Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcome & Introductions
Graham Reeve (vice chair) chaired the meeting for the first 3 items on behalf of Oliver Shykles who was delayed. Oliver Shykles (chair) took over for the remaining items. Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 10th September
There were no matters arising.
3) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was reviewed and updated (distributed separately from these minutes).
4) Potential redevelopment of the All Saints Church site
Attendees were aware, from a recent meeting at the church (open to the public), that the Parochial Church Council (PCC) is exploring the possibility of redeveloping the site of the church and the church hall in Church Avenue, Highams Park. The site does not include the adjacent vicarage or its garden. At this point in time no planning application has been submitted to Waltham Forest council and the PCC is seeking feedback from residents and parishioners. The proposal is to demolish all buildings on the site (i.e. the church, the church hall, and the connecting buildings) and rebuild a new church with a community space in its basement in more or less the same location as the current church. In the space occupied by the current church hall, 17 alms houses (flats) would be built. This could extend to 25 flats if the owner of the adjacent bungalow participated in the scheme.
There has been much local disquiet about the proposal and an online petition has been started by people against it.
It is understood that some of the motivation to put forward this proposal is:
· The church hall needs significant building work soon.
· The church will need building work in the future.
· Grants are available for developers of affordable housing (such as that included in the proposal).
It is understood that the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) has written to the church stating that it will object to the application if it is submitted to the council.
The Forum discussed the proposed scheme and agreed to wait until a formal application is submitted to council. If and when an application is submitted, the Forum would then review it and agree a course of action.
Some attendees had been told that, because of the strong support shown by residents for the existing church building, the PCC was now looking at all options.
5) Agree Forum dates for 2019 and discuss how to resolve the potential issue with the venue
MP circulated a list of proposed dates for HP Forum meetings in 2019. The list was agreed by attendees.
After a short debate it was agreed that the venue for the meetings should remain as being The Selwyn Lounge at All Saints Church despite the possibility that the building may be redeveloped in 2019 (see item 4 above). MP was asked to book the room now for the agreed dates.
It was also agreed that MP should pay (now) for all the meetings in advance as previously agreed. In the event that the site is developed in 2019 it was acknowledged that the Forum may need to request a refund for any dates where the room is not available.
In the event that the Selwyn Lounge becomes unavailable, attendees suggested that the rooms above the Library should be considered as an alternative. It was noted however that the church had been very generous in setting the rent for the Forum and that the Library would be more expensive. Current Forum funding would not cover using the Library rooms for many meetings.
6) Temporary closure of La Boite (the signal box)
Attendees expressed concern over the extended temporary closure of La Boite, the café operating out of the refurbished signal box at the level crossing. The Forum was active in saving the signal box from demolition and set up The Highams Park Signal Box Association to work towards its long term protection. The Association was instrumental in brokering a deal between Network Rail and the current leaseholder of the box.
It is understood that the leaseholder and Network Rail are in dispute over responsibility for repairing drains.
GT and RT (on behalf of the Signal Box Association) have been attempting to contact the leaseholder to assist in the resolution but have received no response. They are now approaching Network Rail at a senior level.
The Association have some funds in hand which could be used to assist in any renovation works.
7) Waltham Forest News - proposal for monitoring delivery
Waltham Forest News (WFN), the free newspaper published by LBWF, is intended to be delivered free to all households in the borough. "WFN deliveries" has been a common topic at numerous Forum meetings. Because the paper does not only contain news but also official announcements (e.g. planning, road changes, grants, etc.) this can sometimes have a big impact, because parties can be left in the dark about changes/opportunities and miss relevant deadlines. At the last Forum meeting it was agreed that the Forum should take a lead on monitoring deliveries and reporting failures.
Cllr Tim James has obtained the distribution schedule up to the end of 2019 and has supplied this to MP. MP will distribute to Forum members. The service level that officers have agreed with the distributor is not yet known (i.e. how quickly is the distributor contracted to deliver the papers?). It would be helpful to know this so we can definitively know how long to wait before considering a delivery as "missing". Since all editions are dated as a Monday, the meeting agreed that it was reasonable to assume that if a copy of WFN was not delivered by the Wednesday evening of the same week, it can be considered to be missing.
