Council’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. Thame Green Living had also launched two circular walking routes in and around Thame. The Chairman advised that she had been co-opted onto Thame Green Living.
d) The Town Centre Working Group
The report was noted, and the Chairman thanked the Market Town Co-Ordinator for another great report and her hard work.
e) The Transport Plan Working Group
Cllr Austin reported that the inaugural meeting of the Public Transport group would be taking place at the end of April and it was hoped that a plan could be formed for the allocation of Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) S106 public transport monies. The group had recruited support from OXNAV who have experience of this across Oxfordshire, although it was expected that Thame’s may be complicated given the liaison the neighbouring county. The group had all the information from OCC on the monies available and where it can be spent. Cllr Austin hoped to be able to report on progress and possible proposals at the next committee meeting. It was noted that, after years of being unable to cooperate with OCC, there now appeared to be a change of attitude and Cllr Austin was hopeful.
e) The Community Facilities Working Group
The Community Facilities Working Group (CFWG) had been set up as part of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan but had encountered challenges with the District and County Councils in being able to use the monies allocated. The town had benefited from investment in sports clubs; however it was time to invest in and reassess the town’s community groups and facilities. There was an opportunity to consider developing a strategy and integrate with the Youth Centre project and Thame Leisure Centre.
It was felt that there was a need to restart the CFWG and a Chairman needed to be elected to take this forward. The Chairman of the committee agreed to speak to the Acting Town Clerk.
f) The Burial Space Working Group
The report from the Asset Manager was noted.
6 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) advised that the legal challenge raised by Bioabundance against the Local Plan was refused permission to proceed last month. Bioabundance have requested an oral hearing but it was not known when this will occur.
7 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The Chairman reported that the Officers and Members had met with Troy Planning, the successful consultancy candidate, last week to provide the brief. During this meeting, Troy Planning were familiarised with Thame, the existing Thame Neighbourhood Plan, and the scope for the revised Thame Neighbourhood Plan. Documentation relating to the Call for Sites was provided, although this was now two years old and there appeared to be other sites that may be available. The timetable was important given South Oxfordshire District Council’s (SODC) requirement for submission by December. Troy Planning were seeking support and cooperation from SODC with regards to the timeline. The timeline will be published on the Town Council’s website when available.
8 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO reported the Government’s formal cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway on 18 March 2021. Following this announcement, the England Economic Heartland announced they would be commencing their own Oxford to Milton Keynes transport connectivity study. This could be positive in providing locally supported improvements, but these could add up to deliver something close to the Expressway through incremental improvement.
The NPCO also reported that, on 25 March 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) withdrew the right for Oxfordshire authorities to only prove a 3-year, rather than 5-year land supply. A benefit of the joint plan and working together was protection of the 3-year land supply, which was now lost. It was expected that plans would now be produced inline with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It was noted that as Cherwell District’s plan was more than 5-years old, it would be using the NPPF methodology for calculating its housing need rather than the Growth Deal. Cherwell have been supportive of the Growth Deal so far, and it was expected that they would continue to do so, despite possibly being able to plan for fewer homes under the NPPF.
The NPCO reported on the Oxfordshire Growth Board (OGB) meeting on 22 March 2021. The Oxfordshire Rail Corridor study had been completed. The OGB had been asked to endorse the partnership agreement with Network Rail, which would provide a masterplan under the banner ‘Oxfordshire Connect’. It was expected that this would dovetail with the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan, which the Town Council and Thame Green Living had responded to.
The OGB adopted the Oxfordshire Strategic Vision which places environmental wellbeing at its core. Also approved were the Oxford – Cambridge Arc Environment Principles and the setting up of an Environment Advisory Group to prioritise social, economic, and environmental wellbeing, climate change and being carbon negative. The NPCO advised this would be looked at as part of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.
The importance of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc was reiterated in the Treasury’s Build Back Better document, and it was announced there would be a Growth Body for the Arc, which would presumably work alongside the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Growth Bodies. The NPCO confirmed that Buckinghamshire Council had withdrawn from the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. It was possible that they could remain on the Arc’s Growth Board without joining the wider principles of the Arc. There would be implications for future growth at Haddenham and the Town Council’s co-operation with Haddenham.
The NPCO reported that there was no news from Oxfordshire 2050.
9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin that SODC had delayed a decision on the application to 11 June 2021 due to workloads. This meant the project was running six months behind schedule and this would have implications, although it was noted that fortunately all the funding for the planning application stage had been secured. However, this delay was disappointing given all the hard work to date.
The meeting concluded at 8:13pm.
Chairman, 25 May 2021