29 November 2022 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 29 November 2022 at 7:00pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton (Deputy Chairman), N Champken-Woods, P Cowell (Town Mayor), M Dyer, L Emery, C Jones (Chairman), A Midwinter, H Richards


G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Dite (personal) and Fickling (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.


4 Minutes

Cllr Austin requested an amendment to the third paragraph of Item 10 of the draft minutes from 18 October 2022 as follows:

With regards to S106, a draft was not received until April 2022 which was five months after planning approval. Examination revealed deficiencies in the drafting of the affordable housing clauses. In August 2022, Cllr Austin submitted a letter detailing those deficiencies and asked that they be changed. The solicitor did not reply and only by reminder did the Trust discover that the solicitor had left SODC and they had not been informed. SODC then demanded an additional £3,000 in legal fees as they had exhausted the original payment.

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2022 were approved as amended. The updated version of the minutes would be re-printed for signing by the Chairman after the meeting.


5 Working Groups

a) NPCC Co-Ordination Working Group (NPCCCWG)

There was nothing to report.

b) Infrastructure Delivery Plan Working Group (IDPWG)

There was nothing to report.

c) Green Living Plan Working Group (GLPWG)

There was nothing to report.

d) Travel Plan Working Group (TPWG)

The report was noted.

As a former TPWG member, Cllr Austin expressed concern that there may be duplication of effort with some of the proposed work of the TPWG. Concern was also raised that the 121 Town Bus Service is being regarded as a hopper bus when actually it is a stopgap to retain bus service funding held by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) for Thame, which currently is just below £1million. There was concern that OCC take a narrow approach on public transport provision and too great a focus is placed on cycling and urban areas. In contrast, Bucks Council have successfully secured Government funding from the Rural Mobility Fund for ‘hub and spoke’ projects, some of which are already successfully happening in the Aylesbury area. It is considered that buses and a park & ride system need to be part of the solution for Thame. It is felt important that Thame does not miss out on the funding and support available from the Government for rural bus services.

It was agreed that these concerns and suggestions would be shared via email with Chair of the TPWG and Members of this committee.

e) Burial Space Working Group (BSWG)

There was nothing to report.


6 Reports from Town Council Representatives

  1. Transport Representative – There was nothing to report.


7 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan

There was nothing to report since the last meeting.


8 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)

Cllr Richards entered the meeting during this item.

The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer (NPCO) provided members with an update on TNP2 employment matters. At the previous committee meeting, it was reported from the Town Council’s own employment loss / gain analysis, that Thame had lost capacity for around 600 jobs since 2011. The NPCO reminded Members of a Council’s responsibility with regards to economic growth and development, as set out in NPPF Paragraph 82. Although it is unusual for neighbourhood planning groups, Thame has chosen to get involved in employment matters given various employment pressures including impact of permitted development rights, unusually low vacancy rates, the confident submission of the Christmas Hill Business Park development prior to the examination of the Local Plan, and low confidence in the District’s local employment allocations.

The commissioned employment land review report from AECOM was made available to the Town Council on 18 November 2022, which used a range of district and county level evidence published since 2015. The NPCO explained some of the strengths and limitations of this published evidence. The 2017 Addendum to the District’s Employment Land Review recommended reducing Thame’s employment land allocation from 1.9ha to 1.6ha, despite its clearly constrained supply and known record of employment opportunity loss. In addition to using this published evidence, the AECOM report reviewed the need for allocations locally by undertaking an appraisal of local market needs and the complete record of employment gains and losses, and considered local demographics, regional and national statistics, strategies, and circumstances.

Members noted the report on employment land needs in Thame, which recommended that Thame allocates 5.5ha of employment land in TNP2 for a mix of offices, light industry, industry, and warehousing. It is recognised that the report is not perfect, and there is a risk of introducing bias when proposing allocations at such a small geographic scale, however the report presents a very detailed analysis and includes information that was absent from the District’s evidence base.

By allocating employment land in TNP2, the aim is to address the supply / demand issue within the employment market, in a way that is a reasonable and suitable for Thame. In terms of where the land will be placed, this will be a matter for the master-planning to guide us. This will consider site suitability in terms of landscape and the Strategic Environmental Assessment findings.  It was recalled that the preferred site from the latest consultation was Rycote Lane which the Town Council would be able to support, subject to this further work.

The report presented an 80:20 split of B8 and B2 respectively, and concern was expressed that the B8 figure appeared to be quite high. The NPCO acknowledged the concerns, but advised that since 2011, local growth of warehousing has only been around 1%, and the proposed split is only a recommendation based on market needs.

A question was raised as to whether TNP2 will include out of town retail policies, given the known interest from national supermarkets to move to Thame? The NPCO advised that TNP2 would be looking to maintain the preference for town centre retail, a principle which appears to be well observed by the District Council and is reflected in national planning policy. Once the Masterplan is made public, Officers will invite Members to meet with interested supermarkets for formal conversations.

In terms of TNP2 timeline, the NPCO advised this was very tight for time in order to get the next consultation completed in February / March 2023, before the pre-election period. It was hoped that the draft Masterplan would be received next week, given that the master-planners now have all their evidence, including the landscape assessment report, it would then be possible to present the draft Plan to the District Council prior to the public consultation.


9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)

As previously reported, the project has been subject to various external delays, and these have cumulatively left the Thame CLT in a poor financial situation. In light of this, and high interest rates, the difficult decision has had to be made to replace the 15 Discounted Market Homes with Shared Ownership homes as the Housing Association will not take the risk, however a buy back clause has been negotiated and included so that homes can be bought back and made available for the local population in perpetuity. The Heads of Terms have been agreed with the Housing Association, who will manage the tendering and construction of the 31 homes. The Trust will provide a long-term lease for the land. The Trust has had a positive meeting with the Housing Association, who have provided a timetable for the tendering and purchase of the land.

Overall, whilst the situation is disappointing, the project continues to move forward, and the Trust believes the model is still the best to provide homes for the community of Thame.

When would the first sod be cut? Cllr Austin advised they are aiming for July.


The meeting concluded at 7:36pm.


Signed ………………………

Chairman, 31 January 2022