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 24th July 2017 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Cllr Tim James, Trevor Calver, John Avis, Chris Holmes, Munish Chopra-Evans, Oona Kelly, Ian Thomson, Anne Haines, Nicolas Haines, Roger Torode, Oliver Shykles, Gordon Turpin, Mike Payne, Jeff Beaton, Robert Tatam

Apologies:

David Roper, Cllr Tony Bell, Cllr Paul Braham, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Mary Dunhill

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

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

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 12th June 2017

Re item 6d: Consider possibility of wheelie bins rather than bags for flats above shops.

OS confirmed that he had emailed LBWF enforcement officer Emmanuel Banton to explore this suggestion and will raise it specifically on the next ward walk which is scheduled for Monday 31st July at 6pm (meeting outside Tesco).

 

3)         Action List: Review of outstanding items

The Action List was reviewed and updated (distributed separately from these minutes).  Some points, worthy of mention here, are:

 

Action point A589

Signs requesting drivers to turn off engines while waiting for the level crossing to open should be installed in a couple of weeks.

 

Action point A615

In respect of the problems caused by HGVs using Winchester Road, it was agreed that the focus should now be to try to get the "B Road" classification removed from Winchester Road, thereby making it "unclassified".  This will allow HGVs to be banned (can't currently ban from a B Road) and will encourage sat navs to avoid it since their routing algorithms can be expected to favour classified roads.  This is a more satisfactory long term solution than further attempts at increasing advisory signage at all entry points (which is then ignored by drivers).  OS will investigate the process to achieve this declassification.

 

4)         Feedback from Highams Park Day (Saturday 15th July)

OS thanked the team from the Highams Park Society for all their considerable efforts in organising Highams Park Day 2017 which was considered by all to be a great success.

 

OS also thanked all the Forum members involved in creating and setting up the Forum's tent and display at the event.  A large number of visitors stopped by at the tent.

 

5)         Transport & Street Scene

a)    The Station

The meeting congratulated RT & GT on the success of their representations to TfL to modify the design of the station building works.  A particular success was the relocation of the large external motorised shutter.  This was originally installed on the outside of the brickwork where it dominated the building.  Its runners concealed the elegant curved brickwork and its motor box protruded.  This has now all been moved inside the building leaving clean external lines.  A vast improvement.

 

The new entrance is now open but the gates have not yet been activated (they are currently left open).  They will be activated in a couple of weeks' time.

 

There is concern that when the exit via the foot tunnel is closed (which will happen when the gates are activated), not only will it create considerable inconvenience for some travellers but also it will create a significant increase in passenger numbers (and congestion) using the footbridge which is already considered unfit for purpose.  RT & GT arranged a team of 8 residents to collect detailed statistics of the exit routes followed by passengers arriving from Liverpool Street for a period of 2 hours (5pm to 7pm).  The results showed that 49% used the foot tunnel exit, 26% used the footpath to Larkshall Road (via Wilton Place) and 25% used the exit to The Avenue.  The detailed statistics also show which way the traveller turned after leaving the exit so deductions can be drawn as to what his/her alternative route might be after the tunnel exit closure.  The spreadsheet containing full details of the statistics collected have been sent to TfL.

 

Initially it had be thought to be impossible to keep the tunnel exit open since there was no space to install the required automated exit gates (known as a "gate line") and the gate line would require a supervisor (making a total of 3 supervisor when the other 2 exits are considered).  Further investigation however has revealed that an additional supervisor might not be necessary (since it can be covered by existing supervisors) and it may be possible to purchase a small piece of adjacent land to make space for the gate line.  RT & GT are discussing this with TfL.

 

b)    Concerns over cycle route right turn from Nightingale to The Avenue

The minutes of the last meeting described an "on site" meeting on 18th May arranged by Cllr Fitzgerald to seek views on the current situation with the road humps (correct term is "ramps") in The Avenue.  Some residents had concerns that they were not effective in slowing the traffic and some had complained about vibrations to properties.  Attendees were Cllrs Marion Fitzgerald and Tim James, Graham Reeve and Chris Holmes, plus MP and council officer Chris Proctor.

 

After the last Forum meeting (and publishing the minutes) it was pointed out that we omitted one issue from our "on site" discussions.  This relates specifically to the new cycle route which crosses The Avenue.  The official route requires cyclists travelling north-west to use Nightingale Avenue and to turn right, uphill, into The Avenue for a short section before turning left into Abbotts Crescent.  This right turn requires the cyclist to cross the path of unseen traffic because of the proximity of the brow of a hill.  MP emailed council officer Chris Procter to add this to the results of the "on site" meeting so consideration could be given to improvements/additional signage at this junction.

 

c)    Speeding and missing speed ramps in Hale End Road (near the Royal Oak)

This item was on the agenda of the last Forum meeting but unfortunately no residents from Hale End Road attended to brief the meeting.  At the request of Hale End Road residents, the item was again placed on the agenda for tonight's meeting.  Unfortunately, again no residents from Hale End Road attended to brief the meeting.  No one present felt sufficiently informed to progress this.

