Highams Park Forum
A group of local people all interested in the betterment of life in their area.

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Looking up: An old oak tree putting
on leaf near the lake

 

 

 

 

 


 

HIGHAMS PARK FORUM

 

Minutes of meeting Monday 23rd October 2017 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Trevor Calver, Oona Kelly, Roger Gillham, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Munish Chopra-Evans, John Avis, Chris Holmes, Jeff Beaton, Graham Reeve, Gordon Turpin, David Roper, Ian Thomson, Cllr Tony Bell, Anne Haines, Nicolas Haines, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Hanna Chalmers, Mary Wilson, Maria Cuffaro, Sam Farnell, Zia Rehman

Apologies:

Cllr Tim James, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, John Kear, Robert Tatam, Steve Webb, Roger Torode

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting.  Mike Payne took the minutes.  OS commented on the impressive attendance (22 people).

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 11th September 2017

MP reported that he had received some comments by email referring back to the discussion documented in the minutes of the last meeting (11th September) about the idea of promoting a change to the name of the library.  The meeting had voted 11 to 1 in favour of promoting a change in the name of the library from "Hale End Library" to "Highams Park Library" since this location would be more readily recognised by people in other parts of the borough; people who we may be trying to attract to events in the library.

 

After a number of email exchanges acknowledging the virtues of the respective names, an alternative was proposed, this being "Highams Park & Hale End" library.  Whilst this at first seems like a simple compromise to appease both views, the name does actually have an advantage in that it would help the transition while lots of documentation and stickers in books would still refer to "Hale End".

 

An attendee wondered if there was value in the name "Hale End & Highams Park" since this would be consistent with the electoral ward of that name.  This did not receive much support since it was considered important that the words "Highams Park" appear first so that it stood out in any events listings; elsewhere in the borough the name "Highams Park" is well known but "Hale End" is not.

 

OS stated that he was reluctant to take a vote on the matter at this time because it warranted careful consideration and the very full agenda prevented sufficient time for debate.  It was agreed to carry forward the issue to the next meeting.

 

3)         Action List: Review of outstanding items

Due to time pressure at the meeting, the Action List was not fully reviewed.  A number of items were covered as a by-product of other items on the agenda.  MP will review and update the list outside of the meeting based on his knowledge of progress.

 

Action item A595 relating to air quality in the Tesco car park was specifically discussed here.  DR has been chasing along the installation of "No Idling" signs for some time.  It has been a frustrating task but he was pleased to report good progress.  After the initial installation of some unsatisfactory signs (too small, misleading wording) Tesco management have now installed 3 much larger, better worded, signs and, following approaches by DR, a further 10 of these signs have been ordered for some key agreed locations.  The meeting congratulated DR for this success and his persistence.

 

4)         Agree dates for Highams Forum meetings in 2018

The meeting reviewed the draft list of proposed 2018 Highams Park Forum meeting dates as circulated by MP prior to the meeting.  The dates were approved by the meeting unchanged.  MP will seek to book the Selwyn Lounge for these dates and will recirculate the approved list when booked.

 

5)         Black cab parking problems following changes in Three Colts Lane

Attendees reported a problem where numbers of black taxi cabs are being stored on the streets of Highams Park.  Although taxed and insured they are being left in one place without being moved for months.  They are effectively being "stored" rather than just being "parked".  Cllr Rackham was aware of the problem and the irritation caused to residents impacted by these vehicles, but has found that there is limited scope for remedy since the vehicles are legal and are parked legally.  Options are still being explored.

 

It is understood that the problem has occurred as a result of some changes in the Three Colts Lane area of Bethnal Green where the cabs had previously been located.

 

6)         Transport & Street Scene

a)    Adjustment to barrier planters required on the crossing outside the County Arms to improve sight lines

Attendees commented at the last meeting that the magnificent plant growth in the planters on the roadside barriers was now starting to impair sight lines between motorists and pedestrians.  The planters are much liked by residents but relocation of some key planters is now desirable to restore sight lines.  The planters outside The County Arms were noted as a particular problem, and also the corner of The Avenue and Hale End Road.

 

Cllr TJ emailed Emmanuel Banton to check and organise some repositioning.

 

At the time of the Forum meeting the planters had not been moved but Cllr Rackham emailed council officers for an update and has been told that two of the planters are scheduled to be moved away from the crossing "this week".

 

b)    How to take part as a Speedwatch volunteer

The Community Roadwatch scheme (sometimes referred to as Community Speed Watch) was described at a previous Forum meeting as follows:  "Community Roadwatch gives local residents the opportunity to work side by side with their local police teams, and use speed detection equipment to identify speeding vehicles in their communities. Warning letters will be issued where appropriate, and the information can help to inform the future activity of local police teams."  It is understood that volunteers can choose to work in areas of the borough away from where they live if they wish.

