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 28th July 2014 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Trevor Calver, Jeff  Beaton, Cllr Paul Braham, Cllr Tony Bell, Gordon Turpin, Chris Holmes, Oona Kelly, Jill Storer, Brian Goldstein, Graham Reeve, Mike Payne, Oliver Shykles, Roger Torode, Steve Webb, Mark Bryant, Lisa Herbert, Anne Haines, Nicolas Haines

Apologies:

Danny Hunt, Mary Wilson, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Cllr Tim James, John Kear, Rosalind Tatum, Ian Pleasance, Mary Dunhill

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 16th June 2014

There were no matters arising

 

3)         Feedback from Highams Park Day 2014 (Saturday 12th July)

OS reported on Highams Park Day.† This was generally regarded as being the best Highams Park Day yet and was very well attended.

 

OS thanked all the Forum members who contributed to the Forum's display on the day: setting up, creating displays, manning the tents and dismantling afterwards.† The whole event went very smoothly.

 

The Forum's tent(s) had 3 main components:

a)      Face Painting for children.† OS thanked Mary Wilson and Jen for their (literally) tireless efforts painting happy faces non-stop from 11am to 3pm.

b)      Beautiful Gardens display.† OS thanked OK for her efforts regarding the competition and for the display of photos of the best entries so far.

c)       The "I Love Highams Park" map, on which visitors were invited to write comments about things they liked in Highams Park.† OS will photograph the resulting map so it can be shared on the Forum's website and social media.

OK offered a small suggestion to the organisers for next year, requesting that perhaps more vegetarian food could be available.

 

4)         Fascinating excavations at Salisbury Hall (near Walthamstow Stadium)

MD was unable to attend the meeting but wanted to advise attendees (via MP) of the fascinating excavations at Salisbury Hall (near Walthamstow Stadium).

 

This is a piece of "rescue archaeology" being carried out by Archaeology South-East in a six-week period before builders go on site to construct a set of showrooms for Citroen/Peugeot.

 

The site includes the location of the manor house of Highams Park & Hale End. †Evidence of Bronze Age people has been found as well as Mediaeval and Victorian finds.† There are photos and a short video of the dig on the Guardian (Chingford) website.† This is worth a look and you can see it by following this link:

Click here to go to Guardian article

The last chance to visit the site will be on Wednesday 30th July at 10.30 am or 2.30 pm.† You should allow about one hour for the visit if you want to have a good look round.† The visit is free of charge.† When you arrive you will see the usual boarding up around the site.† The entrance is through a gate on Chingford Road.

 

5)         Planning application for 7a The Avenue E4 9LB (Registered 7th July 2014)

This planning application is 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.† It was formally occupied by Reynolds & Company Accountants.† The "a" in the property number was a source of confusion to attendees who were unclear as to which part of the building was being referred to in the application.† Was it referring to the whole building or just the premises above (or behind) the shop?

 

GT offered to email council officers to clarify the exact nature of the application.

 

If the application refers just to the premises over the shop (and not the shop itself) then attendees were relaxed about this application.† However, if the application relates to the shop itself then the majority of attendees (11 vs 2) were very concerned, not only about this building but about the precedent it might set.† The Forum and the Planning Group have both stated that they would wish for steps to be taken to regenerate the shopping centre and this would be contrary to that aim.

 

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The following information was received after the meeting from council officers in response to GTs request for clarification:

         Building number 7a refers to the whole building (ground floor and upper floors).

         Two separate planning applications have been submitted for this building.

         2014/1372/PAIA - relates to the ground floor and requests change of use to class C3 (residential).

         2014/1448/CLP - relates to the upper floors showing proposed changes and requests confirmation that no change of use is required for the upper floors.

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6)         Recognition of Highams Park as a discrete area

The Forum has one of its stated objectives (in its mission statement):

To promote the existence of Highams Park as a distinct area within LBWF and encourage the proper provision of resources to the area.

 

LBWF has recently entered into a "branding" exercise for the borough under the banner of "Waltham Forest London".† This is manifest in the creation of two websites.† See:

www.walthamforestlondon.co.uk/

and

https://www.facebook.com/walthamforestlondon

 

These sites highlight 4 major districts in the borough: Leyton, Leytonstone, Walthamstow & Chingford.† There is no mention of Highams Park.† OS noted that on the Facebook page, this prompted around 70-80 adverse comments from Highams Park residents.

 

Following this, numerous residents and councillors have contacted the officers and councillors concerned and commitments have now been made to remedy the situation with a website update at the beginning of August.† The officers have also contacted editors of various publications in the area to request that they distinguish those events taking place in Highams Park rather than grouping them with Chingford or Walthamstow.

 

The need for distinction will soon have a legal significance to planning applications now that the Highams Park Planning Area has been formally designated (on 15th July).† This means that when the Highams Park Plan is published and accepted (see section 9 below) all planning applications (if they are in the designated area) will need to be vetted against the plan by council planning officers.† As a result it will be necessary for those officers to be aware which roads are "in Highams Park" and which are not.

