Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Graham Reeve chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 9th December 2013
JB noted that the "Item for next meeting" listed in section 13 of the minutes had been accidentally omitted from this current meeting's agenda. The meeting agreed to address it here.
The item in question was: "Review the times when parking is allowed on Winchester Road single yellow line. When parking is allowed the road is restricted to one lane. Should the times be extended to allow the rush hour to complete?
This prompted a detailed discussion about a number of problematic locations. Locations include:
1) Winchester Road, the narrow section as it approaches The Broadway (i.e. the location referred to above)
2) Handsworth Avenue as it joins Hale End Road.
3) The Avenue, blind bend next to "Avenue Food and Wine"
4) The Avenue between 41 and 75. The white boxes on the pavement have worn off. Cars park fully on the road causing congestion.
TC brought the meeting's attention to the latest edition of Waltham Forest News (WFN- published today) which (in the Notices section) list a large number proposed changes to parking restrictions (e.g. extension of double yellow lines) in specific locations. Location "1" above appeared to be covered by the proposals in WFN. Cllr Fitzgerald offered to enquire about numbers "2" and "3".
3) Feedback on recent Station walkabout with Forum and Rail staff
AH & RG attended a meeting at Highams Park Station on 16th January 2014 to look at CCTV, lighting and security issues at the station. This meeting was attended by representatives from LBWF, Greater Anglia and British Transport Police.
RG gave a summary of the meeting and stated that detailed minutes had just been published. RG would provide an electronic copy of the minutes to MP for him to distribute to members.
Although not covered by the official minutes, RG did raise the problem of pigeons and their waste. The current nets are not very effective because they don't reach to the front of the canopy. The nets were installed when the overhead power lines were active and installers could not work near the front of the canopy. A more robust solution is being installed at Hackney Downs and if successfully will be installed at Highams Park.
MP reported that a resident had emailed the Forum asking about a rumour that there were plans to make significant changes to the cleaning regime at the station. RG was unable to help clarify since this was not mentioned at the Station meeting.
4) The Highams Park Plan - Update (incl. Feedback from General Meeting 17th Jan)
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. The Forum and Society formed a small "Initiation Committee" to attract and enthuse enough people to develop the plan. Attendance at the launch event on 16th November 2013 exceeded everyone's expectations. Over 400 people attended and over 300 signed up to participate at various levels, depending on their availability.
GT gave the meeting a summary of the progress since the launch event. People who signed up at the launch event were invited to "The First General Meeting of the Highams Park Planning Group" on 17th January 2014. This was very well attended and the meeting unanimously approved a constitution for the group. A boundary map was also approved, defining the area which the planning group will cover.
A coordinating committee of 11 members was then unanimously elected. At this point, the Initiation Committee stood down and the newly elected committee took over. GT was elected Chair of this committee which will drive the work of the planning group.
With the Group now formally constituted, it will formally apply to LBWF to be recognised under the "Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012". This is expected to be a formality.
The main work of the group will be performed by 11 Topic Working Groups (TWGs). Each made up of a number of members interested in a specific topic. These groups were agreed at the end of the General Meeting and attendees signed up for roles in one or more groups. They then agreed the dates and times of their first meetings. The TWGs will start with numerous, perhaps sketchy, ideas which they will work up into well thought out, costed, solutions. At all stages, the proposals will be "tested" on groups of residents to ensure that the proposals will be widely welcomed. The completed version of the plan will be passed to LBWF for adoption (hopefully around the end of 2014), and will be subject to formal public consultation.
The Planning Group now has its own section of the Forum's website. Here you can find more details on all the above, including a diagram showing how it is planned to coordinate the activities of all the members. The page can be reached by visiting the Forum website (www.highamsparkforum.co.uk) and then clicking on "The Highams Park Plan" link on the right hand side of the page.
GT emphasised that new members wishing to get involved are always welcome. The Group has its own email address. Please have a look at the webpage and then contact the Group via the email address on the page.
GT explained that it is recognised that not everyone has internet access. Val & Andrew Golds who run the shop "V&A Books and Gifts" (in The Avenue opposite the station) have kindly offered to help with this. They will shortly house a folder of the latest documents from the Planning Group together with a post box which can be used to send messages to the Group.
The Planning Group web page had been initially set up by the Initiation Committee. Attendees of this current Forum meeting confirmed that they were happy for the page to continue to be hosted on the Forum's website.
5) Relative roles of HP Forum & HP Planning Group
The meeting discussed how the Planning Group and the Forum would work together through 2014 to avoid duplication of effort. Key points raised were:
· While the TWGs of the Planning Group will be working in detail on their specialist areas, the Forum offers a "one stop shop" to cover all aspects of Highams Park in a two hour session. For some people, who are pressed for time, the Forum's overview could be very helpful if they can't commit to the time required to work with the TWGs.
