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 16th June 2014 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Trevor Calver, Jeff  Beaton, Cllr Tony Bell, Gordon Turpin, Danny Hunt, Mary Wilson, Cllr Paul Braham, Mary Dunhill, Oona Kelly, Nicolas Haines, Anne Haines, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, David Shepherd, Ian Pleasance, Keith Zakrzewski, Patrick Mannix

Apologies:

Roger Torode, Rosalind Tatum, Mark Bryant, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Steve Webb, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Graham Reeve

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.  On behalf of the Forum, OS offered congratulations to the newly elected and re-elected councillors.

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 28th April 2014

There were no matters arising

 

3)         Highams Park's Beautiful Front Gardens competition

OK described the competition she has organised for the Forum to celebrate the Beautiful Front Gardens of Highams Park.  Full details can be found on the news page of the Forum's website:

http://www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/news.html

 

The publicity states: Send in a photograph of your favourite local front garden. It could be anything from an unusual plant or feature, to a window box.  It can be your own garden, or one of your neighbours.  Please tell your neighbour that they have been nominated and I am sure they will appreciate the praise.

 

Closing date is 31st August 2014 but entries received before Highams Park Day (12th July) will be put on display in the Forum's tent at Highams Park Day. Send in your photographs to oonakelly@hotmail.co.uk

 

On Sunday 7th September, when there will be a walk viewing the beautiful gardens of Highams Park.

 

OK explained that as no funds are available there will not be a prize but certificates will be awarded. Cllr Braham suggested that Community Ward Forum money could be used next year to fund the competition.

 

OK showed a copy of the Chingford Times which had published an article describing the competition.

 

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

Highams Park Day 2014 is on Saturday 12th July.  The Forum will have its usual corner site with two joined tents.  OS asked attendees who were willing to help with the Forum's presentation to briefly stay behind after the main meeting to agree who does what.

 

MW kindly volunteered to do children's face painting.  This was very popular last year.

 

The theme for the Forum's display (as agreed at a previous meeting) will be "I love Highams Park".  MD had purchased some basket woven hearts to contribute to the display.

 

OS has commissioned some artwork from a local artist (showing local scenes) to decorate the tent and a large map.  Visitors will be encouraged to write on the map things they like about Highams Park.

 

OK volunteered to help decorate the tents (including displaying entries for the Beautiful Gardens Competition).

 

5)         Forum funds

Forum funds are now essentially exhausted.  Treasurer RT is aware of some grant opportunities from LBWF and is making an application for a grant of £500.

 

6)         Selwyn School Building works

This item relates to the proposed rebuilding of Selwyn Primary School in Selwyn Avenue.  At the last meeting of the Forum, limited information was known.  Since that time MP advised members that the school head has published more information in the school's newsletters dated 2nd May and 16th May 2014.  These can be viewed on the schools website but the relevant sections are copied below:

 

Selwyn Newsletter dated 2nd May 2014

Most parents are aware that Selwyn was chosen by the EFA as a school that qualifies for a rebuild due to the condition of the school building. We have now been informed that we will be the first school in our batch to be built, making us the Sample Scheme. This is very good news for the school because it means that our building work will start in September 2014 instead of next year, it also means that our building will be completed within the academic year 2014/2015.

 

Selwyn Newsletter dated 16th May 2014

Last Friday, we met with the team from Education Funding Agency (EFA) about updates concerning the new proposed building. At this meeting we were informed that there was a slight delay because they were still trying to find a group of bidders but also that a few had been contacted and invited to look at the school and come up with possible designs for the new building. After the bidders submit their designs, they will go through a selection process and following this process, any agreed design will be submitted to the planning. This is the only information we have at the moment, there will be another meeting in June and as soon as I have more information I will inform you and all our local residents.

 

7)         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 over 400 members.

 

GT gave the attendees a brief update on the progress of the Planning Group:

 

Around 120 members, formed into 11 Topic Working Groups (TWGs), have been busy meeting in houses, pubs and clubs to brainstorm, and add to, the ideas that were suggested at the Launch Event.  The self-imposed deadline for completing these ideas lists was the end of April 2014.

 

The Coordinating Committee then met in early May to fine tune the lists (eliminating duplication and repositioning some ideas between Groups). The Coordinating Committee then brainstormed "cross topic" and as a result contributed some additional ideas. The amended/expanded lists were then fed back to the TWGs for the next stage of the process. The Groups are now meeting to work through their lists to examine each idea in detail and agree how to progress each one. Some of the simpler projects suggested are being commenced by the TWGs for consultation and delivery as soon as is possible. In parallel with this, the TWGs are starting to expand the bulk of the ideas into practical projects and policies which will end up in the plan for Highams Park.

