Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 7th March 2016
Section 9d: Loudspeakers at Highams Park Station
At the last meeting PR raised the matter of the ageing public address system at the station. This is very loud and disturbs the residents of houses close to the station. The station has a small number of old fashioned large horn speakers which are set to a loud volume to cover the whole station. A more modern system would have a larger number of smaller speakers at much lower volume.
PR explained a point that was not made clear in the minutes of the last meeting. The speakers had been in place for a very long time but had not been a significant issue until recently. Pre the TfL takeover of the line, announcements were infrequent and therefore did not cause much concern but now announcements are very regular throughout the day and are causing a nuisance. The speakers also seem to be much louder than before. PR is expecting a visit from officials (26th April) to monitor and hopefully adjust.
3) Initial thoughts on the speed hump installation process so far
Attendees noted that there seemed to be some variability in the exact shape and height of the humps. Some in Charter Road were reported to be very uncomfortable at 20mph. Those in Winchester Road were also variable: most were considered to be OK but the one near the junction with Cavendish was especially fierce. This variability is likely to spoil the desired smooth traffic flow since vehicles can be expected to speed up and slow down as their drivers get to know.
Fierce humps are known to cause vibration problems for nearby housing. The council have responded positively and adjusted humps where this is reported to them. Putting a glass of water on the window sill was suggested as a simple way to detect problems. It was noted that drainage can also be a problem if poor design blocks the gutter. This has been seen to occur especially with "tables" (less so with humps) because the tables are formed right up to the curb with no gap.
Lorries and fierce humps are obviously a bad combination. Attendees questioned whether Tesco delivery lorries were now using Larkshall Road when the planning permission for the store originally mandated the use of Hale End Road. GR agreed to ask council officers to see if the arrangements had been changed.
4) Mini Holland - Thoughts on the consultation process so far
LBWF has received £500k to spend on improvements to the road system (especially at junctions) to improve routes for pedestrians and cyclists. The scheme is known as Mini Holland and an extended period of consultation with residents is now in progress. Ideas have been sought by officers from residents and initial proposals will soon be presented.
a) Bus Stop Remodelling in Larkshall Road
Attendees were puzzled by the bus stop remodelling in Larkshall Road near the junctions of Coolgardie Ave and Hickman Ave. The bays for the buses have been removed and a cycle lane has been routed behind the bus shelter. The arrangement is far from ideal for pedestrians, potentially bringing them into conflict with cycles. It may be that the arrangement is the "least worse option"; it being difficult to achieve an ideal situation for pedestrians, cycles, buses, and traffic. The works were a surprise when they started and no one present was aware in advance that they were to take place. A number of questions were asked:
· Were residents consulted?
· When were the official planning notices displayed?
· How is this expected to dovetail into Mini Holland given that the Mini Holland Plans have not yet been agreed?
Cllr TB agreed to try to get answers to the above questions.
b) Crossing Point in Chingford Lane
The Forum, in conjunction with Cllr Marion Fitzgerald has been promoting the idea of an informal crossing point, for cyclists and pedestrians, across Chingford Lane between the junctions of The Avenue and Lichfield Road. This was first raised at the Forum meeting of 10th March 2014 and although all parties are in favour (LBWF and Corporation of London), progress has been slow for a variety of reasons. The crossing point is well used by walkers and cyclists on the north-south route through the forest.
New council officers are now looking at the proposals again with the idea of including the works under the Mini Holland umbrella. Cllr Fitzgerald, MP, and GT met with officers at the site on 19th April 2016 to explore/confirm options. The intention is not to have a formal crossing with traffic lights or Belisha beacons as these were felt to be in conflict with the forest setting. Instead, signage, road markings, dropped curbs, and hard standings on both sides would be used. In addition, it would be necessary to further cut back some vegetation to improve sight lines.
c) Delivery of Brochures
JB noted that the Mini Holland brochure for "Chingford" had been delivered to his house in Evanston Ave where as other attendees had received the "Highams Park" brochure.
d) HP Planning Group input
The Highams Park Planning Group already have a Topic Working Group who have been looking at cycle routes through Highams Park and have surveyed their members. They have injected their findings into the Mini Holland consultation.
e) Pavement Cycling
Attendees were unclear as to the current rules for cycling on the pavement. It was generally assumed that this was prohibited for adults on full sized bikes but might be allowed for young children on small bikes. The size/age limit (if it exists) was not known.
5) Waltham Forest News delivery process - Is it reliable? Could Forum monitor?
WFN is the free newspaper produced by the council, and delivered every two weeks to every home in the borough. It is published on a Monday and should have been delivered by the Wednesday.