· The Forum can "signpost" issues and direct them to the right place.
· The Forum can offer a regular meeting point for representatives of different organisations to get together to share information.
· The Chair of the Coordinating Committee of the Planning Group (GT) will attend all Forum meetings (or send a representative) to update members regarding progress and, via the Forum minutes, this will update the wider community.
· It was not easy to set a simple rule as to which group should tackle which issue. Each will need to be decided, case by case. The presence of the Planning Group Chair at Forum meetings will help facilitate this.
· When the Plan has been created it will be necessary for a group to take responsibility for driving the content of the plan forward. No one wants the plan simply to sit on a shelf gathering dust. Towards the end of 2014 the Forum and the Planning Group will need to decide how best to do this.
6) Feedback from Community Ward Forum Meeting 20th Jan (incl. funding decisions)
A number of Forum members attended the above meeting. All agreed that the section on allocation of funding to projects (as proposed by residents') was rather chaotic. The problem related to the inadequacies in the documents supplied to attendees:
· The papers listing the projects seeking funding (from the £10k allocated to each ward) were not available in advance of the meeting. Attendees were therefore unable to prepare in advance and had to review badly formatted documents in a hurry.
· The papers available at the meeting were formatted in a way that made them hard to understand (especially those relating to Hale End & Highams Park Ward).
· There was no summary page listing all proposals with amounts. This made it difficult to compare the value of different competing projects and to assess how voting for one precluded others.
· Many of the proposals did not have reference numbers so it made it difficult for the chair to lead the meeting. Attendees often appeared unsure as to which proposal they were voting for.
· One proposal was duplicated in the documents (and included twice in the totals).
· One proposal ("Broadway Island Planting" - submitted by MP on behalf of the Forum in September 2013) was omitted (more detail below). When this was highlighted at the meeting, it was acknowledged that this was an administrative error and it was inserted in place of the duplicated item. This meant it attracted the amount reserved for the duplicated item. This was effectively an arbitrary amount rather than an amount relevant to the inserted proposal.
The final decision on funding falls to the ward Councillors who take account of the views of residents at the meeting (based on the showing of hands). These will be published in due course.
Funding for the HP Society for Highams Park Day 2014 received strong support.
The "inserted proposal" mentioned above was for planting on "The Broadway Island". This is the long paved area that effectively turns The Broadway, in the shopping area, into a short dual carriageway. The idea was originally suggested by a number of residents attending the Highams Park Forum's display at Highams Park Day 2013.
The missing proposal asked for Greenspace to investigate what was viable in the space and to come back with alternative, costed, proposals for the Word Forum to consider. Specifically it asked for the following alternatives to be considered:
1) Planting a row of trees in holes to be cut in the island. The proximity of traffic means that traditional trees may not be possible, but "espalier" trees could be very attractive and could work well. This technique trains trees into a two dimensional shape where they take on the look of a flat green screen.
2) If cutting holes is not possible, then perhaps tubs could be used for trees or shrubs.
3) If tubs are not possible then perhaps some form of baskets.
Commercial sponsorship (with a vanity sign) might be considered to cover the cost of on-going maintenance.
The benefit of the planting would be experienced by large numbers of residents using the shopping centre and could help improve the commercial viability of the centre by making it more attractive.
The proposal received strong support from residents but because of the administrative error, no estimates from Greenspace were available and attendees could not express a preference of alternatives versus cost. The arbitrary amount allocated may or may not cover the cost. It was disappointing that the proposal was not properly aired since it may well have received significant support for a larger, more appropriate, sum rather than the arbitrary (small) amount it received because of the error.
7) Information Received
a) Tesco Illuminated sign.
The Forum has been told that the large illuminated Tesco sign will now turn off at 11pm. This will be good news for the people who live in the elevated sections of Highams Park who have been dismayed to see the night-time skyline dominated by the bright sign. Attendees felt this was a good compromise.
b) Mallinson Wood proposals and link to Lake work
Significant improvements are being proposed for the Mallinson Wood area to the south of the lake. These involve nature study facilities, camping area, and improved public access and footpaths. As reported at the last Forum meeting, members had noticed that there was potential synergy between this project and the proposed works on the lake dam and boathouse. The parties concerned are now aware of each other and are planning to work together to avoid duplication, reduce costs, and develop a properly integrated solution.
c) Public Art Strategy Document & input from HP Planning Group
At the last Forum meeting Ivan Tennant attended. Ivan is a consultant commissioned by LBWF to make proposals for the installation of public art paid for by Tesco S106 monies. Following the meeting, GT contacted LBWF to ask if the decision process on the art installation could be briefly delayed so that the Planning Group's Arts & Culture Topic Working Group could discuss and opine on the proposals. LBWF agreed. The Arts & Culture group will hold its first meeting 29th January.
d) Library survey
A survey is being performed at the request of the Highams Park Library User Group to determine what sort of activities residents would like to see take place in the Library and in the community rooms of the library. This is not necessarily "all about books"; the Library building and its community rooms are a great asset to Highams Park and the user group wants to ensure that it is fully utilised at all times.
