Thame Neighbourhood Plan and
its relationship with the adopted
South Oxfordshire
Core Strategy
Dr Lucy Murfett
Principal P...
What we’ll cover
• The journey: born out of conflict with
the district council, how we achieved
partnership and even an RT...
3
Neighbourhood plans in South
Oxfordshire as at July 2013
Thame frontrunner- the firsts
Planning magazine 14 June 2013
• First NP in the country to allocate land
• First NP in the ...
A bit about Thame
• Traditional market town
• Population 10,900
• 10 miles south east of
Aylesbury
• Attractive historic
c...
The genesis: resistance to emerging
SODC Core Strategy
• There was local opposition
to proposals in the
submission Core St...
SODC Core Strategy proposed a single
strategic site as a greenfield urban extension
600
homes
here
Plus 175
homes in a
fut...
Foreword to the Thame NP explains:
• “The Town Council wanted the people of
Thame to have a say in all aspects of the
futu...
A conundrum for the Core Strategy
Inspector
• He held a hearing session on what to
do.
• He decided to strip out the propo...
10
Thame prepared the plan
• Thame Town Council
appointed consultants Tibbalds
• SODC is very positive about neighbourhood...
How did we help?
• We saw role of our policy officer as to
– Advise on process
– Ensure they know national and local strat...
12
A balancing act
– When to intervene?
– How firm to be?
– When to let things go?
Respecting that it’s not our plan
Reali...
13
Decisions, decisions
– LA is a statutory consultee and can
comment formally on the plan
– We chose to split our comment...
Thame NP allocations
15
Approach was rooted in options
1. Walkable Thame
2. Public transport Thame
3. Dispersed Thame
4. Contained Thame
Option...
Option 1: Walkable Thame
Option 2: Public Transport Thame
Option 3: Dispersed Thame
Option 4: Contained Thame
The chosen option
20
SODC’s approach at the examination
•We were in a unique plan-making situation
where everyone knew how we would have
dis...
21
So at the examination
• We made no objections at submission stage
or at the examination.
• We concluded that the basic ...
Examination Hearing
- Organisation
- Format
- Invitees
- Role of DC
The examiner agreed:
But not everyone agreed…
Process issues and challenges
• A whirlwind!
• Hard fitting in alongside our core work
• Processes untested and lack of gu...
Referendum
LA must:
–Give 28 days notice (excl weekends)
–Publish information statement
–Publish relevant documents
Regula...
The referendum count
76%
voted
‘Yes’
2779
votes
cast
Turnout
39.8%
Legal Challenges
3 challenge periods/ opportunities:
1. The Examiner’s recommendations
and LA decision on them
2. Conduct ...
Issues and lessons learnt
• Legislation limited information, light touch
• LA governance procedures
• Referendum influence...
Reflections on the relationships
• With the Town Council
• With the consultant
• With the examiner
Winners of RTPI 2013 award for planning
excellence – innovation in plan making
Director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Des...
How the Thame NP changed us
• We are now working on our Local
Plan: Sites and General Policies plan
• We are working with ...
If you want to find out more
• http://www.southoxon.
gov.uk/services-and-
advice/planning-and-
building/planning-
policy/n...
Any questions?
Thame Neighbourhood Plan and its relationship with the adopted South Oxfordshire Core Strategy
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Thame Neighbourhood Plan and its relationship with the adopted South Oxfordshire Core Strategy

  1. 1. Thame Neighbourhood Plan and its relationship with the adopted South Oxfordshire Core Strategy Dr Lucy Murfett Principal Planning Policy Officer South Oxfordshire District Council
  2. 2. What we’ll cover • The journey: born out of conflict with the district council, how we achieved partnership and even an RTPI award • Timing and relationship with the Core Strategy examination • Critical appraisal of outcomes community-led Thame land allocations • Process issues and challenges • How it’s changed us
  3. 3. 3 Neighbourhood plans in South Oxfordshire as at July 2013
  4. 4. Thame frontrunner- the firsts Planning magazine 14 June 2013 • First NP in the country to allocate land • First NP in the country to have a hearing
  5. 5. A bit about Thame • Traditional market town • Population 10,900 • 10 miles south east of Aylesbury • Attractive historic character • Strong agricultural base with cattle markets still held weekly in town centre • Healthy number of independent retailers, town centre vacancies low • Good transport links to M40, plus good bus service and rail at nearby Haddenham Parkway • Good community spirit
  6. 6. The genesis: resistance to emerging SODC Core Strategy • There was local opposition to proposals in the submission Core Strategy • Examination was being held about the same time that proposals for neighbourhood planning were emerging • Thame applied to be a government frontrunner and was successful
  7. 7. SODC Core Strategy proposed a single strategic site as a greenfield urban extension 600 homes here Plus 175 homes in a future DPD
  8. 8. Foreword to the Thame NP explains: • “The Town Council wanted the people of Thame to have a say in all aspects of the future of the town but most importantly it wanted local people to decide where new housing should go, rather than leaving this decision to South Oxfordshire District Council”
  9. 9. A conundrum for the Core Strategy Inspector • He held a hearing session on what to do. • He decided to strip out the proposed allocation at Thame and delegate the decision to the forthcoming Thame neighbourhood plan. • We were concerned about the impact on our 5 year supply, and sought a contingency option (we failed in this argument). What would we do if the TNP failed to keep to timetable? (In the end this was an unfounded fear)
  10. 10. 10 Thame prepared the plan • Thame Town Council appointed consultants Tibbalds • SODC is very positive about neighbourhood planning at senior management and political levels • Some funding was available • South Oxfordshire DC provided help from a contact officer (Beryl Guiver then Lucy Murfett) in the policy team
