You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2007.

Local residents are on high alert after the announcement that Waltham Forest will become home to three of six new waste processing plants planned for North London. The Walthamstow Guardian confirms that “the types of plants needed include a hazardous waste processing facility and an incinerator, as well as recycling centres.” [see article here]

This is naturally worrying: nobody wants an incinerator in the area. Also, the council has presented the development as a ‘Gateway’ opportunity filled with local amenities, businesses, public spaces, housing and leisure parks – just where (and next to what) would any processing plant go?

Before rushing to the barricades to fight incinerator plans, however, we should remember that it has not been decided what’s going to be put where. According to a comment posted on the Guardian’s article, Archie Onslow of The North London Waste Plan has said that they’re looking into sites for processing/recycling green waste and stuff from the black boxes ie composting / sorting facilities.

The council rushed to assure residents that there will be consultation on the subject. It will start on January 23 and, the council says, “residents will be able to request a copy” (of what, exactly?) by visiting www.nlwp.net or ringing the North London Waste Plan on 020 7974 5916.

The NLWP website has a sort of consultation portal called “Have Your Say” and there is a consultation timetable that promises “formal consultation on issues and options, via [the NLWP] website and public events across the 7 boroughs“. It looks worryingly stage-managed, and it would be nice to know what part our own council will play in all this… As ever, we have to work to make sure that the consultation is genuine and meaningful. Take a look at theNLWP’s consultation guidelines and tell us what you think.

A meeting to discuss policy will be held at the Education Centre on 28th Jan at 6.30pm.

The time scale on this seems long, but you know how time flies: here is the North London Waste Plan’s timetable.

Watch this space!

The person who decided that sliced bread was the best thing ever had clearly never encountered RSS aggregators. (In fact, it’s likely they had never encountered very much at all – I mean, who gets that excited about bread!?)

Working on the assumption that some of our readers really don’t know what an RSS feed is, and perhaps aren’t very techy, either, we’ve put together a little explanation/how-to.

Imagine that you are a bee, tiring of your daily round of flowers. You’re thinking to yourself: “I spend hours on the wing slogging from bloom to blossom just to get the mixture of nectar I need for my damn honey!”. You’re probably thinking how great it would be if all the flowers -and just those ones you wanted- came to you instead. Or even better, get some other bee to go and get the nectar for you, and just sit tight and wait for the honey… Well, that’s pretty much what an RSS reader does with websites.

Most sites these days, especially those, like this blog, that are basically series of posts, will provide an RSS feed. This is basically a version of the site in which individual posts are stripped down into separate nuggets of information for an RSS reader to pick up. In an RSS feed, for example, this post would be such a nugget.

You can tell that a site you are looking at offers an RSS feed if you see either of these buttons.

rss_button.jpg

RSS acronym

(You’ll notice ‘subscribe to RSS’ buttons on the left of this page, one at the top and one at the bottom.)

If you install an RSS aggregator, such as one of these, then it will pull all of those nuggets together as they are written, right there on your desktop screen. But you will have to be at that machine, of course…

Even better (we think, anyway) is to use an online RSS reader, because you can access it from any web browser. Many people use Google’s, but there are plenty of others out there; for the sake of an easy life, it’s probably best to use the reader provided by your web email provider, E.g. Google, or Yahoo! etc. Then, all you have to do is click on the button and the reader itself will ask if you want to add the feed. (Often, when you click on the button, it gives you a list of the most common readers, and you get to pick your one from that.) Either way, that’s it. Job Done. Now all you need to do is go to your reader online, and all your RSS feeds will be there in one big honeypot, ie all the nuggets from the sites you like to read will be together in one place.

Any questions? Leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.

PS… It’s even easier to handle RSS feeds if you’re using the Firefox browser!

Cllr O’Rourke has got in touch to let us know the details of the meeting next Tuesday:

The meeting … is a public meeting arranged by the High Street Focus Team.

The details are as follows:

Subject: Walthamstow Town Centre Regeneration Plans & Local Cultural Services
Date/Time: 27th November 6.30pm
Venue: Douglas Eyre Sports Centre Coppermill Lane, E17

The purpose of the meeting is to enable residents at this end of High Street Ward to engage with the Town Centre consultation. Officers have confirmed that they will attend to make a brief presentation and take questions.

We will also be consulting on the Liberal Democrat policy of Local Area Management Boards for Cultural Services.

It would be great to hear from any Members of BAG who do attend; email us here, or post a message to the Yahoo! group.

Members of the Acting Committee had a meeting this evening with people from Green Issues and from DP9, the developers’ PR agents and planning ‘fixers’, respectively. It went pretty well, on the whole: they were polite and we learned some fascinating stuff.

Here are the key facts, some of which are alarming…

Just housing :: On the site behind Hawarden Road (BHL2), they are planning to just build housing. Mixed use is simply not in their brief. What’s more, there seems to be little regard to the ecological or community sustainability of the site.* On an enclosed site with limited access and no amenities! We explained some home truths about the area, and we hope they’ll feed them back… Watch this space, but don’t hold your breath just yet: it’s clear we’ve got some major work to do.
*It’s only fair to point out that the developers are ‘aiming’ for BREEAM 3 certification (see an overview here and check the planning links to the left for full guidance), which was recently made the statutory minimum.  In environmental terms, it’s a huge improvement on how things used to be done, but we could still push for a higher certification. It’s also only fair to point out that the fact that an all-housing development on BHL2 is anti-community is not entirely the developers’ fault.  Surely the Council must have briefed them on what it wants there (note, this is the same Council that told us it had no idea what the plans were and we should wait for information from the developers…).