 

7)         Proposals for redevelopment of Sheltz & Regal site - Latest

Attendees agreed that there was scope for confusion about this development.

 

Planning application 2014/1347 has been submitted and relates only to the ex-Sheltz building.† The proposal is for a 4 story (ground floor plus 3 floors) office building, linked by passageways to the ex-Regal cinema building.† These plans do not cover any changes to the Regal building.† The proposals in the application are believed to be largely as shown to the public on the open day held in the Regal foyer Wednesday 16th April 2014.† No planning application has yet been submitted for the Regal building itself.

 

At the open day, draft plans were also shown for the Regal building.† These plans included:

         Creation of an entrance lobby for the new office block (using what was the ticket lobby of the cinema).

         Refurbishment of the frontage of the building, retaining and improving its existing distinctive features.

         The retention of the snooker club in the area that was originally the ground floor stalls when the building had been a cinema.

         Otherwise leaving most of the interior untouched since practical problems restricted the amount of work that could be done with the snooker hall in use.

 

Since that time, the owner has acquired the lease for the snooker hall and has given notice to the current occupants (Hurricane Room snooker club).† Despite objections and involvement of various high profile individuals, the closing party for the snooker club will take place on 16th August.

 

This has allowed the building's owner to consider a more extensive redevelopment of the Regal building and some residents have informally seen draft plans.† It is understood that these include some low density residential accommodation with underground parking and some community facilities.

 

Although it was agreed that it would be inappropriate for the Forum to comment until a formal planning application is made, it was noted that since the snooker club was considered by many to be a "community facility" the provision of a significant community facility in the redeveloped building would be expected by the community as compensation for loss of the snooker club.

 

Attempts to find other suitable local accommodation for the snooker club have failed.

 

It is understood that provision of parking for staff at the office block has been reserved in the Tesco underground car park.† Although this was not mentioned in 2014/1347, attendees felt that this was not surprising as it would not be considered material to planning consent.

 

8)         Visibility of the Forum's email distribution list

Forum policy to-date has been that emails sent to members will show all their email addresses, visible to all recipients, in the "To" field of the email.

 

MP explained that this approach has had many advantages in the past, allowing members to easily correspond with each other on projects.

 

Unfortunately the distribution list has grown in size considerably (now 92 entries) and a number of members have highlighted the risks associated with this practice, especially with a more extensive list.

 

As a result, MP recommended to the meeting that in future emails to Forum members should be addressed using the "BCC" field so the email addresses are not visible.

 

The meeting agreed to this change of policy.

 

If members want to contact each other by email, please email MP and he will forward the request to the other member.

 

9)         Brief Updates:

a)    The Highams Park Plan - Planning group and boundary now formally designated

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:

         60 new members signed up at Highams Park Day.

         The Group and the boundary of Highams Park were formally recognised by LBWF at the council cabinet meeting of 15th July.† The group and the boundary are now described as being "designated" and this recognition remains in force for 5 years.

         The Topic Working Groups (sub committees of members working on different subjects) are now working through long lists of ideas and turning each into an "Outcome Sheet".†† The content of these outcome sheets will be become The Plan.

         The target for completing the outcome sheets is the end of October 2014.

         The plan is expected to comprise two parts.† One covering legal policies that impact the decisions on planning applications in the designated Highams Park area (for example enhanced protection for green spaces), and one covering a large number of projects and actions residents would like to see taken forward.

The meeting gave its thanks to all those working on the plan and to GT in particular who has been putting in a huge amount of valuable work.

 

b)    Parking /speeding in The Avenue

CH noted his experience that council officers were very helpful in dealing with specific parking issues.† He had requested a short section of double yellow lines to deal with a problematic area and this was promptly implemented.

 

Speeding continues to be a problem in The Avenue but residents are not keen on speed humps as a solution.† Speed cameras might be a better solution but GT explained that council officers had advised that installation of speed cameras was only preformed if accident statistics already justified it.

 

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.† Cllr Tony Bell agreed to approach the SNT about this.

 

c)    Highams Park's Beautiful Front Gardens 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

 

It appears residents are shy about nominating gardens (only 4 have been received) so OK has been touring the area identifying attractive gardens asking residents if they are happy for her to nominate them.† Very few people have objected to this and there are now a good number of entries in all categories.

 

Closing date for entries is 31st August 2014.

 

OK will lead a walk to see the gardens on Sunday 7th September (starting at the Station at 11am).

 

d)    Abbotts Crescent Bee Friendly Garden

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.† As a result the planting has become so delayed that it will be too late to support bees and the plant species chosen in the approved schedule will not be appropriate for planting at this late stage in the year.

 

The essence of the problem in this case is that it appears that the same (or similar) procurement procedure is used by LBWF for funding tiny, volunteer led, projects as is used for funding huge, commercial contract, projects.† This "one size fits all" approach gives a great burden to small, volunteer led, projects and must waste a considerable amount of officer time.