 

6)         Planning & Development

a)    Redevelopment of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road) to residential

This item has been discussed at previous Forum meetings.  It relates to a planning application (dated 31st October) to develop the site of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road).  The planning ref is 163572 and proposes the development of 48 residential units of various sizes.

 

It was agreed that the Forum should monitor this.

 

Since the last Forum meeting, no decision has been noted against the application on the LBWF Planning Web Pages (but see next paragraph).

 

Note added by MP following the meeting:

Following the meeting this development proposal now appears on the agenda for the Planning Committee meeting scheduled for 1st August 2017.  The officer's report to that meeting recommends that permission be granted by the committee (with some caveats).  The agenda (and the supporting documents) can be reviewed here: http://democracy.walthamforest.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=297&MId=4314&Ver=4

 

b)    Proposed development at 428 Hale End Road, corner of The Avenue (planning ref 171712)

This is an application to alter what older residents will remember as "The Barclays Bank Building" on the corner of The Avenue and Hale End Road.  The application was submitted 8th May and the summary reads "Construction of an additional floor and three storey infill side extension to provide a mixed use scheme comprising retail (Class A1), dental surgery (Class D1) and five residential units (Class C3) comprising 4 x 1 bedroom and 1 x 2 bedroom units with communal roof garden".

 

Since the last Forum meeting, no decision has been noted against the application on the LBWF Planning Web Pages and it does not appear on the agenda of the Planning Committee.

 

c)    Development proposal at 480-510 Larkshall Road for 48 self-contained studio flats

The applicant proposes 48 self-contained studio flats in the space.  Members of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) looked at the plans in detail and were concerned about numerous aspects of the proposal including the density of the accommodation and the very small size of each unit.  It was agreed that the Forum should monitor this application closely.

 

The fate of the first application (ref 170313) was reported at the last Forum meeting.  It was refused by officers.

 

The applicant then submitted a second application dated 8th May with a new planning ref (171698) with the summary "Change of use from office use Class (B1a) to 48 self-contained flats Class (C3) (ground and first floors)".  The HPPG submitted an objection using the same arguments as for the previous application since essentially nothing appears to have changed.  HPPG also pointed out that the application overlooks the fact that part of the building is classified for D1 use (Education) and the application is therefore not valid.  The planning officer agreed with this observation and has refused the application.

 

Further applications can be expected but none have as yet been recorded on the LBWF Planning Web Pages.

 

d)    Future of the Ex-Budgens building

This will open shortly, following a major refit, as "Inside Job - Homes & Interiors".

 

7)         Development proposals for All Saints Church Hall?  Dispelling rumours

GT attended a presentation on the church's activities on 19th July and a number of questions were asked regarding the church's intentions for the church hall.  The Vicar, Steve Clarke, responded by saying that the church hall is in poor condition and needs to be replaced.  The site has been surveyed and they are now considering how to go about replacing the hall but they currently have no money for the redevelopment.

 

There are no firm plans as yet and Steve said that before any plans are seriously considered they will consult comprehensively with their neighbours

 

8)         Brief Updates:

a)    HP Plan update

Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG), summarised activities to attendees.  Key points are mentioned below.

 

The Plan itself is complete and a period of consultation for Highams Park residents took place and ended on 12th May.  The Planning Group has been making small amendments to the plan based on feedback received.  Following incorporation of these amendments, the plan will be submitted to the Council for formal review.  A significant piece of work has been to expand and clarify the "character assessments" in the plan based on feedback from residents.  These describe in detail the different character areas in Highams Park and the plan seeks to ensure that any development in a particular area will not impact the existing character.  This work is approaching completion.

 

The project to reopen the building in the park next to the lake is progressing well.  The intention is to provide a small community space, café, and toilets for the benefit of park users.  This was the most requested project by residents since the Planning Group was formed.  The planning application for change of use went before Planning Committee on 20th June and was approved.  The lease has now been agreed and work has started by volunteers on refurbishing the building.  Significant offers of help have been received from local businesses in the form of funding, materials, manpower and expertise.

 

Some interesting information relating to the history of the building has become apparent during the works.  It was known that the building served as a community centre for the prefabs in the park after WW2 but it appears that during WW2 the building was used to house an anti-aircraft gun which was rolled in and out of the building on some form of track.  The mountings for the track became visible when the building was cleared out.

 

b)    Officially Recording footpaths

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 is known that the DMS for Waltham Forest is incomplete/inaccurate.  It is important that paths are formally recorded on the DMS to ensure that they are not accidentally lost during developments.  It is understood that there is a legal deadline for updating the DMS.  If a path was in use before 1949 but is not recorded on the DMS by 1st January 2026 then the path will be deemed "stopped up".

 

The efforts by a number of interested parties to input to the map are now being coordinated by the Transport group of the HPPG.  OS, Mike Reddy and Roger Gilham from the Forum are involved with this.

 

It is hoped that there might be some left over Mini Holland money available for the work since the work seems consistent with the objectives of the Mini Holland project.

