12 January 2021 – Minutes (draft)
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 12 January 2021 at 7:19pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs B Austin, P Cowell, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, C Jones (Chairman), 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 Cllrs Deacock (personal). Cllr Bretherton was absent without apology.
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 24 November 2020 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
5 Working Groups
To receive a report / update from the chairmen of:
a) The NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG)
Cllr Jones advised that the NPCCCWG report had been circulated and there was nothing further to add.
b) The Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group
There was nothing to report.
c) The Green Living Plan Working Group
The Thame Green Living (TGL) group had provided a comprehensive written update on their recent activities. The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) explained that the Town Council was progressing discussions to support the working arrangements with TGL to ensure the two worked together effectively. This included coordinating work on the 10 projects agreed in July 2020. The NPCO advised that Officers would shortly be calling a meeting with the Chairman of each committee to discuss creating a steering group, similar to the one for the Community Land Trust, that would be suitable and appropriate within the Town Council’s procedures. This would allow for the arrangement to be trialled to ensure its effectiveness. If the steering group model is agreed, Members will be sought to represent the Council.
d) The Town Centre Working Group
Cllr Jones thanked the Market Town Co-Ordinator for another excellent report. The Christmas Advent Calendar had gone well, and it was noted that the Town Guide was in limbo whilst the pandemic presented uncertainty over the town events in 2021. Members commented that the town entrance signs, which had been updated to better celebrate Thame’s twinned towns, looked more relevant and visible now.
e) The Transport Plan Working Group
The NPCO reported that a bus company had applied to run a bus service in Thame serving Cromwell Avenue. The County Council sought the Town Council’s view on trialling an extension of that service to Towersey Drive, using their Thame-specific S106 funds. An Officer from OCC had attended the Planning & Environment committee meeting on 15 December 2020 to discuss the proposal with members, where concerns were raised regarding congestion and parking on the proposed route. Cllr Austin suggested that, given the Town Council officers’ workloads, a small group of Members worked together on a strategy for the transport related S106 funds at OCC and how to incorporate this with the Green Living Plan (GLP). There were funds in reserves for a transport strategy, which the Council had agreed to undertake when it adopted the GLP. It was noted that transport patterns over the last 12 months had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, which would need to be taken into consideration. The Acting Town Clerk advised that she had contacted OCC with various questions relating to S106 and would follow this up but would be grateful for Members’ support. Cllr Austin volunteered to help with the strategy and identifying the allocated uses for the S106 funds. It was agreed that further discussions and additional volunteers would be sought after the meeting.
Members were also considering a response to the Future of Transport: Rural Strategy consultation, as reported at the previous Planning & Environment committee meeting. Although Thame is not considered rural, Members were aware of the travel frustrations of neighbouring villages and recognised the difficulty their residents experience in accessing the services that Thame offers without the use of private vehicles.
f) The Community Facilities Working Group
There was nothing to report.
g) The Burial Space Working Group
A question was raised in relation to additional burial space at Church Meadow. The NPCO advised that this was a last remaining option if all other options were filled and that a report would be presented by the Asset Manager on the new burial site at Site C to Full Council next week.
It was suggested that the Town Council should be thinking longer term with regards to burials, for example with natural burial provision. It was explained that the Burial Space Working Group would be looking at options for the new burial ground at Site C where there is a proposal for natural burial provision, however the nature of the services to be offered had not been determined yet. The report to Full Council next week would provide further information.
6 Burial Space Working Group – Terms of Reference
Following discussions under Item 5g), the updated Terms of Reference for the Burial Space Working Group were approved with Cllr Midwinter agreeing to fill the vacancy on the working group.
7 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The NPCO advised that the Town Council had received the formal letter from South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) on 4 January 2021 to confirm that the Local Plan had been adopted, subject to no legal challenge within 6 weeks of its adoption, on 10 December 2020. The Town Council’s Planning & Environment committee were now considering planning applications in line with the policies of the new Local Plan.
8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The NPCO reported that the three consultants who had originally tendered had confirmed that they were keen to tender again. The next step was to consider the ITT documentation which would be circulated to Members to comment on.
9 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO reported that the Oxfordshire Open Thought consultation had presented a summary report and achieved better engagement with young people. The methodology could be something the Town Council could learn from for future consultations.
The Government had agreed that the Oxfordshire Plan can be written across the 5-year Growth Deal period rather than the 3-year agreement, which should allow for a more thorough approach. This brings consultation on the Spatial Growth options into Summer 2021, a Draft Plan in Spring 2022 and full adoption by June of 2023.
The Oxfordshire Growth Board (OGB) agreed that an environmentally friendly approach was best in undertaking the economic recovery from the epidemic and recognised the need to address child poverty and helping all communities access successful economic sectors, which was dependent on the establishment of the Inclusive Economy Commission for Oxfordshire. The OGB considered the progress on low / zero carbon housing and felt they wanted to go further than national standards. A concern was raised that improved environmental standards do not show a connection to affordability. The NPCO advised that viability was an important point and unfortunately higher building costs associated with improved environmental standards were being taken advantage of in some cases, with Brexit and Covid being blamed.
The Oxfordshire-Cambridge Arc has a group working on the Green Arc which made lead to an arc-wide environmental strategy. The OGB has supported a Network Rail funding application for significant rail infrastructure along the Oxfordshire rail corridor.
10 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin reported that the planning application had been submitted in early December. There had been a scaling error however this was promptly rectified so there was some confusion as to why the application had not been added to SODC’s planning portal yet. In the meantime, the group were in discussions with a housing association with regards to a partnership agreement. The board would need to work through the detail of this in due course.
11 Other Items to Note
The items for information were noted.
The meeting concluded at 7:54pm.
Chairman, 23 February 2021