Tomorrow, 2nd May, Thame’s neighbourhood plan goes to its referendum; to find out if local people agree it should be accepted as the development document for the area, in conjunction with the Local Plan. Together with Exeter St James, Thame will hopefully become the third local neighbourhood development plan in England to be put together by local people and have legal weight – the first to cross the finished line a month or so ago was Upper Eden, in Cumbria.
Thame, is probably the most comprehensive plan so far, and one that has some similarities with Aireborough. Faced with the need to provide 775 new homes, as well as tackle issues such as high streets, employment, travel, community facilities and green space, Thame have focussed strongly on keeping the character of the town.
Many of their policies on housing relate to good design, and ensuring that proposed housing plans demonstrate how they will reinforce Thame’s character. All development proposals must enhance the areas strengths and address its weaknesses. They must also provide allotments, gardens, enough parking spaces mixed street use and take care that housing has views to the open country. Basically rather than a large estate, local people choose to spread the housing around, taking account of the different types of accommodation needed by local people.
Other policies in the plan, protect employment land, improve existing business areas, create cycle routes around the locality, allocate land for a new school, and require developers to fund additional healthcare and new sports facilities.
The overall aim is to enhance Thame as a place to live, and it makes interesting reading, with a lot of ideas that Aireborough could learn from. The plan can be found here, and below is a video they have made to get people to vote in the referendum.