21 December 2021 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 21 December 2021 at 7:27pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, P Cowell (Town Mayor), M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), H Fickling, C Jones (Chairman), A Midwinter, and J Tipping
M Sturdy, Town Clerk
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Champken-Woods (personal), Emery (personal) and Richards (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 9 November 2021 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)
Following the previous committee meeting, Cllr Bretherton advised that he had met with the Town Clerk, Mayor and Deputy Mayor. It was agreed that the IDP needed improving, including adding how and when the document should be updated, and the Town Clerk would be discussing this with the Management Team and actioning.
Cllr Fickling entered the meeting during this item.
c) Green Living Plan Working Group (GLPWG)
There was nothing to report.
d) Town Centre Working Group (TCWG)
The report from the Market Town Co-Ordinator (MTCO) was noted. The Chairman thanked the MTCO for all her work in organising the Christmas events and activities in Thame, and the Town Council staff who had helped make these happen.
e) Transport Plan Working Group (TPWG)
Cllr Austin provided an update on the Hopper Bus project. All Councillors had been circulated a copy of the survey which was now almost ready. Further work was being done by Community First Oxfordshire (CFO) on the paper copy questionnaires and flyers. It was hoped that the survey would be distributed by mid-April. The responses from this would then be presented in a report to Council to decide whether to take the project further. The TPWG would work with the Transport Representative and County Council if this was approved. Cllr Austin was pleased with the service from CFO and would keep the Town Council informed on the project.
The Chairman advised that she had completed the survey and it appeared to be very sensible in the questions it was asking.
f) Community Facilities Working Group (CFWG)
There was nothing to report.
g) Burial Space Working Group (BSWG)
The report from the Asset Manager was noted. The Chairman noted the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) response to DEFRA’s consultation on changes to the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2016. There was a risk to the delivery of some future burial spaces in Thame if the changes were implemented.
6 Reports from Town Council Representatives
- Transport Representative – Cllr Bretherton advised there had not been any meetings and therefore there was nothing to report.
7 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) gave notice on 14 December 2021 that they would not be pursuing a legal challenge to the appeal decision at Sonning Common. This was regrettable for the people of Sonning Common, given the scale of the development on a small community. Cllr Bretherton added that SODC had disappointingly decided to not take further action following legal advice. Two major planning applications have since been approved which will ensure the Local Plan is delivering a 5-year housing land supply. SODC are now working on their next Local Plan. An indicative timetable for the SODC and Vale of White Horse District Council’s joint Local Plan suggests the first consultation will be held in Summer 2022.
A question was raised as to what the next Local Plan would mean for the Thame Neighbourhood Plan? The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) advised that the Neighbourhood Plan would need to be updated every 5 years to stay in line with the District’s Local Plan, meaning the next TNP review would likely need to start in 2024.
8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The NPCO advised that SODC had finally produced the housing numbers required for Thame, taking into account windfall developments, as around 200 homes. The NPCO and Troy Planning had calculated the number to be around 20-30 less than that using site surveys and national guidance, and the Town Council would share its information with SODC as it would be good to jointly agree a figure. The second round of TNP2 consultation is hence publicising the figure as approximately 200, plus specialist housing.
The specialist housing survey, facilitated by Community First Oxfordshire, closed on 8 December 2021 and received 240 responses. Analysis of the responses is being undertaken. AECOM continue to work on the Housing Needs Assessment, which will identify Thame’s general housing needs in terms of type, size, and tenure. The NPCO has provided AECOM with information on delivery of this in Thame since 2011 to assist them.
The second round of public consultation opened on Monday and focuses on the major housing and employment sites, and wider ideas raised within the first community consultation. There had been some comments made relating to the consultation boards, which had been passed to Troy Planning.
The NPCO and Troy Planning had met with the developers / site promotors for the two main employment land and four housing sites. This had helped address some issues and uncertainties. Members had received the confidential briefings from the employment land meetings and would shortly receive the briefing from the housing site meetings.
9 Future Oxfordshire Partnership / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO felt that the Town Council had become increasingly distant from the work of the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP), Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and the Ox-Cam Arc. There appeared to be several disparate sub-groups which was not helping matters. The NPCO advised it might be helpful if he wrote a report for this committee on what each group is working on and any upcoming consultations. It was noted that the advisory group to the FOP and Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was recommending that the work of these groups and the Ox-Cam Arc be merged onto a single website, which would help the public to be more informed with their current work as well as assisting the District Council who are trying to align with these groups.
10 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin reported that planning permission had been granted on 24 November 2021. The project was now moving to the next phase which included discussions with SODC regarding S106 agreements and negotiations with housing associations. The £137,000 grant had been received from Community Housing Fund, who had been cooperative in advising on when and where the money could be spent. The project was now proceeding with the technical design ahead of going to tender. They had been approached by a contractor who is an expert in sustainable housing, which the project aspires to achieve if possible whilst ensuring the homes remain affordable. It was hoped that by the end of March the project could move to the next stage and once overall funding had been received the land could be purchased and further progress could be made. The delay that resulted from conflicting opinions between consultees was regrettable, but the project was progressing well now.
The Chairman advised this was brilliant news and congratulated the Thame CLT team.
In terms of when work would begin on the ground, Cllr Austin advised that hopefully next month this would be firmed up.
The meeting concluded at 7:48pm.
Chairman, 1 February 2022