OS agreed to coordinate reporting failures to officers so Forum members with missing WFNs should email OS. MP will send the dates to Forum members and will explain the agreed procedure.
Cllr James is also getting back to officers to request clarity regarding the service level agreed with the distributor.
At the time of the meeting (Monday evening) attendees reported mixed fortunes regarding the latest issue. Some received issue 214 (dated 22nd October) one day early (Sunday) but some had not yet received it.
8) Banners on railings at The Avenue & Hale End Road: Font too small to read without standing in the road
JB highlighted an issue with some of the large temporary banners erected by the council on the railings at junctions. The banners are angled to be read from the road (rather than the pavement) but have information which is too dense, and in too small a font, to be read by a moving vehicle.
Attendees wondered if the artwork was originally designed for a small poster, to be read close up by pedestrians, and had just been reused to create a banner.
It was suggested that banners on the barriers on the bends in front of Beaut and the Millennium Clock are dangerous and distracting for drivers.
OS agreed to explain the problem to the Head of Comms, and asked people to send him photos of offending banners so he could show some examples.
9) Transport & Street Scene
a) Highams Park Station sometimes not open in time for the first train
The Forum is aware that on at least 3 occasions this year (there may be more) the station has not been open in time for passengers to catch the first train of the day. In these circumstances people have been seen walking down the line from the level crossing in order to get to the platform.
Roger Torode has raised the matter with the train operator but they were only aware of one occasion where there was a problem. OS will email RT with the 3 dates.
b) Tesco sign, odd wording: "Please turn off your ignition if leaving your vehicle."
IT showed attendees a photo of the sign in the Tesco car park intended to reduce pollution from idling engines. The sign is worded strangely. It says "Please turn off your ignition if leaving your vehicle." This rather misses the point; the issue is with people staying in their cars and leaving the engine running (perhaps to supply the heater or air conditioning). There are very few people who would leave their cars with the engine still running. Cllr Rosalind Doré agreed to raise the issue to Tesco.
c) Update: EV charging point strategy
At the last Forum meeting, attendees noted the arrival of the Polar EV changing point outside shops in The Broadway. Although the meeting was generally positive about the provision of charging points, there were mixed feelings about its chosen location because of its potential impact on passing trade for the shops. Attendees wanted to understand the long term strategy for the roll out of electric charging points, including the reasoning for the precise locations being chosen (e.g. town centre vs side street), so they could comment and contribute.
Cllr Tony Bell & Cllr Tim James have both sought out information on the subject which MP now summarised to the meeting.
The council is creating a strategy document but it is not yet ready for publication. They are taking account of a document created by TfL called "Electric vehicle charging infrastructure: Location guidance for London". This can be read by following this link:
A council officer explained as follows:
"Before installing the charge points we did go through the standard council processes to agree this location. It is strategically an important location as it helps to provide good coverage across the borough, we know there is demand and it is in a visible location as we need people to be aware that there is charging infrastructure available to promote and enable the shift to EVs.
I have also visited the charge point in the Highams Park station carpark - this is not borough land therefore we cannot install or maintain equipment there. However I will contact the charge point company and see if there is any way that they can work with the landowner to bring it back into use.
With regards to moving the charge point, there is a long process to go through to get these in and it is not possible to move them once installed."
OS regularly walks past the new charging point and stated that it was being used regularly and that on at least one occasion he had seen two cars using it at once. Fears that it might be white elephant seem to be unfounded.
Cllr Bell raised the issue of the charge point in the station cark park with the charge point operator. They were also not sure who owns the land and therefore who has maintenance responsibilities. He agreed to chase them up for any updates.
d) Update: Rubbish bags on the pavement - A shop resident's perspective
In the shopping centre, the premises above the shops often don't have anywhere to store wheelie bins and even if they did they could not leave them on the pavement for collection because they would obstruct pedestrians. As a result, a special collection regime operates for these premises across the borough. The residents must put their rubbish in plastic bags and leave them on the pavement edge between 6am and 9am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Bags left at any other time are liable to a £150 penalty.
