09 November 2021 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 9 November 2021 at 7:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, P Cowell (Town Mayor), M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling, C Jones (Chairman), H Richards, A Midwinter, and J Tipping
C Pinnells, Acting Town Clerk
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllr Champken-Woods (personal).
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 19 October 2021 were approved, and signed by the Chairman.
5 Working Groups
To receive a report / update from the chairmen of the:
a) NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG)
There was nothing to report.
b) Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group (IDPWG)
Cllr Bretherton advised that there was nothing to report, however he had been reviewing the layout of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan and it was felt that this needed updating. Cllr Bretherton would arrange to go through this with the new Town Clerk in due course.
c) Green Living Plan Working Group (GLPWG)
The report from the meeting between the Chair of GLPWG, Thame Green Living (TGL) and Troy Planning on 14 October 2021 was noted. TGL were advocating for connectivity to and from new housing estates, which Troy Planning took on board.
d) Town Centre Working Group (TCWG)
The Chairman thanked the Market Town Co-Ordinator for another great report, adding that there were some wonderful ideas for Christmas, the recent wayfinding workshop had produced a stunning piece of work, and thanked her for all her work on delivering the Thame Art Crawl. It was noted that volunteers were still needed to assist with the delivery of leaflets in and around Thame. Cllr Midwinter volunteered to help with this.
e) Transport Plan Working Group (TPWG)
It was noted that Cllr Austin had resigned as Chair of the TPWG. A call for a new Chair will be made at Full Council on 16 November 2021. Cllr Austin had offered to continue as Project Lead for the Community Hopper Bus project to ensure continuity. The Chairman added that this was sad news however the Council was thankful for all his work to date.
Cllr Austin asked for an update on the Hopper Bus funding approval, following the recommendation at the previous committee meeting? The Acting Town Clerk advised that this would be resolved at Full Council next week. Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) had been contacted and advised that Community First Oxfordshire were the best and cheapest organisation to undertake the survey. Approval of this funding next week would enable the TPWG to resume work on this project.
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 – Cllr Bretherton advised that he had attended a Parish Transport Representative meeting last month but had only received the minutes today, which had largely contained discussions rather than actions. Cllr Bretherton reported that Highways England were considering options to improve the M40 junction at Lewknor, but the County Highways were not able to input into this. It was noted that there had been previous discussion of a ‘park and ride’ at this junction, however it had been dismissed by planners and was resisted as it was felt people should not be encouraged to drive to Lewknor to get the bus.
7 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) reported that the District Council was continuing with their challenge of appealing the decision at Sonning Common which declared that they do not have a 5-year housing land supply.
8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The NPCO advised that he and Troy Planning were undertaking considerable work in obtaining the housing delivery requirement for TNP2 taking into account planning permissions granted since April 2020. Unfortunately, the District Council have not been forthcoming with this information, despite efforts from the NPCO and Troy Planning, so the NPCO has been collating this data, undertaking site surveys, and will be reconciling the data against the District’s trajectories to ensure the Town Council has a robust understanding of what has been committed to date.
Regarding the specialist housing needs survey, this was now live and the leaflets would start being delivered through doors from tomorrow with accompanying publicity through the Town Council’s usual channels. The survey will also be circulated to 28 surrounding parish councils. The survey closes on 8 December 2021. It was intended that the survey would provide data to understand the scale of the local need for specialist housing, which would be valid and usable for at least 2 years.
Regarding the housing needs assessment, there had been delays at AECOM due to personal circumstances, however there was a positive to this as it meant that the results of the specialist housing needs survey could be incorporated. This will provide a greater understanding of Thame’s general housing needs in terms of type and tenure.
Following the meeting of the NPCCCWG it was recommended by NPCC at the previous committee meeting that a second public consultation be held. This is due to be ratified by Full Council next week. The consultation, which is due to run in December, will take into account the housing delivered since April 2020, but due to the timeframe the data from the specialist housing needs survey may need to be consulted on at a later date. Officers were now working on a strategy for engaging with the public in the consultation.
Members were surprised that the District Council were not providing the housing figures. Cllr Bretherton offered to follow this up with them tomorrow.
9 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO advised that he had submitted the Town Council’s representations in relation to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and Ox-Cam Arc consultations. The NPCO advised that he was unable to respond to parts of the consultations due to a lack of direction and engagement from Members. The wider response to these consultations was now being analysed.
The Oxfordshire Growth Board had rebranded to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership, with its first meeting held in September reporting on the progress towards the Growth Deal.
10 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin advised that an ecologist had been appointed and confirmed the findings of the surveys in 2019 and 2020 that there were no bats on the site. This has delayed the project for a month; however, all outstanding planning matters had now been dealt with and they were hoping that the planning application would be considered by the District’s Planning Committee on 24 November 2021.
Subject to a positive outcome from that meeting, the project would then move to the detailed design phase, a development partnership with the housing association, and securing the grants required. The £137,000 grant from the Government’s Community Housing Fund will help commercially and the community of Thame. The focus has always been on keeping families together in Thame, and there were now 150 families on the mailing list. The grant would also support the legal agreements, such as the development partnerships with the housing association and S106 arrangements, the design, and communicating with the public which the project has so far not had the resources to do. Cllr Austin was hopeful that the planning application would go to the District’s Planning Committee in a fortnight and be granted permission, meaning that the project could then make good progress.
Members asked whether the issue with the bats had caused any issues other than the time delay? The appointment of the ecologist had additional financial expenditure however the Government grant would enable the project to conclude the purchase of the land.
Members expressed their thanks to Cllr Austin for his continued hard work on this project, particularly in securing the grant from the Community Housing Fund.
The meeting concluded at 7:53pm.
Chairman, 21 December 2021