Evidence Base Summary

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1 Evidence Base Summary Thame Town Council November 2012

2 Contents INTRODUCTION 1 SECTION 1: ABOUT THAME Thame and its location 4 Living 4 Working and shopping 5 Getting around 6 Leisure and wellbeing 10 Environment and sustainability 12 The character of Thame 14 SECTION 2: SPATIAL APPRAISAL Introduction 22 Flooding 22 High landscape value 23 Landscape quality 23 Visual impact 24 Keeping Thame and Moreton separate 24 British Oxygen Hazard Zone 25 Walkability 25 Bus routes 26 Vehicular Transport Routes 26 Potential development areas 27 Deliverability of sites 28 SECTION 3: OPTIONS ASSESSMENT Introduction 34 Four strategic approaches 34 Option 1 : Walkable Thame 36 Option 2: Public Transport Thame 38 Option 3: Dispersed Thame 40 Option 4: Contained Thame 42 Assessing the options 44 The preferred option 48 Appendix A: List of documents 5343 Draft Thame Plan.indd

3 Introduction i The Thame Neighbourhood Plan is a new type of planning document. It is part of the Government s new approach to planning, which aims to give local people more say about what goes on in their area. This is set out in the new Localism Act that came into force in April ii The Thame Neighbourhood Plan provides a vision for the future of the town, and sets out clear planning policies to realise this vision. The vision has been developed through extensive consultation with the people of Thame and others with an interest in the town. Details of the consultation have been recorded in a series of reports that are available to download from Thame Town Council s website (www. thametowncouncil.gov.uk) or to look at in the Town Hall reception. iii This Evidence Base Summary provides background information to support the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. How the Neighbourhood Plan fits into the Planning System iv Although the Government s intention is for local people to decide what goes on in their towns, the Localism Act sets out some important laws. One of these is that all Neighbourhood Plans must be in line with higher level planning policy. That is, Neighbourhood Plans must be in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (otherwise known as the NPPF) and local policy, in particular South Oxfordshire District Council s Core Strategy. SODC s Core Strategy will require Thame to provide by 2027: How this document is organised vii This document is divided into three sections: Section 1: About Thame, sets out a description of Thame today, drawing on the evidence base documents listed in Appendix A as well as providing a new character assessment of the Parish. Section 2: Spatial Appraisal, which sets out policies to support the overall vision, along with guidance on delivering the policies and monitoring the Neighbourhood Plan. Section 3, Options Assessment, which explains how the options were developed, sets out the assessment of them and explains how the preferred spatial vision was decided upon. viii There is a large amount of background information that has helped in producing the Thame Neighbourhood Plan (this is known as the Evidence Base ). All of these documents are listed in Appendix A and are available to download from the Town Council s website or to look at in the Town Hall reception. 775 new homes 2 hectares of employment land. v The Localism Act allows the Thame Neighbourhood Plan to provide more than this number of houses and amount of employment land, but it does not allow the Neighbourhood Plan to provide for less. vi The Thame Neighbourhood Plan gives local people the power to decide where new housing and employment should go. Without the Neighbourhood Plan, SODC would make these decisions on behalf of the people of Thame. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 1

4 Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 2

5 Section 1 About Thame Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 3

6 Section 1 About Thame 1.1 This chapter provides an overview of the parish of Thame, setting the scene for the Neighbourhood Plan. The chapter provides information on: Thame and its location Living, including population and housing Working and shopping, including employment and working patterns and the town centre Getting around, including travel by car, bus, on foot and by bike Fig 1.1: Thame High Street Leisure and wellbeing, including social and community facilities Environment and sustainability, including open space and areas of ecological importance Character of the built environment. Thame and its location 1.2 Thame is an historic market town in Oxfordshire. It is a vibrant place with an attractive town centre and is situated in pleasant countryside. 1.3 Thame is located to the north-east of the M40 and approximately 11 km from Aylesbury and 22 km from Oxford to the west. Haddenham and Thame Parkway train station with direct lines to London lies approximately 4.5 km to the north-east of Thame. 1.4 Thame, as an historic market town, is surrounded by a number of smaller villages: Moreton to the south, Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire to the north-west, Haddenham to the north-east and Towersey to the east. Living 1.5 The parish of Thame (which includes both the town and the village of Moreton) has a population of around people. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 4 Fig 1.2: St Mary s Church 1.6 In Thame the 2001 Census showed that the majority of the population is of working age with a slightly higher than regional average of children and young people aged between A review of available housing data shows that, in Thame, there is: a high level of home ownership (81%) and correspondingly low proportions of social and private rented housing a wide choice of properties by type with the exception of flats at the same time, a higher supply of 1 and 2 bed properties compared with South Oxfordshire as a whole. 1.8 Consultation with local people has revealed concern about the affordability of housing in Thame, particularly for young people and families. People are also concerned about there being a range of housing types available - the perception is that many new developments are skewed towards larger dwellings. South Oxfordshire s Housing Needs Assessment sets out key points for the district as a whole that reflect these concerns:

