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 10th March 2014 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Roger Torode, Trevor Calver, Oona Kelly, Mary Dunhill, Richard Owen, Gordon Turpin, Lisa Herbert, Chris Holmes, Jeff Beaton, Ian Pleasance, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Roger Gillham, Mary Wilson

Apologies:

Graham Reeve, Anne Haines, Nicolas Haines, Alina Harris, Cllr Paul Braham, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Cllr Sheree Rackham, John Kear, Isabel Saville, Danny Hunt

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

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

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 27th January 2014

CH noted that 3 out of the 4 speed reactive signs in The Avenue were now not working.† One of these had been hit by a large vehicle and had rotated on its pole.†† RO volunteer to report this.

 

3)         Election of Forum Officers

Officers were elected as follows (for a term of one year):

Chair:

Oliver Shykles

Deputy Chair:

Graham Reeve

Secretary:

Mike Payne

Treasurer:

Roger Torode

 

RT reported that the Forum currently had around £200 in the bank and the rate of spend is about £120 a year, this being 8 meetings at £10 (room hire) plus website fees of around £40.† OS suggested that "fund raising" (or "seeking a grant") should be added to the agenda of the next meeting.

 

4)         The Highams Park 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 well over 300 members.

 

GT gave a brief summary of progress so far.† 11 Topic Working Groups (TWGs) have been formed (comprising over 100 active residents) to focus on 11 key subject areas.† The groups are now meeting regularly in pubs, halls and houses to develop ideas and actions.

 

The work of the groups is fed into a Coordinating Committee which pulls the groups' output together to form the plan.

 

GT emphasised that new members wishing to get involved are always welcome and should contact the group via its email address: highamsparkplan@gmail.com.† More details of the Planning Group and the makeup of the TWGs can be found by clicking "The Highams Park Plan" link on the right hand side of the home page of the Forum's website (www.highamsparkforum.co.uk).

 

The TWG for "Health and Medical & Facilities for the Elderly" is a little under resourced so anyone tempted to join that group would be particularly welcome.

 

The Group has applied to LBWF to be formally recognised under the "Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012". A full public consultation is currently in progress so the council can confirm that the Group has the support of residents.† The Group would obviously like LBWF to receive as many positive responses as possible to add to its credibility.† This consultation ends 24th March 2014.† If you would like to express your support for the group (or not) it is easy to do online via the council's website.† Please follow this link and read down the page:

http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/Pages/ServiceChild/neighbourhood-planning.aspx

 

If you don't have internet access and would like to contact the Group, "V&A Books and Gifts" (in The Avenue opposite the station) are assisting by housing 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.

 

5)         Highams Park Day 2014 (Saturday 12th July)

The date has been set for Highams Park Day 2014 as Saturday 12th July, and attendees agreed that the Forum should have a presence at the event.

 

A brief discussion ensued but it was agreed that an item should be put on the agenda of the next meeting to plan the nature of the Forum's exhibition in more detail.

 

It was generally felt that last year's tent arrangement worked well (MPs green gazebo joined to MDs red and white gazebo).† MP & MD stated that they were happy to lend the same tents this year.

 

OK offered to provide bunting.† The suggestion of an "I love Highams Park" theme was popular.† The idea was to encourage visitors to write comments about things they liked on post it notes and stick them on a large map.† An update on the signal box refurbishment (with photos) was also popular.† An exhibition of photos of good front gardens was also a possibility (see 12a below).

 

6)         Information Received

a)    Broadway Island Planting.

Background: "The Broadway Island" is the long paved area that effectively turns The Broadway, in the shopping area, into a short dual carriageway.  An idea was suggested by a number of residents attending the Highams Park Forum's display at Highams Park Day 2013 to plant trees along this island.† A row of small, two dimensional, espalier trees had been suggested.† MP submitted a proposal for ward forum funding for the project in September 2013, but (as was explained at the last meeting) the application was lost by council officers.† Despite this, some limited funds were allocated to the project but it was unclear if the funds would be sufficient since estimates for the work had not been available at the time the funds were allocated.

