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"Deeply Damaging"

How English Heritage described the development of The Elms in 2012.


"Important Open Space"

How South Oxfordshire District Coucil classify The Elms


Elms Petition Group Relaunches with New Goal

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NEWS RELEASE – 28th May 2014

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Elms Petition Group relaunches with a new goal of using the collective voice of the residents of Thame to force Thame Town Council to hold a second referendum to remove The Elms from the Thame Neighbourhood Plan


The Elms Petition Group, a community action group campaigning to ensure The Elms field in Thame is not developed, has relaunched it's activities with a revised  goal of having The Elms removed from the Thame Neighbourhood Plan through the holding of a second referendum.

The Elms is some 10 acres of meadowland in the centre of Thame and within the Thame Conservation Area which are the grounds of a listed building, The Elms.  Despite being defined by South Oxfordshire District Council as 'Important Open Space' and specifically included in the Conservation Area to "...formally acknowledge the role [The Elms] play[s] and help focus attention on the historic character of the area should development... ever be proposed", it has been earmarked for development into a housing estate of up to 45 houses.

Through consultation with Thame Councillor Mike Dyer and Adrian Duffield, Head of Planning at South Oxfordshire District Council, The Elms Petition Group has identified the best way to stop this development is to have The Elms removed from the Thame Neighbourhood Plan entirely which will mean holding a referendum where local residents can vote on this motion.  In order to persuade Thame Town Council that this is a necessary undertaking, The Elms Petition Group are collecting signatures of support.

As part of a new initiative to generate the support required to persuade Thame Town Council, The Elms Petition group have relaunched their activities with a new website (www.elmspetition.org.uk), social media presence including Facebook page (facebook.com/elmspetition), and Twitter (@elmspetition) and most significantly an online petition at change.org which residents and non-residents can sign.

As of end of Monday 26th May 2014, The Elms Petition Group have collected signatures of support from about 10% of local residents.  However, following months of discussions with residents the group are certain that the overwhelming majority of Thame residents are against development of The Elms.  They also believe that The Elms was only ever approved in the Neighbourhood Plan because of a misleading marketing campaign held by the financially well-backed 'Yes Campaign' group at the time of the first referendum.

Speaking on behalf of The Elms Petition Group, Peter Webb said, "The Elms is a critically important part of Thame.  Historically and ecologically significant, the land is one of the last green spaces in the centre of Thame and is included in the Thame Conservation Area for the defined reason of protecting it from development.  Furthermore, any development of the land was described by English Heritage in 2012 as 'Deeply Damaging'.  However, incredibly, the democratically elected members of the Town Council have been told to ignore the English Heritage letter of 2012 due to it wrongly being described by the Town Clerk, a public servant, as 'late'.

"It is our belief that the majority of Thamensians are wholly opposed to the desecration of Elms field and I'm calling on every single one of them to sign the petition in any of the multiple ways we have set up and show their support to make a strong statement to Thame Town Council that we will not allow greed and opportunism to take a hold in our beautiful town."

Although no formal planning application has been submitted yet, The Elms Petition Group have seen what is believed to be the plans for The Elms.  The group also believes that the plans have been secretly shown to all members of Thame Town Council by developer Rectory Homes in order to gain 'feedback'.  The group is shocked to note that the proposed works by Rectory Homes also includes a significant amount of development of Elms Park – the neighbouring public space given to the residents of  Thame in 1951 then owners of The Elms – Mr & Mrs Leonard Purser.

Mr Webb continues, "The plans that we have seen show a significant amount of development and we believe the works in Elms Park are intended to 'sweeten the deal' but will in fact only really benefit The Elms development.  We believe this is insulting to the intelligence of the residents of Thame.  We, as a community, are not going to turn a blind-eye to the exploitation of important town land  that has been vehemently protected by its owners over centuries.

"This development will bring no benefit to Thame and it's residents.  However the impact of doing such substantial works will bring misery to the town during the lengthy construction work, it will put pressure on existing services causing major disruptions during required upgrades.  Furthermore, the town council have already turned down 7 houses in Southern Road, very close to the proposed entrance to The Elms development, due to serious congestion, yet they are happy to consider 45 houses that would use the same, congested streets!"

Any member of the public can sign the Elms Petition in multiple ways including using the online petition at Change.org, by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., signing in person at Petcare on Thame High Street or phoning the Elms Petition Hotline on 01844 555112.


For more information please contact us
Website: www.elmspetition.org.uk
Petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/thame-town-council-sodc-reject-all-development-of-elms-field-in-thame-oxfordshire
Twitter: @elmspetition
Facebook: www.facebook.com/elmspetition

Notes to Editors

  1. The Elms Petition group have collected nearly 700 signatures across a paper based petition, email petition and now the online petition at change.org.  Although signatures have been gained from all over the UK, over 99% are actual Thame residents.
  2. A report by English Heritage in 2012 described the development of The Elms as 'deeply damaging'.  It is on public record that the Town Clerk told all members of the town council to ignore the document due to it being 'late'.  The original report can be seen on the Elms Petition website at www.elmspetition.org.uk/english-heritage
  3. The Elms was brought into the Thame Conservation Area in 2006 through consultation with experts and historians.  The grounds of the Elms and Elms Park together are described as important open space on page 39 of this SODC document: http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Thame_CACA.pdf


Download the PDF of this release here