Attendees had mixed experiences of receiving the newspapers. Some received it regularly whilst others had experiences of it not appearing. Its absence caused particular concern when an important official notice was not seen due to the newspaper not being delivered.
It was not felt to be practical for the Forum to monitor its delivery success.
OS agreed to write to the council's communications officer to alert them to the problem.
WFN can be read online at: https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/waltham-forest-news
At the time of writing the link on that page for the latest issue ("Read Waltham Forest News Online") was not working but the issue could be found under "View back issues".
6) Feedback from Community Ward Forum Meetings in March
Community Ward Forum meetings took place recently for Chapel End Ward (10th March) and Hale End & Highams Park Ward (14th March).
Meetings were considered to be interesting but would benefit by having more time allowed for residents' questions. If necessary this time might be found by encouraging some scheduled speakers to be more succinct. Cllr TB said he would try to address at the next meeting for his ward (Hale End & Highams Park).
Dates of next Community Ward Forum Meetings
Date: Wednesday 8th June 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: St. Andrew's Church, Chingford Lane, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 9QP
Hale End & Highams Park
Date: Monday 27th June 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Selwyn Primary School, 102 Cavendish Road, Highams Park, E4 9NG
Date: Monday 19th September 2016
Venue: Chapel End Infant School, 3 Beresford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4LN
7) Initial Planning for HP Forum's Exhibition at Highams Park Day 2016 (16th July)
The theme of "Selwyn School through the ages" had been agreed at the last meeting for the Forum's tent at Highams Park Day 2016. Of the attendees at this meeting only JA, OS and MP had attended Selwyn but they all promised to look for any memorabilia they had retained. Sandeep Christian was known to have some interesting items stored and it was agreed to approach him too.
Mary Dunhill (via email to MP) suggested representing old pupils on the Honours Board and perhaps a model of Concorde that could be suspended from the ceiling or stand on the table. Also perhaps the model of the R101 Airship (created by Steve Webb) for a previous year. We could include photos of sports celebrities such as Footballer Teddy Sheringham, Cricketer Doug Insole (Vice Captain of England), and the Badminton Champion, Darren Hall, and a picture of musician John Dankworth etc. etc. Mary will seek out some designs and info for Concorde.
There is one more Forum meeting before Highams Park Day. More detail and the formation of a subcommittee will take place then.
8) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
GT, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) was unable to attend but sent a brief update via email to MP:
· First drafts of the policies for the plan are now well on the way.
· Our cycling and dangerous junction surveys are being injected into the Mini Holland consultation.
· The Spring Festival on 8th May. A Major event in the park next to the lake. See publicity. Includes Vikings!
· The four coach stop has now been re-instated at Highams Park after months of lobbying by our Transport Group.
· The Halex Concert Society.....Very successful Maxwell Hutchinson evening last Friday and three concerts forthcoming during the year (see "What's on" page of Forum's website: www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/whatson.html ).
b) Public rights of way in Highams Park.
The council is responsible for maintaining a formal document known as "The Definitive Map and Statement" (DMS). The purpose of the document can be summarised as follows:
"The DMS is a legal record of the public's rights of way in one of four categories (footpath, bridleway, road used as a public path, or byway open to all traffic). If a way is shown on the map, then that is legal, or conclusive, evidence that the public had those rights along the way at the relevant date of the map (and has them still, unless there has been a legally authorised change). But the reverse is not true."
For various historical reasons and failures in record keeping over many years it has been suggested that the DMS for Waltham Forest is incomplete/inaccurate. Forum members have agreed that the Forum should be instrumental in having known rights of way in the Highams Park area included in the DMS to ensure that footpaths and cycle ways are not accidentally lost during developments.
OS stated that he continues to make progress. He is taking information provided by The Ramblers and Forum member Mike Reddy and combining them into one map. He is systematically walking the routes to record accurate GPS plots to be transferred to the map.
c) Redevelopment of Selwyn School
This item refers to the proposal to build a new school on the Selwyn Avenue site, demolishing the existing school.
The status of the planning application is currently still pending.
It is understood that this has been delayed due to intervention by Historic England (previously English Heritage).
