May News Update
At the beginning of May the Civic Society was taken on a tour of the proposed St James Townscape Heritage area in Walthamstow by Yvette Chin who is project manager of the scheme and responsible for the £3 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim is to renovate key historic buildings, improve shop fronts and the street scene in the area around the bottom of the High Street – we will learn on 11th June whether the bid has been successful!
As well as caring about the public areas, buildings and green spaces in the borough the Civic Society also supports actions that promote sustainability, such as re-using old buildings rather than demolishing them and encouraging residents to make more use of local resources. We saw a great example of both of these ideas when we visited Organiclea at their Hawkwood Nursery in north Chingford at the end of April. The ex-Council site includes huge glass houses, outside beds, orchards, beehives and even a vineyard. After touring the site we bought plants and herbs and took away bags of steaming manure so that we could ‘grow our own’ at home.
We are continuing to prepare for our photo exhibition of front gardens which will tour the borough’s libraries over the summer as part of the national Bring Fronts Back campaign. We are still collecting photos of gardens that are good and bad examples so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to suggest a garden and let us know the address - we will take the photo and will protect the garden’s anonymity.
To make the most of the midsummer evenings the Civic Society will be holding a social event on Thursday 25th June at the Birkbeck Tavern, 45 Langthorne Road, E11 4HL – all welcome. If the weather is fine we will be in the lovely pub garden from 7.30pm.
Report of Hoe Street Ward Forum meeting
21st July 2014
About 30 residents attended and the first item was a leaflet about Healthwatch Waltham Forest who want to hear about residents views on various health and social issues
The Chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Watch gave an upbeat report and urged residents to volunteer to join the board which provides the police with its priorities.
Landlord and Letting Agents Licencing was the next topic. Waltham Forest will be introducing a licencing scheme from next April applying 25 conditions on Landlords and non-compliance could lead to a £20k fine. The cost of the licence has not yet been set, but with 24k landlords in the Borough it is hoped residents will be better protected from rogue landlords.
CPZ – the ME zone around the Town Centre will be reviewed due to the changes in the area i.e. the Scene. A consultation in September will last 3 weeks. One possibility would be to split the ME zone as currently residents drive from one side to the other to park.
Mini Holland – Chris Harrison asked the audience if they had heard of this project and most had not. He went on to explain that it is intended to increase cycling in the Borough and to improve residential streets. The Mayor had pledged £30m over 3 years to Waltham Forest and the creation of segregated cycle lanes in Lea Bridge Road was a key target. A route along the line of Forest Road to Lea Bridge road was aimed at cutting down on rat running. The first area to be investigated was Pembroke Road/Hoe Street and the railway. He wanted to speak to residents groups rather than individuals and wants views within 6 weeks. Despite great interest from the audience no further discussion was allowed.
Milton Road Residents Association gave a very upbeat report pointing out that since their inception about 5 other groups have formed in the adjacent area. They communicate via all means and bring residents together to help each other and to provide fun events and a structure for looking out for fellow residents.
Civic Society Public Meeting about Assets of Community Value: How local people can protect the pubs, buildings and open spaces we value
Thursday 24th July, meeting at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start at the Hare and Hounds pub, 278 Lea Bridge Road Leyton E10 7LD.
The Civic Society are holding a Public Meeting next Thursday evening, the 24th July, at the Hare and Hounds public House in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton E10 (opposite Emmanuel Parish Church) with the aim of explaining how we can use new community powers to register threatened buildings and open spaces as Assets of Community Value. This gives communities an increased chance to save much loved pubs, buildings and other local facilities.
So far no buildings or open spaces in Waltham Forest are registered as Assets of Community Value and with your help we aim to change this.
We have invited a representative of the borough to attend, and we have also invited two campaigners from the Campaign for Real Ale, which is concerned at the increasing numbers of pub closures and redevelopments. Another speaker will be James of the "Save the Chesham" campaign in Homerton, in our neighbouring borough of Hackney, which was the first building to be listed as an ACV in that borough.
The main purposes of the meeting are 1) to explain the ACV community powers and how they can be applied at the local level; and 2) to begin to set up a list of buildings accessible to the public that Waltham Forest residents feel should be kept in community use (be that a public house or any other building or space that can be used by the community); and 3) agree an initial shortlist of buildings we would like to register as ACVs.
