Background to Highams Park Community CIC
Highams Park Community CIC (“HP CIC”) is a community interest company which was set up by members of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) in 2017 with the aim of delivering projects for local people in the Highams Park Plan Area.
The Highams Park Planning Group (“HPPG”) is group of local people which was established at a Launch Event on 16th November 2013. The Launch Event was attended by hundreds of residents from the Highams Park Area and over 1,000 residents have now joined as members. HPPG was formally constituted by its members on 17th January 2014 and was designated by Waltham Forest Council on 15th July, 2014 as the neighbourhood development forum for the Highams Park Plan Area.
HPPG’s has undertaken extensive consultations with local people and statutory bodies and is creating a Community Plan (“The Highams Park Plan”) for the Highams Park Plan Area. The Plan will be in two parts: A Neighbourhood Plan which will be a formal document covering land use and planning issues in the Plan Area and an Action Plan for the implementation of community projects suggested by local people for improvements in the area.
In preparing the Action Plan it became clear to members of HPPG’s committee that the most effective way of delivering the Action Plan would be through an independent Community Interest Company (CIC) with the ability to enter into leases, own property and apply for grants and funding. The establishment of HP CIC was approved by HPPG’s members at the Annual General Meeting of 16th February 2017 and was incorporated on 28th June 2017 with registration no. 10840775.
The Board of HP CIC is comprised of seven members of the Highams Park Planning Group four of whom are also members of HPPG’s main committee (two of whom are also local councillors). Included within the skill sets of the board members are a chartered surveyor, an architect, a lawyer and a sustainability expert. The Company Secretary is a Chartered Accountant.
The Board members are , as follows:
- Gordon Turpin (also Chair of HPPG)
- Janet Charlesworth (also Deputy Chair of HPPG)
- Tony Bell (also a committee member of HPPG and a ward Councillor for Hale End & Highams Park Ward)
- John Moss (also a committee member of HPPG and a ward Councillor for Larkswood Ward)
- Chris Twinn (also a member of HPPG)
- Richard Ceeney (also a member of HPPG)
- Ben Mayfield (also a member of HPPG)
The Company Secretary is Nigel Reynolds.
HP CIC is a voluntary organisation and none of the board members draw a salary or expenses and there are no paid employees.
Objectives of HP CIC
Although HP CIC was set up by HPPG, and its board is comprised of members of HPPG, it operates independently with its own board and clearly defined memorandum and articles of association.
The primary objectives of HP CIC are to:
- Provide support and assistance to the Highams Park Planning Group in the development and implementation of the Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan and projects that emerge from the plan.
- Undertake projects and other activities that benefit the people in the Highams Park Plan Area.
- Operate in collaboration with other organisations in the Highams Park Plan Area who share similar objectives.
- Oversee the establishment and management of Humphry’s (a community hub including a café and toilets) in The Highams Park, IG8 9RE.
The draft Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan contains many suggestions for projects and activities that will improve the area or provide benefits to local people. HP CIC acts as a vehicle for these projects and activities to be implemented.
HP CIC also seeks to provide a vehicle for the implementation of other community benefit projects and activities that may be desired by local people that arise independently of the Highams Park Neighbourhood Plan.
In fulfilling its objectives, HP CIC collaborates with other voluntary organisations in the area, and with local businesses, the local authorities, individuals in the community and other stakeholders who have similar or related objectives.
Activities to Date
The team from HPPG that comprises HP CIC’s Board have been members of HPPG since inception and have been involved in a number of projects through HPPG since 2014, including: forestry conservation works, decorative lighting in the town centre, installation of public art, a community internet radio station, arts events, festivals and other public events.
Working in conjunction with volunteers from HPPG, HP CIC undertook its first project in October 2017 when it entered into a lease with Waltham Forest Council for the refurbishment of a disused building in the local park (“The Highams Park” by the lake) to provide a community hub with café and toilets. The project was costed at around £250,000 by a local builder, so HPC CIC sought donations from local business for equipment and materials and undertook the project directly using volunteers from HPPG. The total volunteer hours over the life of the project were around 2,000 hours and over 70 people were involved. The donations of skills and equipment from local business and people were such the project was completed in May 2018 to a higher specification than originally costed for a cash expenditure of around only £14,000. The funding was provided by ward forum grants and corporate donations.
The community hub now operates under a concession granted by HP CIC as Humphry’s Café and its activities are overseen by HP CIC. The operator is responsible for all utility bills and HP CIC receives 10% of the income as a licence fee. The money used is for the upkeep of the building and for other community projects.
During 2019/20 funding raised by HP-CIC was used to enable local volunteers to carry out the projects below:
1. New path and Seating area outside Humphry’s Cafe
In the Spring of 2019 volunteers from the Highams Park Snedders (HPPG’s forestry group) laid a new graveled path across the park from Tamworth Avenue to Humphry’s Cafe and created a seating area in front of the cafe. This project cost around £4,500 and was funded by a mixture of Ward Forum money from Hatch Lane Ward and a donation from HPPG.
2. Wild About Highams Park Animal Sculpture Trail
Funded by a “Make it Happen” grant from the Council status as part of the London Borough of Culture year, “The Wild About Highams Park” arts trail arranged by the Highams Park Planning Group. This involved the creation of an animal sculpture trail around the Highams Park area made from trees that needed to be felled in the local forest sited around the Highams Park area. The City of London Corporation who manage Epping Forest supplied the logs free of charge. The project engaged with over 1500 local schoolchildren. The culmination of the project was in May 2019 at the Spring Festival in The Highams Park where a new formed Maypole dance group performed around a carved Maypole base which was also funded by the project.
You can find out more about the project on the links below:
3. New Viewing Platform and Signage at Highams Park Lake
Funded by a grant from the City Bridge Trust this project provided all weather wheelchair / pushchair access to Highams Park Lake from the park, new signage to the Lake around the local forest, as well as equipment for brush clearance around paths. The works will be carried out by the Highams Park Snedders (forestry volunteers from the Highams Park Planning Group) under the guidance of the Epping Forest Conservators. Although much work was done this project is not expected to be finished until mid-April 2020. The new signage and viewing platform have proved very popular with local people.
You can find out more about the project on this link: New viewing platform and signage at Highams Park Lake
4. New IRM Meridian Plaque in Hale End Road
Funded by a community ward forum grant from Hale End & Highams Park Ward was used to install a brass plaque marking the passage of the International Reference Meridian through Highams Park Town Centre.
You can find out more about this project on this link: New Meridian Plaque in Hale Road
5. Wild Bird Mural in Signal Walk
Funded by donations from Stow Brothers, W J Meade and the Highams Park Planning Group, the artist ATM was appointed to create a mural of birds in the woods mural by a top-flight wildlife artist mural in Highams Park town centre. Note: the Highams Park Planning Group donation was was provided by way of community ward forum grants from Hatch Lane Ward and Hale End & Highams Park Ward.
You can view the artwork on this link: Wall Art in Signal Walk
6. Defibrillator at Humphry’s Cafe
In early May 2019, Highams Park Community CIC installed a defibrillator and cabinet in Humphry’s Cafe, in The Highams Park. The cost of the defibrillator was £1,782 and the money was raised using crowd funding. The people of Highams Park were amazingly generous and it only took one week to raise the money.
The defibrillator will be available to all in case of a cardiac arrest in the park or nearby woods.