Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting. Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 5th March 2018
There were no matters arising.
3) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was reviewed and updated (distributed separately from these minutes).
As a by-product of one of the discussions about cars idling while waiting at the level crossing, a number of attendees noted long delays at the level crossing caused by the barrier not being raised between two train arrivals. RT agreed to discuss this with Arriva at a meeting he was having with them tomorrow.
Following on from MP reporting that he had located the diffusion tube air quality monitor near the level crossing, TC suggested that it would be a good idea to find out what exactly is monitored by this facility and whether the Forum can have regular updates regarding the readings.
4) Forum email list "tidy up" and the GDPR
MP explained that he had emailed all parties on the Forum's email distribution list seeking specific "opt-in" replies so the Forum fully complies with the new Data Protection legislation coming into effect in May (known as the GDPR). This may not have been strictly necessary because all parties on the list will have asked to be on the list at some point in the past. However, given the age of the list it would be hard to show records to completely back up this statement so it was decided to start with a clean set of records that can now be maintained.
MP was pleased to receive an overwhelming response from people wishing to remain on the list.
5) Safe storage of Historic records of Chingford & Highams Park
IT reported that he had recently visited the Chingford Historical Society to examine some records. He was shocked to find that large numbers of historic documents (including some covering Highams Park) are being stored in the houses of members of the society. He was informed that despite many attempts to resolve this situation, no suitable central storage location has yet been found. IT asked if Forum members had any ideas as to a suitable location. Vestry House museum has turned down the documents due to lack of space.
A number of suggestions were put forward by attendees but in order to determine the practicality of these and to take them forward, it would be important to know the exact space requirement needed to store the documents and their exact make up. IT agreed to find out.
6) Use of Winchester Road by HGVs from businesses other than Tesco
Winchester Road is unsuitable for HGVs and the planning conditions for the Tesco Development prohibit their use of the road. Hale End Road is to be used instead. JB asked whether it was known if any other companies in Highams Park ask their HGV drivers to avoid Winchester Road.
None of the attendees were able to throw any light on this matter.
JB reported on actions agreed between council officers and the residents of Evanston Avenue to change the design of the junction at Winchester Road and Evanston Avenue to discourage HGVs from entering Evanston by mistake and getting stuck.
Efforts were also continuing to get the classification of Winchester Road changed from a "B road" to an "Unclassified road". This would allow HGVs to be banned and would encourage Sat Nav routing algorithms to select alternative routes.
7) Tesco fire alarms and automatic cut-off of the communal residential boiler
ED reported on problems experienced by residents in the properties that form part of the Tesco development. These properties receive their heating via a communal boiler. Unfortunately the boiler house is on the same fire alarm system as the Tesco building itself so when the alarm is triggered (perhaps via vehicle fumes or a person smoking) the heating system for the whole estate shuts down and an engineer needs to be called out to check and restart the boilers.
The operator of the heating system (Switch 2) is now aware of the problem. They have requested that Tesco change the sensor head on the alarms, which will make them less sensitive to fumes and vapours etc. thus reducing the times they activate. They are also looking at putting the boiler house on a separate alarm system.
OS & ED agreed to write to Switch 2 for an update.
Attendees asked ED if the cost of heating was significantly cheaper than a traditional source. ED stated that the cost per unit was less but the charges for providing the service were very high.
8) Highams Park Forum representation at Highams Park Day (14th July)
Attendees were asked to put forward ideas for the theme of the Forum's display at Highams Park Day (14th July 2018). A number of ideas were discussed but one in particular stood out and received the unanimous support of the meeting. It was agreed that this idea should be taken forward. The idea was as follows:
In 2019 Waltham Forest becomes the first "London Borough of Culture" so it was felt the display should celebrate the cultural groups and activities that take place in Highams Park. At a recent meeting, 7 such groups were identified and it was suggested that a display panel for each could be created to comprise the exhibition. In addition, it may be possible to include something from Rio, the operator who will run the cinema in the proposed redevelopment of the Regal Cinema. Rio operates with heavy involvement of the local community in scheduling activities at the premises.
OS agreed to contact the groups and to copy in The Highams Park Planning Group and The Highams Park Society. OS appealed for people to come forward to assist with the creation of the display before the display and to assist with the set up and manning of the display on the day itself.
