Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles was called away at short notice and so Roger Torode kindly chaired the meeting in his absence. Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 28th July 2014
There were no matters arising
3) Discussion with police Chief Inspector Chris Jones
Chief Inspector Chris Jones (CJ) explained that he had responsibility for all Neighbourhood Policing in Waltham Forest. The borough is now divided into three "clusters" and one inspector leads each cluster. The clusters are known as North, South and Central. Highams Park is wholly covered by the North Cluster which stretches from the North of the borough to the North Circular Road. All the wards which the Forum regards as comprising Highams Park are within the North Cluster (Hatch Lane, Larkswood, Hale End & Highams Park, and Chapel End). Inspector Claire Aubrey-Robson leads the North Cluster.
The clusters meet with resident led Safer Neighbourhood ward panels at 3 monthly intervals for updates and to set priorities.
CJ summarised the work of his team and reported that all crime types were showing reductions and that response times were showing as better than stated targets. Attendees then informed him about some specific issues of which they were aware and CJ took details and promised prompt action.
At the previous Forum meeting attendees had discussed the ongoing problem of speeding cars in The Avenue. Residents are not keen on speed humps as a solution and static speed cameras are only installed if accident statistics already justified it. Attendees wondered whether it might be possible for the police Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) to operate a handheld speed gun on an occasional basis to catch/dissuade the (limited number) of regular culprits. CJ explained that although he could see the logic of the request, but unfortunately training and other practical issues means it would not be appropriate for the SNT officers to do this. CJ did however undertake to arrange for a Traffic car to pay some visits to the area to perform some speed check sessions.
CJ stated that he would be happy to return to the Forum at a future meeting to give updates if invited. He would also be happy to receive emails on SNT issues.
4) Signal Box opens to the public (London Open House 20/21 Sept)
The Signal Box at the level crossing will be open to the public for the first time on the weekend 20/21 September 2014. This is part of the London-wide "Open House" event. This is a widely publicised event in which many famous buildings open their doors to the public. The Highams Park Signal Box now has a place in this prestigious directory.
It is hard to predict how many people will come to see the box but the London-wide event is very popular so we could see many extra visitors to Highams Park and queues to see the box.
The signal box was saved from demolition in 2002 by a campaign organised by the Forum, which then set up The Signal Box Association to organise its long term preservation. The story of what happened in 2002 and the steps up to the present day will be reflected in the displays which will be seen by visitors. The building was in a sorry state in 2002 and not suitable for any practical use. Local building firm Dendale Construction have taken on the major task of making the box usable and will be proudly displaying the results of their workmanship at the weekend.
The organisers (The Highams Park Planning Group's Heritage body), have requested additional volunteers to assist over the weekend and MP, SR and RT put their names forward.
5) Revised Plans for development on the old Focus site
This item relates to a proposal to build a self-storage warehouse style building on the former Focus Site (Hickman Avenue at the junction with Larkshall Road).
Forum members wrote in with objections to the first version of this proposal on a number of reasons including insufficient screening, proximity to the road and proximity to housing, and insufficient employment opportunities in land zoned as employment. It is understood that the borough tree officer also objected due to the proposed removal of trees.
The applicant has now submitted revised plans which were circulated by MP to Forum members by email. The meeting unanimously agreed that these new plans were no better than the first and even appeared worse. The original concerns had not been addressed and the building was considered ugly and poorly screened from the road. Attendees noted that although the site is on an industrial area, it is at the boundary with residential housing and its design should be sympathetic to this location; it should not have a purely industrial and brutal look.
Members were encouraged to write with their views to the council planning officer Robert Hewson. Robert is preparing the report on the application which will go before planning committee on 7th October. Robert needs to have such comments by 18th September. The application reference number is 2014/1035 and Robert's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
6) Results of garden competition
Full details of the competition organised by OK on behalf of the Forum can be found here: http://www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/gardcomp.html
The competition closed on 31st August 2014 and the judges have made their decisions. OK described the winning gardens (first, second and third) but asked for these not to be included in these minutes until the owners of the gardens had been formally notified. The results will be posted on the Forum's website in due course.
