Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting. Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 24th April 2017
Re item 7: Abbots Crescent Garden maintained by residents. It was suggested at the last meeting that the gardening group erect a small sign to celebrate the work of the volunteers and politely warn off over-enthusiastic contractors from the council who pull up plants thinking they are weeds.
OK was pleased to report that residents have now manufactured and installed a sign.
3) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was reviewed and updated (distributed separately from these minutes). The meeting was able to close 4 points and a number showed good progress. Some points, worthy of expansion here, are:
Action point A565
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. Action point A565 relates to the Forum's efforts to have formally recorded on the DMS the rights of way and footpaths in Highams Park to ensure that they are not accidentally lost during developments.
The Forum has made considerable progress in documenting the paths and in overcoming the technical issues in digitizing them in an open format. However, little progress has been made in having these included in the DMS. It has been determined that the council has an onerous procedure in place for anyone wishing to add items to the DMS (including personally organising consultation with residents). Attendees felt that this was inappropriate since the council has a legal duty to get the DMS up to date and the Forum should be seen as assisting the council in performing this work, not actually driving it. The Forum should press the council to drive this work and not sit passively by. OS agreed to find out who has responsibility for the DMS at the council and seek with them to agree a new approach to its completion which encourages resident participation rather than discouraging it.
Attendees felt that now was a good time to revisit this issue as there might be some left over Mini Holland money available for the work, and the work seemed consistent with the objectives of the Mini Holland project.
RG suggested that he and Roger Torode (representing the Transport Group of The Highams Park Planning Group) should work on this with OS and Mike Reddy of The Forum, and David Boote of the Ramblers.
RG will visit the Vestry House Museum where he believed there was an exhibition on the subject.
Action Point 566
This item relates to rubbish bags (from flats above shops) left on the pavement on the "wrong" days so they remain uncollected and waste is distributed by foxes. A resolution for this has been pursued by the Forum for several years.
OS has now been told by LBWF enforcement officer (Emmanuel Banton) that he (EB) is responsible for applying green stickers to the bags (which are regarded as "fly tipping"). The bags are then investigated in an attempt to identify the perpetrator. The bags are then collected by the contractor. JB stated that he had met EB whilst EB was investigating the contents of the bag and was told that it was rare to find any identifying items. The Forum has not (as yet) received any information on the number of fines issued to date for the offence. It was agreed to look at an alternative solution to the problem later in the meeting under agenda item 6d below.
Action Point 610
The problems associated with HGVs using Winchester Road has been approached from a number of angles (including the recent success of improving warning signs in Wadham Road). This particular action point relates to existing signage intended to discourage the right turn of HGVs from Larkshall Road into The Broadway (and then on into Winchester Road). Is the current signage adequate? There was concern that the (one) sign was obscured and not easily seen by HGV drivers.
OS investigated and viewed the sign from various angles. At the time of the visit, the sign appeared to have been hit by a vehicle, rotating it through 90 degrees and making it invisible. He was able to rotate the sign back to its correct position and then determined that it was actually quite easily seen by HGV drivers.
Attendees then questioned whether there should be signage further from the junction (the current sign is quite close) perhaps on the central reservation at the dual carriageway section of Larkshall Road by the junction with Hickman Avenue. Such a sign would have to be in the form of a map to distinguish the Broadway right turn from the earlier Jubilee Ave turn (which is the access for HGVs to Tesco). MP agreed to create a new action point for this idea (A614).
RG noted that action A600 had been closed at the last meeting. This action investigated enforcing a blanket ban on HGVs on Winchester Road (signage currently just states "Unsuitable for HGVs") but we had been told that a ban was not possible because the road was classified as a "B" road. RG suggested reopening this action but with a new focus; to get the road declassified, so it becomes an "unclassified road" so a ban could be applied. The change would (eventually) ripple through to sat nav maps and might encourage their routing algorithms to use other, more suitable (classified) roads. MP agreed to create a new action point for this idea (A615).
4) Evening culture - New bar possibility
The Forum was asked by a new resident to Highams Park for its opinion on the idea of opening a small new bar in the town centre.
5) Forum Participation in Highams Park Day (Saturday 15th July)
It was agreed that the Forum should have a three part exhibition (one for each tent wall) as follows:
a) A historic display of Bus, Trams and Trolley Buses in Highams Park. This display is being created by RTo.
b) A historic display about the Signal Box, how it was saved from demolition, and how it has been reinvented as a Creperie.
c) A history of Hale End Library and the work of local residents to expand its use as a valuable civic building.