9) Transport & Street Scene
a) New layout of junction of Charter Road with Chingford lane
MS had sought from council officers an explanation of the rationale for the redesign of the junction of Charter Road and Chingford Lane. The officer concerned replied as follows:
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The scheme has been designed to mitigate road safety concerns and improve the environment for all users, in particular vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and children. Construction of the footway build-out reduces the crossing distance for pedestrians, whilst also reducing vehicle speeds. Reducing the carriageway width should also deter vehicles from undertaking U-turns at the entrance.
As part of the detailed design process, vehicle swept path analysis has been undertaken to ensure two-way traffic flow can be maintained at the junction.
Public engagement was undertaken in August 2017 involving properties localised to the works so that we could obtain the views of residents directly affected. The majority of respondents were in favour of the scheme. The consultation area was based on the anticipated impact of the proposal. There are no changes to restrictions proposed and the impact to traffic flows is expected to be minimal.
Whilst it is anticipated that the works will have some impact to road users during construction, we have attempted to minimise the impact to traffic and local residents. The construction works are due to be completed in the next week (w/c 23rd April), weather permitting, and will be followed by carriageway and footway resurfacing works. This will include new road markings which should better guide drivers on navigating the new junction layout.
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Attendees commented on the large number of potholes just down the hill from the works. DJ stated that he understood that the road surface at that point was due to be re-laid in the very near future.
There were mixed views regarding the redesign. Some felt that the consultation should have been wider than just residents close to the junction in order to capture the opinion of all users of the road. Others were very pleased with the changes and had already noticed an improvement in driver behaviour, describing how it has helped stop bad parking and "U" turns in the mouth of the junction. Congestion also seems improved. Many of the problems are caused by parents picking up and dropping off children at the school (Woodford County High School for Girls).
RG suggested that the changes may also stop larger vehicles using the road as a cut through and so may improve congestion in the centre of Highams Park.
It was noted that the school had made significant efforts to resolve the traffic problems by developing sensible travel plans in conjunction with parents and pupils but the school had no ultimate control over the behaviour of some parents.
b) Activation of the new ticket barriers at the station
In response to a question, RT stated that based on his conversations with TfL, no date has yet been set for the activation of the new ticket barriers at the station (and the concurrent closing of the entrance and exit via the subway).
10) Planning & Development
[To the reader: We are advised that comments on planning applications sent to the planning department from individual residents carry more weight than a group letter from an organisation. If you would like to see the details of any planning application, including plans and any decision documents, you need to visit the council's website here: http://planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/application-search and enter the relevant application id.]
a) The application to redevelop The Old Regal Cinema site. (application id 173877)
The revised plans were submitted (19th February) under the same application id and were discussed at the last Forum meeting. The application went before Planning Committee on 20th March as the only item on the agenda and was approved "subject to conditions and completion of a Section 106 Agreement". Some of these conditions mandate some changes to the design to reduce the impact on adjacent properties.
b) Fairview Homes proposals for the Naseberry Court site (2, Merriam Close, E4 9JQ)
In November 2016 outline plans were submitted for this site (original application id 163572) seeking outline planning permission. This proposal was for 48 residential units. The developer has recently been consulting with local residents regarding a new proposal which incorporates 118 residential units. Details of the proposal can be seen here: www.fairviewnaseberrycourt.co.uk
A formal planning application has not yet been submitted.
c) Application Id.181027: Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, backing onto Castle Ave.
A new planning application (181027) has been submitted for this site. This is the 5th set of proposals for this site that the council has consulted on.
The application relates to a proposal to demolish half a semi-detached garage and create a small residential property on a very constrained plot at the bottom of a garden in The Avenue. The plot would open onto Castle Avenue. The development would be problematic for a number of reasons discussed at previous meetings.
A number of applications have been made for this site, each varying the precise location and size of the property. Each has been refused to-date. This latest application is for a small sunken bungalow, built at a level below the street level of Castle Avenue. This is very similar to an earlier application which was supported by planning officers but rejected by the planning committee.
Any comments from residents need to be submitted to LBWF planning department by 9th May 2018.