 

MP has been advised that the scheme is now in full operation in Waltham Forest and anyone who would like to participate should email: mansoor.M.Qureshi@met.pnn.police.uk

 

c)    Speed Reactive signs in The Avenue

Cllr Fitzgerald has been advised by council officers that new speed reactive 20mph warning signs would be installed on 4/5 October 2017.  CH reported that as at the date of this Forum meeting, the signs were not yet operating.

 

d)    Changes to Road classifications

At a number of previous Forum meetings the problem has been discussed of HGVs using Winchester Road and also (by mistake) using side roads off Winchester Road.  This is despite the erection of signs stating that the road is unsuitable.  At the last Forum meeting it was agreed that the Forum's longer term strategy should be to try to get the "B Road" classification removed from Winchester Road, thereby making it "unclassified".  This will allow HGVs to be banned (can't currently ban from a B Road) and will encourage sat navs to avoid it since their routing algorithms can be expected to favour classified roads.

 

Cllr Bell reported that this was now being taken forward by the council with the intention of not only declassifying Winchester Road but also seeking a "B Road" classification for Hale End Road so sat navs will choose this route in preference.  Hale End road is currently unclassified.

 

7)         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 the planning applications referred to below, including plans and any decision documents, you need to visit the council's website as follows:

Perform an internet search using the words "lbwf planning applications wildcard".  This odd combination of words will return (at the top of the search results) a link to the Planning Search form on the council's website.  Follow this link to the form and then enter the planning reference number (shown below) into the "application id" box of the form and click "Search".  Details of the planning application will be returned.  If you would like to submit comments on any application, click the "Comment on planning application" link on the left of that page for instructions.]

 

a)    Planning ref 163572: Redevelopment of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road) to residential.

This item has been discussed at previous Forum meetings.  It relates to a planning application (dated 31st October) to develop the site of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road).  The planning ref is 163572 and proposes the development of 48 residential units of various sizes.

 

The application went before the Planning Committee on 1st August 2017.  The Planning Committee granted planning permission subject to conditions and completion of a Section 106 Agreement.  The formulation of these has been delegated to planning officers and they are still in progress.

 

b)    Planning ref 171712: Proposed development at 428 Hale End Road, corner of The Avenue.

This is an application to alter what older residents will remember as "The Barclays Bank Building" on the corner of The Avenue and Hale End Road.  The application was submitted 8th May and the summary reads "Construction of an additional floor and three storey infill side extension to provide a mixed use scheme comprising retail (Class A1), dental surgery (Class D1) and five residential units (Class C3) comprising 4 x 1 bedroom and 1 x 2 bedroom units with communal roof garden".

 

This has been approved by planning officers "with conditions".

 

c)     Planning Ref 173059: 480 - 510  Larkshall Road.  Proposed conversion of office building to 42 self-contained flats.  The 42 units comprise 12 Studio units and 30 x 1-bedroom units.

The applicant originally proposed 48 self-contained studio flats in the space under application ref 170313.  It was refused by officers.

 

The applicant then submitted a second application dated 8th May with a new planning ref 171698 with the summary "Change of use from office use Class (B1a) to 48 self-contained flats Class (C3) (ground and first floors)".  The HPPG submitted an objection using the same arguments as for the previous application since essentially nothing appeared to have changed.  HPPG also pointed out that the application overlooked the fact that part of the building is classified for D1 use (Education) and the application was therefore not valid.  The planning officer agreed with this observation and refused the application.

 

The applicant has now submitted a third application for the building (dated 15th August) but this time leaves out the section of the building covered by the D1 use class.  The application is now for conversion of the office building to 42 self-contained flats (planning ref 173059).  The 42 units comprise 12 Studio units and 30 x 1-bedroom units

 

Members of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) have looked at the plans and remain concerned about numerous aspects of the proposal including the density of the accommodation and the very small size of each unit.

 

The applicant was careful to address the specific concerns highlighted by council officers in previous refusals and officers have now approved the application with the words "Prior approval is required and is granted".

 

d)    Planning ref 172438: 19 - 21 The Avenue.   Change of use from care home (Class D1) to HMO (Class C4).

This application (Planning ref 172438) was submitted 31st July.  GR 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.

 

No decision has yet been recorded.

 

e)     Planning ref 170468: Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, backing onto Castle Ave.

This item has been discussed at previous Forum meetings.  It 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, each varying the precise location and size of the property.  Each has been refused to-date.  The latest application was submitted 10th March and proposed a 2 storey house.  The planning ref for this was 170468.  The planning officer's report recommended refusal of the application and planning committee unanimously refused the application at its meeting of 2nd May.