Residents' thoughts and ideas would be much appreciated. It is especially important for the survey to capture the views of residents who are not currently regular visitors to the Library building.
MP agreed to email a copy of the survey form to all Forum members.
e) Hale End Road traffic and speed survey
A Forum member has expressed concern to council officers about the speed of some cars in Hale End Road especially at the traffic island in close proximity to property nos. 370 and 368. It is a frequent occurrence that speeding drivers hit the kerb here.
The following paragraphs are an extract from the council officer's response:
Prior to the new Tesco store opening we commissioned traffic count and speed surveys to be undertaken in the surrounding streets including Hale End Road for a period of 7 consecutive days. The data received at the location closest to the area of your concerns showed that the 85%ile speed (the speed at which 85% of all vehicles do not exceed) during the weekday total was 28mph northbound and 30mph southbound.
We will also be undertaking further traffic count and speed surveys in the same roads now that construction works have been completed at the store. The data obtained from these counts will be compared against those previously obtained in order to understand any changes in traffic speed and volume.
Please be aware that at the current time we have no plans for a highway improvement scheme here for the foreseeable future. However, having analysed this data we will be in a position to reassess this and to determine whether any remedial works are required here.
Attendees also noticed higher speeds (and accidents) in The Avenue and wondered why there was not more focus on enforcement of the speed limits. Fines (and bans for persistent offenders) would target (and remove) the small minority who create the danger rather than forcing "calming" measures on all drivers. Calming was likely to slow down habitual speeding drivers only temporally until they reach the next un-calmed road.
f) Abbots Crescent Pocket Park
This item relates to the small green space on the north side of Abbotts Crescent by the junction with The Avenue. This area has recently been adopted as a Pocket Park by local residents.
OK reported as follows. LBWF has repaired the retaining walls and has installed a new public bench seat. Residents have made good progress on decluttering the site and cutting back overgrown plants. Work has been suspended for the moment (for the winter months) and planting will take place in the spring. A bid to help fund the work was made at the Community Ward Forum meeting (see item 6 above) and received strong support from attendees.
g) New dog control orders
The Forum has seen some new "Dog Control Orders" issued by LBWF. Unfortunately it is not easy to determine what impact (if any) they will have on Highams Park. The documents seem to define optional powers across the borough but the exact locations where they will be applied have not been seen.
Cllr Fitzgerald kindly volunteered to seek clarification from council officers.
a) Planning Application: New housing on the Tesco site (location originally planned for medical Centre)
The planning reference number for this application is 2013/1859. Knowing this number makes it much easier to find on the planning section of the LBWF website. The quickest way to get to the information is simply to use Google to search for "LBWF 2013/1859" and the first item on the results list will take you straight to the application.
Attendees still have great concerns over this development. It comprises: 83 residential units (incl. 12 one beds, 64 two beds and 7 three 3 beds). Comments express were:
The development continues the trend for large numbers of small units rather than family homes. Where will families go as children grow? Highams Park is a family oriented community and risks change if the trend continues.
TC reported that, for the development at The Walthamstow Stadium, LBWF council officers used a formula to estimate the number of children likely to be associated with a new development. This was "allow 0.8 children for each bedroom except the first". So for a 2 bed unit count 0.8 and a 3 bed unit count 1.6. If this formula is used for this new Tesco application it implies 62 new children requiring school places (64x0.8 plus 7x1.6). It should be noted however, that the figures used by council officers for any development vary depending on the precise location and nature of the development.
Local schools are unlikely to be able to deal with this influx, and even if the development provides S106 monies for education, lake of space for expansion on existing school sites will make any solution rather unpleasant and may well impact standards.
Trying to deal with school places on a piecemeal basis (only when chunks of S106 money are available) leads to unsatisfactory short sighted solutions. Proper forward planning and allocation of sites for new schools is required before housing development is encouraged. The Forum has already proposed that the old Focus site should be reserved for a new school but this idea was rejected by council officers because of lack of funds. This catch-22 needs to be resolved.
DH agreed to speak to GR regarding submitting a formal objection to the proposal. Members with an opinion on the subject were encouraged to write in to LBWF independently, as weight is given to individual letters/emails rather than petitions.
To comment on an application, go to the LBWF home page (www.walthamforest.gov.uk), click the little arrow next to "Services", and then click "Planning". On that page is a link: "Comment on, or object to a planning application" which takes you to a page that explains what to do.
b) Planning Application: Redevelopment of The Regal
This relates to the refurbishment of the old Regal cinema building for office use and the building of a small office block on the adjacent site formally occupied by Sheltz restaurant.