 

c)    Making Places

The Making Places scheme was reported at the last Forum meeting.  Under the scheme the council is looking for residents to nominate projects for up to £40k funding in each ward in the borough.  This money is in addition to the normal £10k ward forum monies.  The scheme is described in the website:

www.makingplaces.co.uk

 

The period for nominations has now closed and Cllr Fitzgerald reported that she had received 15 nominations for Hatch Lane Ward.  The selected nominations are expected to be announced on 7th August 2017.

 

It was noted that there had been some problems with the distribution of the issue of Waltham Forest News that contained the announcement of Making Places.  Unfortunately this might have restricted the number of residents who were aware of the scheme.

 

[After the meeting, JB asked officers how many applications had been received for Chapel End ward.  The answer was 20.]

 

d)    The Library

The Planning Group is working with library staff to set up a friends group to work with staff to increase usage of the building, not only in traditional library services but also with new and innovative ideas which will appeal to those residents not currently using the facility.   The intention of this is to ensure the long term future of this valuable civic asset.  A constitution for the friends groups has been prepared by the group and has been passed to library officers for their agreement.

 

A number of new council officers have been appointed to run the libraries and the group has had positive meetings with them.  The group has sent the officers the results of an extensive survey performed on users and non-users of the library.

 

A report on the future of libraries is being prepared by officers and will be considered by the council shortly.  It is not clear whether Hale End Library will feature in this document since, after representations by local residents, Hale End Library was removed from the consultation which is the basis for the report.

 

After the Forum meeting, Cllr Fitzgerald confirmed to MP (for the minutes) that the relevant dates for the report to be considered are:

·         Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee - 19 September 2017

·         Cabinet Meeting - 10 October 2017

 

e)    Engagement strategy post Community Ward Forums (incl. allocation of ward £10k)

 "Community Ward Forums" (CWFs) were regular meetings, chaired by ward councillors, where residents of the ward would listen to speakers on subjects relevant to the ward (e.g. the local police teams) and get the chance to raise issues with councillors and council officers.  These meetings were also the focus for assessing support for projects seeking funding from a portion of the £10k allocated to each ward for residents' projects each year.

 

The council decided that CWFs would cease at the end of March 2017 and has commissioned a report by council officers to recommend a better way of engaging with residents.  The current approach was felt to not to engage widely enough; the same small number of people seemed to attend each meeting.

 

The report has still not been published and the timetable for the work is also unclear.

 

Cllr Fitzgerald stated that a Community Ward Forum has been scheduled for Hatch Lane ward for 21st September 2017 where applications for funding from the £10k will be considered.  A venue was being sought for this and attendees suggested that The Library in Highams Park (proper name "Hale End Library") could be used.  The bookshelves roll back to create a meeting area that can accommodate 70 people.

 

9)         Any other business

a)    Poop Scoop

OK reported the regular appearance of dog poo in neat bags left in exactly the same place at the junction of Abbotts Crescent and The Avenue.  Cllr Fitzgerald agreed to approach officers to look to getting a bin installed at that location (near the flower bed and seat) and signage to encourage its use.

 

b)    Website confusion

OK expressed frustration at using the LBWF website when trying to report the above dog poo problem.  Other attendees also echoed her frustration.  The website is hard to use to report problems that don't fit into its standard categories.  It would benefit by some feedback from residents using the system so it could be improved.  Unfortunately, commenting on the website is one of the things that is difficult to do!

 

c)    Community Hub North (Ex South Chingford Library)

The meeting was disappointed to hear of the problems being faced by the charities who occupy the North Hub building in South Chingford.  One of the charities concerned is Age UK Waltham Forest and many residents of Highams Park either use their services or volunteer with them.

 

The building is what older residents will know as the old South Chingford Library building (not to be confused with the small Community Library nearby).  The council wish to redevelop the site and have given the occupants 6 months' notice but with no offer as yet of suitable alternative accommodation.  The costs (and distraction) of a move and the prospect of having to pay commercial rents elsewhere will put a major burden on charities already under financial pressure.

 

Local councillors are representing the views of the charities at the council and are trying to ensure the charities will be treated fairly if the initiative goes ahead.

 

d)    The Old Regal Cinema Building

GT reported that it was his understanding that the owner is still exploring options for the site with the Council and hopefully a proposal that works for all parties will be forthcoming soon.

 

e)    Twilight Market

Since April of this year MC-E has been running a regular Twilight Market (4pm to 10pm) in the Town Square at the top of Walthamstow High Street.  He is considering the possibility of trying something similar in Signal Walk (the paved area outside Tesco) and wanted to hear attendees' opinions.  The hours in Highams Park would probably be 5pm to 9pm and it is hoped to include local choirs and dance troupes to create an interesting evening "buzz" in the town centre.  Attendees warmly supported the idea and contributed various positive suggestions in respect of the practical steps in making it work.

 

f)     Company Registered by LBWF

JA noted that LBWF had registered a Limited company called "Waltham Forest Developments Limited".  Its company number at companies house is 10593957 and it was registered 31st January 2017.  The address of the company is the Town Hall.  The purpose of the company is not stated but attendees wondered if it might relate to item 9c above.

 

10)     Items for next agenda

None were identified at this meeting.

 

11)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 11th September 2017 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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