Core Strategy is ‘illegal’ claims the town council

Site F has been allocated for the new homes
Site F has been allocated for the new homes

THAME’S controversial Core Strategy plans could be in tatters after the town council deemed them ‘illegal’.

The council claims the strategy is ‘not legally compliant’ because the county council has not included the South East Plan in their discussions thus making the current proposals void.

Jake Collinge, who is the planning consultant representing the town council, said: “They chose to remove the Central Oxfordshire area, which significantly increases the amount of housing coming to the town and that means it is not legally sound.”

The confusion has arisen after a High Court ruled the South East Plan is still live and as a result, it has to be included in the core strategy.

These plans divide the core strategy into three areas, Didcot, Central Oxfordshire and the Rest of the District.

Thame falls in the Rest of the District category, which Collinge believes should have less houses than what has been put forward by the county council.

The other complaint raised by the town council was the decision to have already allocated a plot of land for development.

It has been allocated at site F, which is almost opposite Lord Williams’s Upper School and the council is of the view that this decision was made too soon.

The usual process in such circumstances is to decide exactly where the houses will go, later on in the plans.

This allows the opportunity for a full review as to where the best places for the houses would be and gives scope as to how the town develops in the coming years.

But in deciding the set place already, it means the decision was reached in just four weeks.

Mr Collinge said: “The allocation is not crucial to the overall plan and so by choosing a site it means we cannot be flexible to change.”

The next step is for the town council to make a presentation to the inspectors later this year, highlighting exactly what is wrong with the proposals.

And from there it will be decided whether the core strategy is legally compliant.

If, as claimed it isn’t, then the county council will almost have to start from scratch again but if the Thame complaints are rejected then the process will continue as planned.