7 Aylesbury Long Crendon Haddenham Oxford Moreton Thame Kingsey Towersey Princes Risborough Chinnor Fig 1.3: Thame s relationship to nearby towns and villages Provide a mix of house types in both market and social sectors. There is a shortfall of smaller units, especially two bedroom properties in the market sector and both small and family units in the social sector The private rented sector has a significant supply shortfall Negotiate with prospective developers towards achieving affordable homes from all the suitable sites coming forward for planning consent. Aim for 40% (which will still fail to meet need, but is economically realistic). in areas identified as among the most deprived 20% in the region The rate of unemployment in Thame Parish is 3.4% which is less than half the average for England (7.9%). Source: Office for National Statistics figures According to the 2001 census, the largest employment sectors by percentage of the working population were: wholesale and retail trade (19.7%) business activity, real estate, and renting (19.4%) Working and Shopping 1.9 A higher than regional average percentage of people aged are economically active in Thame with also a higher percentage of those working as managers or senior officials, indicating a high level of affluence. However, the index of Multiple Deprivation also shows that there are deprived areas in Thame with 3.1 % of the population living manufacturing (16.8%) There are quite high levels of commuting out from Thame. At the time of the 2001 Census only 44 per cent of the resident working population worked within Thame. Information collected as part of the Housing Needs Survey in 2008 showed a similar trend, with only 38 per cent of people working in South Oxfordshire, 19 per cent in Aylesbury Vale and 10 per cent in Oxford City. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 5

8 1.13 There are regular livestock markets at the Cattle Market, which have taken place since the 1950s The Thame Show takes place every July and is billed as the greatest one day agricultural show in the country. It attracts approximately 20,000 visitors each year. However, due to financial difficulties, the Show was cancelled in There is a weekly market in Thame town centre, along with a regular farmers market Thame has an attractive industrial market. Within South Oxfordshire, Thame is second largest location warehouse and distribution activity, with Didcot being the first. Large-scale warehouse and distribution activity is dependent on good transport infrastructure so it is for this reason that Didcot and Thame have the most of this type of employment within the district. Thame has most of the employment floorspace in general industrial (B2) use of all locations in South Oxfordshire Much of Thame s current office accommodation is based in converted buildings in the town centre. According to SODC s Employment Land Review (2007), there is a need for modern office accommodation, with requirements for schemes with small flexible units (less than 2,000 sq ft) with freehold opportunities Thame has a strong independent retail offer, and this is frequently cited as the town s major asset. There are a total of 172 retail units, with relatively few national chains represented. The attractiveness of the historic town centre together with its compactness, availability of parking, markets, and ease of getting around are key selling points. The 2012 Retail Vacancy Survey found that Thame has only 4 empty shops and has a 2% vacancy rate, significantly less than the national average of 14.5% However, the town centre is not without its issues. Although the free car parking is seen as a strength, local people are concerned about the impact of traffic and the availability of parking spaces SODC s retail needs assessment identifies a need for an additional 5,700 sq m of comparison retail in Thame from 2010 to 2027 (that is, shops selling items such as clothes, books, electrical goods and so on). The assessment identifies a much smaller need (600 sq m) for convenience retail to 2027 (that is, shops selling food). Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 6 Getting Around 1.19 The High Street forms the backbone of the town. The High Street provides a total of 170 parking spaces within the wider parts of the street at the Upper and Lower High Street parking areas. Together with parking on the Cattle Market (126 spaces), Southern Road (68 spaces) and Waitrose (222 spaces) and the other supermarkets, there is a total of 586 parking spaces within the town centre. Much of the parking is free, and is seen by local people as vital to supporting Thame s shops. However, local people are concerned about the impact of traffic on the town centre and the availability of parking spaces The A418, A4128 and B4012 form a ring road around the western, northern and eastern part of the Town. The B4012 is less heavily used than other parts of the ring road, which provide connections to Oxford to the west and Aylesbury to the north-east Other locally important roads reflect the linear nature of the town, with most running in a roughly easy-west direction and few running north-south. The cul-de-sac layout of Lea Park with vehicular access only from the ring road tends to cut it off from the town. However, there are some pedestrian and cycle links to the town centre from Lea Park Thame is a highly walkable town, as it is fairly flat and a compact size. It has connections into the surrounding countryside via public rights of way. Pedestrian connections are shown in Figures 1.6 and 1.8 overleaf. However, routes through Lea Park are rather indirect and often run alongside back garden fences, so they do not feel safe. In analysing pedestrian movement through the town, Lea Park is identified as an area that is disconnected As Thame is walkable, it is also suitable for cycling. However, there are few dedicated cycle routes with most cyclists using on-street routes Bus routes are shown in Fig 1.5 overleaf. This shows that routes and bus stops form a dumb bell shape, with routes starting and finishing in the town centre and being focussed in either the north-western part of the town or the south-east. Compared to other towns in South Oxfordshire, bus services and access to them is relatively poor.

9 A418 Oxford Rd A418 B4011 Thame Rd A418 Aylesbury Rd Roundhead Drive North Street A4129 A4129 East St Cromwell Avenue Wellington Street A4129 Kingsey Rd B4012 A329 Southern Rd Rooks Lane Nelson St Kings Rd Queens Road Towersey Rd Thame Park Rd B4012 B445 Chinnor Road B4012 Fig 1.4: Thame s road network Parish boundary Primary A route A route B road Locally important route Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 7

10 Fig 1.5: Existing local bus services Bus route 123 twice daily circular route Bus route 200, 280 Oxford & Aylesbury via Thame, every 30 minutes Phoenix Trail Public right of way Bus route 124 twice daily Watlington to Thame Bus route 120, 121 twice daily Princes Risborough, Chinnor, Thame Bus route 340, 40 hourly Stockenchurch to High Wycombe via Thame Bus route 110 hourly Aylesbury to Worminghall via Thame Bus stop Fig 1.6: Existing strategic pedestrian connections Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 8

