Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcome & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 29th April 2019
In respect of item 4 (Phone Boxes) it was pointed out that box #6 in the table had now been removed (outside the Royal Oak Pub). The Forum had not asked for this to be removed and had hoped it would remain. Likewise, MP visited #3 this evening to check its status (next to the Millennium clock at the station). He reported that the booth is in a sad state. It has no glass, the receiver switch needs careful waggling to get a dial tone, and when you do hear a dial tone the display shows "Emergency Calls Only". Again, the Forum has not asked for this to be removed and had hoped it would remain but, given its uncared for state, it seems likely that BT will remove it in the near future. If this is the case, then all the phones listed in the table will have been removed.
Although attendees were disappointed about the unrequested removals there was no appetite to campaign for their retention since it was felt to be unlikely to succeed.
3) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was reviewed and updated and a revised copy will be distributed separately from these minutes.
4) Highams Park Day 2019 (13th July)
OS & GT agreed to have a combined tent for the Forum and the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG). It was suggested that the displays could cover the following:
1. Introduction to the many residents' groups in Highams Park. This would be helpful for new residents.
2. The status of The Highams Park Plan
3. The Sculpture Trail
4. The IRM Plaque Project. IRM = International Reference Meridian ( see 8b below)
Members of both the Forum and HPPG will take shifts at the tent to greet visitors and answer questions.
Volunteers so far are: OS, GT, RT, MP, and DJ. HPPG will seek further from its Coordinating Committee.
OS will arrange a meeting shortly to firm up on activities on the day and in preparation for it.
5) Update: The delayed new gates for The Highams Park
Back in February 2018 the HPPG was successful in its Making Places proposal for new gates for the Highams Park (the park next to Highams Park Lake). The proposal (to be taken forward by the council's Making Places team) involved new gates at the three entrances to the park The largest of these is will be at the Henry's Avenue entrance, being ornate double gates (locked) to allow limited vehicular access for park maintenance and deliveries to Humphry's café.
Some 15 months have now elapsed and the gates have yet to be installed. Cllr Marion Fitzgerald has been chasing the work and has been informed that delays have been caused by changes in staff but welders have recently been appointed to create the gates and we can expect to hear of progress soon. It was noted that the existing gates at the Henry's Avenue entrance are now in a very bad state, being held together by cable ties. They are difficult and rather dangerous to use.
6) Transport & Street Scene
a) Update: New Trains Delay
At previous meetings of the Forum the delays in the roll out of new trains for the Chingford to Liverpool Street line have been discussed. It was originally hoped that the trains would appear on our line during 2019. The roll out schedule is due to commence with the Barking - Gospel Oak Line before commencing the larger roll out to lines including ours.
It was pleasing to see reported that the first new trains started to run on the Gospel Oak line on 23rd May 2019. This then is the start of a series of steps in a plan which will ultimately see the new trains on our line. It is however unlikely that the trains will appear here before 2020.
b) Station history board installed
RT notified attendees that History boards had how been installed in Highams Park Station; one at the main entrance and one on the Chingford bound platform. RT had provided the words and V&A Books had provided the photograph.
c) Update: Promoting installation of vehicle recharging points in Tesco car park
At the last meeting, the idea of installing vehicle recharging points in the Tesco car park was generally considered a good idea by those present and DJ agreed to write to senior management in Tesco head office with the suggestion.
DJ emailed Tesco CEO and received a positive response. Tesco are considering a general roll out of charging points to suitable car parks. The response confirmed that our Tesco car park will be surveyed and charging points will be installed if the survey shows it's practical.
d) "Twig" tree outside Tesco much improved
Last year 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). Due to various misunderstandings (between council officers and changes of staff) this project did not have a wholly satisfactory outcome. The tree was installed in December 2018 but was considerably smaller than asked for. In recognition of this, officers agreed that no charge be made for the undersized tree. The new tree attracted the nickname of "The Twig".
Attendees were pleased to note that "The Twig" was doing rather well and had put on a good crown of leaves. It now looked less twig-like.
e) Winchester Road recently blocked by buses and refuse vehicle. Suggests our action A615 needs expanding.
Action point A615 relates to problems of HGVs trying to drive along Winchester Road and the side roads that link to it from Wadham Road. Due to Winchester Road's designation as a B road (rather than "Unclassified") sat navs seem to direct lorry drivers along the unsuitable roads. The Forum and HPPG are working with Cllr Tony Bell and council officers to find solutions.
Last week it became apparent that the problems are not restricted to unfamiliar drivers using sat navs. GR observed a logjam created by a bus and a refuse lorry that blocked the road for 20 minutes. RT pointed out that 22 buses an hour use Winchester Road, usually without problems, because they know the road well.
RT volunteered to write a report (taking input from JB and GR) looking at both the sat nav and regular users problem. This can then be passed on to councillors and officers.
Action point A615 will be expanded to cover regular users.
7) 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. For appeals, the link is: https://www.gov.uk/appeal-planning-inspectorate]
a) Application id: 183379: Addition of 3 floors to 472-478 Larkshall Road to create 21 flats.
Application dated Oct 2018. This is the block from Inside Job to Breeze Restaurant.
