24 September 2019 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 24 September 2019 at 7:15pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, C Jones (Chairman), A Midwinter (Town Mayor) and J Tipping
G Hunt, Town Clerk
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Cowell (Personal) and Deacock (Personal).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest.
3 Public Participation & Public Questions
There was no public participation.
There were no public questions put to the Committee.
The minutes of the meeting held on 13 August 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 Persimmon were due to pay some more of their S106 contributions which would require a meeting of this Working Group to re-jig the allocation of sport related funds as defined by the Infrastructure Delivery Plan. A question was raised about progress on Persimmon’s commitment to provide a community orchard? The Town Clerk reported that SODC are aware of the outstanding financial and non-financial commitments due from various developers and the triggers for when these should be implemented. Following the site visit with SODC Officers in July, a good write-up had been received and they have committed to ensure the non-financial contributions from developers are delivered.
It was reported that the path from Site F (Bloor) to Oxford Road was completed. Officers were looking into options to connect the site to Rycote Meadow and were exploring possible unused TOE funds for this path.
c) The Green Living Plan Working Group
The NPCO reported that Cllrs Dyer, Fickling and Francis had volunteered to help the Thame Green Living group with the electric vehicle charging initiative. Thame Green Living will take over the work of the RSA in order to continue progressing the Thame Green Living Plan. A resident has raised concerns about ‘car-freeing’ the Town Centre that it may lead to parking problems in residential areas. The NPCO and Cllr Fickling had met with TGL and RSA to assist and progress the transition. It was a positive discussion covering the scope, accessibility to similar low-level support from the Town Council, partnership working and the possibility of the development of a new Terms of Reference.
d) The Town Centre Working Group
The report was noted. Cllr Jones was saddened to learn of the decrease in market footfall.
e) Transport Plan Working Group
The Town Clerk reported further speeding concerns on Wenman Road, as well as on Park Street and East Street. This increases the need to progress the Speed Indicator Devices which have been previously discussed. The Office Administration Manager has been tasked with progressing this.
There have been several complaints regarding unsocial parking on various roads in Thame. Cars have been parking on the grass verges next to yellow lines, which is still a Police parking enforcement issue, but the Town Council had been approached to purchase bollards to help resolve the issue.
David Taylor at OCC, who is responsible for defining S106 related bus infrastructure provision, has declared he has no capacity or time to progress anything in Thame at present, including the Hopper Bus idea. The Town Clerk will raise this at his next meeting with County Councillor Nick Carter.
The Town Council has clarified its position in a response to a transport infrastructure concern in relation to the LWS single site project and expansion in general.
The Town Clerk has collated the long list of all the suggestions relating to transport infrastructure in Thame, and that list will be the repository for all future suggestions.
The Town Clerk has been put in contact with a new resource at OCC responsible for progressing the Local Transport Plan consultation and now has a vague timetable for that, however the Officer is currently off sick. The Town Council hopes to be able to work with OCC to produce a Thame-specific transport strategy rather than just input into a consultation.
A concern was raised over the visibility and safety of the East Street / Kingsey Road Roundabout due to speeding. A question was raised as to whether OCC could devolve the study for the Hopper Bus through S106? The Town Clerk advised that the Town Council was working towards a top-down transport strategy for Thame and the new OCC Officer is aware of the possible funding options available. That strategy will hopefully help prove the need for the Hopper Bus.
f) Community Facilities Working Group – nothing to report.
g) Burial Space Working Group
The Town Clerk reported that the Town Council is awaiting SODC to push Taylor Wimpey and their agents relating to the planning application. The S106 Officer has been briefed on this non-financial aspect of the S106 agreement.
6 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The NPCO reported various letters relating to the Local Plan.
The District Council has asked Oxford City Council if they are serious about addressing climate change, against the background of City’s needs for housing and employment growth and the District voting to reject the Expressway in any form last month.
SODC have also written to the Planning Inspector to advise of why they are delaying the Local Plan. Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has written to SODC advising them to act carefully as to not risk the 5 year housing supply, Housing Infrastructure Fund or the Growth Deal.