OK volunteered to create some bunting to decorate the tent.
It was suggested that we might invite one of the last signallers who worked in the Signal Box.
6) Transport & Street Scene
a) Feedback from meeting re effectiveness of The Avenue speed ramps
Cllr Fitzgerald had arranged an "on site" meeting on 18th May 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.
The 18th May meeting took place on The Avenue close to number 120. Attendees were Cllrs Marion Fitzgerald and Tim James, GR and Chris Holmes (who both live on The Avenue) plus MP and council officer Chris Proctor (CP).
Complaints about vibrations had been reported at the location of the meeting. The location is close to the leading edge of a wide ramp in the direction of the station. Attendees watched traffic passing over the ramp at different speeds and all thought the ramp seemed very mild and were surprised at the reported vibration problems. CP's department had already sourced vibration measuring equipment which would shortly be installed in the adjacent house to quantify the problem. This equipment was currently waiting to be calibrated.
All present conceded that the ramps did not stop determined speeders but all felt, subjectively, that overall speeds had reduced. CP will install monitors as soon as the current Mini Holland works are complete and will collect statistics to compare with those collected in 2015. Two collecting locations were used in 2015 so these same locations will also be used in 2017 but other locations, suggested by those present, will also be added.
There was no appetite by any present to increase the height of the ramps. All felt they were a reasonable compromise and acknowledged the problem larger ramps pose for bus passengers.
CP will look at resurrecting the 4 automatic speed warning signs already installed. Some have malfunctioned (hit?) but all need resetting to 25mph and the display changed from 30 to 20.
Lack of police resources (speeding is still a criminal offence) mean that The Avenue is not likely to attract speed enforcement traps because of lack of accidents. Likewise fixed speed cameras. It might be possible to get Community Roadwatch to visit.
It was noted that time of day seems to change speeding habits. Late evening, when the road is quiet, often seems to be a bad time.
It was also noted that buses can be culprits too. CP agreed to contact TfL to remind drivers.
All agreed to wait until the new stats are collected before proposing any action. These will show numbers of cars, and speeds, broken down by time of day.
b) Missing speed ramps in Hale End Road
A resident of Hale End Road had contacted the Forum, concerned about speeding in Hale End Road and commenting that the new ramps did not seem to slow determined speeders. The section between Vincent Road and the Royal Oak was highlighted and motor bikes were a particular concern. A number of accidents had occurred in recent months on that section of road. The resident noted that a speed table/crossing shown on the original plans between Studley Ave and Hollywood Way had not been included due to concerns raised by TfL.
Unfortunately, no residents from Hale End Road were present and (unusually) councillors from Hale End & Highams Park Ward were also not present. As a result there was no one who could give first-hand information about the history, the present problems, work in progress, and the viability of any proposed measures. No one present felt sufficiently informed to progress this.
One attendee, who regularly crosses the road via the traffic island near Studley Ave, noted that drivers were consistently "nice" at that location and regularly stop to allow pedestrians to cross even though it is not formally a crossing.
c) Seating outside The County Arms
The Forum had been asked by The County Arms for its opinion on the possibility of putting tables and chairs outside the pub, in Hale End Road, on the portion of the wide pavement which lies within its boundary, possibly bounded by a low barrier of some sort.
Attendees were generally supportive but were conscious of problems that had occurred sometime in the past at this location. It was felt that measures should be put in place to ensure that tables and chairs stayed where they were put and were not easy to move. Planting was also suggested to make the area attractive and also to make it a non-smoking area.
d) Consider possibility of wheelie bins rather than bags for flats above shops
Following on from the problems documented in item 3 above (action point 566), JB suggested that perhaps it was time that we look at a different way of solving the problem. Perhaps we could explore the possibility of using wheelie bins of some sort at these locations. He recognised that this was not ideal because of the problem of storing the bins on or near the pavement, but this might be the "least worse" option as compared to black bins broken open by foxes.
Attendees debated the suggestion, trying to find ways to do this in a way that would not look unattractive, perhaps using an attractive pen of some sort to store the bins. The use of shared industrial bins versus small individual bins was also discussed. OS agreed to ask LBWF enforcement officer Emmanuel Banton to explore this suggestion.