 

This week, MP has received some unprompted and positive communications from council officers who are looking to push the project forward.† They were seeking more detail so proper estimates could be obtained.† This will hopefully yield some alternative approaches (both in terms of cost and end result) for consideration.

b)    Public Art Strategy

Background: This relates to a proposed Public Art installation for the shopping area paid for from S106 monies resulting from the Tesco development.

 

A short list of three artists has been created and their ideas will be exhibited in Hale End Library (aka Highams Park Library, on the corner of The Avenue and Castle Avenue).† Residents will be asked to comment on the proposals.† The event takes place on Wednesday 19th March from 6pm to 8pm in the library.† The publicity says: "Come and meet the artists, see their proposals and talk to them about their ideas".† If you are unable to attend on the day, the proposals will be on display until Saturday 22nd March for people to leave comments

c)    Library survey

Background: 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.

 

OS was pleased to report that 131 responses have been received so far.† A lot of these had come via the online "survey monkey" version of the survey.† OS noted that the number of responses from people under 24years old was very low and he was now looking to try to get the schools more involved.

d)    New dog control orders

Background: The Forum had seen some new "Dog Control Orders" issued by LBWF.† Unfortunately it was not easy to determine what impact (if any) they will have on Highams Park.† The documents define optional powers across the borough but the exact locations where they will be applied have not been seen.

 

Cllr Fitzgerald has sought clarification from council officers and it reveals that no material changes impact dogs in The Highams Park (the open space next to the lake).† Dogs can still be exercised freely off the lead but owners can be requested to put dogs on leads if they are causing problems.

e)    Handsworth Surgery non premium phone number

The Forum's attention was drawn to an article in the online Waltham Forest Guardian.† The article reports that: "A freedom of information disclosure shows Handsworth Medical Centre, in Handsworth Avenue, Highams Park, makes nearly £500 a month from its 0844 number".

The number in question is: 0844 3878525

 

The article also notes that a normal local rate number is available for the surgery.

This number is: 020 3006 9216.† Attendees reported that they had used this local rate number without major problems.† They noted that sometimes it goes through to the normal electronic queuing system but sometimes it is engaged and you have to try again.

 

The full version of the article can be read by following the link below:

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/wfnews/11025627.Patients_subsidise_surgery_costs_through_premium_rate_line/

 

The surgery has also made its own statement on the subject.† This can be read at the foot of the following web page:

https://www.nhs.uk/Services/gp/Overview/DefaultView.aspx?id=36214

 

f)     Outdoor gym in the park?

"The Highams Park Trim Trail" has now been installed in The Highams Park.† The specification of the equipment is for young people up to 14yrs.

 

Attendees were still confused over the proposal for "a gym in the park".† It is understood that The Friends of The Highams Park had put in a proposal (to Hatch Lane Community Ward Forum) for adult gym equipment in the park.† Attendees were not clear if the young people's Trim Trail was a mistake or in addition to some Adult equipment which might be being installed in the future.

 

Consulting the LBWF web page for the Ward Forum does not help since it is several months out of date (it says "Next meeting 20th January 2014").

 

The meeting asked MP to ask Cllr Fitzgerald if she could seek clarification.

 

g)    Highams Park will be featured in the next edition of West Essex Life

The Forum has been advised that Highams Park will feature in the next edition of the glossy magazine "West Essex Life".

 

h)    Rumour of plan to rebuild Selwyn Primary School

A resident contacted the Forum with some information that suggests an idea is being considered to rebuild Selwyn Primary School in Selwyn Avenue.† It is understood that this is not at the stage of being a formal proposal but it is reported that test bore holes have been drilled in the playground.

 

The meeting asked MP to ask Cllr Paul Braham to seek detailed clarification of any plans.† Attendees stated that they would like the opportunity to influence plans at an early stage rather than being presented with a "fait accompli".