On 20 September, the Director General of Decentralisation and Growth advises that continued collaboration will bring benefits to the environment and sustainable growth, which is at the heart of the OxCam Arc. The letter suggests that withdrawing the plan will make it harder to achieve that, may open up the risk of speculative development and risks losing the Housing Infrastructure Fund and Housing & Growth Deal. Through the examination process, concerns around oversupply of housing, environment and garden community matters could be dealt with. The Director General recognised capacity concerns at SODC associated with withdrawing the Local Plan and offered financial support to simultaneously manage the Local Plan, JSSP and OxCam Arc. The NPCO commented that these proposed changes are serious and it could be suggested that the Local Plan was not ‘sound’ at the point of submission.
Cllr Bretherton added that there were a lot of speculative messages being circulated and it was difficult to identify the truth. The Inspectors have asked SODC several questions relating to the evidence base for employment on Green Belt land and the supporting documents.
SODC will be meeting on 10 October to decide the future of the Local Plan and Cllr Bretherton thought it likely that the Local Plan 2034 will be withdrawn to allow amendments to address matters such as climate change issues and Oxford City’s housing need. If the plan is withdrawn for this purpose, Cllr Bretherton believes this will not have too great an impact on the TNP2 in terms of housing allocation however there may be changes in terms of employment allocation and density.
7 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
In response to the TNP2 Consultancy Brief which was published last month, there have been a couple of interests expressed. In addition to publishing on the Contract Finder website, other previously interested parties were also contacted and this had generated a good response. To date there have been around half a dozen interests expressed and it is hoped there will be a good outcome.
The NPCO reported that there had been continued pressure from employment interests. The NPCO reported that he had been sitting in on The Elms appeal hearing which was taking place, and found it to be beneficial in terms of identifying which policies were being questioned.
8 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The OGB had their first meeting today for a while as they had been undertaking a self-assessment due to pressures internally and from the government to ensure progress. The NPCO provided a summary of the items covered in the meeting and those worth looking at on the OGB’s website. England’s Economic Heartland which represents the Local Authorities between Oxford and Cambridge presented the OGB with an outline transport strategy. The Oxfordshire Rail Connectivity Study identifies timelines and further details for pre-identified and some new schemes. The Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Progress Report has identified that the timelines for housing and infrastructure delivery are now slipping to a more natural, realistic timeline.
The OGB is reviewing its board membership and governance, and aims to improve awareness and understanding of its role and function. The OGB aims to regularise its partnership working in order to increase capacity. The review formally launched on 24 September 2019 with a series of workshops planned for November as well as interviews with senior officers. A report with the findings will be presented to the Board in January 2020.
9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin was pleased to report that the recent ecological survey on the interested site found no evidence of bats, subject to a final report on reptiles.
The group had met with the owners of the site and the draft options agreement was tabled and discussed. A written response from the owners has resulted in additional work for the CLT members and a temporary hiatus in progress. The owners have requested a minimum price and therefore a development appraisal and valuation of the trust needs to be carried out.
The CLT have received the Milestone 1 Grant from Homes England of £29,700. Cllr Austin reported they had been unsuccessful in their application to the Cohesive Communities Fund, which was a shame but not unexpected. Progress is continuing to Milestone 2, which is the Business and Financial Plan. A Housing Needs Analysis is due to be undertaken shortly and the group will be meeting with Community First Oxfordshire next month to progress this. CFO met the group’s requirements perfectly and seemed an appropriate choice. The CLT group are seeking volunteers to assist with delivering the survey to homes, as well as an explanatory leaflet about the Thame CLT. The survey will form part of the planning application and charity status.
The CLT group had a positive meeting with SOHA last week who have already provided the group with information and advice. The Thame CLT is required to work with a registered provider of rented properties for when they reach that stage.
The group continue to make progress despite a hiatus whilst they ensure funding and continue negotiations with the land owners.
Questions were raised as to why the site locations is a secret and whether it was within walking distance of the town centre? Cllr Austin advised that this was to protect the landowners for personal reasons and as such was not in a position to answer any questions relating to its location. Cllr Austin advised it was a relatively small site that could accommodate 30-42 homes comprised of ones to rent and buy.
10 Other Items to Note
The items for information were noted.
The meeting concluded at 8:02pm.
Chairman, 5 November 2019