We are therefore holding this Public Meeting and inviting as many interested people as possible to attend, including representatives of other groups, in the hope that we can raise support to help us achieve our main aim of getting at least three buildings applied for as a direct result of the meeting.
Public transport: Buses 48, 55, 56 stop outside.
We hope you can come.
Waltham Forest Civic Society
Contact number for further information: 07900 498440
Morrisons received planning permission by 4 votes to 2 for a supermarket with flats above at the Planning Meeting on the 3rd December 2013. The officers report appeared to leave out as lot of important information such as an Environment Assessment and one of the Labour Councillors did not arrive in time to take part.
To see details of the scheme follow these links:
This Planning Committee (4th June 2013) was more interesting than most. There was an unexpected win which created some complex debate on Planning law.
First off was 98 Vallentin Road (2013/0039) an outrageous proposal for a 5 storey block of 9 flats beside the railway embankment at the end of Vallentin Road, E17 3JH. This replaced an earlier application in 2007 for 4 flats. The Chair kicked off giving his view (long gone are the days when the chair was neutral and anyway this was his constituency!). He seemed more impressed by the £44k Section 106 contribution than the look of the building. No local residents had complained and he regarded it as an “iconic development” using good quality materials. The Tories took the view that the under sized amenity space would not be used anyway so it did not matter. The planning policy was all wrong if it allowed this development. The local residents had voted not to have a CPZ so there would be nothing to stop residents parking in the street. Labour made no comment – why should they when their chair had said it all, and when the vote was taken there were 5 in favour Labour and Liberal and 2 abstentions Tory. So a totally unsuitable block of flats will now blight this part of Vallentin Road.
Leytonstone Police Station (2011/1229) change of use to an extension of the Azhar Academy for girls in Forest Gate. It has taken over 2 years to get to the committee. This was clearly an over development of the site leading to a lack of playground space for the girls. The officer’s report recommended approval and indicated there were very few grounds to oppose it. Having made our case using information from the various Ofsted reports I assumed it would be nodded through. In fact all the councillors were opposed for a variety of reasons. Labour kicked off objecting to the lack of parking and that the building was not suitable for converting to a school as it was too cramped. There was no access to the upper floors for the disabled.
The Liberal was unsure but had been given a tour 6 months before and was surprised to find the application was different to what she had been shown. Work has been going on converting the buildings since 2011. There was no need for the nursery as Acacia nursery already has spare places. The staircase to get to the upper floor overlooks the gardens of the surrounding houses.
Tories commented on the officer’s report concerning the Human Rights Act and pointed out it also covered Health and Morals. A school with no space for recreation can hardly be a healthy place. They felt the building could be adapted but this “can’t be a school in this form”. An application should contribute to the area but this proposal did not.
The chair asked questions about the catering and it appeared food would be brought in and a small kitchen would be used to server the food. Further concerns were expressed about disability access. It was also pointed out that local children had been allocated spaces in existing schools so there was no need for extra places.
All the councillors were against the proposal but the Head of Development Management pointed out it was not that easy to legally oppose it. Everyone agreed in principle the redundant Police Station could become a school and anyway from a change of use point of view it would still be a community use building as it was when it was a Police Station. The demand on educational places was not a material consideration. The Government laid down no rules about playground space and the Borough did not have a policy on play space in schools therefore this was not a material consideration. Disabled access was a material consideration although as a locally listed building it would not be possible to install a lift without damaging the historic parts of the building. Traffic and parking were material considerations, but the proposed traffic plan had been accepted by the Highways department. This left 3 options (a) approve the plans (b) Refuse on Material Considerations grounds i.e. access and traffic (c) Defer for further negotiations.
The Councillors were not prepared to support the scheme and felt too many changes would be needed to make it acceptable so (a) and (c) were rejected. It was pointed out that the Equality Act was a material consideration so in the end they voted 6 against and 1 abstention to Refuse the application.
2013/0039 - 98 Vallentin Road E17 3JH - a totally inappropriate 5 storey block of flats is being proposed beside the railway line. The site is far too small and being a wedge shape totally unsuitable for this development. Come and support our opposition to this plan.
2011/1229 - Leytonstone Police Station to be converted to a Free school. There is just not enoughj space in this building for the size of school being proposed. Come and help us oppose this inappropriate development.
Morrison supermarket is planning to build flats and a new store on the South Grove car park.
An exhibition of the plans is being held on Friday 18th January from 2pm to 8pm and again on Saturday 19th January from 10am to 4pm at the Alpha Business Centre.