 

e)    Trees for the centre of The Broadway

This is another Community Ward Forum funded project that is causing problems.† The proper paperwork was submitted in September 2013 and approved in January 2014 but the paperwork has been lost by officers on more than one occasion and no observable progress has been made.†

 

Attendees flagged up two other Community Ward Forum projects that have been problematic.† There appears to be a fundamental problem with the ward funding process that is not unique to one project.† Cllr Paul Braham agreed to discuss with officers how to identify the underlying problem and correct it.

 

f)     Greenwich & Prime (GPS) meridian plaques

MP showed attendees a first draft of wording for two plaques to mark two meridians (lines of zero longitude) in Highams Park.† This project is being pursued by Andrew Golds on behalf of the "Heritage" Topic Working Group of the Highams Park Planning Group.

 

The "Greenwich Meridian" runs North-South on the West side of the level crossing whereas the "GPS Meridian" runs North-South on the East side of the level crossing.† The intention is that the two plaques will be placed in prominent locations and each plaque will mention the existence of the other plaque so visitors will be encouraged to visit the shopping area on both sides of the railway line.

 

If you are wondering why there are two meridians:† it's a long answer involving a historic accident.† MP researched this for the project and will explain if you are interested (and have time and patience).

 

g)    Forum funding

RT (Forum Treasurer) explained that he had approached council officers regarding submitting an application for a grant.† The next round of funding becomes available in the autumn and RT has been put on the mailing list to be advised when the period for applications opens.

 

The Forum currently requires around £120 per year to operate.† This is the cost of room hire plus website hosting fees.

 

h)    Library User Group appealing for new members

The staff in the library in Highams Park (official known as "Hale End Library") organise a User Group comprising residents and staff which meets around 4 times a year.† This Group helps to steer the operation of the library and forms the basis for consultation on new features and activities in the library.† The group is keen to ensure that the library, as a valuable community facility, is well used at all times for all manner of community activities (not just book lending).

 

The group is keen to have new members.† If you would like to get involved (the commitment of time is very small), please email MP and he will put you in contact with the organisers of the group.† The next meeting is Monday 11th August 2014 at 6.45pm.

 

Attendees noted that the gardens outside the library have been in need of attention for some time with some "giant weeds" growing out of the otherwise attractive shrubs.† OS has contacted both library staff and Greenspace but both have stated that the beds are not their current responsibility.† †MP agreed to raise this issue at the next Library User Group meeting.† Attendees expressed disappointment that it was necessary for residents to escalate this issue since staff must walk passed it each day.

 

i)      Forum's notice board in library - Temporary relocation

The Forum has temporarily given up its notice board in the library to give space to a summer reading project for children.† The Forum has a small notice on a separate board until the autumn when the main board will be reinstated.

 

The Forum was kindly consulted on this by library staff and was pleased to help.

 

j)     Selwyn School building works

No more news is available on the proposed rebuilding of Selwyn Primary School.† The last news was reported on the school's newsletter of 16th May 2014.† Newsletters are published each week during term time here:

 

http://www.selwynprimarywaltham.co.uk/topic/newsletters† (Then click the "newsletters" link)

 

The Forum was pleased to note that Selwyn achieved an Ofsted rating of 2 (Good) in its latest inspection.

 

k)    Planning Applications (updates):

                        i.            Block H Housing on the Tesco site (originally planned for medical centre)

This development is now in progress.† Despite presentations and letters from Forum members stating that the development was too dense with too little parking provision, planning approval was given.† A letter to Tesco following the approval has not caused any change of plan.

 

The Highams Park Plan will seek to impose restrictions on housing density in the future to prevent this becoming a benchmark.

 

Attendees reported that the electronic CPZ permit scheme in place in the rest of the Tesco development was being criticised by residents there.† It was hard for residents to spot illegally parked vehicles because there were no permits on display.

 

                       ii.            Traffic calming proposals for Larkshall Road

This has now been implemented (with some slight changes since the original consultation).

                     iii.            Ex-Focus site

Forum members have written in with objections to this proposal on a number of reasons including insufficient screening, proximity to the road and housing, and insufficient employment opportunities in land zoned as employment.

 

It is understood that the borough tree officer has also objected due to the proposed removal of trees.

 

10)     Any other business

a)    Flower Troughs and pedestrian/traffic visibility

The Forum supports the installation of the flower troughs on the road barriers near junctions.† These are a most welcome sight but some care needs to be taken in the exact location of each trough.† Attendees 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.† The meeting asked MP to ask Cllr Marion Fitzgerald if she would request that officers look at the location of the troughs and adjust as necessary to reinstate safe sight lines.

b)    Station Cleaning

Members have reported that station booking office staff are now required to take (some) responsibility for cleaning the station.† This work was previously undertaken by independent cleaning staff.† It is not known if the independent staff are still involved and if so what is the split of responsibilities.† Whatever the case, attendees report a perceived drop in the standard of cleanliness.

 

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 15th September 2014 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.

 

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