The Planning Group will have a stand at Highams Park Day on Saturday 12th July where residents will be able to see the work so far and give their views.

 

GT noted that the proposed project to enhance the extensive Mallinson Scout Site, and open it up more to the public, has been knocked back by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This is the site between The Charter Road and Oak Hill.  It is understood that the main reason for the knock back was lack of community involvement.  The Planning Group hope to work with the project organisers to resolve this issue.

 

Work has also commenced looking at the practicalities of providing a Café and Toilets in The Highams Park (the park beside Highams Park Lake).

 

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).

 

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.

 

8)         Updates:

a)    Abbotts Crescent Bee Friendly Garden

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.

 

Much work has already been done and the area now looks tidy and attractive but the residents want to create a Bee Friendly Garden there and applied for a grant of £250 from the Community Ward Forum.  This was approved (with strong resident support) at the Community Ward Forum meeting of 20th January 2014.  However, OK reported that the £250 has not yet been released to the residents and the whole process has become bogged down in an enormous amount of bureaucracy.  For example, council officers have asked for Child Protection Policies, Public Liability Insurance, Constitution, etc.  And most recently, officers have suggested that OK will have to spend the £250 out her personal funds and then seek reimbursement. Attendees felt that this was all out of proportion to the nature of the project. 

b)    Planning Application:  New housing on the Tesco site (location originally planned for Medical Centre)

The planning application for the site known as "Block H" has been approved by the planning committee despite numerous objections from residents.   GT had attended the meeting to speak against it.  This is a very high density development and consultation of residents was considered to be very poor.  GT agreed to right a letter to Tesco and Spenhill (Tesco's Developer) highlighting the outstanding concerns.  The meeting voted unanimously that the Forum should endorse GTs letter.

c)    Planning Application:  Larkshall Road - Traffic Calming Proposals

This item relates to the council proposal to install speed tables in Larkshall Road.  We understand that the council has decided to proceed with the installation.

 

KZ & PM were particularly concerned about this.  They both live on the section of the road between the Larkshall pub and the tennis courts.  They report that there is an existing problem at that location with the underlying structure of the road surface which causes significant vibration and shaking of their houses.  The problem has been described as "undulating concrete tables".  This has been going on for several years.  Resurfacing a few years back eased the problem but it has now returned.  They fear that the introduction of speed tables will make it worse.

 

TC has also witnessed shaking caused by large lorries on that road.

 

Numerous residents, including KZ, PM and GT (for the Planning Group), had written in objecting to the proposed installation and citing excessive vibration as one of the problems.  The answers received from the council quote figures for the expected vibration level and state that they are expected to be within acceptable levels.  However, KZ explained that the figures quoted were generic figure from TfL and were not specific to this road surface.

 

MP agreed to send members a copy of the letter received by GT from council officers responding to the objection letter sent by the Planning Group.

 

MP suggested that it might be possible for KZ to use a smartphone app to take his own local measurements and compare those to the figures quoted by the officers.

 

KZ (having lived on the road for many years) did not consider it to be a dangerous road and was puzzled by the enthusiasm of the council for implementing the scheme.  He did not believe there was significant evidence to back up the claim that it was dangerous.

 

Cllr Braham pointed out that the consultation for the scheme may have fallen into the same trap as other consultations.  The outcome is always judged based on "the opinions of those who respond".  Sometimes the number of people who respond is very small so a small, unrepresentative, minority can sway a decision which is at odds with the opinions of a silent majority.  Cllr Braham also stated that the councillors for the ward argued in favour of using speed cameras on the road rather than the speed tables.

 

DS suggested KZ & PM could contact their House Insurance Companies to see if it would materially affect premiums and if so report this financial disadvantage to council officers.

 

d)    Planning Application:  Old Focus Site

This item relates to the planned development of the old Focus site in Hickman Avenue (fronting Larkshall Road).

 

Attendees viewed the plans and artists impressions of the proposed 3 story self-storage warehouse.  Although pleased that it was not going to be a housing development, attendees prime concern was the appearance of the proposed building and the lack of screening.  Even though the thin patch of green between the site and Larkshall Road is retained, the 3 story, warehouse style building will come right up to it (unlike the original Focus building which lay back from the road because of its car park).  Attendees felt that a more elegant building should be encouraged due to its close proximity to housing (both current housing and the proposed Tesco Block H development).

 

The closing date for registering comments for or against this planning application is 20th June 2014.