11 Off road cycle route On road cycle route Fig 1.7: Existing local cycle connections Parish boundary Pedestrian route Public right of way Disconnected area Key destination Priestend Beech Road Brook Lane Cuttle Brook Rooks Lane Nelson Street Windmill Road High Street Phoenix Trail Dormer Road Fig 1.8: Existing town centre pedestrian connections Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 9

12 Leisure and wellbeing 1.25 Members of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan Topic Group undertook an assessment of community facilities within Thame, and this is available in the background Audit of Community Facilities topic paper. This assessment supplements South Oxfordshire District Council s Open space, sport and recreation facility assessment published in Thame has a very active community life, with many different groups and organisations represented in the town. The Topic Group s assessment confirmed the perception identified at public consultation that most of Thame s existing community facilities are of small to medium capacity, and that there is no large venue for groups of more than 200 people. As a result, Thame Town Council has commissioned a more detailed study into community facilities and the need for and viability of a larger venue SODC s Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) sets out the additional requirements that 775 new homes will bring. The latest version (February 2012) sets out the following social and community infrastructure requirements: extra primary school capacity equivalent to up to a one form entry school an additional secondary school places depending on the rate at which new dwellings are built and the type of houses that come forward the need for expansion of existing GP services by one GP the equivalent of 0.7 of a community hall. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 10

13 Key Sports halls / facilities 4 Community and village halls Medical facilities 19 Schools Other community facilities a 7b Fig 1.9: Community Facilities a 7b Chinnor and Thame Rugby Club Thame Bowling and Tennis Club Racquets Fitness Club Thame Football Partnership Barns Centre Thame Town Hall Guides Hall Thame Scouts Community Hospital Medical Centre Lord Williams s Lower School Lord Williams s Upper School John Hampden Primary School Barley Hill Primary School St Joseph s Primary School Thame Players Theatre Post Office Thame Museum Thame Leisure Centre (swimming pool) Skate park Cricket Ground Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 11

14 Environment and Sustainability 1.28 Two of the key environmental and sustainability issues in Thame are: flooding open space The River Thame flows to the north of the town, and is connected to Cuttle Brook. There is a flood zone associated with the rivers that regularly floods Thame has three main recreation areas: the Southern Road Recreation Area, Queen Elizabeth Circle and Elms Park The Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve is located in the west of Thame, a few minutes walk of Thame town centre. It provides a habitat for various species as well as an area for informal recreation for local people Thame Park is an historic park which lies to the south of the town. The park is a historically important landscape and provides the setting for the house which sits in the grounds. It is also designated as a County Wildlife Site as a result of the grasslands and woodland contained within it SODC s Open space, sport and recreation facility assessment (2008) outlines shortfalls in open space, sport and recreation in relation to the existing population of Thame (that is, without the addition of a further 775 dwellings). In terms of open space, these shortfalls comprise: 3.04 ha of parks and gardens 4.58 ha of amenity greenspace in Thame South 2.9 ha of allotments In addition Thame and District (an area wider than the Parish) has a shortfall in playing pitches as follows: 1.35 SODC s Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) sets out the additional requirements that 775 new homes will bring. The latest version (February 2012) sets out the following open space requirements: Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve Thame Park (Historic Park and County Wildlife Site) Fig 1.10 Nature and landscape designations a total of 6.2 hectares of green infrastructure a total of 0.53 hectares of allotments a total of 1.4 hectares of children s play areas a total of 2.8 hectares of playing pitches. 9 junior football pitches 3 rugby pitches 1 synthetic turf pitch. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 12

15 Fig 1.11: Open Space Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 13

16 The character of Thame Moreton Village 1.36 Thame, as a whole, has a unique local identity and a distinctive character Different parts of the town make different contributions to its identity and character. They contribute in various ways, with different characteristics and to varying degrees - some are more important than others. Each area has its own character - and so they are described as character areas The following appraisal outlines the key characteristics that contribute to the built environment of Thame overall and to each of the character areas. The appraisal has been used to inform design policies in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan Development proposals will need to demonstrate a more detailed understanding of local character than is provided here. the industrial area The character of each of these is summarised below, highlighting particular strengths and weaknesses of each. Although each of these areas shares certain characteristics that allow it to be identified as a character area, within all of them there are more detailed variations in character. Historic core (the conservation area) 1.44 This character area makes the most significant contribution to the character of Thame as a whole. It still retains much of the original twelfth century planned form, with a broad main street that widens out into a long market place and burgage plot development Some of the key characteristics of the historic core are: Thame as a whole 1.40 Thame s character stems from the fact that it is a traditional, planned market town with a largely intact historic core, based around its marketplace The town s siting, (on low lying land close to the join of the River Thame and Cuttle Brook) together with its compactness, means that local people have a strong sense of connection with the surrounding countryside, either from their homes or from moving around the town. Character areas in Thame 1.42 The character area appraisal identifies seven character areas can be identified in Thame, as follows (figure 1.12): The historic core (the conservation area) Strengths A connected street pattern, with a clear hierarchy of routes, from the wide market place, through the High Street, and down to alleys from Corn market to areas behind it. Streets are generally straight, forming direct and convenient routes between different parts of the place. The urban form of the main street, the High Street in particular, especially around Corn market and Butter Market, which has unbroken frontages of buildings, set at the edge of the pavement without gardens or forecourts. The more suburban or rural form of buildings on Oxford Road and Aylesbury Road, that were once on the edge of Thame, with individual buildings set within plots with front gardens, or small groups or informal terraces of buildings. Lea Park Queen s Road area Southern Thame Chiltern Vale area A regular pattern of burgage plots, which lead to a regular rhythm of building facades onto the High Street. A rich variety of building type and architectural character that has grown up over a long period of time. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 14

