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 22nd July 2019 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Roger Gillham, John Avis, Trevor Calver, Michael Shellock, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Cllr Tim James, Chris Holmes, Ian Thomson, Graham Reeve, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne

Apologies:

Anne Haines, Nicolas Haines, Roger Torode, Gordon Turpin, Cllr Rosalind Doré, Cllr Tony Bell, Cllr Zia Rehman, Robert Tatam, Jeff Beaton, David Jennings

 

1)         Welcome & Introductions

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

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 10th June 2019

There were no matters arising.

 

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.

 

As a by-product of the discussions it was noted that the new vehicle entrance to the Town Hall is not very well signposted.  It is confusing for drivers who arrive at the usual main gates only to find that they are locked, providing only pedestrian access.  Cllr Marion Fitzgerald agreed to take this up with council officers.

 

4)         Feedback from Highams Park Day 2019 (13th July)

At the last meeting, it had been agreed that the Forum and the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) would have a combined tent at Highams Park Day.  Unfortunately the Forum's contribution was negligible and HPPG was forced to take on the work of creating all the content and finding people to be present to greet visitors.  MP spent a lot of the day in the tent (effectively wearing a hat for both organisations) and noted how well the tent was received, especially by newcomers to Highams Park.

 

5)         The Future of The Highams Park Forum - Should it close or remodel itself significantly?

A number of unrelated events have occurred recently which collectively call into question the practicality of the status quo in respect of the organisation and administration of The Highams Park Forum.  To stimulate discussion, MP prepared a document on the subject and distributed it to all members just prior to the meeting.  The document is called "The Future of the Highams Park Forum".

 

The document deconstructs The Forum into the 9 separate functions it performs.  It explains each function and then for each it highlights "Current problems and overlaps" and suggests "Potential future alternatives".

 

Most attendees had been able to read the document prior to the meeting and did not dispute its content.  As a result, the meeting focussed on a thoughtful discussion to look at the way forward.  The notes below attempt to summarise the spirit of this long discussion.  The 9 functions set out in the document and discussed by attendees were:

 

1.       Elects a committee

2.       Organises regular public meetings

3.       Finds individuals willing to take forward actions from meetings

4.       Initiates projects and campaigns

5.       Publicises the minutes of meetings

6.       Maintains a public website

7.       Provides a public email address to contact The Forum

8.       Maintains email distribution list of "Forum Members"

9.       Applies for grant funding from LBWF to enable all the above

 

When The Forum was created in 2001 it was the only Highams Park wide residents' organisation and it did its best, with a very small membership, to satisfy all the above needs and had a great deal of success.  In 2013 the Forum helped create The Highams Park Planning Group to create a plan for the area.  This resonated with residents and the Group soon had a huge membership (currently well over 1000).  The scale of the HPPG and the enthusiasm of its membership has allowed it to take on many major projects.  Many Forum members are actively involved with the HPPG.

 

The HPPG has recently created the "Highams Park Portal" (Web address: highamspark.london).  This is an overarching website for Highams Park and was requested by residents consulted during the creation of The Highams Park Plan.

 

Looking at the 9 Forum functions listed above, attendees agreed that with one exception, all were now being performed very well by the HPPG and the Highams Park Portal.  Duplication by the Forum just causes additional effort and potentially confuses residents.

 

The "one exception" is the organisation of regular public meetings to allow residents to get together to discuss problems and ideas in a "general" forum.  The HPPG has Topic Working Groups which meet regularly and residents are encouraged to join but these are on specific topics (e.g. Transport, Arts & Culture, Etc.).  This "specific topic" approach has been very successful and the resulting focus given has been able to deliver significant results.  But there is no HPPG "general topic" meeting.  The Annual General Meeting of the HPPG does not serve this function since it is primarily a review of the year and the election of The Group's Coordinating Committee.  It is not a vehicle for general discussion.

 

The councillors present were asked to give a frank assessment of how useful they found the Forum in feeding back residents' views.  They said it was useful but in recent years the majority of input was coming from the HPPG.

 

The meeting regretfully concluded that in principle (and with some caveats listed below) The Highams Park Forum should close by the end of 2019.  The caveats and immediate actions were:

a)       Given that very little notice was given of this agenda item, and some regular attendees could not be present, it was agreed that the formal decision to wind up the Forum should take place at the next meeting.

b)       The remaining three meetings of 2019 (which are booked and paid for) should take place but these should not take on "new business" and should focus on the procedures for closing the Forum in a well-managed fashion and tidying up loose ends.

c)       There is a need to find a way to provide the community with "general" public meetings.  An informal discussion by MP with HPPG chair Gordon Turpin suggests that HPPG may be happy to do this.  In fact the HPPG has held off doing this to date to avoid duplication with the Forum.  It may be possible to change the style of these meetings to be more informal and to have a social element (e.g. tea, coffee, wine) to help attract people who don't currently get involved.

d)       MP should move The Forum's website from its current webhost before the 18th August (when our current hosting contract expires).  Once moved, the meeting agreed that the site be mothballed as a historic record and not be further updated.  It is hoped that the long term home for the mothballed website will be the Highams Park Portal webhost.  MP will discuss this with HPPG.

