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 3rd December 2018
TC & JA commented further on item 6 of the minutes (Feedback on Community Ward Forum HE&HP) which refers to a CPZ consultation and referendum in some roads to the south of the formal Highams Park boundary. The minutes only briefly mentioned this item since it was out of the area covered by the Highams Park Forum.
Although it was accepted that the Forum should not comment on consultations outside its area, TC & JA wanted to flag up issues relating to the consultation since those issues might prove to be valuable lessons for the Forum, allowing it to pre-empt problems when a CPZ consultation takes place in the formal Highams Park area. Attendees felt that such a consultation is likely to take place as part of the Regal development.
It was suggested that before residents are asked to vote in any such consultation, the supporting documents should properly explain all the subtle intricacies of the scheme and the precise way the vote will be interpreted. TC & JA did not feel this had been done adequately in the scheme being referenced and that the Forum could take a role to ensure consultees were better informed in any future consultation in the formal Highams Park area. The Forum could seek to review the council's proposed consultation documents prior to them being sent out to residents and then give feedback to council officers to improve the documents. A better quality consultation document would make for a better informed vote and less likelihood of residents complaining after the vote that they had been misled. Ward councillors were asked to help make this happen if/when the next consultation is proposed.
Examples of subtle issues that ought to be properly explained were highlighted by attendees and are recorded here for future reference:
· If some roads vote in favour and some against, and the resulting shape of a "zone" is difficult to implement, will the roads which voted "against" be forced into the scheme? Will they be reconsulted? Will the total votes across a zone be taken into account regardless of the road by road breakdown?
· If a small core CPZ is proposed based on votes "for", will roads outside the zone be reconsulted since parking may be displaced into their roads?
· If one end of a road is heavily "for" and the other end is heavily "against", how will this be resolved?
· How many spaces are available and how many permits will be issued?
· Will electric charging points be installed and where? Are non-permit holders allowed to use them? Are they only available for parking when a car is physically plugged in.
· The costs of all permit types need to be clear, together with the method by which future increases will be determined.
· How will parking across drives be treated? In some schemes drives have yellow lines across them which means the owner of the drive can't park there even with a permit. This reduces parking spaces.
· How is the timing of the enforcement period (days/hours) decided? What is the procedure for amending it?
JB noted the displacement effect. A couple of vans parked (thought to be abandoned) in roads just north of the North Circular were discovered by police to be owned by residents in the new CPZ just south of the North Circular.
3) Election of officers for 2019
No new members volunteered to stand for roles so the existing committee stated that they would be willing to continue in posts. Election of the committee was taken en bloc and the vote was unanimous in favour. As a result the committee remains as follows:
4) Action List: Review of outstanding items
Due to time pressure at the meeting, the Action List was not reviewed. Some items were covered as a by-product of other items on the agenda. MP will review and update the list outside of the meeting based on his knowledge of progress. The Action List is distributed separately from these minutes.
5) Community Ward Forum Funding for 2019
Attendees were not clear on the relationship of "Make it Local" funding and traditional Community Ward Forum Funding. Some felt it replaced the traditional funding and some thought it was in addition to it. After the meeting, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald sought confirmation from council officers and a definitive explanation is given below:
Financial year April 2018 - March 2019
This period is covered by the traditional Ward Forum funding pot of £10k per ward. The applications which would receive this funding were agreed and approved in the middle of 2018.
Financial year April 2019 - March 2020
This period is covered by the "Make It Local" (MIL) Ward Forum funding of £10k per ward. This is to encourage projects that are consistent with the objectives of the London Borough of Culture. There is no separate Ward Forum funding for this period so the MIL funding effectively replaces the traditional Ward Forum funding for this financial year. The deadline for applications is 4th March 2019 and the details are here: https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/community-ward-funding MIL funded projects are supposed to meet certain criteria consistent with the Borough of Culture objectives and this is explained in the above link, but the final decision on which projects should be taken forward will rest with ward councillors, as before.
Financial year April 2020 - March 2021
No information is available yet for this year but it is hoped that traditional Ward Forum funding will apply with applications being requested in late 2019.