17 Key Historic core (the Thame Conservation Area) Lea Park Chiltern Vale area Employment East Road Area Southern Thame Moreton Conservation Area Moreton Village and neighbouring area Fig 1.12: Built environment character areas Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 15

18 Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Opportunity to create more space for pedestrians to move around, cross streets and for outdoor activities, such as cafes or restaurants or space for community events ( without losing balance with car parking) The historic core is designated as Thame Conservation Area. The history of its development and the elements that contribute to its character are described in detail in the Thame Conservation Area Appraisal (2006). There are over 200 listed buildings within Thame, the majority of which are located within the Thame Conservation Area These are shown in Figure 1.14 below. Fig 1.13: High Street, with a rich variety of building type and architectural character. Key Chapel, South of Prebendal Church of St Mary, Church Road Grade I Listed Buildings Grade II and Grade II* Listed Buildings Cluster of Grade II and Grade II* Listed Buildings Moreton insert Fig 1.14: Listed buildings Thame Park House: Grade I Listed Building (located off map) Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 16

19 Lea Park 1.48 Lea Park is a large residential area to the north of the historic core. It was developed rapidly, mainly in the 1960s and 1970s. Strengths Includes a number of open spaces with mature trees. Buildings across the whole of this area are generally similar in type, form and architectural character, using a limited palette of materials, so there is a high level of coherence The layout and open spaces are homogenous, so there is a high level of coherence. Fig 1.15: Typical development with car parking or grass verges in front of houses. Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Very limited access into and out of the area by vehicle, only using the ring road, which (with the point below) means it feels cut off from the town centre, and also leads to congestion at junctions at peak times A confusing and poorly joined-up network of pedestrian and cycle routes through the area to link up to the town centre and the edge of town, with an opportunity to define key routes better through wayfinding Separation of pedestrian and vehicular routes makes the place more confusing to use Fig 1.16: Buildings are set around curved streets and culs-de-sac.. Very few social or community facilities or other uses than housing Opportunity to enhance the variety and quality of landscape to make open spaces more usable Roads within the area are culs-de-sac, and parking is largely on-street or in open front gardens, which makes them feel dominated by parked cars The homogeneity of buildings makes it difficult to recognise different parts of the area or to know which routes or spaces are more important than others Neighbouring buildings are staggered along curving streets, with set back of different distances from the pavement. Fig 1.17: Development often backs onto open spaces creating a less safe pedestrian environment. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 17

20 Queen s Road area 1.49 This area was developed gradually, generally from the town centre outwards, with some ribbon development extending along the main arterial routes of Chinnor Road and Kingsey Road dating from Victorian and Edwardian times. East of Queen s Road, there is housing development that ranges from the 1960s to early 2000s. Strengths A network of streets through the area that connects to Chinnor Road and Kingsey Road and so into the town centre, with culs-de-sac serving small groups of housing off these streets Generally, in this area, there are front gardens, many with planting, with a number of mature trees on frontages, creating a green character Fig 1.18: Variety of Victorian and Edwardian house are generally set back a consistent distance. A variety of uses and social and community facilities, as well as housing In the older parts of the area, there is a balance between coherence and variety so that there is a sense of local identity, but different streets are memorable. For instance the palette of materials is coherent, but the architectural character of individual buildings varies from street to street and also within a street Connected streets are generally straight, helping wayfinding Fig 1.19: Row of historic cottages, set at the edge of the pavement are a distinct feature in this area, but not the main characteristic. Generally buildings on each street are set back a consistent distance from the pavement. Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Some culs-de-sac connect only into the ring road, so making it difficult to walk or cycle to the wider town from these houses Inward-looking cul-de-sac development with rear gardens onto streets reduces pedestrian safety because there is no surveillance No private parking for properties on Chinnor Road and Park Street leads to on-street parking and traffic congestion. Fig 1.20: Pockets of newer development at the edges, planned around distinct culs-de-sac. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 18

21 Southern Thame 1.50 Mixed area located between the Phoenix Trail and the Historic Core. It includes a number of development pockets, ranging from the early 20th Century to new housing recently completed. Chiltern Vale area 1.51 A small residential area, on land rising up to the west side of the Cuttle Brook valley, which separates it from the rest of the town. It was developed between the 1960s and the 1990s. Strengths A connected street pattern with a clear hierarchy of routes On the main streets, buildings are set-back a consistent distance from the pavement Includes recreation ground and open space associated with schools A variety of uses, such as primary schools, community facilities, church and different types of housing, such as sheltered housing, as well as general housing Mature trees around open spaces Good connections to the Phoenix Trail so easy access to the countryside. Strengths Connected street network Planted gardens create a green setting for built development Highly consistent front boundary treatments - high quality planting Parking is unobtrusive Consistent palette of materials used in buildings. Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Poor cycle connection to town centre along Oxford Road. Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Inward-looking culs-de-sac development with rear gardens onto streets reduces pedestrian safety Inward-looking cul-de-sac development with rear gardens onto open spaces and strategic pedestrian and cycle links (Phoenix Trail and to Moreton) reduces pedestrian safety because there is no surveillance Fig 1.23: Footpath through Cuttle Brook Overspilll parking from the town centre on streets in this area causes traffic problems. Fig 1.21: Houses clearly define streets Fig 1.22: Elm Park Fig 1.24: High quality landscape along boundaries and within gardens. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 19

