Eastern development plan is ‘highly unlikely’

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A proposal to build 400 new homes to the east of Thame is ‘highly unlikely’ to go ahead because it is not part of the neighbourhood plan, a council official has said.

Hallam Land Management’s plans, which include employment, infrastructure, a new primary school, playing fields and community facilities, were described as ‘unviable’ by Thame Town Clerk Helen Stewart.

But the developers, who exhibited plans at Thame Town Hall this week, hope the ‘benefits’ it believes the proposals will bring will prompt residents to ‘question the emerging strategy’.

The draft neighbourhood plan sets out proposed developments, but Hallam’s is not included. The plan must provide for at least 775 new homes over the next 15 years, as part of the South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy.

And Ms Stewart said: “The site they (Hallam) is proposing was discounted through the core strategy consultation as well as through the neighbourhood plan consultation process.

“It has not been identified as a preferred site by the community of Thame for housing for a number of reasons.

“The developers are now trying to present this option as something that is viable, but all the evidence shows that it is not something that is suitable or acceptable for Thame. There is nothing to show what’s been put into that consultation document should be changed.

“I would say it is highly unlikely to go ahead.”

But Hallam’s director Nick Duckworth said an East Thame development would ‘deliver for the community’.

He said: “Our concern with the strategy emerging in the neighbourhood plan is that with the ‘scattering’ of the residential and employment development as is proposed, supporting and additional community facilities will not follow. Already crowded and under provided facilities will become overcrowded and overstretched.”

A consultation on the draft plan ends on October 3.