Cllr Fitzgerald has asked for this application to be referred to the Planning Committee, if officers are minded to approve it.
d) Older applications still outstanding with no apparent movement
For the three applications below, no decision has been recorded and they are not on the agenda for the next planning committee (1st May 2018):
i. Planning ref 172438: 19-21 The Avenue. Change of use: Care home (Class D1) to HMO (Class C4).
Current position: No decision has yet been recorded.
This application (Planning ref 172438) was submitted 31st July. Graham Reeve for the Forum has objected based on a number of reasons, not least of which is that some of the rooms are smaller than the Council's minimum space standards for HMO. The HPPG has also objected and has stated a preference for the building to remain as a care home since there appears to be a demand for such facilities. It was also pointed out in the objection that the development does not meet the standards required by Policy HDA3 of the emerging Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan created by the HPPG.
The owner has engaged a PR company to approach residents (by meetings and knocking on doors) with the intention of putting their minds at rest and reducing the level of objections. Attendees who had received this briefing were not impressed and remained concerned about the proposal. 14 occupants in the space of two semi-detached houses (each occupant quite possibly bringing a van or car) seems likely to cause issues with their neighbours.
At previous meetings attendees were concerned at the possibility of setting a precedent. Converting family homes to HMOs is likely to be attractive to landlords since it yields significantly greater rental income.
ii. Application Id.170081: No. 2 The Charter Road - Demolition of existing house, and construction of 8 apartment block.
Current position: No decision has yet been recorded.
The Highams Park Planning Group have written to planning officers, objecting to this application demonstrating the problems with the application and how it does not adhere to the principles set out in the emerging Highams Park Plan.
Cllrs Rackham and Fitzgerald have both asked for this to be referred to the Planning Committee, if officers are minded to approve it.
DJ stated that he understood the application is likely to go before planning committee in June and (like a number of residents from the Highams Estate) noted that the site is in a conservation area and felt that the development should not be permitted.
iii. Application Id.173176: Demolishment of 73 Falmouth Avenue and construction of an apartment block plus extension to 75 Falmouth Avenue.
Current position: No decision has yet been recorded.
73 Falmouth Avenue is a large double fronted detached house built in the 1860s. 75 Falmouth Avenue is a small modern block of flats. The proposed development incorporates both sites; demolition of number 73 plus a small extension into the space behind number 75. The existing use of space behind number 75 will be changed by the proposal, integrating the two buildings (e.g. relocation of the car park so it is adjacent to the gardens of adjoining properties).
Nearby residents have expressed concerns about the proposed development and Cllr Fitzgerald has asked for this to be referred to the Planning Committee, if officers are minded to approve it.
11) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
MP gave a brief update on the activities of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) on behalf of Gordon Turpin (Chair of the HPPG) who was unable to attend the meeting.
The Highams Park Plan has been sent out for an independent external review by experts as a precursor to being formally submitted to LBWF for formal consultation of residents. The report from the reviewer has now been received and is very complimentary about the plan and the approaches used to create it. The report does however recommend some changes and the HPPG Coordinating Committee are now looking to apply these changes.
The project to convert the building in the park next to the lake has just this week been completed, and will open to the public as "Humphry's" in a few days' time. These works have been a huge undertaking involving volunteer residents pitching in at regular sessions to work on the building and major contributions from local businesses. The building will provide a small community space, café, and toilets for the benefit of park users. History boards have been created for the inside to tell the varied history of the building.
[Note from MP following the meeting: Humphry's opened to the public on Thursday 26th May. It will now be open 7 days a week, 8am to 6pm.]
A large number of events are being planned for the whole of 2018 by HPPG members. Details can be found on the Forum's What's On page here: www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/whatson.html
The HPPG continues to work with Library staff to expand uses for the library (see next section below).
b) Highams Park's Library ("Hale End Library")
A working party of residents and library staff continues to meet regularly. Our library has been selected to pilot a number of new and positive initiatives which will eventually be rolled out to other libraries in the borough.
The installation of a new remote entry system is almost complete. This will make out of hours use of the community rooms and other spaces far more practical. The system will be controlled 24/7 by a unit known as "Central Control" based in the town hall. They will be able to remotely give access to persons with bookings who will have received one-time passwords in their booking confirmations. Alarms will be disabled and set remotely as necessary during the period of the booking.