  11. 11. How did we help? • We saw role of our policy officer as to – Advise on process – Ensure they know national and local strategic policy constraints – Supplying background information – Help with policy formulation eg at roundtable discussions – Help ensure plan meets local community aspirations – Help ensure plan will succeed at examination eg help with the basic conditions statement – Carry out the statutory processes eg area designation, examination, referendum • Most input at pre-submission draft stage, submission stage, examination and referendum* *with legal and democratic services
  12. 12. 12 A balancing act – When to intervene? – How firm to be? – When to let things go? Respecting that it’s not our plan Realising the difference between our DPDs and the tests of soundness they undergo at examination, with the ‘light touch’ examinations of neighbourhood plans which assess process more than content
  13. 13. 13 Decisions, decisions – LA is a statutory consultee and can comment formally on the plan – We chose to split our comments into three parts: 1. matters of general conformity (there were four at draft plan stage: The Elms, density, viability, deliverability, but none at submission stage) 2. issues of concern but not matters of general conformity 3. plus informally we advised on typos, minor improvements etc – We respected the different approach they took to the allocations
  14. 14. Thame NP allocations
  15. 15. 15 Approach was rooted in options 1. Walkable Thame 2. Public transport Thame 3. Dispersed Thame 4. Contained Thame Options were tested through SA (all scored within 10% of each other) and through public consultation
  16. 16. Option 1: Walkable Thame
  17. 17. Option 2: Public Transport Thame
  18. 18. Option 3: Dispersed Thame
  19. 19. Option 4: Contained Thame The chosen option
  20. 20. 20 SODC’s approach at the examination •We were in a unique plan-making situation where everyone knew how we would have distributed the growth (600 to site F) •But we said at the examination that it doesn’t matter that the distribution is different from what we would have done. Ours was a more technical planning decision giving weight to public transport, county council advice and the desire to maximise infrastructure gains •Seemed entirely right and in line with the principles of localism for the community to do it their way, based on local priorities
  21. 21. 21 So at the examination • We made no objections at submission stage or at the examination. • We concluded that the basic conditions on compliance with national policy, general conformity with the core strategy, contribution to sustainable development and compliance with EU obligations had all been met. • We supported the community-based approach and congratulated the Town Council on their hard work and fast progress, a through and impressive plan.
  22. 22. Examination Hearing - Organisation - Format - Invitees - Role of DC
  23. 23. The examiner agreed:
  24. 24. But not everyone agreed…
  25. 25. Process issues and challenges • A whirlwind! • Hard fitting in alongside our core work • Processes untested and lack of guidance • Our constitution didn’t cover delegated powers for this NP processes • Key steps in last 8 months: – Submission 29 Nov 2012 – Appoint examiner Dec 2012 – Consultation 6 weeks 7 Dec 2012 – 24 Jan 2013 – Reps to examiner – Hearing 19 Feb 2013 – needed Programme Officer – Examiner’s report end Feb 2013 – Council’s decision statement – Publish information statement – Publish notice of referendum – Referendum 2 May 2013 – “Make” plan 18 July 2013
  26. 26. Referendum LA must: –Give 28 days notice (excl weekends) –Publish information statement –Publish relevant documents Regulations set the question: “Do you want SODC to use the neighbourhood plan for Thame to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?” Only residents vote (except if business area) >50% vote yes LA ‘make’ plan. Rules on no public money being spent on promoting a ‘yes’ vote 26
  27. 27. The referendum count 76% voted ‘Yes’ 2779 votes cast Turnout 39.8%
  28. 28. Legal Challenges 3 challenge periods/ opportunities: 1. The Examiner’s recommendations and LA decision on them 2. Conduct of the referendum 3. If LA refuse to ‘make’ plan after >50% vote in favour All within 6 weeks of relevant decision 28
  29. 29. Issues and lessons learnt • Legislation limited information, light touch • LA governance procedures • Referendum influences plan content • Trust between LA and NP group • Involvement of statutory consultees • Pressure from landowners • High profile - press releases, ministerial visits etc. • Thame TC are now seeking more involvement at pre-app stage. • Expectation of CIL receipts. • Keep an open mind! 29
  30. 30. Reflections on the relationships • With the Town Council • With the consultant • With the examiner
  31. 31. Winners of RTPI 2013 award for planning excellence – innovation in plan making Director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Hilary Satchell: “It belongs as much to Thame Town Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and, most importantly, the people of Thame as it does to Tibbalds."
  32. 32. How the Thame NP changed us • We are now working on our Local Plan: Sites and General Policies plan • We are working with our 12 larger villages to allocate land for 1,154 homes • Some are doing NPs • Some are not, but we’re trying to offer them a community-led process • We are giving much more focus to community wishes rather than a more focussed technical planning approach
  33. 33. If you want to find out more • http://www.southoxon. gov.uk/services-and- advice/planning-and- building/planning- policy/neighbourhood- plans/thame- neighbourhood-pl • http://www.thametown council.gov.uk
  34. 34. Any questions?

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