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"Deeply Damaging"

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

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"Important Open Space"

How South Oxfordshire District Coucil classify The Elms

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Rectory's 3rd application for a Care Home is for 78 Houses

Avid followers of the campaign to Save The Elms will no doubt remember that back in February this year (2018) Rectory had their 2nd application for a care home with 85 houses on it REFUSED by SODC planning department, but now they've come back for another crack at the prize and it ain't much different!

In the meantime, of course, Rectory has been unable to sell the land for a reported £10million asking price, mainly because there's no profit in the existing permission (37 houses) at that price and no developer in their right mind is willing to take a risk on getting a bigger development on the land.  However, Rectory has now applied for permission to build an Extra Care Housing facility with 78 homes; which is essentially a care home for the over-65s.  Full details of the application are available on the SODC website here.  As with previous applications, the brief overview of the application is for 78 care homes which include onsite nurses, catering and entertainment facilities for the over-65s.

This volume of housing clearly exceeds the allocation of "up to 45 houses" which is detailed in the Thame Neighbourhood Plan.  This volume of housing of this type will also heavily increase the pressure on local support services such as doctors and ambulance first responders.  Anyone that currently lives in Southern Thame will testify that ambulances and fire services (first responders to issues such as heart attacks) are already an all too regular sight at the existing care homes in the area.

In Contradiction to the Neighbourhood Plan... again

In the previous application (which was approved over a year ago), Rectory Homes argued that the Neighbourhood Plan allowed for 'in any case, no more than 45 homes' and therefore their application for 37 homes was a reasonable density.  The SODC Conservation Officer argued that 37 homes was still too dense for this space - clearly 78 homes is too dense on this thinking.

Another obvious contradiction to the Neighbourhood Plan is that this plan is for a business use and not residential.  Whilst Rectory propositions this application as 'Extra CareHomes' the exact use is for C2 (Residential Institutions such as hospitals, care homes, boarding schools, training centres) all of which are business uses. 

Then, of course, there's the issue with providing a single type of housing that is restricted to the over-65s only.  The Neighbourhood plan clearly states that housing should be of mixed types and provide a minimum number of affordable houses.  This application provides neither a mixed-use of housing nor any affordable housing whatsoever.

Whatever way you look at this application it clearly contradicts the neighbourhood plan.

Why has Rectory Lodged this Application?... again

Likely for 2 reasons, both of which are interconnected.  Firstly, with all the recent building in Thame, there's now an oversupply of 2,3 & 4 bedroom houses in Thame and, whilst prices remain (artificially?) high, the developers are currently struggling to shift the current stock of houses and therefore if Rectory wanted to shift 37 houses, they may have to compromise their profit somewhat.

Secondly, it's likely that an Extra Care Home such as this is more profitable than a finite stock of houses.  Don't forget that the application is for a business rather than residential houses and therefore there's profit in the land and buildings but also in the business of the care home.  The houses would likely be sold on a leasehold basis meaning that the landowner (Currently Mr Simon Vickers - owner of Rectory Homes - personally owns the land) would only 'lease' the flats on a long-term basis.

Can you Save The Elms?

Yes! Firstly, if you have a spare £10million lying about, please go direct to Rectory Homes and buy the land from them, donate it to the Town as parkland just like Leonard Purser (previous owner of The Elms house & land) did back in the 1940s and of course that land is now known as Elms Park which the whole town gets to enjoy.

If you don't have that kind of pocket change, then please just submit an objection to SODC in the following way:

How can you object Before 13th December Deadline?

  1. Log on to the SODC website and write your objection there
  2. Use our Quick Objector here
  3. Contact your local Thame Town Councillor, SODC Councillor and, of course, MP John Howell.

 

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