Your say in tomorrow’s Thame

Thame shops

Thame Town Council is inviting residents to attend the Annual Town Meeting at the Town Hall, to take part in a Neighbourhood Plan Revision Workshop.

This is an opportunity for any Thame resident to be involved in the earliest stage in the review of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. Following the formal Annual Town Meeting at 7.30pm on 27th March there will be a 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 community views on what needs to change.

As last time, there will be many further opportunities to be involved, but the council wants to make sure that the community backs its ideas.

There are many reasons why a new plan is needed. The District Council’s Local Plan is changing and the district is close to submitting its Local Plan 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. The Local Plan may even define a deadline for a new Neighbourhood Plan.

Other notable changes are also happening in Thame. Thame Farmer’s Auction Mart is looking to move to new premises ahead of its lease expiry in 2021. The land left behind will need to work hard to provide for some of the infrastructure needs of Thame. Efforts are being made by the local health service providers to ensure that a new, fit-for-purpose facility can be provided for residents. Lord Williams’s School is working towards relocating its lower school onto its Upper School site. Local businesses and the council’s own monitoring work is telling them that there are insufficient employment spaces in Thame. There have been many speculative approaches relating to care facilities for the elderly.

Thame’s High Street has been full for at least two years, signs it desperately needs to expand, says the council, 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.

March 7, 2018