5 November 2019 – Minutes (Draft)
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee held on 5 November 2019 at 7:38pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Cllrs B Austin, P Cowell, M Deacock, M Dyer (Deputy Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, C Jones (Chairman), 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 Bretherton (SODC) and Midwinter (Council Business).
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 24 September 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
The Town Clerk reported that the Town Council had received notification of its fifth CIL payment, of £14.352. The IDPWG will be meeting on 18 November, where there is a lot to discuss, including the CIL allocation process and where to allocate the CIL received to date, totalling around £88,000. The meeting will also look at future management of the IDP action list as suggested by this committee and reallocation of the sports funding once the Town Council knows the final payment amount due from Persimmon, which is expected to be in excess of £200,000. That payment is currently delayed due to an indexation disagreement. The Town Council has also received a request from the Moreton Residents Association to use CIL for a defibrillator in either the bus stop or phone box in Moreton. This will be discussed at the next Planning & Environment committee, and it is hoped that at the next NPCC meeting the committee will be able to allocate CIL for this. Other items on the agenda for the IDPWG meeting are a final handover of the Town Council’s S106 position prior to the Town Clerk’s retirement, although a significant amount has been shared with the NPCO already and the IDPWG Terms of Reference will be reviewed. The IDPWG will report back on this meeting at the next NPCC in December.
c) The Green Living Plan Working Group
Cllr Fickling reported that the GLPWG has been in contact with Lisa Meaney, of Thame Green Living (TGL), to reconvene and better coordinate the various groups.
The NPCO added that he had met with the Chair of the RSA to get an update on their recent Green Living Plan (GLP) activities. There had been good progress on the walking and cycling groups who are proposing a ‘3 ring’ solution for Thame mostly using existing footpaths. The RSA reported a very good liaison with the Council’s Transport Representative in respect of the additional bus stop on the A418. The NPCO has been given the first draft of the Green Living Plan principles to review and then circulate, as part of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan review. Progress on air quality had been slow due a lack of volunteers with the required expertise, and the group continued to advertise for new volunteers.
A meeting on 24 October 2019 had taken place with the NPCO, Cllrs Fickling and Francis and Lisa Meaney. The TGL continue to look at ways to raise the profile of the group over the coming months, in order to generate interest in projects which are not specifically identified in the GLP and to identify volunteers who can progress the GLP once it is handed over from the RSA. Other matters discussed included TGL becoming a community benefit society.
Another meeting was held on 31 October with John Scott, Thame RSA, and Cllrs Francis and Dyer who met with a national supplier of electric vehicle rapid charging equipment. The supplier was given plans of utilities, the market and fair event layouts in order to flag up any potential problems. John reported that it was a very positive meeting.
Cllr Francis added she and a few members of the TGL group were hoping to book a stall at the Christmas Lights Switch-On in order to promote the group and run activities to encourage people to have a ‘green’ Christmas this year.
d) The Town Centre Working Group
Members noted the report. Cllr Fickling highlighted section 8 of the report relating to the lack of connection with SODC’s Economic Development Team and that she was in contact with District Cllr Pieter-Paul Barker with regards to this.
e) Transport Plan Working Group
f) Community Facilities Working Group
g) Burial Space Working Group
The Town Clerk reported that for these three working groups, there had been discussions but not much progress. A meeting with County Cllr Carter was scheduled for next week which will include discussion of the transport strategy. Lord Williams’s School had started considering their plans following the decision to not progress with a single-site, although it was early days. With regards to allotments at Bellway, the Town Clerk had seen a plan for around 17 plots but it was still a long way from a specification. SODC have committed to chase Taylor Wimpey with regards to the burial space.
6 South Oxfordshire District Local Plan
The NPCO reported that there had been a lot of letters circulated since the last meeting. Following SODC’s Scrutiny meeting, the Cabinet made a recommendation on 3 October to withdraw the plan. A new timetable for the revised Local Plan was proposed. This caused concern from the Vale of White Horse regarding the 5-year land supply and Oxford City regarding the Growth Deal. On the 9 October, the Secretary of State (SoS) for MHCLG placed a holding direction on the Local Plan. This places the future of the Local Plan in limbo; the only thing stopping the plan from being withdrawn or proceeding is the Secretary of State who can hold the Plan in this state indefinitely. The NPCO gave the example of Stevenage, who found themselves in a similar situation and had to take their plan to judicial review in order to progress.
SODC are unsure about the purpose of the holding position. The Secretary of State has previously stated the plan to be satisfactory, but can only issue a direction in order to cause its withdrawal if the plan is perceived to be unsatisfactory. The MHCLG confirm that the current holding position is to allow time for the SoS to consider whether to give direction. SODC have asked MHCLG whether they can comment on the Oxford City Plan.
The upcoming general election could change the leadership at MHCLG. SODC are likely to have to submit a legal objection to the holding position which will force a decision either way.
7 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (TNP2)
The NPCO continues to try and contact the neighbouring parishes in terms of a heads of terms or statement of common grounds, but this has not generated a response. The NPCO will be reviewing the TNP policies following the recent appeal decision at The Elms.
Members noted that there had been a good response to the Consultancy Brief and the presentation day was set for Tuesday 12 November 2019. The NPCO added that the Town Council was in a good position moving forwards.
8 Oxfordshire Growth Board / Oxfordshire Plan 2050
The NPCO reported that the Oxfordshire Neighbourhood Plan Alliance (ONPA) met with the Director of the Oxfordshire Growth Board (OGB) on 10 October. The OGB see great value in the input from the ONPA in helping them to reach the most local levels. The OGB ‘pause’, as reported at the last NPCC, has given time to establish a good working and beneficial relationship between the ONPA and OGB. The ONPA now has a wide-ranging membership from small parish to larger towns with neighbourhood plans, so it forms a very good representation for Oxfordshire’s neighbourhood planning groups.
There was nothing further to report on the OGB other than that a new timetable had been issued which stated that the next consultation would be in late spring 2020.
9 Affordable Housing / Community Land Trust (CLT)
Cllr Austin reported that in response to his letter regarding the value of the site, the owners of the site had agreed to another meeting, although this process had regrettably cost two months. In the meantime a red book valuation and development appraisal had been undertaken. Cllr Austin reported that the next couple of weeks were critical.
The group continued to seek grants, including from Homes England who the group were awaiting a response from although they had been assured that the application was being duly considered.
The group continued to await a response from Highways regarding access to the site in relation to the number of houses, however Cllr Austin had recently visited a site at Southmoor similar to that which Thame CLT were aiming for, which had a smaller access so this had provided some circumstantial support.
Over the next few weeks, every household in Thame will be receiving a Housing Needs Survey through their letter box, in collaboration with Community First Oxfordshire. The survey will be purely focused on people with housing needs. It is hoped it will provide the Thame CLT group with good results and data to justify the scope of development and charitable status. The envelopes will be printed with the Thame CLT logo and information about the survey to encourage a good response, as it will be distributed as part of a general distribution.
10 Land at The Elms, Upper High Street, Thame
Appeal Decision – APP/Q3115/W/19/3228431
Members noted the Appeal Decision and expressed their thanks to the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer for all his work both before and during the appeal. The Town Clerk added that he had requested a meeting with Rectory Homes prior to his retirement in order to establish their current position. It was noted that the upcoming DAF appeal may be delayed by the general election.
11 Other Items to Note
The items for information were noted.
The meeting concluded at 8:04pm.