15 March 2022 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 15 March 2022 at 7:05pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling, H Richards, C Jones (Chairman), and A Midwinter
M Sturdy, Town Clerk
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Cowell (personal). Cllr Champken-Woods was absent without apology.
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 1 February 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)
Cllr Bretherton reported that he had met with the Town Clerk, and they were in the process of reviewing the Infrastructure Delivery Plan which included looking at where money could be moved to make it more available, subject to approval from the District’s S106 Officer and in due course Full Council.
c) Green Living Plan Working Group (GLPWG)
There was nothing to report, however it was felt that the Town Council should be putting more energy into the Green Living Plan, which would happen through the Thame Neighbourhood Plan revision.
d) Town Centre Working Group (TCWG)
The written report was noted. Members felt that the Taste of Thame event would be a great addition to the town’s event calendar.
e) Transport Plan Working Group (TPWG)
The minutes from the meeting on 8 March 2022 were noted. The Terms of Reference had been reviewed with some amendments made, and it was agreed that the wider strategy review would determine whether the TPWG should report to this committee or the Planning & Environment Committee. The TPWG had received a presentation from Cllr Austin following the Hopper Bus survey which had generated 500 responses and showed a clear need for a Hopper Bus amongst the older demographic. The intention was for a ‘hub and spoke’ service in line with the County Council’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP). The County Council Officer, who attended the meeting, agreed to look at options for the hopper bus and provide information on providers and costs. Regarding 20mph speed limits, this was discussed as there was quite a lot of support for it within the town, but it was agreed that it needed consideration at Full Council subject to Officers identifying any cost implications for the Town Council. The Haddenham-Thame Cycleway was apparently a priority within the LTCP and active travel strategy, however it was felt that the Town Council needed to find out the current situation from the councils involved and how it can be progressed
A question was raised as to the timeline for the 20mph speed limits and Haddenham-Thame Cycleway, which had been a long-standing project? The 20mph project would be taken to the next Full Council meeting. With regards to the cycleway, there had been a change in policies and priorities at both County Council’s towards active travel, however the Town Council needed to do some factfinding as to the project’s progress and the routes that were and weren’t being considered. It was understood that the delay was related to landowner issues.
Members were pleased with the outcome on the bus services and that the County Council were working with the Town Council on this.
Given the imminent closing of the LTCP consultation, it was agreed that the Chair of the TPWG would respond on behalf of the Town Council, highlighting in particular that the Town Council strongly supported walking and cycling initiatives such as the Haddenham-Thame Cycleway.
f) Community Facilities Working Group (CFWG)
There was nothing to report.
g) Burial Space Working Group (BSWG)
The report was noted. It was disappointing that the developers were delaying this project. It was noted that the Town Council had been consulted on a request for someone to reserve a grave space at St Mary’s Churchyard. It was agreed that it was appropriate to leave the Church to respond to this consultation.
6 Reports from Town Council Representatives
- Transport Representative – There had not been a meeting of the Parish Transport Representatives since the last Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee meeting. The earlier report of the TPWG had covered the current matters. The TPWG meeting was positive, and it was encouraging that the representative from Oxfordshire County Council was keen to help the Town Council. It was noted that the Arriva 280 bus loop around Thame Park Road was due to be terminated, as reported in the TPWG meeting notes.
7 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) advised that unfortunately due to Officer changes and leave at the District Council, there had been a delay in getting their view on the Town Council’s housing delivery against the District’s need, however this was now being considered.
The second TNP2 consultation ended on 7 February 2022 and over 900 responses were received. The drop-in events were attended by over 200 people, and it was reassuring that many spent over an hour looking at the information and asking questions.
The draft reports on special and general housing needs have been received and signed off by the Town Council. The AECOM Housing Needs Assessment was sent to Locality yesterday (14 March) for their sign off.
The NPCO was hoping to report the findings of the second consultation at additional Full Council at the end of the month, however there were several pieces of essential information required from various developers, which was being chased, before the findings could be made publicly available. This meant the additional Full Council meeting would likely need to be held on a different day to usual, and Members would be kept informed.
To avoid delays to TNP2, the technical support on the draft plan’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has commenced and would appraise all the sites proposed through the recent consultation. It was hoped this would actively feed into the draft plan. This process is in conformity with recent advice on SEA screening of Neighbourhood Plans.
Officers would be meeting to forward plan key stages and milestones, which would be reported at the Council meeting alongside the findings of the second consultation. It was hoped that early involvement of the consultancy work on the SEA would help produce a more accurate projection.
There had been a short timeframe for Members to review the AECOM report. A question was raised as to whether comments could still be accepted on this? The NPCO advised that he would accept and pass any comments onto the consultants.
A question was raised as to when a timetable would be published? The NPCO advised that a high level timetable had been published internally for Members in January, but that a more detailed one would be published alongside the consultation analysis at the additional Full Council meeting.
Cllr Bretherton entered the meeting. It was agreed to return to Items 5b and 6, so that Cllr Bretherton could give a verbal report.
8 Future Oxfordshire Partnership / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO advised that the next meeting of the Future Oxfordshire Partnership was taking place this evening, which would be reported on at the next committee meeting.
The Chief Executive of South Cambridgeshire District Council had written a report to their council advising that the Oxford-Cambridge Arc was effectively defunct in terms of central Government support with it now being progressed locally. It was not known how effective this would be for the Future Oxfordshire Partnership or Oxfordshire Plan 2050.
9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin advised that unfortunately the last six weeks had not been a smooth process. Following planning approval and receipt of the £137,000 grant from the Government, the project made commitments for that money but had to work quickly to complete the technical tender process by the 31 March deadline. However, contrary advice was received on the 17 February that committed money had to be spent by the 31 March otherwise it had to be returned, which resulted in additional workload to only propose projects that could be completed by this deadline. An extensive e-mail was sent to John Howell MP and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. On 1 March it was confirmed that the deadline would be extended to 30 June, which again resulted in additional work to reorganise the contracts in order to meet the new deadline. All of this had cost the project time and money, as well as causing stress for those involved. The procedure had been appalling and showed a disassociation between commercial and practical reality. However, Cllr Austin was hopeful that the project could now progress, and acknowledgement was given to the Project Manager who had been superb in managing these challenges.
Members thanked Cllr Austin for his continued dedication and hard work on this project.
Cllr Midwinter reported that the Thame & District Housing Association had 4 spaces available which was unusual. This would be advertised but Members were asked if they knew anyone in Thame looking for sheltered accommodation and low rent independent living.
The meeting concluded at 7:35pm.
Chairman, 3 May 2022