Status: No decision as yet (The original target for a decision was 17th January 2019)
Attendees were apprehensive of the uncharacteristically long time being taken in assessing this application. Some hypothesised that council officers may be working on encouraging a grander scheme involving adjacent sites. After some discussion on the possibility of unpopular outcomes, it was agreed that the Forum should wait until a formal plan is proposed and then evaluate it as presented, rather than try to pre-empt an unknown.
Some attendees highlighted the junction of Jubilee Avenue and Larkshall Road. This is used by large numbers of drivers exiting Tesco and turning right towards the level crossing. Some consider this junction dangerous (because of the garage and service road opposite) and it was highlighted during the Tesco public enquiry. This junction is opposite the proposed development. Attendees felt that any development should take the opportunity to resolve some of the issues with exiting Tesco. It was noted that the no right turn restriction at Hickman Avenue currently forces traffic to turn right at Jubilee Avenue. It is thought that this no right turn at Hickman Avenue dates back to the time of the C&A warehouse and so may no longer be appropriate. To remove the restriction would require that the signalled junction be significantly remodelled since the central reservation physically prevents the right turn. This would however provide a much safer exit from Tesco and the estate in general.
It was also pointed out that some traffic prevented from turning right at the Broadway into Larkshall Road (to cross the level crossing) turns into Jubilee Avenue to loop round the mini roundabout and turn right into Larkshall Road. This adds to the traffic at this junction.
8) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update & HPPG redesignation
GT, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG), gave a brief update.
Examination of The Plan has just been completed by an experienced external planning inspector and The Plan passed this examination (subject to a few amendments). This is the last significant step before the plan is presented to residents in a formal referendum which it is hoped will take place later this year. The referendum will take place on a single day, with polling stations and polling booths in the same manner as a political election. There remain some internal processes within the council before this can take place but it is hoped they can be progressed without undue delay.
The council has just completed a formal public consultation on the HPPG's application to be redesignated (for a further 5 years) as the statutory Neighbourhood Forum for Highams Park. The consultation finished today and council officers have stated that comments received are largely very positive, supporting the HPPG's application. The only complaints seem to be from people who live outside the area covered by the HPPG and would like to be included.
b) Project to install a pavement plaque for The International Reference Meridian
MP & IT, encouraged by the Forum and working with the Heritage Group of the HPPG, were successfully in a bid for "Make It Local" funding for the installation of a bronze plaque to mark "The International Reference Meridian" which runs through Highams Park. This is the Prime meridian (Longitude zero) which replaced the Greenwich Meridian as the global standard in 1984. GPS receivers (e.g. in mobile phones) show zero longitude at this point. The proposed location for the plaque is on the corner of The Avenue and Hale End Road.
A design for the 15 inch square plaque had been produced by the team but the project is currently stalled, waiting on permission to proceed from the council's Borough of Culture officers. This has been outstanding for over 4 weeks (reason unknown). Cllr Tony Bell is chasing.
c) Signal Box Update
It has been a constant feature of the signal box story (since the box was saved by the Forum in 2002) that getting things done, when dealing with a huge organisation such as Network Rail, always takes a long time. They always have more pressing priorities and to make any progress requires constant chasing.
RT and GT gave an update on the current problems that are keeping the signal box closed. The main issue is that box requires to be connected to mains drainage but the cost is considerable and neither party is comfortable with paying the cost. Alternative routes for laying the drainage are being explored to reduce the cost.
d) New edition of Mary Dunhill's book "A History of Highams Park & Hale End"
A reprint of Mary Dunhill's book has just been published ("A History of Highams Park and Hale End"). This is a paperback costing £15.99. It is available from V&A Books and Gifts in The Avenue.
9) Any other business
a) New vicar for All Saints
A new vicar, Malcolm Porter, has been appointed for All Saint's Church. Malcolm has lived in and around Highams Park for over 40 years.
b) Humphry's path and seating much appreciated
Attendees commented on the new footpath and seating area created by volunteers for Humphry's café in The Highams Park. They congratulated the volunteers who performed the work and explained how it was now much easier to gain wheelchair access to the café.
c) Shutters on ex-"Loggerheads" shopfront
The Loggerheads cattery premises have recently been purchased and, as part of the refit, new shopfront shutters have been installed. Attendees noted that the closed style shutters were not compliant with planning guidelines and conflicted with policies in The Highams Park Plan. GT agreed to report this to the council's enforcement team.
d) 19-21 The Avenue messy frontage
The ex-care home at 19-21 The Avenue has recently been successful in getting a change of use allowing it to be used as an HMO ("House in multiple occupation"). The Forum had expressed concern at the time that the building was not suitable and could cause problems.
Attendees noted that the frontage was becoming messy with unwanted items being left there. It is possible that that this is a temporary problem during the transition work but attendees wished that it be flagged to council officers to stop a potential problem developing. GR agreed to do this.
e) Chigwell Riding Trust open day
JB notified attendees of an open day at the Chigwell Riding Trust (Grange Farm Lane, IG7 6DP). This is on Sunday 23rd June 2019 from 11am to 4pm.
10) Items for next agenda
No items were requested at the meeting for the next agenda.
11) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 22nd July 2019 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.