The Forum has been very critical of the scheme over recent years because the bags are often broken open by foxes and the litter distributed around the town. Approaches have been made to council officers to encourage prosecution of residents who appeared to be exacerbating the problem by putting out bags at the wrong time/day and therefore left them open to fox attack for long periods of time.
However, at the last meeting the Forum heard of the problem from the perspective of a resident living above a shop. They had received an unwarranted fine. They had put a bag out at the correct time but it was not collected. An enforcement officer then saw the bag and deduced it had been put out at the wrong time and fined the resident.
A meeting was arranged by Cllr Marion Fitzgerald with council officer Chris Georgiou to examine the problem on site. The residents attended, together with Cllr Fitzgerald and MP (to represent the Forum).
This meeting highlighted the following:
· It is currently impossible for a resident to prove they have put a bag out at the correct time.
· It is currently impossible for council officers to prove that a resident has put a bag out at the wrong time (hence making enforcement difficult).
· It is currently impossible for the waste collection crews to prove that they did not miss any bags.
· Council officers tend to believe the collection crews (despite the assertions of the residents) when they tell them that no bags were left uncollected. Whilst no one is questioning the honesty of the collection crews, it must be hard for them to be so certain since a bag could easily be out of line of sight because of the presence of street furniture (bins, comms cabinets etc.).
· In some circumstances, where the resident has rear storage space and access can be given to council operators, it might be possible to use wheelie bins instead of this troublesome regime. This appeared to be the case in this specific instance and Chris agreed to explore further.
It was suggested that if collection vehicles had CCTV cameras on the rear they could record the state of the street after collection thereby providing the necessary evidence of guilt or innocence. Cllr Doré thought that some vehicles had this.
Recent emails show officers actively taking forward the use of Wheelie bins in the specific location if the other residents in the shops agree.
e) Update: Relocation of bins at the entrance to Signal Walk (for new large street tree)
GT & AH obtained ward forum funding for the installation of a large street tree on Larkshall Road at the entrance to Signal Walk (next to Tesco). Ultimately it is hoped to have a circular bench round the tree mimicking a tree with a bench which used to occupy the site many years ago.
GT has been told that it is hoped that it will be possible to install the tree in time for the Xmas events in Signal Walk.
However, the location is currently occupied by 3 unsightly bins: On bright yellow TRAID bin, one solar rubbish bin and one traditional rubbish bin.
GT has liaised with council officers to relocate the bins. Officers have been very helpful and are relocating the bins as follows:
· TRAID - move to further along Larkshall Road.
· Solar bin - move to the Broadway
· Traditional bin - move next to the Notice Board (with its back to the greenery) where it won't be in the way of the tree.
f) Update: Removal of unwanted phone boxes
At previous meetings attendees expressed a desire to have removed some unattractive phone boxes which were now regarded as unnecessary street clutter. The ongoing need to have some public phones available was acknowledged.
Attendees discussed progress on getting the unwanted boxes removed. There are six public phones in the Highams Park area. Their current status is listed below (the numbers have been allocated by the Forum to facilitate discussion):
· #1 - Shoulder height booth outside the library [ Owner = BT ]
GT stated that BT are due to remove this by March 2019. This was not requested by the Forum but attendees did not object to the proposal.
· #2 - Glass phone box painted black in The Avenue, opposite the station [ Owner = New World/Clear Channel ]
The removal of this was requested at HP Forum meeting of 22nd January 2018. Cllr Fitzgerald agreed to take forward and is awaiting Clear Channel contact from Cllr Doré.
· #3 - Shoulder height booth by the clock tower near the station [ Owner = BT ]
No request to remove this.
