23 February 2021 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 23 February 2021 at 7:21pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, 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 Cllr Deacock (personal).
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 12 January 2021 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
5 Working Groups
Cllr Bretherton joined the meeting during this item.
Members received reports / updates from the chairmen of the:
a) NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG)
The Chairman advised there had not been any meetings since the previous NPCC and therefore nothing to report.
b) Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group (IDPWG)
Cllr Bretherton advised the main update for the IDPWG related to Item 6 of this meeting.
c) Green Living Plan Working Group (GLPWG)
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) reported that unfortunately due to Officer workloads, the Chairs of the committees had been unable to meet to review the Terms of Reference of the GLPWG. However, despite this, Officers were progressing projects related to the Green Living Plan. In partnership with the GLP group, the Asset Manager was progressing the Rycote Meadow project and rewilding initiative, the Market Town Co-Ordinator was progressing the walking guides and the Acting Town Clerk had been working with the newly established Thame Wombles group.
d) Town Centre Working Group
The report was noted, and the Chairman thanked the Market Town Co-Ordinator for another excellent and comprehensive report.
e) Transport Plan Working Group
The NPCO reported that the trial bus route around Cromwell Avenue had gone well, although the start-date had been delayed and not confirmed yet. As discussed at the earlier Planning & Environment Committee, the Town Council had received several comments from residents of Wenman Road estates relating to highways matters including parking. Two planning applications in recent years had been granted against the recommendation of the Highways Officer. It was agreed that the committee would write to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), copying to the County Council, to request that no more applications are considered in this area against Highways advice and until the combined impact of the recent developments can be seen and understood.
f) Community Facilities Working Group
There was nothing to report. It was agreed that the working group had been without a Chairman for some time and would need to be formally agreed at the next meeting.
g) Burial Space Working Group (BSWG)
Although the BSWG had not met since the last NPCC, the planning application for new burial space at Site C was in the process of being submitted. The Acting Town Clerk advised that all religious denominations would be consulted to aid the working group discussions. There was some confusion as to who the Chairman was, and it was agreed that the Acting Town Clerk would circulate a list of all Working Groups and their chairs, in order to identify where a Chairman / Membership was missing.
6 Sports Strategy S106 Funding Allocation List
Members received the updated Sports Strategy S106 Funding Allocation List.
Cllr Bretherton advised that he and the Acting Town Clerk had been in continued discussion with the S106 Officer at SODC, who had identified an additional £34,519.40 of funding from developments in Chinnor. This money had been allocated to pitches at the Rugby and Football clubs. The monies received from the Persimmon development had been reallocated, leaving £114,446.17 which had to be allocated to the Rugby Club as it was the only outstanding project identified within the Sports Strategy. Within the Persimmon funding, £88,000 had been allocated to the Cricket Club to meet a deficit of Town Council funding.
It was clarified that the Town Council had received monies from developments in Chinnor as there was insufficient demand in Chinnor for the facilities that would be delivered through the S106 funding.
Members expressed concern that certain sports clubs had received significant funding compared to others such as track, indoor or individual sports, and it was questioned whether the remaining unallocated Persimmon funding could be allocated to other clubs to offer a wider community benefit. It was explained that the monies could only be allocated in line with the sports strategy requirements, although there was scope for the Rugby Club to use the monies to improve their community facilities which would in turn benefit other clubs. Members were reminded that S106 funding is time-limited and will not be replaced. Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding would not provide the same scale of funding.
It was agreed that there were gaps in the Sports Strategy and lessons to be learnt, however it was a document created to fill an evidence gap as part of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan and perhaps could be reviewed in the future.
7 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The NPCO advised that there had been no news on the legal challenge by the Bioabundance pressure group, who are currently fundraising to cover the costs of the legal challenge.
It was noted that the Civil Aviation Authority had written a strong letter against the outline planning application at Chalgrove Airfield. It would be interesting to see how Homes England responded and how the application is determined. The NPCO advised this might explain why the Local Plan has a large buffer to enable large sites to fall whilst still ensuring a 5-year housing land supply.
8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The NPCO reported that the three consultancies who originally tendered for the role of the TNP2 consultant have responded, with Members and Officers now reviewing the documents and undertaking a scoring assessment. The NPCO intended to review the scoring and apply weighting early next week which would then be discussed at an informal meeting. Given the important and fixed deadlines, the NPCO advised that Members would be asked at Council next week to consider giving the Acting Town Clerk delegated authority to choose the final tender in principle, which would be formally ratified later. The NPCO advised that a project timeline was likely to be published towards the end of March.
The NPCO reported that a positive meeting had been held with SODC and Town Council officers, and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, to discuss the Cattle Market site. The meeting was to introduce the new Project Officer and Head of Property at SODC, check timelines and provide background about the site for the new officers. At the meeting it was agreed that SODC would start to draw up options and would remain in contact. SODC are aware of the Town Council’s various concerns and the need to work together on the TNP2. The NPCO also advised that the lease end date on the Cattle Market site, which had been extended, was final as the building no longer met energy efficiency standards.
Following the recent dismissal of the appeal challenge at the former DAF site, Thame was seeing an escalating provision of accommodation for the elderly, without evidence of demand or local circumstances, which was placing a strain on infrastructure. The NPCO advised that the DAF decision could be positive in contributing to our supply which could hold weight against other applications, but agreed that without local data and knowledge, the Town Council would find it difficult to resist similar applications.
It was suggested that the Town Council adapt and progress the survey created by Community First Oxfordshire in order to gain grassroots understanding of the local need and provide a background review, but it was noted that a wider housing needs survey would be needed which would have more weight. It was suggested that the TNP2 consultants could be used to undertake this survey, with support from Members, which would alleviate demands on Officers. It was noted that provision of private Extra Care Housing and elderly accommodation was an attractive choice for developers given the tax and CIL breaks, as well as being able to leverage large profits due to lower requirements for parking and open space provision. The urgency for this survey was recognized, however it was noted that it was not going to be a quick process.
It was highlighted that in relation to elderly accommodation, there was a shortage of accommodation locally that was not market-led, such as Meadowcroft Care Home. This would require discussions with Social Care at Oxfordshire County Council.
- The chosen TNP2 consultant be asked to undertake and prioritise a survey to identify local needs for provision of elderly accommodation in Thame.
9 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO reported the announcement that the whole Oxford – Cambridge Arc will be delivered through national policy. This will be the first time transport infrastructure, jobs and homes will be considered and planned together since regional plans were abolished. It was too early to tell what this would mean for the future of the county-wide plan Oxfordshire 2050. The Oxfordshire Growth Board (OGB) continued to deal with an already-agreed level of development committed to through the Oxfordshire Growth Deal.
The February meeting of the OGB and its associated Scrutiny Committee had been cancelled. At the previous meeting, they had presented a Health Impact Assessment Toolkit which would be used for decision-making across Oxfordshire as part of the OGB’s healthy place making initiative.
The OGB had sent a letter to the Government requesting that the Community Housing Fund be extended, which was good news for Community Land Trusts.
10 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
The Town Council had supported the planning application at its previous Full Council meeting. Cllr Austin advised that Thame CLT were awaiting detailed responses as part of the application consultation and the ensuing requirements. They were also awaiting a meeting with the allocations team at SODC in order to agree the local lettings policy.
With regards to the Phoenix Trail crossing, Cllr Austin confirmed that Sustrans had been consulted throughout the process as well as an independent safety forum. Recommendations had been made and conditions would be made to ensure safety on the crossing.
The meeting concluded at 8:32pm.
Chairman, 6 April 2021