19 October 2021 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 19 October 2021 at 7:16pm 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

Mr. Duncan Nickless, Mr. Bob Denton, and Mr. Reg Koster spoke as residents of East Thame to raise their concerns regarding the Thame Neighbourhood Plan revision (TNP2).

Neighbourhood Planning should be about empowering people however it was felt that TNP2 was not giving local people the opportunity to input. Concern was raised regarding the objectivity and thoroughness of the Site Assessment. Land to the East of the bypass, which South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) had allocated as residential and the developer had initially put forward the site for residential, was considered suitable for employment with no justification from Troy Planning (TNP2 consultants) particularly as the site is opposite a residential area. In terms of employment, there did not appear to be demand beyond the 3.5 hectares outlined in the Local Plan given that work was already commencing on the Rycote Lane employment site (5 hectares), unemployment was negligible, and more people were working from home. Concern was raised that this may lead to industrial areas all around Thame, which would not bring any benefit.

Residents of Pickenfield had been subject to a continuous hum from the cooling plant fans at Windles since 2016, which was loudest in the summer months. The fans had been approved on the eastern elevation however they were installed on the northern elevation. Residents complained at the time, which resulted in a retrospective planning application which was approved. Concern was raised that further industrial units would be closer to the bypass, amplify the existing traffic noise and result in contractors using residential areas to park during construction.

Mr. Koster had been involved in organizing the annual Thame 10k for the last 30 years, which had raised almost £100,000 for local charities, and more recently involved with setting up a Parkrun for Thame, however disappointingly Thame lacks sufficient green space to host a Parkrun. TNP1 identified a shortfall in green open space of 15hectares, much of which remains unfulfilled particularly given that Lord Williams’s School will not be moving onto a single site and creating 2hectares of open space. East Thame was particularly short of green open space, and this would be made worse if land on Howland Road was further developed for industrial units. The provision of green open space is an objective within the Neighbourhood Plan however it is unacceptable that there is little discussion to deliver this, and Thame could be doing better.

A question was raised as to what East Thame residents’ views were on residential development in their area given their objections to employment land on Howland Road? Overall, the residents would like green open space, noting that it was likely that the employment land would be industrial rather than offices which would generate more traffic and noise.

Members asked whether the noise disturbance had been reported to Environmental Health? Mr. Denton advised that residents had been engaged in correspondence with the District Council over the last 5 years. The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) advised that it is important that residents reported the noise disturbance to Environmental Health who would have ways of monitoring this to ensure it is not breaching the planning permission conditions.

4 Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 September 2021 were approved and signed by the Chairman.

5 Transport Plan Working Group (TPWG)

Cllr Richards entered the meeting during this item.

Cllr Austin explained that the Hopper Bus questionnaire was in draft form subject to refinement. The TPWG had chosen the more cost-effective hybrid approach of an online questionnaire with hard copy questionnaires being distributed where people do not have the facility or capacity to complete an online survey. There would be an additional cost for the distribution of promotional leaflets and the hard copy questionnaire where required. It was expected that the survey would take place in January when Community First Oxfordshire (CFO) had capacity.

Whilst Members were completely supportive of the work being undertaken by the TPWG, concerns were raised that the Town Council’s financial regulations may not have been adhered to in terms of obtaining 3 quotations for the work. Members had previously allocated £5,000 for the investigation of a hopper bus service, and the committee were being asked to authorise the TPWG use of this funding. CFO have extensive experience and knowledge of undertaking these kinds of surveys in Oxfordshire and have worked with the town council previously. The Acting Town Clerk advised that she would contact the Highways Authority to identify two other suitable organisations who may be able to quote for undertaking the questionnaire in line with Town Council’s financial regulations prior to Full Council on 16 November 2021. The NPCO advised that the Town Council had used CFO for TNP2’s Housing Needs Survey as the two other organisations that had been recommended by the District Council were not contactable.

Members made various suggestions for changes and improvements to the questionnaire. Cllr Austin asked Members to pass constructive comments to him outside of the meeting, however whilst the questionnaire was in draft form, it had been reviewed by all Members of the TPWG.

RECOMMENDED to Full Council that:

  1. Expenditure of up to £5,000 (already budgeted) be authorised for the Transport Plan Working Group to undertake a transport needs analysis survey with Community First Oxfordshire (CFO) for the Hopper Bus, subject to two further quotations being obtained, where possible, in line with Financial Regulations.

6 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)

The NPCO advised that the Town Council had received the consultant’s analysis of the public consultation held in August. The findings may require a change in how the Town Council operates and communicates with the public. This would have a financial and resource bearing on future operations. This had been discussed by the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG) on Thursday, who have made a recommendation to this committee which will be ratified in a closed session under Agenda Item 8.

The NPCO advised that the Town Council was chasing AECOM for the Housing Needs survey. The housing survey, to identifying Thame’s specialist housing needs, has been approved by Members and will be sent to the District Council for their comments. The Strategic Environmental Assessment scoping exercise by AECOM had been cleared by the statutory consultees. Further updates would follow after the meeting, once the closed session had been held.

Cllr Midwinter entered the meeting.

7 Exclusion of the Public

MOVED that:

  1. Under Section 1, Paragraph 2 of The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business because publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted.

8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)

Members received the briefing note and minutes of the NPCCCWG meeting held on 14 October 2021, where a recommendation had been made to this committee for the way forward.

The public consultation had shown strong support for TNP’s visions and objectives.  However, the feedback from the public showed site matters needed to be made much more comprehensible to them.  It is a priority that the public understand and are supportive of the plan.  Residents, businesses, and landowners must be satisfied that both windfall developments and Local Plan requirements and policies were recognised and appropriately addressed.  This would also be essential to ensure any site that was ultimately allocated had a clear and willing landowner / developer behind it.

RECOMMENDED to Full Council:

  1. To go back out to public consultation with the housing sites, giving the pros and cons for each of the sites and a reasonable indication of numbers.
  2. To proceed with the employment land allocation of a minimum of 3.5hectares, with two sites on offer, in going back out to public consultation with the pros and cons of each.

Members were asked to consider and suggest ways to improve communication and engagement with the public in the lead up to and as part of the second consultation.


The meeting concluded at 8:51pm.


Signed ………………………

Chairman, 9 November 2021