22 Industrial area 1.52 Industrial area containing a variety of units of different sizes and types including some office and light industrial use. Strengths Jefferson Way is a relatively attractive industrial street environment with buildings relating to the street and elements of soft landscape Well screened from Phoenix Trail and Thame Park Road by soft landscape. Moreton Village 1.53 Moreton is a small, historic hamlet to the south of Thame. Most of it is designated as a Conservation Area. There are 11 listed buildings in Moreton, all of which are within the Conservation Area. These are shown in Fig Strengths Visual and physical connections to the surrounding countryside Mostly detached, individually designed houses set in mature landscape and large plots. Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Weaknesses and opportunities for improvement Area is generally dominated by car parking, both onstreet and in prominent positions on forecourts No pedestrian or cycle connections to the adjoining Phoenix Trail Creates a hard edge to Thame with no screening to soften the views from approach roads. No community focus for the village. Fig 1.26: Individual designed, detached houses Fig 1.25: Car dominated, functional employment environment Fig 1.27: Village green Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 20

23 Section 2 Spatial Appraisal Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 21

24 Section 2 Spatial Appraisal Introduction 2.1 A key part of producing a Neighbourhood Plan for Thame has been to develop a clear understanding of the technical issues in and around the Parish that may affect where development could be located. This provides the basis for making informed choices about where new development may go. 2.2 The starting point for the technical appraisal is to look at the strategic constraints and opportunities for all of the land around the Parish, disregarding ownership and deliverability issues. 2.3 The assessment looks at a wide range of issues as a series of separate layers. Some of the layers define areas where new homes should definitely not be built for example, within the flood plain. Other layers highlight places where judgements need to be made for example, areas of high visual impact could be developed if there are other benefits, and the new development is sensitively designed. 2.4 The spatial appraisal brings together all of the layers into a composite plan (Figure 3.10 on page 29) that show where development could be located. 2.5 The final step in this section looks at land ownership within the potential development areas, and the ability of sites to come forward for development within the lifetime of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. This helps to inform choices about which areas could be brought forward with a reasonable certainty of development taking place. Flooding 2.6 The flood plain must not be built upon in any circumstances. Fig 2.1: Flood zones Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 22

25 High landscape value 2.6 These areas of high landscape value are shown in SODC s Landscape Considerations that were undertaken as part of the Core Strategy Housing Study for Thame in March They must not be built upon in any circumstance. High quality landscapes (Tibbalds interpretation of the Thame Core Strategy Housing Study: Landscape Considerations report) Fig 2.2: High landscape value Landscape Quality 2.7 The SODC s Landscape Assessment (1998) that was undertaken by South Oxfordshire identified areas of varying landscape value. This sets out three landscape strategies (conserve, repair and restore) and these are shown in Figure 2.3. Conserve: applies where the landscape is of particularly high scenic quality. Conservation is an overwhelming priority in order to maintain the landscape character and quality. Repair: applies to those landscapes which have a positive rural character, attractive qualities and where character, landscape structure and sense of place are still comparatively strong but which are not special or distinctive. These landscapes are also important to conserve but would benefit from some enhancement. Fig 2.3: Landscape quality Landscape enhancement strategy (South Oxfordshire Landscape Assessment 1998) Restore: applies to landscapes which retain a rural and essentially attractive character but where landscape elements and structure are in decline, largely through intensive farming practices. The priority in these landscapes is to restore landscape structure and to diversify and strengthen local distinctiveness. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 23

26 Visual Impact 2.8 The areas to the north of Thame are visible from a long distance, and any development on them would have a high visual impact. Areas of medium visual impact are visible in more local views. 2.9 Areas classed as low visual impact are either less visible or there is an opportunity to significantly improve the view (such as the edge of the Thame Industrial Estate). Area of higher visual impact Area of medium visual impact Area of lower visual impact Not assessed Fig 2.4:Visual Impact Visual impact (Tibbalds interpretation from Local Authority and landowner sources) Maintaining separation between Thame and Moreton 2.10 Moreton and Thame have separate characters and identities, and it is important to keep them separate with open land in between. This will help to maintain the character of Moreton s Conservation Area. Thame Parish Boundary Existing town area (including showground, rugby club and football club) Open land retained around Moreton Fig 2.5:Separation between Moreton and Thame Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 24

27 British Oxygen Hazard Zone 2.11 The British Oxygen Hazard Zone is a zone designated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) where any planning applications must be referred to the HSE, who give a view on whether or not permission should be granted. The designation of such zones is aimed at preventing development which could introduce large number of people into areas where there is a possibility of a hazard that could, for example, require evacuation. This area is designated Level 3, which means that: new employment uses may be developed (as these are less vulnerable than residential uses) no more than 30 dwellings may be constructed within the zone Fig 2.6:British Oxygen Hazard Zone residential development must not exceed a density of 40dph. Walkability Fig 2.7: Plan showing walking distances Thame Parish Boundary Existing town area (including showground, rugby club and football club) Area within approximately 10min walking distance of town centre Area within approximately 20min walking distance of town centre Town Hall 2.12 If Thame is to maintain its character as a real market town, it must continue to feel compact and feel connected to the countryside around it. This means that Thame should be a place where people can easily walk to the facilities they need, and the town centre in particular Various studies (such as those carried out by the Institute of Highways and Transportation) suggest that the maximum time for which people will walk rather than get in their cars is about 20 minutes. For Thame to remain walkable, new development should therefore ideally be within about 20 minutes walk of the town centre This map shows 10 min and 20min walking distances to the Town Hall along established roads and footpaths (that is, actual walking distances not as the crow flies ). These distances are based on an average walking speed of 5km per hour. This speed will vary for people of different physical abilities but the distances shown are a good place to start thinking about walkability. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 25