7) 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 and it has not been placed on a Planning Committee agenda.
b) Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, opening onto Castle Avenue
This item has been discussed at previous Forum meetings. It relates to a proposal to demolish half a semi-detached garage and create a small residential property on a very constrained plot at the bottom of a garden in The Avenue. The plot would open onto Castle Avenue. The development would be problematic for a number of reasons discussed at previous meetings.
A number of applications have been made, each varying the precise location and size of the property. Each has been refused to-date. The latest application was submitted 10th March and proposed a 2 storey house. The planning ref for this was 170468. The planning officer's report recommended refusal of the application and planning committee unanimously refused the application at its meeting of 2nd May. At the date of writing these minutes, no new applications have been submitted for this location.
c) 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".
Forum members are encouraged to look at the documents supporting this application on the LBWF planning web pages and comment to planning officers as necessary. It was noted by attendees that, though "artists impressions" provided seemed to show some sympathy with adjacent Edwardian styling, there did not appear to be traditional architects plan views available to make it easy to visualise the details.
d) 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.
As reported at the last Forum meeting, planning application ref 170313 for this site sought to use recent changes to planning law (intended to speed up the planning process) to apply for "Prior Approval" for a change of use for the office building to residential use to facilitate the development. After representations from HPPG and other residents, the application was refused by planning officers but the Forum noted that it was likely that the applicant would appeal and it was agreed that the Forum should monitor this application closely.
The applicant has now submitted a traditional change of use 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 has submitted an objection using the same arguments as for the previous applications since essentially nothing appears to have changed. Residents are encouraged to view the plans and send in comments as appropriate.
8) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
MP reported for Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG), who was unable to attend the meeting. A large number of projects are being pursued and are making good progress.
The Plan itself is now complete and has just completed a period of consultation for Highams Park residents. This consultation period ended on 12th May and the Planning Group is 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.
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 next key step is obtaining the necessary change of use approval from the council so building works can commence. The application has been submitted and the planning officer's report recommends approval. This will go before the LBWF Planning Committee on 24th June. Interested parties are welcome to attend the meeting.
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 is currently being agreed.
b) Cessation of Community Ward Forums
"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.
There is no plan to remove the £10k ward funding allocation but it is unclear how residents' opinions will be sought on how it is spent.
c) Forum participation in Hatch Lane day (1st July)
The Forum had been invited to attend at Hatch Lane day on 1st July. Unfortunately attendees felt that time pressures of existing commitments meant members would not be able to find enough time to prepare and attend the event.
d) Police activity
Attendees discussed some recent incidents that had required police involvement. All were being dealt with to the satisfaction of attendees. Attendees stressed the importance of reporting any incidents to the local Safer Neighbourhoods police teams. To find their contact details, use your browser to go to www.police.uk, then click on "Find Your Neighbourhood", and enter your post code.
9) Information received
a) Community Ward Forum - Hatch Lane ward.
This meeting was scheduled for 22nd June but problems obtaining a venue mean that it has been cancelled and will be rescheduled in the autumn.
b) Excess green garden waste collection - clarification
Forum members had been told that excess garden waste that would not fit into the brown bins would be collected (at the same time as the brown bin) if it was placed into plastic sacks, placed next to the brown bin and left open so the operator could see the contents. Members wondered if the procedure actually worked in practice.
Recent experiences of members reveal that this procedure works exactly as described without problems.
c) "Making Places" initiative
Cllr Fitzgerald advised the meeting of a new initiate by the council to provide up to £40k funding to each ward in the borough for resident nominated projects. This money is in addition to the normal £10k ward forum monies. The initiative is called "Making Places" and is described in the website: www.makingplaces.co.uk
There was some confusion amongst attendees regarding the details of the scheme because at the time of the meeting the website had not gone live. [The website is now live and details are there].
Closing date for nominations is Sunday 9th July 2017. Nominations can be made via the Making Places website or via a nomination form placed into a box in the Library.
d) Soho Theatre Afternoon Picnic Party 25th June 2pm-5pm
The Forum was pleased to see this event, sponsored by the council taking place in the park next to the lake. Full details available by clicking this link:
Attendees noted that the troupe are performing at just 4 locations in the borough and was pleased to see Highams Park as one of the selected destinations (the others being in Leyton, Leytonstone, and Walthamstow).
10) Any other business
There was no "Any other business".
11) Items for next agenda
None were identified at this meeting.
12) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 24th July 2017 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.