23 January 2024 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 23 January 2024 at 7:38pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, A Dite (Town Mayor), H Dollman, M Dyer, H Fickling, A Gilbert (Deputy Mayor), C Jones (Chairman), H Richards (Deputy Chairman)


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Dawson (personal) and Emery (personal).


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

There were no declarations of interest.


3 Public Participation and Public Questions

Cllr Fickling entered the meeting during this item.

The following questions were put to the committee by Chris Hatton and on behalf of other residents concerned about the Oxford Road planning application (P23/SS4262/FUL). As per Standing Order 8.2, a written reply will be provided within the minutes and no debate was permitted.

  1. Can you confirm as the TNP continuity committee that you will be voting in line with the current TNP (confirmed by referendum) regarding the proposal for North of Oxford Road. This specifically states this area should remain undeveloped as open green space.

Answer: The Town Councillors are very much aware that the TNP is the “made” neighbourhood plan for Thame which, despite its age, holds significant material weight for decision making purposes.  The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee cannot speak for Full Council, who will debate this application on 13 February.  To do so would also risk accusations of predetermination which could result in a legal challenge.

  1. Through discussions with individual members of TNP continuity committee we have been advised that ‘land cannot be used twice’ to offset green space for development. Why is this not being considered for the land North of Oxford Road?

Answer: It is possible that the Town Council’s view, that land cannot be used twice, is being misunderstood.  The TNP and existing legal obligation requires that 17 hectares of publicly accessible open space be provided for the benefit of the people of Thame.  Were any of that land to be proposed for development then other open space would need to be provided from the landowner’s holdings to make sure that 17 hectares would still be made available after development.  Any additional, new housing development would also be required to have public open space, and the Town and District Councils will insist this is provided in addition to the original 17 hectares, i.e., we will make sure that open space is not counted twice.

  1. Why are the TNP continuity committee putting forward building on land as part of the North of Oxford Road site that has legal protection against building and is extremely unpopular with locals (acknowledged by Thame Town Council) compared to the western side of the estate, approved by referendum, which has no legal protection (confirmed in previous presentation to residents)?

Answer: The western site is underlain by archaeology of national significance.  It has no current protection in law but its current use as farmland does not threaten the site.  Were that use to change, or the integrity of the site be threatened by development or related archaeology be found nearby, action could be taken to protect the site.

  1. At the same time it was also presented to Thame residents that Bloor have in the past considered this unaffordable to develop. We do not believe the profits of Bloor homes should be put before the residents of Thames opinion, does the committee agree? We suggest you ask the public which would be their preferred site within the area North of Oxford Road.

Answer: Bloor’s profit does have relevance to TNP2.  It is not possible to put a site forward for development in a land use plan where the landowner is not willing to support the proposed development.  It would be thrown out at the Plan’s examination.  Bloor and the landowner have declared they are neither able nor willing to put the western site forward and it has not, therefore, been possible for us to continue to promote it.

  1. How many people have voted for building on these specific sites within TNP2 consultation compared to those who have objected against it? (Note the popularity vote, as part of TNP2 consultation, included the western side of the estate, which was approved in the current NP and many people still support this development). By our understanding the majority of the comments (on the planning portal) ~200 across both applications object to building on this specific site.

Answer: During the site options consultation on TNP2 478 individuals expressed preference for Oxford Road, against 268 on land south of Moreton Lane.  In percentage terms, 42.4% versus 23.8%.  During the last consultation, 52% of residents agreed or strongly agreed with the use of the site and its policy, 10.5% neither agreed nor disagreed while 37.5% either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

4 Minutes

The Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 19 September 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


5 Working Groups

It was noted that the Travel Plan Working Group (TPWG) working group will now report to Planning & Environment Committee as ratified by Full Council on 16 January 2024.


6 Reports from Town Council Representatives

a) Transport Representative – Cllr Bretherton

A report was provided from the meeting on 14 November 2023. The meeting had focused on the Oxfordshire Community Rail Partnership; however, Thame had not been included and there did not seem to be much commitment to change this. The commercial patronage of buses is 103% of pre-covid levels but use of concessionary passes is lower. The nationwide £2 cap on fares has been extended to December 2024, and £1 fares in Oxfordshire on Sundays in December will be repeated in 2024. There is work towards a ‘young fares’ scheme which will be county-wide. The next meeting will be in March.