The details of the planning application are available online on the council's website but are not that easy to find so the Highams Park Planning Group have downloaded the plans to make them easier to access. They can be viewed by clicking this link: http://highamsparkplan.org/selwyn-school-details-of-planning-application/
If you are looking on the LBWF website you need to navigate to the "Search for Planning Applications" page, enter the Application Id: 153749, and press Search. The decision will be presented on that page when it is made. All the documents, including plans, are revealed by the "Documents" button.
d) Change to 15 Minutes Free Parking
Currently, parking bays outside shops in Highams Park have the first 15 minutes free with no need to buy a ticket. This is believed to be beneficial to the shops since it makes it easy for people driving by to "pop in" for a quick shop and then move on, freeing up the bay for someone else. For longer stays in Highams Park, there is 3 hours free parking in the Tesco car park without any obligation to shop in Tesco.
Previous Forum meetings have expressed concern over what appeared to be the council's plan to remove the free 15 minutes parking in bays outside shops. A new change in regulations from central government mandates a 10 minute grace period and the council does not want this to turn the 15 minutes free period into 25 minutes free. But it would appear that common sense has prevailed and the council now plans to reduce the free period to 5 minutes which, with the 10 minutes grace, comes back to 15 minutes free.
Some residents are still unhappy about this however. The cost of changes to signage are significant and it may still not be clear to car drivers that 15 minutes is free since the sign will only refer to 5 minutes.
The matter will now be reviewed by the council's scrutiny committee on 4th May 2016. The Forum meeting reviewed the comprehensive report produced by council officers which seems to fairly summarise the concerns.
Because of a large petition from residents, after the 4th May meeting the matter will go to full council.
e) Pollution in the car park under the Tesco store
Background: At the last Forum meeting DR, being sensitive to poor air quality, reported that he believed that the air in the underground car park at Tesco might be below standard. His own carbon monoxide meter seemed to support this view so he had asked a council officer to attend to check. The officer had been unable to bring any test equipment because it appears the council does not have access to such portable equipment. However, the officer consulted the store manager and reviewed the store's electronic monitoring system which automatically turns on extractor fans if pollutants exceed a certain level. The officer was satisfied that all was operating correctly.
Attendees noted that it was not just carbon monoxide that was a potential problem but also oxides of nitrogen (often referred to as NOX) and "particulates" (the minute carbon particles that originate primarily from diesel engines). It was not easy to find reasonably priced consumer equipment to measure for these.
The meeting was very disappointed (and rather surprised) that the council did not have any portable measuring equipment to perform spot checks on the levels of these pollutants.
OK (via email to MP) fed back contact details for a project that was monitoring air quality as part of Mini Holland. Their monitors (including NOX) appear to cost £8.98 each. DR agreed to follow this up. MP will provide the details to DR.
f) Specific problem buildings & the effectiveness of the new Private Rented Property Licence
Background: This subject was discussed at length at the last meeting of the Forum. Waltham Forest Council has designated Waltham Forest as a Private Rented Property Licence Area. This means that owners of every privately rented home in the borough must apply for a Private Rented Property Licence (PRPL), to be issued by the Council, unless an exemption applies. Owners with multiple rented properties in the borough must complete an application for each property. The fee per property was £500 for 5 years but increased to £650 on 1st April 2016.
The Forum has concerns that at least one property has recently received a Private Rented Property Licence from the council despite having had a history of problems which continue to this day.
It is hoped that the registrations, and the funding received from them, should make enforcement of standards by the council easier from now on.
The Forum will continue to monitor the situation. OS has made a freedom of information request to determine how many licences have been issued, how many have been declined, and how many properties have been visited. This may assist if the Forum has a need to progress this matter further.
9) 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.
10) Any other business
a) Heavy helicopters over Highams Park in early 2016. Any insights?
Some residents had noticed "heavy helicopters" (possibly Chinooks) over Highams Park in the early part of 2016. Attendees offered a variety of possible explanations, but none of them explained why the visits peaked at the start of the year and then abated.
One interesting suggestion was that they stack over the Billet Roundabout whilst awaiting permission to approach the Middle Wallop airfield. We have no way to verify this.
b) Water Meters
JA drew attendees' attention to a map of Waltham Forest showing where a pilot project was planned to mandatorily install water meters to all properties. The map showed the majority of Highams Park to be outside this pilot area at present (except for Chapel End ward).
c) Restaurant Hygiene Ratings
Attendees noted that the Food Hygiene Ratings of restaurants had been in the news (a rating out of 5). In England, restaurants are not obliged to display their score but they have to show you if you ask. There have been calls to make displaying them mandatory (as in Wales) but some say this is unfair in the situation where a restaurant has a poor rating, does lots of work to remedy the situation, but then has to wait a long time to be reassessed.
11) Items for next agenda
None were identified at this meeting.
12) Confirm date, time for next meeting
The next meeting
will be held on Monday 13th June 2016 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn
Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.