7) HP Plan update
Background: Highams Park was successful in its application for £20k funding from central government to create a formal Neighbourhood Plan. The plan will be created by the residents for the residents, covering all aspects of life in Highams Park. The application was made jointly by LBWF, The Highams Park Forum, and The Highams Park Society. A separate body has been formed (The Highams Park Planning Group, chaired by Gordon Turpin) to create the plan. The group has around 500 members.
GT (Chair of the Planning Group) gave the meeting a brief update:
After a short break for the summer holidays, the 10 Topic Working Groups have resumed working on their ideas lists, expanding each idea into a well thought out practical solution. These are being documented onto "Outcome Sheets" and the content of these sheets will be taken by the Coordinating Committee and dropped into the emerging "Highams Park Plan". The target is to complete the Outcome Sheets by 30th October so that the first draft of the plan can be available by the end of January 2015 in time for the AGM of The Planning Group in that month.
8) Information received
a) The eList - Listing Highams Park Events
An email had been received from resident Annabel Colley encouraging use of "Elist Online" and in particular the Highams Park section. This can be seen by clicking on this link: http://www.theelist.co.uk/search/highams+park
Annabel explains that organisers can submit events to be listed for free and stand a chance of being listed in the printed version of the list. At the moment, copies of the list are being distributed in Indulge Café, Café Latte, Costa and The Royal Oak, but further outlets in Highams Park are being sought.
b) Historic Research: Hale End Red Cross hospital & Belle Vue House (Cooks Folly)
Historical researcher Bill Bayliss has contacted the Forum to draw members' attention to some very interesting work he has done in documenting the history of Hale End Red Cross Hospital. You can read all about it by following this link: http://www.walthamstowmemories.net/pdfs/Bill%20Bayliss%20-%20Hale%20End%20Hospital.pdf
Bill is now working on a new project about Bell Vue House (Cooks Folly). He would like anyone who has any information about this building before it was demolished to get in contact. Please contact MP and he will pass on details to Bill.
c) Highams Park Lake Works
The Corporation of the City of London have emailed the Forum with an update regarding the works at Highams Park Lake. The key paragraphs are as follows:
The planned works have formally commenced today (08/09/2014) and we anticipate them running until 5th February 2015. In outline, the main works include the:-
1. Construction of a brick-clad, reinforced concrete flood wall to protect the Scout facilities from flooding,
2. Re-grading and reinforcement of the remaining sections of dam, to act as an auxiliary spillway in times of flooding
3. Construction of a new draw-down culvert linking the lake with the River Ching, which will give the facility to draw-down lake levels in the future in the event of an emergency or maintenance works to the dam/lake
4. Limited de-silting/dredging of the lake - approximately 5,000m3 (out of a total silt volume in the lake of 13,500m3), focused at the shallower northern third of the lake where this gives rise to problems due to exposure in time of dry weather (low water levels).
MP has contact details for the parties concerned if required.
d) Bus vibrations in The Avenue
Resident Angela Parish emailed the Forum to ask attendees if they had noticed any problems recently with vibrations from buses in properties in The Avenue. No one at the meeting had encountered this but if anyone reading these minutes has noticed this problem please contact MP and he will pass on details to Angela.
9) Brief Updates:
a) Parking issues in the Highams Green development
TC (supported by KS & CG) described parking problems encountered in the new Highams Green development, specifically in Jack's Farm Way and Celebration Way. Some of the issues noted were:
· Too many permits issued for the spaces available
· The times of day the permits are required are shown differently on the lamp post signs and the letters delivered to residents
· Residents moving into the development report that they were told they would each get "a space"
· Overflow parking is now taking up space in the Results Gym and Tennis Court car park.
· Overflow parking is also taking place on Hickman Avenue.
Cllr Sheree Rackham is assisting residents to resolve these issues.
b) Flower troughs and sight lines
The Forum supports the installation of the flower troughs on the road barriers near junctions. These are a most welcome sight but at the last Forum meeting it was noted that near the zebra crossing (where The Avenue meets Hale End Road) at least one trough makes it difficult for vehicles to see pedestrians waiting at the crossing and vice versa.
Following the meeting Cllr Marion Fitzgerald requested that officers look at the location of the troughs and adjust as necessary to reinstate safe sight lines. Officers have agreed to do this.
c) Planning application for 7a The Avenue turned down
This item relates to a planning application for a proposed change of use from Class A1 (shops) or A2 (financial and professional servicesA1/A2 to Class C3 (dwelling houses). This building is the last shop (before the start of the houses) on the railway side of The Avenue, formally occupied by Reynolds & Company Accountants, and proposes changing the shop front to a dwelling.