It was noted that OCC Officers had been supportive and helpful. Cllr Bretherton agreed to follow up the 121 service negotiations with OCC Officers.

b) Thame Community Land Trust – Bob Austin

A report had been presented to Full Council on 16 January 2024. Cllr Bretherton advised that the delays to the project had been due to finalising the S106 agreement, however in positive news this is about to be signed.


7 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan

It was noted that the Town Council will be considering its response to the Joint Local Plan 2041 Preferred Options consultation at a Full Council meeting on 13 February 2024. Councillors are asked to familiarise themselves with the documents in advance. The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) will prepare a report. The consultation is currently open until 21 February 2024.

On an initial review, there are concerns over some of the evidence base studies, and Members were asked to support the NPCO in reading through some of these documents and providing their thoughts. No new housing, employment, or retail allocations are included for Thame this time, however Thame still has outstanding housing allocations to deliver from the previous plan.

8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)

The NPCO provided Members with a verbal update on TNP2.

The statutory Regulation 14 public consultation concluded in August 2023. It had been an 8-week consultation, with extensive publicity and communications. The number of responses had been lower than the previous consultation, however this may reflect that the latest consultation proposed sites in line with feedback from the previous consultation which showed 42.8% of respondents preferred the Oxford Road site compared to 23.8% for the land at Moreton Lane. A summary of the latest consultation results shows support for the Oxford Road housing site. Less support was shown for the Cattle Market site.

Additional support has been requested from AECOM to update the Masterplans to respond to consultation feedback as follows:

  • Oxford Road (housing site) – The District’s Landscape and Conservation Officers advise that the quantum and extent of the development proposal for the eastern area will need to be revisited to address concerns regarding the view from Oxford Road and to the historic assemblage of Town Farm. The Masterplan will also need updating.
  • Rycote Lane (employment) – Redesigned to reduce the impact on the landscape.
  • Cattle Market (mixed use) – Policies to be reworded to clarify that no parking will be lost without demonstrable evidence. Options will be presented to redevelop only part of the site following feedback that the proposals were overly ambitious. In either case there will be the optional redevelopment of the Racquets Fitness Centre.

The draft Masterplans are due in the next few weeks. There had been some unexpected delays due to a response from the District Council which indicated they did not agree with the Town Council’s Housing Needs Assessment due to local and district level differences. AECOM will be preparing an addendum with all other matters to be handled through examination. The Town Council continues to work to March for a submission date.

Members asked for clarification on Racquets at the Cattle Market. Racquets have a long lease and a right to stay there, the TNP2 would only be preparing for the possibility of it changing. Leisure facilities are well-protected by Local Plans.

What is the expected push back on the Oxford Road site in light of the District Council’s comments? The TNP2 has a buffer of 50 homes and should be able to absorb any loss of housing allocation. The change would be on the Eastern site given its relationship with the listed buildings and countryside views. Development would be pulled away from the flooded area, although it was noted that none of the proposed homes under the live planning application are in the flood risk zone. The planning application as submitted is not guaranteed and is likely to change.

It was suggested the Cattle Market policy needs specify that the car park is to be public car parking, rather than supermarket owned publicly available car parking.


9 Street Vote Development Orders – Consultation

The NPCO reported that Street Vote Development Orders have come about from the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act. The Orders would enable residents to propose developments on their street, effectively like mini Neighbourhood Plans, except they would override existing NPs and therefore other NP groups in Oxfordshire are not supportive of the proposals. The Government is seeking to increase housing delivery, however the criteria for what development is acceptable is confusing and risks becoming driven by profits. There are some areas which would be exempt, however this does not cover Conservation Areas. With Local Planning Authority resources stretched, it is likely that the Town Council will be involved in local issues arising from developments through the Orders. Overall, the NPCO does not support the proposals but would welcome input from Members.

Members had concerns over the scale of development possible under the orders, as well as connecting larger homes to the utility network, the impact on existing foundations to accommodate additional development, and house insurance. It was noted that a general election is due in 2024.

Members were asked to submit their comments to the NPCO prior to the consultation closing on 2 February 2024.


The meeting concluded at 8:28pm.


Signed ………………………                           Date ……………