Residents urged to help shape new Neighbourhood Plan for Thame

High Street, Thame.
High Street, Thame.

Residents around Thame are being invited to help shape a new plan for the town which will look at housing, business and job creation and other community needs.

The Neighbourhood Plan Revision Workshop will be held following the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 27, at Thame Town Hall at 7.30pm and all are welcome.

This is an opportunity for any resident of Thame to be involved in the very earliest stage in the review of the Neighbourhood Plan.

Following the formal meeting there will be a very short presentation on how the plan has changed Thame and why another is now needed. Small groups of residents will be formed on the night so that the council can seek views from the community on what needs to change, and there will be further opportunities to be involved.

Issues arising include the move of Thame Farmer’s Auction Mart to new premises ahead of its lease expiry in 2021 and the land left behind may provide for some of the infrastructure needs of the town. Efforts are being made by the local health service providers to ensure that a new, fit-for-purpose facility can be provided.

Lord Williams’s School is working towards relocating its lower school onto its Upper School site and research shows there are not enough employment spaces in Thame. There have been many speculative approaches relating to care facilities for the elderly.

A town council spokeswoman said: “The High Street has been full for at least two years, signs it desperately needs to expand, yet no developer is coming forward with ideas despite the Neighbourhood Plan identifying land for town centre shops. Increasing numbers of residents and visitors, although welcome, are putting pressure on infrastructure, such as parking.

“Many parts of the neighbourhood plan have been highly effective and some will be carried over unchanged. The next Neighbourhood Plan will need to concentrate more on the specific needs of the people and businesses of Thame. A simple, quick update is unlikely to be sufficient to enable this and so the Town Council has committed to supporting a full review of the plan.

“We do hope that many people will attend the workshop to express their initial views.

The plan is need for a number of reasons, among them that South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan is changing and is close to submitting this to the Government for independent examination by a planning inspector. Thame will need to react to the Local Plan and will also need to ensure the proper infrastructure is put in place to support both the new housing defined by the existing Neighbourhood Plan, while also catering for any new housing or employment areas that a new Local Plan might demand.