28 Bus Routes 2.15 The north western part of the town is best served by bus routes. Routes serving the east of the Town are focused along East Street / Queen s Road and so are distant from the south of the Town. Bus route 123 twice daily circular route Bus route 200, 280 Oxford & Aylesbury via Thame, every 30 minutes Bus route 124 twice daily Watlington to Thame Bus route 120, 121 twice daily Princes Risborough, Chinnor, Thame Bus route 340, 40 hourly Stockenchurch to High Wycombe via Thame Bus route 110 hourly Aylesbury to Worminghall via Thame Bus stop Fig 2.8: Existing local bus services Vehicular network 2.16 The ring road is seen by many as an edge to Thame beyond which development should not go. However, the ring road varies - with those parts to the north and west designated as an A road being busier (and therefore more difficult to cross) than the B road section to the east. The A road is therefore a stronger edge (or barrier for people to cross) than the B road. Primary A route A route B road Fig 2.9: Existing vehicular network Locally important route Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 26

29 A F 1 2 B 3 D C Flood zone and high landscape value 20 minute walking zone Bus routes Ring Road - A Road Ring Road - B Road Key Parish Boundary Cattle Market The Elms Lord Williams s Lower School D Ridge line Conservation Area SODC Core Strategy site reference Potential development area Fig 2.10: Plan showing potential development areas Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 27

30 Deliverability of Sites 2.17 We identified potential development sites and talked to landowners and/or potential developers. The plan opposite identifies these sites. The table overleaf sets out a summary of the suitability, availability, and deliverability of each site This helps the Neighbourhood Plan focus on those sites most likely to be able to deliver development within the Plan period Note: SODC used letters to identify potential development sites, and these are generally used in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. However, as land ownerships straddle some of SODC s sites, numbers have been used for Figure 2.11 opposite. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 28

31 Fig 2.11: Potential development sites Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 29

32 1 Land West of Thame (Site F) 39ha 2 Land North of Thame (Site A) 20.65ha 3 Land East of Thame (Site B) 61.69ha 4 Land South of Thame (west) (Site D) 14ha 5 Land South of Thame (west) (Site C and D) 46.68ha 6 East of Thame (south) (Site B) 19.8ha 7 Rugby Club 4.1ha 8 Tennis Club 0.4ha 9 Fire Station 0.07ha Castle Trust Oleani and Bertie Oleani and Bertie Option to Banner Homes CEG is providing the land on behalf of the landowner White. Joint promotion agreement with Oleani and Bertie Chinnor Rugby Club Thame Tennis Club Oxfordshire County Council Suitability: Work undertaken by land owner s consultant team demonstrates suitability of site, including addressing issues of visual impact and respecting the flood zone / area of ecological value. Availability / Deliverability: Site has been promoted by landowner, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period. Suitability: Not suitable for development: restricted access opportunities from ring road due to level changes. Proximity to sewage works. Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by landowner, but confirmed by them as unsuitable for residential development. Suitability: Potential for development on part of the site: outside of 20 minute walking distance; located on existing bus route; outside of ring road (B route). Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by landowner, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period. Suitability: Potential for development on part of the site: within extent of potential development area; within 20 minute walking distance; potential for good pedestrian links to the town centre subject to third party land ownership. Not near existing bus route. Relies on Site 5 for vehicular access. Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by potential developer, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period subject to joint working with Site 5. Suitability: Potential for development on part of the site: partly located outside 20 minute walking distance; not near existing bus route; partly located adjacent to industrial estate; southern boundary within flood zone. Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by potential developer, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period. Suitability: Potential for development on part of the site: partly located within blast zone; outside of 20 minute walking distance; located outside ring road (B-route). Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by potential developer, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period. Suitability: Outside of 20 minute walking distance; not close to bus routes; located outside ring road (A route). Availability / Deliverability: No strategy in place for relocation of Rugby Club. Availability therefore uncertain. Deliverability within Plan period uncertain. Suitability: Within existing built up area of town. Located in residential area. Suitable for residential development. Availability / Deliverability: Uncertain deliverability: no strategy to relocate tennis club in place. Deliverability within Plan period uncertain. Suitability: Within the Thame Conservation Area. Located in predominantly residential area. Suitable for development. Availability / Deliverability: Strategy for relocation of Fire Station underway but not finalised. Deliverability within plan period uncertain. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 30