Many Forum members wrote in, objecting to this proposal. The council has now rejected the proposal and declined permission for the conversion.
d) Trees for the centre of The Broadway
This is a project promoted by the Forum and which has received Ward Forum funding. Council officers have looked at the practicality of planting some trees along the centre island of The Broadway in the shopping centre. Unfortunately, they report that cutting holes for trees will not be practical because of underground services. They have agreed to explore further to see if tubs, troughs or baskets could be used to achieve the objective of bring some green into this particular space to enhance the shopping area.
e) Abbotts Crescent Bee Friendly Garden Funding
The burdensome procurement procedure (used by LBWF to hand out small grants from Community Ward Forums) continues to cause problems. OK has still not received any of the £250 grant approved in January of this year. OK has now bought plants with her own money (hoping for reimbursement in due course) because approaching cooler weather means planting must take place now. The plants are due to be planted by residents on Sunday 21st September (any help gratefully received).
f) Informal Access to Peter May fields from Wickham Road
At the end of Wickham Road there is a gate leading onto the Peter May playing fields. AN-C had noticed that this gate was nearly always locked closed. He would find it convenient for access to the fields and wondered why it is locked. MH explained that the gates from Wickham Road should never be left open at any stage and that the only use for these gates is that of an Emergency access point. MH pointed out that leaving the gate open would cause parking problems for the residents in Wickham Road and the potential for nuisance/anti-social behaviour. AN-C agreed that this would not be something he would want to encourage.
g) Cycle Crossing on Chingford Avenue
This item relates to the idea of installing a marked crossing point across Chingford Lane (near to the junction with The Avenue) to link foot and cycle paths on both sides of the road. The Forum and the Highams Park Planning Group met with council officers and Cllr Marion Fitzgerald on 16MAY14 at the location on Chingford Lane. Those present could all see the problems pedestrians and cyclists face at the location and an outline solution was agreed, however since that time no progress has been made.
Cllr Fitzgerald has highlighted the delay to council officer Chris Harrison and the Forum hopes a speedy response will be forthcoming. MW stated that she was a regular user of the crossing point and offered to assist Cllr Fitzgerald in taking the matter forward. MP will forward to MW the emails on the subject to date.
10) Any other business
a) History Information Boards
Attendees noticed the gradual removal of the freestanding historical information boards in the park and on the green. Cllr Paul Braham is working with council officers to have them reinstated. The boards were in a sorry state and the intention is to replace them but locating the original artwork and photographs is posing a problem. Various alternative solutions are being explored to recreate the boards.
b) Rapid response to River Walk overgrowth
A local resident wanted to highlight the excellent service he received from council staff recently. He had noted that the shrubs on River Walk (the footpath from Beech Hall Road to Winchester Road) were severely overgrown, obstructing the path. The resident phoned the standard Waltham Forest customer services number and a team arrived and dealt with the problem the same day.
c) Joseph Clarke School Expansion
Cllr Sheree Rackham explained that Joseph Clarke School in Vincent Road is looking to expand its buildings. Initial plans have not found favour with local residents. Cllr Rackham is working with local residents and the school to try to find a better design for the buildings which will fit in better in the location.
d) Location of the zebra crossing on The Broadway, close to the level crossing
The issue was raised about the location of the zebra crossing on The Broadway, close to the level crossing. The concern is that it is close to the level crossing and difficult for motorists to see. The Forum had been involved some years ago with the design of the road layout in The Broadway so some of the older members were familiar with the arguments as to why the crossing was placed in what looks like a dangerous location. The argument at the time was that people will cross at that point because it is convenient (whether there is a crossing there or not). Locating the crossing there (even though it is not ideal) will offer the pedestrians some protection. Attendees felt that this argument still sounded sensible and agreed that we should not try to have the crossing moved.
11) Action List: Review of outstanding items
Due to time pressure at the meeting, the Action List was not reviewed. MP will review and update the list outside of the meeting based on his knowledge of progress.
12) Items for next agenda
None raised at the meeting.
13) Confirm date, time for next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Monday 27th October 2014 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.