 

One attendee suggested that the Forum should encourage redevelopment of the Selwyn Avenue site for housing and then use the money generated to build a new school on the former Focus site on Larkshall Road.† It was suggested that better ease of access, with the proximity to green space, made the Focus site a better location.† Several members agreed that this plan had merit.

 

Another attendee expressed a desire to create some green space on the Selwyn Avenue site if it was redeveloped.

 

However, the person who contacted the Forum in the first place was concerned about the possible loss of the old school buildings and was keen to see them used as-is.

 

It is clear that the subject needs a full debate so that the Forum can reach a consensus view.† It was agreed that this should take place as soon as the detailed clarification is available from Cllr Braham. MP will add to the agenda for the next meeting.

 

7)         Handsworth Ave / Castle Ave - One way system proposal

Several years ago the idea had been proposed that traffic flow could be eased by creating a one way system involving Handsworth Avenue, Castle Avenue, and a small part of Church Avenue.† At the time, opinion was strongly against such a proposal

 

A Forum member requested that the Forum debate the issue again to see if views were still the same or had shifted with time.

 

Attendees debated the issue and strong feelings were expressed against such a proposal; highlighting road safety, pollution, and inconvenience to residents simply to assist those who were essentially "rat running".

 

A vote was taken of those present.† The vote was unanimously against the idea of a one way system, with no votes "for" and no "abstentions".

 

8)         Suggestion to create a crossing for cyclists and walkers over Chingford Lane

A resident has emailed the Forum with a suggestion for a crossing for cyclists and walkers using the foot/cycle path over Chingford Lane (between the junction with Lichfield Rd and The Avenue).

 

The following link displays a map with an orange arrow indicating the location of the proposed crossing.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=539328&y=192779&z=106&sv=539328,192779&st=4&ar=y&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf&dn=825&ax=539328&ay=192779&lm=0

 

Although attendees general supported the idea of some sort of safe crossing at this point they could see some problems with installing a full zebra crossing.† Attendees were reluctant to propose additional "street clutter" in an otherwise green and rural looking location.† It was anticipated that there would also be a problem creating the necessary hard waiting area on the north eastern side of Chingford Lane because of the presence of a deep ditch and since this would be encroaching onto protected Epping Forest land.

 

A compromise solution drew approval:† Perhaps some signage and road markings could warn motorists that this was a regular crossing point without the need for a full scale zebra crossing.† The Corporation of London might be persuaded to create a short section of hard path (according to its usual standard of compacted sand/gravel for horse rides) on the north eastern side of Chingford Lane.† This area is usually boggy and creating a short path would ease the passage over the boggy part and give people somewhere to wait for a gap in the traffic.

 

MP agreed to ask Cllr Fitzgerald if she could ask council officers to look at the location and offer a practical proposal.

 

9)         Signal Box: Update & suggestions for use of Signal Box Association's £2,600

Dennis Swain of Dendale Construction reports that they are making good progress on the refurbishment of the Signal Box (next to the level crossing) although work has temporarily slowed of late since staff have been diverted to deal with a high volume of work received by the firm dealing with storm repairs throughout the area.

 

Progress is reported as follows:

         Stripped out all the various redundant items

         Installed the sub floor timbers & covering boards to the ground floor which will be tiled.

         The Stair case is in now giving safe access to the top area.

         Some of the window frames have been taken out for remaking as rotten beyond repair.

         New external door frames and doors soon to be installed.

         Electrical installation soon to be installed following strip out and new sub main having been done.

         Heating soon being installed.

         The rear outside area being tidied & prepared as a small courtyard garden.

         The ground floor drains are being fitted and a new toilet constructed under the stairs.

         Various other structural repairs now completed

 

When the basic work is complete and it is safe for visitors, Dendale say they will gladly arrange viewings.

 

As stated in the minutes of the last Forum meeting, the treasurer of the Signal Box Association has informed the Forum 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.