IT and MP were keen to initiate a project to install plaques in the pavement to mark the two meridians that pass through Highams Park: The Greenwich meridian (to the west of the level crossing) and the GPS Meridian (to the east of the level crossing). The wording of the plaques would mention each other to encourage people to visit both parts of the shopping area and also to raise curiosity about why there are two meridians. The project had been considered in 2014 by the Heritage group of The Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) but had become bogged down in procedure with council officers. Attendees supported the idea to restart this project and MP/IT agreed to contact the chair of the Heritage group to see if they could work on it together.
6) Feedback on North East Borough Command Unit (merged Waltham Forest & Newham police).
A number of attendees had attended presentations on the subject at Police Ward Panel meetings and the general consensus was that there didn't seem to be much to concern Highams Park residents. Police Officers are deployed on a flexible basis to wherever there is a need in both boroughs. This can mean that specific operations can be better resourced than before. The Commander for the combined unit is based in Chingford police station.
DJ reminded attendees of the importance of reporting all incidents since the allocation of resources is driven by these figures.
7) The Avenue: Traffic calming improvements and potential pedestrian crossing locations
Speed humps/tables in The Avenue were introduced to help enforce the 20mph speed limit. Residents on The Avenue have complained about vibrations to their houses causing cracks and the fact that some drivers still drive dangerously and well over the speed limit.
Cllr Fitzgerald has been working with residents on The Avenue and with council officers to try to find a solution that reduces the vibrations and better enforces the speed limit. To achieve both is proving to be a challenge. An email chain documenting the exchanges between all parties currently runs to 16 pages. Solutions considered include:
· More humps
· Less humps
· Removal of all humps
· Changing humps to cushions
· Changing humps to tables
· Build-outs to reduce width (with give way rules)
· Speed Cameras
· Pedestrian Crossings
The email shows that none of these solutions have been found to satisfy all parties.
Pedestrian Crossings were rejected by officers since they are only to be used where there is demand from pedestrians to cross, not as a traffic calming measure and the officers felt there was insufficient demand. In addition it was difficult to find a suitable location.
Cameras were rejected by officers since the location did not meet certain criteria. Attendees were aware that there had been some recent changes to the administration of Speed Cameras which may have changed the criteria to allow more flexibility.
One suggestion in the email which was not rejected was the use of speed display signs that display the actual speed of vehicles possibly with a smiley/sad face. Attendees felt (in their own experience) that these were surprisingly effective.
IT noted that in Larkshall Road, vibrations reduced considerably when the humps were replaced by tables.
CH (who lives in The Avenue) felt that the current arrangement was actually working to slow traffic and he would not want to see the humps removed. He felt that the vibrations were coming from the breakdown of the road surface. He was aware that vibrations stopped after resurfacing but slowly reappeared as the surface deteriorated.
CH asked if the current works on some sections of The Avenue pavements to deal with tree roots were a precursor to resurfacing the pavement as a whole. Cllr Tim James stated that these works were as a result of some specific complaints he had received from residents and that he would enquire of officers if there were plans to resurface the pavement as a whole.
8) The review the council is undertaking regarding Consultations on Planning Applications
TC highlighted a consultation by the council on a new draft of a document called "Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)". This draft document provides detailed guidelines on how the Council will look to engage with the local community and stakeholders in producing planning policy documents and in considering planning applications. The consultation concluded last year and the document was approved by cabinet in December 2018.
None present had any concerns about the document.
9) Transport & Street Scene
a) Tree next to entrance of Signal Walk - Works completed (but not quite as expected)
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 was hoped to have a circular bench round the tree mimicking a tree with a bench which used to occupy the site many years ago.
Due to what appear to be various misunderstandings (between council officers and changes of staff) this project has not had a wholly satisfactory outcome. The tree has indeed been installed according to the promised timescale ("in time for the xmas fayre") but is considerably smaller than asked for and not commensurate with the significant ward forum funding allocated.
In recognition of this, officers have agreed that no charge will be made for the undersized tree and the allocated funding will be returned to the Community Ward Forum pot for reallocation. GT is seeking agreement from councillors to use this funding for another project (building a footpath in the park next to the lake).
Officers have also stated that there is not room on the pavement (without causing an obstruction) for a circular bench around the tree and pointed out that there were other benches in signal walk.