High density :: They couldn’t give a precise figure for the area of the site, but confirmed that it is at least 1.5 hectares, and probably around 1.7 hectares. The Council’s Unitary Development Policy (UDP) says that higher-density housing should be encouraged in areas within 10 mins walk of transport hubs: that is, up to 450 “habitable rooms” (ie not including bathrooms and kitchens) per hectare. However, the London Plan (Our Ken’s plan for the whole of London) allows for up to 700 habitable rooms per hectare. The developers of BHL2 are clearly gunning for 700 – they want every last square inch. And this council will probably cave in: they’re famous among developers for how easy it is to run rings around them…

High rise :: The Plan, such as it is, is to build houses immediately behind Hawarden Road that are the same height as the terraced houses that are already there. The buildings would then step up, like a terrace, towards a ‘landmark’ building on the southern tip of the site (ie furthest away from Blackhorse Road) that would be at least 15 storeys high.

Highly congested :: It was very clear that the developers have no clue about the transport stresses in this area: they’ve obviously never been caught at rush hour trying to turn into Blackhorse road or getting a seat on the tube. They seemed sympathetic to our concerns, but bear in mind that every concession we win bites into their profits.

Affordability :: The planned homes on BHL2 will be divided as follows:

  • One third will be privately owned outright. These will probably be the choicest homes. Penthouse anybody?
  • One third will be social housing for rent. That is, a social landlord will own them and rent them out. (Hopefully at a good rate to key workers.)
  • One third will be Londonwide Initiative (LWI) shared rental. Now that’s a new and slightly worrying “innovation“. It makes ownership cheaper, housing more affordable. But at what price? The usual shared ownership scheme allows people to buy at least half of their home; they then pay rental on the bit that’s left over. In the LWI shared ownership scheme, buyers don’t pay rent on the bit they don’t own, but they buy less than half of the property. This means that they don’t have a controlling stake in their property, and it will almost certainly result in people buying flats just to invest in the equity and then move on as quickly as possible. In fact, the Metro newspaper recently did a spread on LWI shared ownership schemes, recommending them to the canny investor. Doesn’t sound as if it will do anything to make our community more sustainable…

Families :: We asked them what proportion of the development was to be reserved for family housing (ie at least three bedrooms – essential to the sustainability of this community). They’re reckoning with around 15%. At the last meeting of this residents association, residents pushed for 50%.

Road access :: The developers, like the council, are planning a loop road to service their housing estate. There will be one entrance/exit directly onto Blackhorse Road, and one entrance/exit at that little driveway alley at the foot of Hawarden Road, where it bends into Edward Road. Just take a moment to picture the gridlock.

We fed back the views of residents as collected at our last residents meeting. We can hope… and, to be fair, they’ve promised further consultation. But it is clear that we have to keep up the pressure to make sure that a genuine consultation takes place. It’s true that the developers are just ignorant of many local issues on the ground. And they have said that they are keen to know what those concerns are. But the main thing now has to be to make them care about those issues.

Next meeting :: The developers are planning a consultation in December, probably around the 15th… We’ll let you know dates and venues as soon as we hear more.

Meanwhile, please keep thinking about this, and pass your views on!

Next Monday sees a Walthamstow West Community Council meeting at Walthamstow Academy on Billet Road. (Map) Take a look at the agenda. It kicks off at 7:30pm, but you can arrive earlier and have a cuppa at 7:15pm

Community Council meetings are an excellent way to try to hold the council to account. We’ve been asking them to tell us what they know for some time, and their evasive responses have drawn censure from everyone that heard the, including the Chair.

It’s vital that we keep the pressure up and put as many of us as possible should try to go along so that they know we’re watching! And if you do go, why not email us a report of how you thought it went

You can also put your questions to:

Shirley Haynes
Community Council Officer
Tel 020 8496 3000
Email shirley.haynes@walthamforest.gov.uk

Just a note to let people know that the consultation meeting at Douglas Eyre pavilion will NOT be next week, as was announced at the residents meeting, but on the evening of the 27th. I’ll confirm the time here when I have heard back from Cllr O’Rourke.

The meeting will be about the High Street development, and Cllr O’Rourke has arranged for the bar to be open!

Until we get a lot better at this website business and manage to build an email grapevine into it, we will continue to use the Yahoo! Group website as a general grapevine. The blog, links and files will, however, be housed here on blackhorseactiongroup.org.uk

Sign up to the Yahoo! group HERE.

Email us if you have any problems.

On the Yahoo! site you get to choose how you get your messages. Go to ‘edit membership’ and choose: ‘Individual Email’, which means that every message to the group will be sent to you as it comes in; ‘Daily Digest’, which means that all of a day’s messages will be sent to you in one email; ‘Web Only’, which means no messages will be sent to you at all – you’ll have to check in yourself; and ‘Special Notices’, which means that only messages that moderators decide are important will be sent to you.

Membership is free, and becoming a Member couldn’t be easier.

Just write an email!

Make sure you include your full name and postal address, and state clearly that you want to become a Member. (If you live outside the Area, you can still become an associate member.)

If you have any questions, or just want a chat before deciding, email us anyway!

Welcome to the website of the Blackhorse Action Group. Following the meeting on 12th November 2007, which set up a new Residents Association for the area, this site is being put together over the coming weeks. We aim to create a forum where residents and members of the Residents Association can find out about, and discuss, developments that affect our area. Here you will find info and links about various issues and campaigns, including the proposed development of the Blackhorse Lane Area.

Sign up to our Yahoo! Group


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