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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


South Oxfordshire District Council's View

In April 2006, South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) produced a report entitled 'Thame Conservation Area Character Appraisal' which identified areas of great interest to Thame and specifically sites that should be included in the conservation area that was originally approved in the 1960s.

You can read the full document directly on the SODC website, here.

Bringing The Elms into the Conservation Area

Before this report, The Elms was not in the conservation area.  However, it was idenfied as being at risk of development and therefore the whole of The Elms and Elms Park were brought into the Conservation Area.

On page 39 of this report you can see that SODC identify the importance of The Elms:

The extensive grounds of The Elms and the adjoining recreation ground/playing field form a very important green space within the town. 

The grounds of The Elms, whilst not publicly accessible, make a strong contribution to the conservation area in views from the playing fields behind John Hampden School and from Elms

Road. They also form a vital part of the setting of The Elms itself. Together these two green spaces frame the south-eastern side of the conservation area. They also separate Park St. and Nelson St. from the modern housing on Elms Road and Broadwater Avenue and so not only create an important part of the character of this part of the conservation area but also maintain its historic integrity as a one-time fringe of the town.

Bringing these two areas into the conservation area will formally acknowledge the role they play and help focus attention on the historic character of the area should development around or on them ever be proposed.

- Page 39, Thame Conservation Area Character Appraisal, South Oxfordshire District Council, April 2006

Policy THA3 Replaced Without Explanation

During a draft version of the Thame Neighbourhood Plane, there was a policy marked as THA3, it said this:

The use of land adjacent to the Elms, 32 Upper High Street, Thame for informal open space, (my underlining) as identified on the proposals map, will be permitted. 
12.5 his site is one of the few open spaces in the centre of thameand it is considered to be important to retain it and maintain its rural character. For this reason the council will support proposals which achieve this aim should the site become available during the plan period.

However, in a subsequent revision, on page 61, THA3 is replaced with policy A4 which days that The Elms is allocated for 60 residential dwellings.  There was no explanation as to why this was changed nor who influenced this change.

The Thame Neighbourhood Plan can be read on the SODC website here.

Why SODC Changed Their Tune

It is unclear why SODC changed the policy and are going against their 2006 assessment which put The Elms into the conservation area specifically to protect it from developement.