AH expressed disappointment because she felt that a bench with a back on it (unlike the benches in signal walk) was important for the elderly.
b) Telephone Box removal - Some more success
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 for those people without access to a mobile phone or for people whose phone battery is flat.
There are six public phones in the Highams Park area. Their current status (plus that of a broken exchange box) is listed in the table below (the numbers have been allocated by the Forum to facilitate discussion). If all the requested actions take place, there will be 2 phones boxes remaining (#3 and #6) and it was felt that they were in good locations; convenient for potential users and not causing an obstruction.
The latest success is the removal of item #4. This was instigated by Cllr Doré. BT have removed it and reinstated the brick pavers where the box was located. The removal of #5 was reported at the last Forum meeting but this has not had the pavers reinstated by owner New World/Clear Channel. Council officers advise us that the temporary tarmac has to be replaced by pavers within 6 months of the removal of the box. This time will expire at the end of May 2019.
AH reported that a shoulder height booth not listed in the table above (it had long since had its phone removed) was removed by BT very recently from Abbotts Crescent (probably at the same time as #4) and they had reinstated the surface very well.
c) Anti-idling signs for the level crossing
OS reported that the new anti-idling signs had still not been installed near the level crossing despite the posts having been put in place some time ago. Cllr Tony Bell agreed to chase this.
[Note added after the meeting: Cllr Bell did indeed chase the installation and they were installed on Tuesday 22nd January 2019.]
Cllr Rosalind Doré advised the meeting (via email to MP) that she had arranged a meeting with the manager at Tesco to discuss the problem of cars idling in the Tesco car park and also some issues relating to Signal Walk. She hopes to report the outcome at the next HP Forum meeting.
IT told the meeting that he believes the wording of the Tesco anti idling signage has been improved. It previously advised customers to turn off engines when leaving their cars, which was rather missing the point.
d) How to resolve rush hour congestion in Handsworth Avenue
The problems of rush hour congestion in Handsworth Avenue have been discussed at a previous meeting. These result from:
· The volume of cars rat running to avoid the junction of The Avenue and Hale End Road
· The volume of cars dropping off children at the schools and nursery in the road
· Cars approaching from different directions unable to pass
RT stated that the Transport Group of the HPPG was now looking at the problem in detail. A Forum member had emailed MP with some suggestions based on his first hand experience of being one of the people dropping off children. MP passed across the email to RT so the comments could be taken into account.
RT stated that they will write to the schools seeking their input. MP suggested that the schools might be able to recommend to their parents a voluntary one way system to ease the flow. Once known, drivers would be foolish to go against the predominant flow. The Forum had written to Highams Park School many years ago with this suggestion but had received no response at the time.
RT will also mention anti idling in the conversation with the schools.
Some attendees were puzzled by the catchment area of the schools (necessitating lifts to school rather than walking). It is usually suggested that the school only takes very local pupils but attendees had ridden on buses taking children home and were surprised to see them traveling long distances. Perhaps the dialogue with schools could get to the bottom of this, possibly by polling parents.
It was noted that the junction of Handsworth Avenue and Beech Hall Road was originally planned to be remodelled as part of "Mini Holland" but this was not taken forward due the number of objections. It is likely, however that this will be revisited as part of the development for The Regal. This may be an opportunity to improve the Handsworth Avenue traffic problems. Cllr Tony Bell stated that when proposed plans for the junction are drawn up, residents will be consulted.
e) Raised Manhole in Charter Road next to the lake
Attendees briefly discussed the dangerous raised manhole in The Charter Road next to the lake which gives a surprise jolt to unwary drivers.
GT advised the meeting that council officers had now confirmed with Thames Water that the pipes under the road were in good condition (and not the cause of the problem). The works to fix the manhole have been scheduled for Thursday 24th January 2019.
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. 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.
This is the block from Inside Job to Breeze Restaurant.
Status: No decision as yet
b) Application Id.181027: Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, backing onto Castle Ave.
Appeal reference: APP/U5930/W/18/3208729
This application is the 5th set of proposals for this site. All including this one have been rejected by the council. The applicant has lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate. Any comments to the inspectorate needed to be received by them by 17th December 2018.