 

The applicant has now lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate.  This is a government body separate from the local authority.  It is understood that a number of residents have written to the inspectorate in support of the council's decision to refuse permission.

 

f)     Planning ref 170081: No. 2 The Charter Road - Demolition of existing house, and construction of 8 apartment block.

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.

 

g)     Planning ref 173176: Demolishment of 73 Falmouth Avenue and construction of apartment block plus extension to 75 Falmouth Avenue.

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).

 

No decision has yet been taken and the period for commenting to council officers is still open.  Nearby residents have expressed concerns about the proposed development.

 

Cllr Fitzgerald has asked for this to be referred to the Planning Committee, if officers are minded to approve it.

 

8)         Brief Updates:

a)    HP Plan update

Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) gave a brief summary of the activities of the Group.

 

The Plan itself is complete and has now been submitted to the Council for formal review.  Feedback from council officers has been received and some amendments are being made.  The Highams Park Plan will slot into a hierarchy of planning documents including the LBWF local plan, the London plan and National Plan.  Each tier must not contradict the level above it but must rather add fine detail.  The Planning Group has been advised that the Local and London plans are being revised and council officers have suggested delaying work on the Highams Park Plan until these other plans are clearer to avoid the risk of conflicts.  The Planning Group is considering this suggestion but finds it very frustrating since the Group does not want further delays.  In the meantime the Group is looking towards commissioning a formal "health check" of the plan by experts to help ensure minimal delays once the process restarts.

 

The project to reopen the building in the park next to the lake continues to progress well with volunteer residents pitching in at regular sessions to work on the building.  The intention is to provide a small community space, café, and toilets for the benefit of park users.  This has been the most requested project by residents since the Planning Group was formed.  Some professional local builders have been generously donating their time, experience, and materials.

 

The HPPG continues to work with Library staff to expand uses for the library.

 

b)    Making Places

The Making Places scheme was reported at previous Forum meetings.  Under the scheme the council took nominations from residents for projects of up to £40k funding in each ward in the borough.  This money is in addition to the normal £10k ward forum allocation.  The scheme is described in the website:

www.makingplaces.co.uk

 

The preferred nominations by ward have now been selected and if you click "Chosen Sites" on the Making Places website you'll see details of the successful nominations.  Two key nominations for Highams Park are numbers 3 and 14 (Aldriche Way and The Highams Park respectively).

 

Number 3 is the Hale End and Highams Park ward winning application and is to improve an empty space in the centre of the Aldriche Way estate.  The aim is to create a communal space, transforming the area into a place where residents enjoy spending time.

 

Number 14 is the Hatch Lane ward winning application and is for ornate gates at each of the entrances to The Highams Park together with notice boards / information boards.

 

The closing date for "practitioners" to apply to carry out the work was 8 October 2017.   It is hoped that the winning practitioners will be selected in the near future and that work will start in January / February 2018.

 

c)    Feedback from OS on "wheelie bins rather than bags for flats above shops"

OS was unclear as to what had happened with this.  The idea was put forward by him, on behalf of the Forum, during a ward walk with council officers and large wheelie bins appeared for a while but they now seem to have gone again.

 

[After the meeting OS returned to the location and reported that the bins had reappeared, but a couple of days later they had disappeared again.  The reason for this is unclear.  A logical explanation would be that the bins are being brought out for collection and then returned to some storage area but there is no sign of the bins to the rear of the properties.]

 

d)    Engagement strategy post Community Ward Forums (incl. allocation of ward £10k)

 "Community Ward Forums" (CWFs) are regular meetings, chaired by ward councillors, where residents of the ward can listen to speakers on subjects relevant to the ward (e.g. the local police teams) and get the chance to raise issues with councillors and council officers.  These meetings are also the focus for assessing support for projects seeking funding from a portion of the £10k allocated to each ward for residents' projects each year.

 

Earlier this year, the council decided that CWFs would cease and commissioned a report by council officers to recommend a better way of engaging with residents.  The current approach was felt to not to engage widely enough; the same small number of people seemed to attend each meeting.

 

The report has still not been published and the timetable for the work is also unclear.

 

Cllr Fitzgerald has now written to LBWF Chief Executive Martin Esom to chase this along.

 

It is understood that the Councillors of some wards see the ward forums positively and may continue to organise them until something better is proposed.  The councillors of Hale End & Highams Park ward are attempting to organise such a meeting but have struggled with synchronising diaries and venues.  They hope to publish a date soon.

