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South Oxfordshire approves first major housing scheme in neighbourhood plan area

South Oxfordshire District Council's planning committee last week resolved to grant outline planning permission to a residential development on a site allocated within the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.18 Nov 2013

The approved scheme by Commercial Estates Group (CEG) is located at the southern edge of Thame and comprises 175 homes, including up to 40% affordable housing, as well as a pedestrian link, open space and children's play space. It is the first major housing scheme in the country to be determined against a neighbourhood plan.

The Thame Neighbourhood Plan, which was drawn up by Thame Town Council, forms part of the District Council's development plan after it was approved by local residents in a referendum in May and subsequently 'made' by the District Council in July.

The plan sets out a vision for Thame, including the construction of 775 homes, three hectares of new employment land and up to 5,700 square metres of new retail within the town centre up until 2027. CEG's proposal site it allocated in the plan for the construction of 205 homes.

"This is an allocated site within the Thame Neighbourhood Plan where the principle of housing development is acceptable," said the Council's head of planning and building control in the committee report (18-page / 107KB PDF).

The report said that Thame Town Council remained "concerned about the lack of a footpath around the edge of the western field" but that the developers had provided "additional information in terms of their agricultural business as to why this is not feasible".

“We are delighted that members of the District Council's planning committee voted unanimously in favour of granting permission for this application," said CEG development manager Jon Allen according to local reports. "CEG has been working with the residents and representatives of Thame for over three years and the feedback received has genuinely had a big influence on the application which was submitted."

“CEG has been proud to support Thame’s Neighbourhood Plan from the outset – and throughout – and the decision at planning committee demonstrates that developers and communities can work very effectively together to deliver new homes which meet local aspirations,” Allen said.

Allen added that, following the outline approval, CEG will now "start to look at the site in further detail".