Status: No appeal decision as yet.
c) Application Id 172438: 19 - 21 The Avenue. Change of use from care home (Class D1) to HMO (Class C4).
Appeal reference: APP/U5930/W/18/3207945
The officer proposed approval of this application but the planning committee declined it, three against two. However, the applicant has lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate. Any comments to the inspectorate needed to be received by them by 17th December 2018.
Status: No appeal decision as yet.
d) Application Id 174221: Variation in Tesco Delivery Times.
Appeal reference: APP/U5930/W/18/3203302
The council refused this application but the applicant has lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate. Any comments to the inspectorate needed to be received by them by 10th October 2018.
Status: No appeal decision as yet
11) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
GT, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) gave a brief update.
The council are currently in the middle of a formal consultation of residents regarding the Plan. Details of how to view the documents and how to comment can be seen by following this link: https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/highams-park-neighbourhood-plan
The closing date for comments is 18th February 2019. All comments should be made to the council (not to the HPPG) and can be made by online form, by email, or by letter (full details in the link above).
The AGM of the HPPG is 15th February 2019 at 7:30pm in All Saints Church, Church Ave, Highams Park.
b) Temporary closure of La Boite (the signal box)
There was no further specific news regarding a resolution to the problem with the drains which has necessitated closure of La Boite but conversations are taking place with all interested parties to find a way forward.
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.
GT and RT continue in their efforts to assist in the resolution.
c) Monitoring WFN Deliveries
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 a previous Forum meeting a process was initiated so that the Forum, with the help of its members, could monitor deliveries and report failures.
The distribution schedule (up to the end of 2019) has been emailed to all Forum members. The delivery dates are all Mondays, so members have been requested to email OS if their copy is not delivered by the Wednesday evening of the same week. OS will report the findings to the Head of Communications at the council.
OS told the meeting that he had reported problems of consistent non delivery in Nesta Road and was now pleased to find that the problem had been resolved.
JB asked what the delivery operators do if a letterbox is labelled "No junk mail". He has that on his box and wondered if he would receive deliveries. OS stated that his box has such a sign and he has been receiving WFM but it may depend on the specific person delivering. OS agreed to ask about the official instructions to delivery operatives.
d) Regal Developer contacting residents
MP said that he was pleased to receive an email (via the Forum's website) from the developers of The Regal asking for contact details for residents organisations so they could work with them during the development. MP gave contact details for HPPG, HP Society, and the HP Residents Association (represents the residents of Beech Hall Road).
12) Any other business
a) The creation of a wildflower meadow in The Highams Park (next to the lake) was delayed in 2018 and was then promised for "early 2019". This was part of the parks improvement project and the council had been liaising with The Friends of The Highams Park. GT was pleased to announce that the work had just been completed.
b) There had been some initial complaints about noise from external loudspeakers on the new restaurant "Yaz" in Signal Walk but attendees reported that the problem seems to have been resolved.
c) It has been noticed that the new electric vehicle charge point in The Broadway, which had been working, was now taped off (out of action). Attendees wanted to know if the bay reverted to a normal parking bay (for use by any vehicle) whilst it was out of action. Cllr Tony Bell agreed to enquire. TC stated that if the point is working it is his understanding that the bay can only be used by electric vehicles that are plugged in to it (in the process of charging).
[After the meeting Cllr Tony Bell asked officers for an update. Feedback is: The charge point has been flagged for repair by "Chargemaster" (the operator) but they are waiting on parts. Residents can report faults/problems direct to Chargemaster on the phone number written on the side of the charger (0330 016 5126). The officer also directed us to the following webpage https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/electric-vehicle-charging-points which contains (if you scroll down) a link to the council's recently signed off "Electric Vehicle Charging Point Strategy"].
d) JB noted that a card pushed through his letterbox, informing him of a large letter requiring excess postage, advised him to go to the sorting office in Station Road North Chingford. It stated that the name of the sorting office was now "Chingford and South Woodford". It was understood that this renaming (adding "South Woodford") was a result of a closure of the sorting office in South Woodford. As an aside it was noted that the old Woodford Green Sorting office had relocated to Debden some time ago.
13) Items for next agenda
No specific items were requested for the agenda of the next meeting.
14) Confirm date, time for next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Monday 11th March 2019 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.