 

Attendees felt that decisions about how this money could be best used to enhance the final appearance of the box should not be taken until the above mentioned viewing had taken place.† However, some initial suggestions were:

         Lockable Public Notice board on the base of the box facing people waiting at the crossing barriers (Dennis Swain has already kindly agreed to administer the notice board if it was installed).

         Some decorative external lighting.

         A decorative "Highams Park" sign in the style of the original signal box sign.

         Some historical displays inside the box showing the box and its surroundings throughout its life.

 

10)     New Planning Applications

a)    Improvements to the Bus Stops on The Avenue

A consultation is in progress regarding proposals for improvements to numerous bus stops in The Avenue.† These changes include new road markings to define the bus stopping area (and restrict parking) and raised curbs to make it easier for people to get on and off the bus.† The original end date for the consultation has been extended at the request of Cllr Fitzgerald and is now 20th March.† Work is expected to start 24th March.

 

b)   Merge 4 of the retail units fronting Larkshall Rd and to change the use

There is a proposal to merge 4 of the A1-A3 retail units fronting Larkshall Rd (under Tesco) and to change the use to either D1 [veterinary practice] or D2 [gymnasium].

 

Although disappointed that traditional retail businesses could not be found, attendees did not have a problem with this proposal.

 

11)     Updates:

a)    Planning Application:† New housing on the Tesco site (location originally planned for medical Centre)

The Forum has been advised that "lack of availability of school places" is not usually accepted as a reason for rejecting a planning application.

 

On 3rd February 2014 GR wrote to the council with a comprehensive and technical response demonstrating why the planning application should be rejected by the planning officers.

 

The HP Planning Group has also sent a comprehensive response objecting to the proposals.

 

We understand that the planning application was recommended for refusal by officers and was due to go to Planning Committee on 4th March. †It was subsequently deferred to allow more discussion with the applicant.

 

b)    Planning Application:† Larkshall Road - Traffic Calming Proposals

No new information available

 

The Highams Park Planning Group (Transport TWG) has written a comprehensive and technical response to the planning department highlighting problems and weaknesses with the proposal and concludes, regarding the measures, that "it cannot be expected that they will make a significant difference to speeds and safety".

 

c)    Planning Application:† Lake & Dam works consultation† (Feedback from drop in Mon 24th Feb)

Several members attended the second drop in session on Monday 24th February (the first session having been on 10th December) where the Corporation of the City of London and its consultants showed its latest 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.

 

The plans had been changed following the first drop in session in response to feedback received.† The most significant change was the retention of the existing boathouse (originally to be demolished).

 

Attendees filled in comment forms and there were various opinions about the pros and cons of the proposal.

 

Work has already started, clearing the trees necessitated by the proposal.

 

d)    High level graffiti next to signal box

Council officers have now tracked down the owner of the property bearing the graffiti.† Officers report that the extra time taken now means that the owner "will have to pay the full cost of covering or removing the graffiti to his property and arrange access to the side of his property and not LBWF".

 

The owner has obtained quotes for the work to be carried out but due to the unusual weather was delayed.† Officers are pressing for the work to be completed by the end of March.

 

12)     Any other business

a)    "Good front gardens" event

OK presented the idea for some form of event to promote good front gardens, photographing and publicising the good ones (with the permission of their owners).† Photographs could be displayed on the Forum's website and perhaps at Highams Park Day.

 

This idea was well received.

b)    Displaced aerial

MD had noticed that an aerial used by Network Rail had been displaced on its mast by recent weather.† She agreed to contact Alan Neville of Greater Anglia.

 

13)     Action List: Review of outstanding items

The action list was reviewed and updated.† Copy distributed separately from these minutes.

 

Some of the actions are being pursued via the LBWF Transport Liaison Committee.† RT and OS agreed to share the responsibility of representing the Forum at this meeting.

 

14)     Items for next agenda

      Fund raising (or "seeking a grant").† Forum funds will run out in 2015.

      Planning for the Forum's participation Highams Park Day 2014

      The future of Selwyn Primary School

 

15)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 28th April 2014 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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