Extraordinary General Meeting of the Ham and Petersham Neighbourhood Forum
7.30pm 16th June 2015 at Grey Court School
56 members attended.
1. Introduction to our Neighbourhood Forum
a. Welcome from Forum Committee Chair – Brian Willman (BW)
BW has chaired the Forum since March 2015. He introduced Maggie Bailey (MB) – Head Teacher of Grey Court School, former Chair – who welcomed everyone to Grey Court. She reminded us that Grey Court is outstanding because of where it is, in one of the most outstanding landscapes in London. She asked the Forum to be transparent and direct with her concerning the behaviour of Grey Court School pupils outside the school grounds. Strathmore School will be housed on Grey Court land in a new state of the art school, called ‘Strathmore at Grey Court’; she welcomed Forum members to communicate with her and offer their expertise, and skills in the interest of the children – “the children will grow and flourish because of the adults they have contact with” – firstname.lastname@example.org
BW reminded us of the purpose of the Neighbourhood Forum as ‘localism’. It allows us to choose the details of our local area, e.g. where new homes should be built, what shopping centres should look like etc, all within existing planning frameworks. This is incorporated within a Neighbourhood Plan which eventually will become part of the Richmond plan within the national statutory framework. All residents are members.
a. The Forum Committee Members who were present introduced themselves and for those that could not come to the EGM, BW explained the committee member’s name and who they represented.
i. Brian Willman – Chair (representing faith groups)
ii. Justine Glynn – Vice Chair
iii. Geoff Bond – local resident
iv. Andrée Freize – local resident
v. Anne Powell (representing Ham and Petersham Association)
vi. David Williams (representing Ham Amenities Group and Ham United Group)
vii. Jean Loveland (Treasurer and Ward Councillor)
viii. Penny Frost (Ward Councillor)
ix. Sarah Tippett (Ward Councillor)
x. Helen McNally (representing local social care organisations as Ham Children’s Centre manager)
xi. Kim Hacker (representing Ham Library as Libraries Area manager)
xii. Ben Skelton (representing youth organisations as Youth Centres manager)
xiii. Stan Shaw (representing local traders)
xiv. Naomi Campbell (representing Ham House and local heritage)
xv. Mitesh Patel (representing local health services as a Ham pharmacist)
BW thanked Andrew Beedham for his big contribution in setting up the Forum. BW encouraged the Forum to comment on the plans so far exhibited on the notice boards.
BW noted what a fantastic area we live in, with unique spirit and character, clear boundaries, places of historical note, open spaces, a beautiful common with ducks and swans; local cricket; welcoming cafes and pubs, a butcher and a baker and hardware store: our Neighbourhood Plan has to capture what we have, must be distinctive, ambitious, and one we can be proud of. We will find words that will capture consensus but still make a difference. We have a chance to influence if we get a Plan approved. BW encouraged the Forum members to engage wholeheartedly.
2. What is a Neighbourhood Forum?
a. Neighbourhood Forums in a nutshell – a short presentation by Justine Glynn
Planning has tended to exclude rather than include people and communities. A Neighbourhood Forum allows people and communities back into planning. Forums are bodies which can be set up to establish Neighbourhood Plans where there are no town Councils or parishes. The Forum membership is open to everyone who lives or works within an area. All volunteer their time to make Ham and Petersham a better place. The designation of the Ham and Petersham area was straightforward falling within natural boundaries. Nationally, there are many Neighbourhood plans, 1477 applications for designated areas, 261 pre submissions and 143 going through the application process. So far there are 53 Neighbourhood plans that have been approved. Regular updates will be on the website and in the Ham and Petersham magazine. It is our choice: a plan helps us decide what is built where and what it looks like.
Questions from the floor:
- where is the funding coming from – can we get a fair share from the local Council? Answer: We get Council grants to help establish the committee, but most of it is free time. The money for administration, hiring premises, printing, boards, etc came from central government’s Community Development Foundation Grant. We had an underspend so that the money will be returned and a further grant applied for. Richmond Council has allocated the Forum £15,000 in three tranches for future stages of the Forum’s plan.