33 10 Cattle Market South Oxfordshire District Council 11 The Elms Simon and Sarah Vickers Suitability: Identified in SODC Core Strategy for mixed use development - e.g. a mix of retail, community use, leisure, employment. Residential could form a minor element of a mixeduse scheme (e.g. flats above shops) Availability / Deliverability: Contingent on relocation of Cattle Market and refusal of current application for a foodstore. Any housing numbers likely to be small. Treat as windfall. Suitability: Located south of the High Street in a predominantly residential area. Within the Town centre Conservation Area. The Elms is a listed building. Identified by SODC as open space. Subject to heritage and open space issues, suitable for residential development. 12 Postal sorting office/ telephone exchange 0.21ha (maximum) 13 Lash Lake 0.77ha 14 Jane Morbey Road 0.44ha 15 Lord Williams s Lower School 7.84ha 16 Land west of Thame (employment) 8.43ha 17 Park Meadow Cottage 0.6ha 18 Land West of Thame 5.33ha Royal Mail / British Telecom HC Pearce Blakelands llp Oxfordshire County Council Castle Trust Kirkland Castle Trust Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by landowner, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period. Suitability: Identified in Core Strategy as potential site for town centre uses. Telephone exchange and sorting office still operational so site not yet available. Availability / Deliverability: Not known. Suitability: Located within a residential area. Eastern part of site within the Town centre Conservation Area. Availability / Deliverability: Site has been promoted for residential uses through the SODC Core Strategy, and is deliverable during the plan period. Suitability: Derelict employment site. Located in mixed area next to residential and employment. Suitable for development. Availability / Deliverability: Current planning permission for employment uses. Owner has indicated desire for residential allocation. However, employment land would be lost. Suitability: Located in a residential area. Playing fields have policy restrictions requiring protection or replacement. Suitable for residential development. Availability / Deliverability: Reliant on scheme to consolidate school onto the Upper School site. Uncertain delivery within the Plan period. Suitability: Detached from the town, although on a bus route. Visual impact not assessed. Availability / Deliverability: Potential development site for employment uses only subject to visual impact. Suitability: Located adjacent to Site 5. Suitable for residential development. Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by landowner, and is available and deliverable within the Plan period. Suitability: Identified by land owner s consultant team as having potential to provide playing fields for consolidation of Lord Williams s School in conjunction with the residential development of Site F. Not proposed for built development. Availability / Deliverability: Promoted by landowner and is available and deliverable as playing fields within the Plan period in conjunction with the development of Site F. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 31

34 Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 32

35 Section 3 Options Assessment Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 33

36 Section 3 Options Assessment Options: Introduction 3.1 A key part of the process of producing the Thame Neighbourhood Plan has been developing a range of options for growth and testing these, so that a preferred way forward could be selected. Site 1 Site Whilst the Plan is not just about housing, the allocation of land for 775 new dwellings forms the key part of the plan and is the focus of the options. 3.3 The process of developing and assessing options is described in the Section, and involved: Site 4 feedback on four strategic approaches displayed at the public consultation event in November 2011 developing and testing four options based on the November feedback selecting a preferred way forward from the option testing, and consulting with local people on this. Fig 3.1: Approach 1b Approach 1 spreads new development around the town as much as possible whilst keeping new development within 20 minutes walk of the Town Hall. The range of numbers of new homes on each site is: Site 1 = Site 2 = Site 4 = Four Strategic Approaches 3.4 Four strategic approaches (with alternatives for each) were displayed at the public consultation event in November At this time, the Examination in Public (EiP) on South Oxfordshire District Council s Core Strategy was still in progress and it was not known whether a strategic housing allocation would be made through the Core Strategy or whether the decision on where all 775 new homes should go would be handed over to the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. 3.5 Two of the four strategic approaches (3 and 4) therefore set out possible strategic allocations that were then being discussed at the EiP. 3.6 Each options included an A option with development within the town on The Elms and Lord Williams s Lower School, and a B option with development only on the edge of Thame. For clarity, only the B options are shown in this chapter. 3.7 At this stage, Tibbalds used site numbers to refer to the various potential development sites rather than the letters used by SODC. This was intended to highlight that - whilst the sites are in similar locations - their extent or boundaries were not identical to those proposed by SODC. Site 1 Fig 3.2: Approach 2b Site 4 Site 5 Approach 2 spreads development around the town but - at the same time - aims to maximise opportunities for pedestrian and cycle linkages. The range of numbers of new homes on each site is: Site 1 = Sites 4 and 5 = Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 34

37 Site 1 Site However, this caused confusion amongst local people and later options work reverts back to SODC s letter system. 3.9 All four approaches were informed by the overall vision and core objectives generated at the earlier consultation event in October The feedback from the consultation is available in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan Consultation Report In summary, the key issues raised by local people were: Fig 3.3: Approach 3b Approach 3 set out SODC s preferred approach of concentrating development in the west of the town. The range of numbers of new homes on each site is: Site 1 = 600 Site 4 = Site 1 the aspiration remained for new development to be as dispersed around the town as much as possible there was strong opposition to housing being in one lump as this was seen as difficult to integrate into the town there was concern about traffic issues arising from development to the south of Thame - would cars from the new development go through the town centre to get to Oxford or Aylesbury in preference to going around the ring road? the ring road to the north was perceived as a barrier across which it would be difficult to integrate new housing. This was further exacerbated by the lack of direct links to the town centre through Lea Park there were concerns about the visual impact of development on Site 1 (now referred to as Site F) Fig 3.4: Approach 4b Site 3-6 all four approaches proposed new development within approximately 20 minutes walk of the Town Hall. There was some scepticism that people would really walk 20 minutes, as well as some questioning as to the accuracy of the boundary. Approach 4 concentrates development to the south of Thame, reflecting discussion at the EiP on the potential for an alternative strategic allocation. The range of numbers of new homes on each site is: Site 1 = Sites 3-6 = Developing and testing options 3.11 Following feedback from the consultation on the strategic approaches, Tibbalds worked in partnership with representatives of Thame s Residents Associations and Town Councillors to develop four options for the growth of Thame. These are: Walkable Thame Public Transport Thame Maximum Dispersed Thame Contained Thame. Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 35