The original planning proposal has been withdrawn by the developer and the Forum understands that the developer is in discussion with council planning officers over what design would meet with approval. We understand that officers are generally happy with the proposed works on the cinema building but both parties are trying to find an acceptable design for the adjacent office block so it fits well in its location.
c) Farmers' Market - Trial 4 sessions now complete.
The Forum is pleased to hear that the organizers of the Farmers' Market are pleased with the results of the trial period. As a result, the Farmers' market (in the station car park adjacent to The Avenue) will continue into 2014 on the 4th Sunday in the month. The dates set are:
· 23rd February, 23rd March, 27th April, 25th May, 22nd June, 27th July
d) Lake & Dam works consultation
Several members attended the drop in session on 10th December where the Corporation of the City of London (CoL) and its consultants showed plans for works to be carried out in the lake area. These works have been mandated by central government to ensure that all lakes meeting certain criteria are able to cope with exceptionally heavy rainfall (a 1 in 10,000 year event) to avoid flooding. At the drop in session it was explained that CoL had yet to make a final decision regarding the exact nature of the works and was still considering various options.
All the points raised at the last Forum meeting were discussed with CoL and their consultants. The points were:
· Need to replace the boathouse if it is demolished as part of the Dam works
· Look for opportunity to provide Café & Toilets for park users in any new building
· Look for a multi-use facility rather than just a boathouse to maximise use
· Clearance of trees per original Repton landscape
· Dredging the lake of accumulated silt (especially the Northern End)
· Ensure works are consistent with the works proposed on the Mallinson site to the south of the lake
A new public consultation is expected soon where CoL will present its preferred solution.
e) Larkshall Road - accident and speed consultation
GR reported that feedback received by council officers from residents was generally in favour of the scheme and it was therefore likely to go ahead. GR had objected to a statement in the proposal that speed tables would be suitable for speeds of 20mph. Since the speed limit on the road is currently 30mph this seemed to be inconsistent unless there was a plan to change the speed limit. Officers assured GR that the speed tables would be designed for 30mph.
GR was also informed that, following objections, the proposal to move the bus stop would now not be taken forward.
Formal consultation on the amended proposal will take place shortly, including the necessary Traffic Orders. Members can comment to council officers again at this stage should they wish to do so.
f) High level Graffiti next to signal box
DH reported that there was no new news on this. Cllr Paul Braham has been pursuing this matter with council officers. The matter has stalled because officers have been unable to obtain contact details of the owner of the premises so they can get the graffiti removed (access is a problem). DH noted that realistically, simply removing the hard to reach graffiti was not enough. We need to implement measures to stop it reoccurring (i.e. some form of obstacle). DH will continue to liaise with Cllr Braham and council officers.
g) Signal Box Progress
GR agreed to ask Dendale Construction for an update on progress.
9) Any other business
a) Outdoor gym in the park?
MP had heard a suggestion that there were plans to build an Outdoor Gym in the park but was unclear as to the source of the information. Cllr Fitzgerald stated that funding for a similar sounding project had been agreed in last year's Community Ward Forum budget and is due to be installed this year. However, she believed that this project was intended for children.
Some attendees had experience of outdoor adult gyms in other areas of London and said how popular they were.
[Following the meeting, Cllr Fitzgerald sought clarification regarding the proposal and informed MP for the minutes: The project which has received funding is called "The Highams Park Trim Trail" and the specification of the equipment is for young people up to 14yrs. The design shows things to climb and balance on. The Chair of The Friends of The Highams Park has informed the Forum that the Trim Trail was suggested by a member of their group and the intention was that it was for adults. It would appear that there has been some confusion.]
b) Reduction in Ching footpath
MR noted that the contractors working on the housing development on the site of the Walthamstow Stadium had cut into the tarmac footpath that runs behind the site, considerably reducing the width of the path. When the works first started, he assumed the reduction was temporary but is now concerned that the works have finished and no reinstatement of the original width has taken place. MR will monitor.
10) Action List: Review of outstanding items
Re item A522: "MP agreed to find out from the Signal Box Association's treasurer what restrictions (if any) were placed on the Association's funds when they were provided to the Association."
The treasurer of the Signal Box Association has informed MP that the documentation associated with the grant monies states that the monies must be used "towards restoration of the old signal box", with no other restrictions. The funds amount to just over £2,600.
Most items other items on the action list had been covered as a by-product of the discussions in the main part of the meeting. MP will review and update. Copy distributed separately from the minutes.
11) Items for next agenda
· "Nice Gardens" event? - Would it be possible to have an annual event which encourages and gives credit to people who have attractive front gardens (idea from OK).
12) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 10th March 2014 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.