- ‘consensus’ was questioned: 55 people here tonight, AGM had 180 in Winter. Communication to the community is not satisfactory to gain consensus. Using the Ham & Petersham magazine is not sufficient as the main communication tool. A discussion ensued about consensus
3. The Richmond Situation: Cllr Pamela Fleming; Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Business and Community
Cllr Fleming is not a resident of H&P but knows the area well. Ham is unique in having started a Neighbourhood Forum. In other areas of the borough we have Village planning: to get a shared vision of an area, to shape priorities and what sort of developments residents want. Village plans have fuzzy boundaries. In 2010 every resident was asked what their priorities were for their local area; 14 villages were identified and 14 village plans were produced in 2012. The result: the plans had no standing in planning. So new methods to enhance the plans and process were introduced; involving a full consultation with local residents and drawing up Supplementary Planning Documents that will be included in local planning policies to guide officers, developers and the planning committee. Information on village planning available on the Council’s website http://richmond.gov.uk/village_plans. Village planning is planning in language people can understand. Like a Neighbourhood Forum it is an opportunity for members to be involved in bottom up, rather than top-down politics.
4. EGM Business
a. Election of new Committee Members: Geoff Bond
The following were unanimously elected.
i. Sgt Paul Dowsett (local police) – could not be at the meeting but was represented by PC Heather Busby
ii. Alexandra Colclough (Education rep) Dept Head of Meadlands School
iii. Lisa Fairmaner – (local resident and chair of Planning Team). Heads up the team responsible for planning and environmental policy at Westminster City Council
iv. Danielle Coleman – (local resident) Lived in Ham for 7 years, one of original group of 5 who set up the process of Neighbourhood Forum, member of HUG for 6 years, Greenscreen monthly film screenings in Ham Library, distributed Ham magazine
v. Petra Braun, (local trader) Worked as a planner in Germany for 10 years; experience of developing Plans; local resident for 10 years; owns local business Hansel & Pretzel since 2009; link to large German community within Ham.
b. Changes to the constitution: David Williams
i. Amendment 1 for paragraph 3.3
Proposal: to change committee size from “up to 20” to “between 15 and 20”
Reason: to ensure a reasonable size committee
ii. Amendment 2 for paragraph 3.3
Proposal: Add “ A majority of the Committee members shall be residents of Ham and Petersham”
Reason: to ensure that the Committee is adequately representative of local residents.
iii. Amendment 3 for paragraph 3.3
Proposal: to change the quorum from “12” to “one third of the current membership of the committee”.
Reason: Committee meetings have often had fewer than 12 attending
A discussion about amendment 3 ensued regarding the size for a quorum. Those present were asked to vote on three definitions of ‘quorum’: half of the committee, 7 members of the committee or one ‘third’ of the committee. Result – a half of the committee won the vote
Amendment approved: ‘to change the quorum from “12” to “one half of the current membership of the committee”
5. Neighbourhood Plan updates – Lisa Fairmaner
a. Key Plan themes and objectives
b. Future Consultation proposals
c. Structure, Content and programme of the Plan
Our mandate is to convert the two years of feedback into workable plans. Context: national government publishes the National Policy Framework which sets out general guidelines; the Mayor writes his own plan, the London Plan, with strategy and a lot of detailed policies. Then local level plans are drawn up by Richmond Council – their strategy and detailed policies. These have to be consistent with the London Plan. Then we have our Neighbourhood Plan, which has to be consistent with the strategic policies in Richmond Council’s Core Strategy and site allocations. A planning application has to be determined in accordance with the development plan for the area. So that is the London Plan, Richmond Council’s policies and any Neighbourhood Plan for the area. This is an incredible power. We need to think how to use it at our discretion. It has a very real impact on the ground.