An online system for booking the Library's rooms and spaces has been created and details will be publicised shortly. The working party will work with library staff to examine current room availability, looking for regular slots which they can proactively promote to potential organisers with the intention of initiating regular activities in those slots.
A regular newsletter is now being regularly created by library staff summarising events taking place. Two issues have been published so far but unfortunately it is only being sent at present to residents who have specifically opted-in to receive it and no working party members had seen it. This distribution list is only 10% of the total number of library members. The working party suggested that an email be sent to all library members asking if they want to be added to the list. Library staff agreed to do this.
HPPG has organised a new permanent notice board to stand near the pavement outside the library to advertise events. A ward forum grant was given to facilitate this and officers also found additional funding to assist. The board has been built and its location agreed. It will be installed shortly.
c) Problems with historic roadworks in Larkshall Road which were not backfilled correctly
IT reported that these works have now been completed.
d) Disturbance to nearby residents by Station speakers and announcements
TfL have been working with local residents to try the make station announcements less intrusive for those whose properties back onto the station platforms. The problems were related to the volume of the announcements and their frequency.
No attendees were able to give a first-hand update as to the current experience following TfL improvements. RG reported however that a friend living close to the station had stated to him that they recognised that complete silence was never going to be achievable and they were now reasonably happy with the improved situation.
e) New system at Silverthorn Medical Centre for blood tests. What are attendees' recent experiences?
A member had emailed MP suggesting that the waiting time for blood tests at Silverthorn was now 2 weeks. This was based on a person arriving at the centre in person and asking for an appointment. It was wondered if a quicker appointment would be given if booking online. Attendees however reported a similar wait time for online bookings.
Attendees who had visited the centre with appointments stated that there seemed to be lots of confusion amongst visitors as to the procedures to be followed. A lot of staff time seemed to be taken up dealing with confused visitors.
f) The £25k per ward to be spent on green spaces and parks. Agreed projects
Background: At the end of 2017 it was announced that £25k was available for each ward in the borough to improve its parks and green spaces and the council asked residents to submit ideas. This is separate from the "Making Places" initiative.
The list of selected projects can be seen here: bit.ly/WF_ParksImprovement2018
One project that was suggested by a Forum member, but did not make it to the above list, was the idea of tidying up the overgrown footpath between Gordon Ave & Vincent Rd. This was mentioned in the minutes of the last Forum meeting and a reader of the minutes emailed MP with the suggestion that a local rambling group which operates a working party may be willing to take on some work at that location. Cllr Bell asked MP to put them in touch with him so he could explore this further.
g) Community Ward Forum meetings?
Cllr Fitzgerald explained to the meeting that it has now been agreed by councillors that Community Ward Forum meetings will cease and no further meetings have been planned. Instead, councillors will be provided with £1k funding per ward per annum to allow them to arrange public ward meetings on subjects of specific interest to residents in their ward. It has been noted in the past that such meetings attract far greater participation from residents than the more general Ward Forum meetings. Where relevant such meetings could cover more than one ward, sharing the cost. Each ward will still be given £10k to allocate to projects nominated by residents.
12) Any other business
a) Delivery of Waltham Forest News (WFN)
Some Attendees pointed out that they did not always receive a copy of Waltham Forest News. WFN is the free newspaper published by the council, and delivered to all residents in the borough. A show of hands revealed that only 50% of attendees said they received it regularly. OS agreed to contact the appropriate council department to make them aware of this delivery problem.
b) Water Rate rebate provision
TC advised the meeting that LBWF had made a £4.3m provision for the possible need to give rebates to some tenants on water rates the council had collected from them on behalf of Thames Water. A recent court ruling against Southwark Council has suggested that fees given to the council by Thames Water to pay for the collection service must be given to the tenants. The legal position is not completely clear and an appeal may be lodged.
13) Items for next agenda
· RG requested that an item be included to consider a report presented at LBWF Transport Liaison Committee regarding the new Community Partnerships Specialist at TfL. This could lead to more input from residents in the operation of the station and railway.
14) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 11th June 2018 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.