 

e)    Representation on Epping Forest Consultative Committee

At the last Forum meeting MP explained to attendees that he had received an email from Paul Thomson (Superintendent of Epping Forest) which stated: "I am pleased to announce that the Epping Forest and Commons Committee has approved the foundation of a Consultative Committee to discuss, with representatives or user organisations, matters of management and policy at Epping Forest.  This committee will supplement existing consultative arrangements, including elected Verderers; Local Authority Liaison Groups and subject-based web consultations and visitor surveys.  We are now inviting expressions of interest from those user organisations who wish to be involved."  Attendees had agreed that it would be good for the Forum to be represented and suggested that Steve Webb would be a good candidate to represent the Forum if he is able since he has had experience on a previous Forest Users body.

 

MP approached SW and he agreed to represent the Forum on the committee.  MP has submitted an application to the superintendent nominating SW.

 

f)     Support for Waltham Forest as the first London Borough of Culture

Waltham Forest is bidding to be the first "London Borough of Culture".  Winning this will attract £1.5million of funding.  The council is asking residents to pledge their support to show that residents are fully behind the bid.

 

If you would like to "back the bid" you can register your support here: www.wfculture19.co.uk (click the link to the webpage and then scroll down to the form).

 

g)    Highams Park Christmas Tree and seat?

With the support of the Forum, AH has been promoting the idea of reinstating the tree (which died of Dutch Elm disease) that used to be located on the corner of the Broadway and Larkshall Road.  This tree used to have a circular seat around it.  Although the tree will be a traditional street tree (not a fir tree) it is hoped the tree will be adopted by residents as a form of Christmas tree (with lights) in the shopping area.

 

Ward Forum funding for the project has been approved but so far the project has been viewed negatively by council officers who have pointed out what they see as practical issues.  Attendees however remain keen to proceed and could see ways around the problems highlighted.  RTo and GT are meeting senior council officer Vala Valavan tomorrow (24th October) and are hopeful that they may be able to demonstrate that the project is viable.

 

h)    Ward Forum meetings

·         Hale End & Highams Park Ward - Date and venue to be confirmed (see item 8d above).

·         Chapel End Ward

Date: Tuesday 7 November

Time: 7pm- 8.30pm

Place: Chapel End Infants School, Beresford Road, Walthamstow E17 4LH

 

9)         Any other business

a)    Source of puzzling TV cricket theme heard near Coolgardie Avenue.  Any ideas?

A resident has emailed the Forum asking whether anyone can shed any light on the source of the BBC Cricket theme which can be heard regularly in different places near Coolgardie Avenue rather like a moving ice cream van.  It was not causing a problem but was just a puzzle.  Some attendees reported that they had also heard the theme but do not know the source.  It appears for just a few seconds and then stops.  The most likely cause was felt to be a mobile phone text alert, possibly paired via Bluetooth to a loud car radio.

 

b)    Opening times of Kings Road Recycling Centre

CH noted that the opening hours of the Kings Road Recycling centre had been reduced.  The new hours are: Monday - Sunday: 8.45am - 4.15pm.  The earlier closing time was felt to impact working people and may contribute to the centre being very busy (with queues) at weekends because people could not get there in the week.

 

The centre is in Hatch Lane Ward so Cllr Rackham volunteered to advise Cllr Fitzgerald of the discussion so we might seek out an understanding as to why this change has been made.

 

c)    Night Feast

MC-E was very pleased with the response from residents braving the rain to attend at the first Night Feast in the library car park on Friday 15th September 2017.  This was a trial and following its success is looking for a new date to run a second one.  He is trying to involve a number of local businesses and is mentoring them about the practicalities.  Once they have overcome the initial hurdle they will be in a position to readily attend other events too.

 

d)    Crimes

Highams Park tends to have low crime rates.  However, Cllr Rackham pointed out that there has been a recent spike in burglaries and car crime.  When this has happened in the past a specific source has been identified and has been dealt with.  Police are looking at the possible source of this current spike and hope it will soon be addressed.  In the meantime residents are encouraged to be vigilant.

 

e)    Tesco Car Park - Timing of opening the access to Signal Walk

JA reported that on Sunday, when the Farmer's Market was in Signal Walk, the doors from the car park to Signal Walk were not opened until 10:40 which was very problematic for vehicles in the car park attempting to unload to transfer equipment and stock to Signal Walk.  The alternative route is a long walk.  The doors in question also lead to the Tesco Store itself so were not opened until the store itself was ready to open.

 

f)     Farmers' Market

Some attendees were concerned that the last Farmers' Market was rather quiet.  There was concern that it was not being promoted very well.  When it was held in the station car park a large banner on the car park railings was seen by large numbers of residents and passers-by.  Since it has moved to Signal Walk (outside Tesco) the banner too has been relocated and doesn't seem so effective.

 

10)     Items for next agenda

a)    The name of Highams Park library (known as Hale End library).

 

11)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 4th December 2017 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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