38 Option 1: Walkable Thame All new development is located within 20 minutes walk of the Town Hall To achieve walkability there must be good north-south pedestrian links to Site D - so development must be located so that it can connect to Windmill Road and Moreton Lane If Lord Williams s Lower School does not come forward for development, reserve housing sites will need to be brought forward. The western part of Site D is identified as the reserve land, which would result in Site D growing to 447 homes. This is a large amount of development in one location, and is contrary to the aim of achieving dispersed development F D Fig 3.5: Walkable Thame concept plan There is a risk that vehicles from Site D will travel through the town centre - signage and other measures are needed to direct traffic onto the ring road Access to bus stops is poor from the south. The potential developer has confirmed that amount of housing (less than 600 units) means that a new route / diversion is not viable Will people walk 20 minutes? Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 36

39 Site F: Site D: LWLS: The Elms: TOTAL: 250 units 315 units 160 units 50 units 775 units Fig 3.6: Walkable Thame: option showing LWLS developed Housing development, including open space, roads, and other infrastructure Community facilities and mixed use development, existing and proposed Site F: 278 units The Elms: 50 units Site D: 447 units TOTAL: 775 units Schools (including reserve site for possible new school) Employment site (B1/B2/B8) Open space (parks, greens, squares, sports pitches and informal green space) Open land around Thame River and approximate extent of flood zone Principal vehicular movement routes Fig 3.7: Walkable Thame: option showing Site D reserve land Pedestrian routes (priority routes and local routes) Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 37

40 Option 2: Public Transport Thame To get a more dispersed spread of new development than shown in Option 1 we need to breach the 20 minute walking distance F But if we want to keep the town feeling compact and minimise traffic impact we need to think about how people may get around: -- locating development near existing bus routes helps to tie in to existing public transport -- straightforward routes to town centre are desirable - e.g. along Towersey Road not through Lea Park. B Buses are close to land East of Thame, but routes, service frequency and number of stops need to be improved Fig 3.8: Public transport concept option Reserve land is provided on both Site F and Site B. If Lord Williams s Lower School does not come forward for development, new homes will be mainly located in just two sites. This may not be sufficiently dispersed. Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 38

41 Site F: Site B: LWLS: The Elms: TOTAL: 300 units 290 units 135 units 50 units 775 units Fig 3.9: Public transport Thame: option showing LWLS developed Housing development, including open space, roads, and other infrastructure Community facilities and mixed use development, existing and proposed Site F: 371 units Site B: 354 units The Elms: 50 units TOTAL: 775 units Schools (including reserve site for possible new school) Employment site (B1/B2/B8) Open space (parks, greens, squares, sports pitches and informal green space) Open land around Thame River and approximate extent of flood zone Principal vehicular movement routes Fig 3.10: Public transport Thame: option showing reserve sites Pedestrian routes (priority routes and local routes) Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 39

42 Option 3: Dispersed Thame If Options 1 and 2 do not meet aim of dispersed development well enough, then we need to look at an alternative that maximises dispersal If LWLS comes forwards and dispersal is to be maximised, sites on the edge cannot be too big - no more than 300 homes in B, D or F Site D needs to be at least 300 homes to be able to connect to all pedestrian routes. So D either needs to be large (as in Option 1) to maximise pedestrian linkages and so compensate for other transport issues, or small (Option 3) to minimise amount of development affected by poor access to buses / minimise traffic generation If Lord Williams s Lower School does not come forward for development, reserve sites are provided on Sites B and F. F D Fig 3.11: Public transport concept option B Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 40

43 Site F: Site B: Site D: LWLS: The Elms: TOTAL: 240 units 210 units 155 units 120 units 50 units 775 units Fig 3.12: Dispersed Thame: option showing LWLS developed Housing development, including open space, roads, and other infrastructure Community facilities and mixed use development, existing and proposed Schools (including reserve site for possible new school) Site F: 328 units Site B: 242 units Site D: 155 units The Elms: 50 units TOTAL: 775 units Employment site (B1/B2/B8) Open space (parks, greens, squares, sports pitches and informal green space) Open land around Thame River and approximate extent of flood zone Principal vehicular movement routes Fig 3.13: Dispersed Thame: option showing reserve sites Pedestrian routes (priority routes and local routes) Evidence Base Summary : Thame Neighbourhood Plan 41

44 Option 4: Contained Thame This option aims to disperse development but also to locate it within the distinct physical boundaries formed by the river and the ring road Development either side of Thame Park Road has the potential to create a positive gateway to the town from the south F Development to the south of Wenman Road is less well integrated than other areas - good links must be created to the town Similar issues to Option 1 in terms of traffic and access to buses D C Two options for reserve land were explored: -- reserve land on sites F and C -- reserve land on site B. Fig 3.14: Contained Thame concept option If reserve land is provided on sites F and C, new homes will be mainly located in just two areas. This may not be sufficiently dispersed. Housing development, including open space, roads, and other infrastructure Community facilities and mixed use development, existing and proposed Schools (including reserve site for possible new school) Employment site (B1/B2/B8) Open space (parks, greens, squares, sports pitches and informal green space) Open land around Thame River and approximate extent of flood zone Principal vehicular movement routes Pedestrian routes (priority routes and local routes) Thame Neighbourhood Plan: Evidence Base Summary 42

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