· #4 - Shoulder height booth on the north side of The Broadway [ Owner = BT ]
Removal of this was recommended at a ward walk. The Forum meeting of 10th September supported its removal. Cllr Doré is taking this forward. BT have agreed to do it but have not given a date.
· #5 - Glass phone box painted black on the north side of The Broadway [ Owner = New World/Clear Channel ]
The removal of this was requested at HP Forum meeting of 22nd January 2018. Cllr Doré is taking this forward and was told at the beginning of September that this would be removed "in 8 weeks". This time has passed so Cllr Doré has chased it up but has not yet received a response.
· #6 - Glass phone box painted silver & black outside the Royal Oak Pub [ Owner = BT ]
No request to remove this.
GT also advised the meeting that the Council have been requested to remove the broken telephone exchange box on the north side of The Broadway (next to phone box #4) which is now only a receptacle for litter.
10) 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 any planning application, including plans and any decision documents, you need to visit the council's website here: http://planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/application-search and enter the relevant application id. that is shown below.]
a) Fairview Homes proposals for the Naseberry Court site (2, Merriam Close, E4 9JQ)
In November 2016 outline plans were submitted for this site seeking outline planning permission. The proposal was for 48 residential units. In March 2018 the developer commenced a consultation of local residents regarding a new proposal which incorporates 118 residential units. Details of the proposal can be seen here: www.fairviewnaseberrycourt.co.uk
Fairview submitted a planning application for the new proposal under application id: 182249.
Planning Committee granted planning permission for this application at their meeting of 9th October 2018.
IT noted that the plans include the provision of EV charging points. These will be operated by purchasing tokens and IT understands that non-residents of the development will be able to use the charging points.
11) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
GT, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG), gave a brief update on the progress of the development of The Highams Park Plan.
The Plan has essentially been complete for some time but has been going through a number of review processes by external bodies. These have just completed and there are no outstanding issues. The HPPG will now give the Plan and its supporting documents one last "tidy up" and will then formally submit the Plan to the Council.
b) Update: Highams Park's Library ("Hale End Library")
The HPPG continues to work with Library staff to expand uses for the library and a working party of residents and library staff continues to meet regularly. The current action list from this working party runs to several pages and highlights the large number of projects being undertaken to improve the library and the way it operates.
This group has not had a formal constitution to-date because library officers wanted to create one that they could roll out across the borough for all libraries. A recent announcement by library management stating the intention to create "Community Engagement Boards" for every library suggests that progress is now being made, perhaps modelled on the work at our library.
c) Update: Tesco communal heating shutdown problems
Cllr Doré received the following response from Switch2 regarding the problems with the heating and hot water for the houses and flats on the Tesco development:
****** Start Quote ******
As you are aware the Highams Park development is part of a communal heating system with heating and hot water provided by a central plant room with large boilers which in turn feed to all properties on the site. When the boilers become inactive all residents will indeed be affected as with any communal heating system.
During the first half of 2018 there were indeed multiple short, but no doubt inconvenient outages. The vast majority of these outages were due to the activation of the fire alarm system on the site which in turn automatically closes down the plant room due to safety regulations concerning the incoming bulk gas supply. On each occasion our engineers attended promptly and within the service level agreement we have with Tesco stores Ltd. The boiler system was reset and supplies restored as soon as possible.
The root cause of the outages were reported to Tesco and 2 main reasons were established, 1 being youngsters smoking close to a fire alarm sensor and the second being a build-up of car exhaust fumes in the Tesco store car park area. During the summer months we understand that Tesco have carried out remedial action on the fire alarm system, fitting new sensors which are less sensitive but still deliver the required safety standard. Since this work was completed, there have been no further occurrences of these intermittent outages.
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12) Any other business
· MP received an email from a resident asking about "the broken & fenced off post by the zebra crossing by the station". Unfortunately none of those attending could picture such a post and asked MP to ask the resident to request more details of the location.
13) Items for next agenda
· The impact of the merger of Waltham Forest & Newham police ("North East Borough Command Unit")
14) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 3rd December 2018 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.