17 December 2019 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 17 December 2019 at 7pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, M Deacock, M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, C Jones (Chairman) and J Tipping
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Cowell (Personal) and Midwinter (Council Business).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Cllr Austin declared an interest with the speaker, who was a Member of the East Thame Residents Association, as the Chairman of East Thame Residents Association. It was noted that a general dispensation was in place to allow Cllr Austin to partake in the discussion.
3 Public Participation & Public Questions
Mr Duncan Nickless addressed the committee as a resident of Pickenfield, with three main concerns over the advertisement for employment land sign recently placed by Stoford opposite the entrance to Pickenfield. Firstly, Mr Nickless asked whether the sign was legal and had planning permission, and if the Town Council could talk to SODC? He had tried to contact SODC but had not received a response and was concerned about enforcement action being slow.
Cllr Jones advised that SODC Enforcement were investigating as the sign was potentially unlawful.
Secondly, Mr Nickless asked whether the Town Council could speak to other developers as concern was raised that this sign could set a precedent and potentially undermine the Thame Neighbourhood Plan (TNP)?
Whilst the Town Council discouraged developers from doing the same the District Council might give up to 28 days in order for the Company to remove the signage before committing to formal enforcement action and Stoford do own the site, although it was not an allocated site with the TNP.
The final question related to the credibility of the Stofords findings as they have a vested interest on this site, and whether the Town Council would be conducting an employment land needs analysis independent from Stoford?
Cllr Jones advised that the Town Council was actively seeking an independent consultant for the TNP2 and an employment needs analysis.
The Chairman thanked Mr Nickless for his questions.
Members shared the concerns raised by Mr Nickless and the neighbouring residents regarding the placement of the sign and the potential implications of this on the TNP.
Members agreed to write a public statement expressing the Town Council’s concerns over the sign, which would be published in the Town Council’s newsletter and website. The Town Council also agreed to write to SODC and Stoford.
The minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2019 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
5 Working Groups
To receive a verbal update from the chairmen of:
a) NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group
There was nothing to report as the Working Group had not met since the last NPCC.
b) The Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group
Cllr Bretherton reported that the IDPWG met on 18 November to work on the conditions and applications for CIL allocation.
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) reported that the sum prepaid by the Town Council for the Cricket Club Pavilion will be repaid in two instalments of around £149,000 and £20,000. An application for £954.37 has been requested for land levelling and hedge planting works associated with the extension to St Mary’s Burial Ground.
Cllr Fickling asked whether there had been an update on the Community Orchard provision on the Persimmon sites as this had been raised at a 21st Century meeting? The NPCO reported that SODC have admitted delays in the developers providing this and other community facilities, however good progress is now being made by SODC.
c) The Green Living Plan Working Group
The NPCO reported that he and the Chair of the GLPWG will be meeting with the Green Living Plan group in the new year to coordinate preparations for the presentation of the Green Living Plan to Council in May. The Thame Green Living (TGL) group will be preparing a document to establish the boundaries of responsibility between themselves and the Town Council. This will be presented to the NPCC soon. The initial site for the proposed Electric Vehicle (EV) charging point was found to be problematic given its location next to a listed building. The alternative site on a district council-owned car park was promising, but it has since emerged that the district council will be tendering for a contractor to provide EV points in all of their car parks, so it seemed sensible to wait for that. The NPCO also reported that TGL and 21st Century Thame held a stall at the Christmas Lights Switch-On event to promote ways to have a sustainable Christmas.
Cllrs Francis and Fickling reported that TGL and 21stCT were sharing ideas on the tree planning scheme, as summarised in the Town Centre Working Group report, and 27 people at the Christmas Event had pledged to get involved with the scheme.
d) The Town Centre Working Group
The report was noted.
e) Transport Plan Working Group
The NPCO informed there was nothing to report and the Town Council had received no further news on a meeting with OCC.
f) Community Facilities Working Group
The Town Clerk and the NPCO had met with the Head and Chair of Governors for Lord Williams’s School. The Local Education Authority had identified ‘bulge’ years which were going to require additional provision of classroom and laboratory facilities. The school pledged to keep the Town Council informed and involved.
The NPCO was pleased to report that the Cattle Market Action Group (CMAG) had been invited to meet with SODC’s Strategic Property Consultant who was aiming to provide ‘support and momentum’ on various projects.
g) Burial Space Working Group
The BSWG had not met but the Town Clerk had had some discussion with the planning agent at CEG on their burial space site, east of Thame Park Road. The conversation had caused some confusion as it implied the site was complete, however it offered hope that the planning application would be submitted to SODC soon.
6 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The Local Plan continues to be on hold and there had not been any updates on timelines or the legal challenge. Cllr Bretherton reported that SODC was not permitted to respond to the examination questions or comment on the Oxford City Plan, as this could be seen to be influencing the LP.
7 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The NPCO reported that three consultants have been shortlisted following the presentation day on 12 November 2019 and further information had been sought and received from all three consultants to aid in the final selection. Progress has also been made in shortlisting consultancy help with regards to employment land.
8 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO reported that the Oxfordshire Neighbourhood Plan Alliance (ONPA) had met with Officers at Oxfordshire 2050. During the Oxfordshire 2050 review, significant policy omissions were identified such as climate change, and they will be taking criticisms on board. The Oxfordshire 2050 hope to smooth out the current way of working and provide some certainty but recognise that some matters will take a long time to resolve. The Oxfordshire 2050 Team want to work jointly with the ONPA to take account of all the Neighbourhood Plans across the district, whilst being careful that the ONPA does not become a mouthpiece for the Ox2050. The ONPA suggested the Ox2050 engage at the grassroots level with Parish and Town Councils and Neighbourhood Forums to establish a catalogue of current practice in our Neighbourhood Plans.
A question was raised about the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway which both Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Councils have voted against. The Head of the Oxfordshire Growth Board (OGB) has stated widespread lack of support for the Expressway. It was noted that during the recent General Election campaign, John Howell MP expressed his lack of support for the Expressway and announced that it was being reviewed.
9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin reported that since the last NPCC, land value negotiations had taken place and an indication of the site value was given to CLT. The ecology report had identified no issues that needed addressing. Earlier in the day, Cllr Austin had received notification that the landowners had agreed to the valuation, subject to legal approval, which was extremely positive news.
Based on interpretation of OCC’s Highways advice, the site should be able to accommodate 30 homes. The site appraisal had fully costed the site. Cllr Austin reported that various grants had been applied for and received from Homes England, Community Led Housing, National Community Land Trust Network and Thame Town Council in order to support the planning application costs.
The needs analysis survey has been printed and distributed to nearly 5000 homes and the results were due in January. The survey had been distributed with a leaflet explaining the Thame CLT in the hope of recruiting new members.
The next phase will be design and the group were meeting with various providers for project management. A full update of the trust’s progress has been sent to SODC with questions on potential policy and grant aid. The trust awaited a response as this would determine their future.
Cllr Austin added that the trust were aiming for a sustainable development with net zero carbon on the site. The next steps will be to write the business plan and apply for the last of the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (ToE2) funding.
Cllr Austin thanked all the excellent members of the CLT team, both within the Council and from outside organisations whose work had made the above happen.
Members thanked Cllr Austin for his tenacity and energy throughout the project which had been significant.
10 Other Items to Note
The item for information was noted.
The meeting concluded at 7:49pm.
Chairman, 4 February 2020