e)       If the Forum's email address (contact@highamsparkforum.co.uk) can't be supported by the portal host, MP will set up a new address and publicise it to members before 18th August.  The mothballed website will be amended to refer to this new address.

f)        MP will renew (at a cost to the Forum of around £10?) the Forum's domain name registration (www.highamsparkforum.co.uk) for a period of 2 years and will set it to point to the new website location.  The current registration expires 3rd September 2019.  The registration will be allowed to lapse after 2 years but it is hoped that the Portal will include the website in its menu structure so it will still be easily found.

g)       A "landing page" will be created which will be displayed to visitors to www.highamsparkforum.co.uk to explain the closing status of the Forum and the website before they enter the site proper.

 

6)         Transport & Street Scene

a)    Update: Winchester Road traffic issues

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.  At the last meeting this issue was expanded to include the problem of refuse lorries in conflict with buses blocking Winchester Road for long periods.

 

Cllr Tony Bell, Roger Torode, and the HPPG transport group have been working with council officers to come up with a solution.

 

Cllr Bell (via MP) supplied this update from council officers:

"... are currently developing proposals for the passing places. Due to the time and cost involved in the Traffic Management Order process, these are usually implemented as part of batches of similar schemes which are advertised twice a year. Unfortunately, we recently advertised the most recent batch in June and therefore our next batch would be programmed towards the end of the year.

However, I understand the urgency with this location and will try to include this as part of any earlier scheme so that we avoid unnecessary delays.

With regards to the suggestion for restricting hours for refuse collection, we could not do this through a traffic restriction so may require retiming and scheduling of collections."

 

b)    Update: New Trains Delay

At the last meeting it was stated that "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."

 

However, an ITV news report dated May 2019 says:

"When all the new trains are in place on the Gospel Oak to Barking line TfL will start introducing them onto the Watford Junction to Euston route, and finally to the Liverpool Street to Chingford line. A TfL spokesperson said it was hoped this would be by the end of this year."  Unfortunately you can read this two ways and only one of them has new trains on our line in 2019.

 

c)    Council Policy on Wheelie Bin collections if a collection is missed

JB asked (via MP) what the policy was on missed wheelie bin collections.  Do you have to wait until the next scheduled collection date (possibly a week or a fortnight) or should it be earlier?  MS was able to offer some clarification as he had had some experience of this: if you report a missed collection within 3 days of the date of the collection then a special collection will be scheduled.  If you report it after this period then you have to wait until the next scheduled collection.

 

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: 170081:  Demolition of 2 Charter Road and replacement with flats.

Refused by LBWF 18July 2018.  Applicant appealed.  Appeal Ref: APP/U5930/W/19/3220780

Status: Appeal dismissed 25th June 2019

 

b)    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)

 

At the last meeting, 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.

 

Now, possibly coincidentally, application 191304 (see "c" below) has recently been submitted for an adjacent location.

 

c)     Application id: 191304: 'James Yard', 480 Larkshall Road.  Demolition of existing building next to HP Station Chingford bound platform & build of two 5 story blocks of flats.

Status: In consultation period.

There are a large number of documents that form the application.  If you wish to read them and are struggling with the official site, the Forum has downloaded the documents and they can be viewed easily by clicking this link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1F20p-Uk98W540L4LOLhVEgkFQBWwJtVB

 

Both GR and the HPPG have independently written in with objections to this application.

 

8)         Brief Updates:

a)    HPPG redesignation

MP (on behalf of Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG)) confirmed that at the LBWF Cabinet Meeting of 11th July 2019 the HPPG was re-designated for a further five years as the official Neighbourhood Development Forum for the Highams Park Area until 15th July 2024.

 

b)    HP Plan update

MP gave a brief update on behalf of GT.

 

It was reported at the last meeting that The Plan had passed formal examination (subject to a few amendments) by an experienced planning inspector and that there now remain just some internal processes within the council before it can be put to residents in a formal referendum.

 

The HPPG had hoped this referendum would take place this year but the formal processes have now been mapped out by council officers and for practical reasons the public vote may not take place until March 2020. 

 

c)    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 successful 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 bronze plaque had been produced by the team but the project is currently stalled, waiting on permission to proceed.

 

The permission to proceed will come from a committee known as the Portfolio Leaders Meeting (PLM).  Council Officers have written a report to PLM to which MP has contributed by answering officers' queries on several aspects.  The PLM took place on 18th July 2019.  Unfortunately the outcome is not yet known because officers were understandably hard to contact prior to The Forum meeting due to the pressing need to deal with the impact of the fire at Walthamstow Shopping Mall.

 

d)    Signal Box Update

No new information.

 

e)    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.

 

Creation of the gates is now understood to be in progress but no delivery timescales have yet been made available.

 

9)         Any other business

There were no items for "any other business".

 

10)     Items for next agenda

·      Decision to formally wind up The Highams Park Forum

 

11)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 9th September 2019 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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