 

Gordon Turpin volunteered to draft a letter of objection for MP to distribute to members in case it assists members in writing their own comments.  It is well established that individual communications from individual residents have more impact than a single letter from an organisation (which is counted as just "one" letter).

 

Further details of the proposal can be found by visiting:

http://planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/ApplicationSearch.aspx

and typing in the reference number 2014/1035

 

This will yield one search result.  Click the reference number on that result to get details of the application.  At the bottom of the details page there is a link "Open the list of documents related to this application" which leads you to full details.

 

The email address of the council officer dealing with the application is: Robert.Hewson@walthamforest.gov.uk

 

e)    Suggestion for crossing for cyclists and walkers using the foot/cycle path in over Chingford Lane (between the junction with Lichfield Rd and The Avenue)

Cllr Fitzgerald arranged a site meeting on 16th May 2014 between council officers and representatives of the Forum and the Planning Group to progress this suggestion.

 

Officers were supportive of the idea to make a safer crossing at that point and agreed with the Forum that, recognising the rural nature of the location, 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.

 

 Dropped curbs would also be required as the current need to balance on the raised curbs was dangerous.

 

It was also acknowledged that overhanging vegetation on the north side of Chingford Lane requires cutting back as it makes it difficult for people crossing from the north to see oncoming traffic.

 

The meeting took place 16th May 2014 but (despite chasing by Cllr Fitzgerald) no update has been received from council officers and no action appears to have been taken regarding the overhanging vegetation.  Cllr Fitzgerald continues to chase this matter.

f)     Parking in The Avenue

At a previous Forum meeting attendees had discussed numerous problems with parking in The Avenue.

 

MP read out an email from Chris Harrison (Traffic Regulations Manager) to Cllr Fitzgerald summarising the situation.  This is quoted below:

 

During our site meeting we discussed issues along The Avenue caused by vehicles parking wholly on the carriageway at certain locations. At this meeting, as detailed in the last two paragraphs in my email sent to you on the 15th April, it was agreed that the best way to tackle any issues would be on a case by case basis looking at the specific areas as and when residents raise particular concerns.

 

At the time we all felt that this would be a better approach rather than trying to deal with the entire road at once as proposing to take away a lot of parking spaces in an area where it is already at a premium might upset local residents.

 

In terms of road safety at the bend as you approach Castle Avenue from the station as discussed we recently proposed to convert the existing single yellow line to double yellow lines on one side of the road in order to ensure access is maintained for large vehicles such as buses, please see the attached plan. I can confirm that these works have been completed.

 

You may also recall that we discussed a request to install a disabled bay outside the row of shops opposite the station in The Avenue. We are looking to install such a bay here, however the exact location is still to be determined. Once I have this information I will be sure to let you know. Please also be aware that we are looking to install some additional short term pay by phone parking bays in Hale End Road opposite the junction with The Avenue to increase the availability of parking for shoppers in the area.

 

GT reported that the Planning Group had discovered (while interviewing shopkeepers) that the double yellow lines referred to above were having an adverse impact on business since the lines had displaced minicab drivers who were waiting for fares into the spaces usually available for shoppers.

g)    Level Crossing Road Island

GT had received a letter explaining that a crossing with a road island is to be built on the Larkshall Road side of the level crossing.  Yellow markings have been painted on the road showing the location of the island/refuge.  Attendees very much welcomed this news.

h)    Removal of high level graffiti next to signal box

DH reported that he understood that this was still being looked into.

 

GT stated that it was possible to put a charge on a property (executed when a property is sold) to reclaim historic cleaning costs like these.

 

9)         Any other business

·      Waltham Forest is currently looking for volunteer members for its new Safer Neighbourhood Board that will set policing priorities in Waltham Forest and provide independent scrutiny and challenge to the Borough's Police Command Unit.   If any members are interested in participating or would like more information, please contact MP who has full details.

·      MD noted that the Sycamore tree near the Library is in a poor state of health so if anyone sees it being cut down, then this is the reason.

·      Attendees noted that the gardens outside the library were in need of attention with some "giant weeds" growing out of the otherwise attractive shrubs.  OS agreed to email council officer Angela Thompson of the Libraries Development Team to highlight the problem.

 

10)     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.

 

11)     Items for next agenda

·      Some recent council documents have shown addresses in Highams Park as "Walthamstow" or "Chingford" without any mention of "Highams Park".  It is one of the Forum's stated aims to ensure Highams Park is recognised as a discrete area in its own right so it gets proper recognition in planning and resources.  How can this be resolved?

 

12)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

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

 

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