We don’t operate as an island. The enormous need for new homes is particularly acute in London and the South East. There is an expectation that all areas make some contribution to meeting this need. Across Greater London, there is a shortage of 6000 new homes per year, that is a shortfall between the need and the land identified, the capacity. The Mayor agreed the boroughs have to address the shortfall – all were given a new target for housing including Richmond. Our role as a Neighbourhood Forum is to think about what can we contribute in this area; where are our opportunities?; housing at the right density, in the right area…which still protects our open spaces.
We will only include those things in the Plan on which there is consensus. What is our unique point of difference? What are the things that the wider areas of Richmond and London don’t share? For some sites we are too late but there are some sites where the opportunity exists for us to influence decision makers. Our mandate comes from the community. So please participate.
Questions from the floor
- how is ‘consensus’ defined:? Answer: ultimately there is a referendum on the Plan.
- concern about whether the Forum can determine if Ham Close gets knocked down and the residents are rehoused. And there are only 50 people here who could determine the plan that will directly affect their future. Is there a representative of Richmond Housing Partnership here? There aren’t enough resident / Council tenants represented. There is a lot of miscommunication going on – from the Council, the Richmond Partnership, this Forum. Answer: we can only write planning policies to guide the developments . If we can’t agree then we won’t say anything.
- suggestion that we have wider more efficient communication about which areas are up for discussion and which are not. Forum members need to be better informed. E.g. people have suggested that the block which includes Hansel and Pretsel is going to be pulled down. Answer: to be able to have influence, the Forum needs to have enough information to synchronize our plans with the timing of the Council’s development plans.
6. Hot off the Press – Cllr Jean Loveland; Cllr Penny Frost
a. Roadworks on Petersham Road: the gas mains replacement is in response to the ageing Victorian pipe work which has resulted in many previous closures. The Council requested the work to be done during the school holidays, and that it did not affect the key events in the area – e.g. Ride London and Rugby World cup road closure trial in August. National Grid required a partial road closure because of a further leak so it was decided to allow the start of the major works. Now additional signage has been put up the situation has improved. Montrose House couldn’t be done yet because of discussions on the pointing to be used. Unfortunately, the lime rendering that has been decided on for the walls will not set in the cold weather during the February full road closure – a further closure is therefore due. The long term gain should outweigh the current inconvenience. Cllr Sarah Tippett (email@example.com ) is monitoring this situation.
b. Three BT coldspots have been identified; an analysis is due. Telephone numbers and postcodes are needed. Send them to Jean Loveland if you are having problems. firstname.lastname@example.org
c. Latchmere House planning appeal has taken place: we still don’t have further information.
d. Russell School is having a new build to enable it to move to one and a half form entry, which will include new classrooms for part of Strathmore Early Years and KS1&2. A further planning application is expected for the Russell to go to two form entry. The land that Strathmore School occupies (Key stage 4 and 5 is going across to Greycourt, and the remainder to St Richard Reynolds in Twickenham) will eventually be sold and may provide an opportunity for the Forum to influence the planning decision.
e. 50 boats illegally moored on Richmond Land have now been reduced to 5. Those not attached to land have had notices served by the Environment Agency.
f. Soft consultation on Ham-wide controlled parking zone (CPZ) – this began with Bishop’s Close residents signing a petition calling for one and submitting it to the Council. The Council requires one for the whole of Ham, not single streets. So consultation is ongoing. Concerns were raised about the nature and extent of the consultation. Geoff Bond is collating the comments. To pass, 51% of all residents have to agree.
g. Ham Close: please ignore wild rumours! A community forum is being set up. We don’t know what money is being offered. We have concerns about the 192 residents and will keep the Forum up to date.
h. Sainsbury’s: has been passed. The Council rejected a heritage look on Sainsbury’s as it is just outside the conservation area, and Sainsbury’s have rejected that request. They haven’t been able to put in an ATM due to several reasons but it is hoped that Sainsbury’s and an ATM will be open by the Autumn 2015. We hope there will be a CCTV to avoid the fly-tipping which is currently a major issue.
The Chair encouraged those present to look at the boards.