The Pinner Association Open Meeting (AGM) held on 20th April
The AGM and Open Meeting of The Pinner Association was held on the evening of Wednesday 20th April. The speaker was Mr Michael Lockwood, Chief Executive of Harrow Council and the theme of the meeting was “The Future of Pinner”. This topic created great local interest resulting in standing room only in the Pinner village Hall, with approximately 150 people attending the meeting.
Mr Lockwood gave a summary of the current aims and projects of Harrow Council to improve life in the borough and respond to the pressure for housing from a growing population. The main area for regeneration was to be in Wealdstone and it was hoped that the relocation of the Civic Centre to that part of Harrow would improve the vitality, amenity and employment opportunities in that part of the borough. Mr Lockwood also considered that Harrow Town centre is rather “tired” when compared to other neighbouring shopping centres and this would be another area which could benefit from regeneration.
Other parts of the borough such as Pinner had a special character and the Council recognised this and was aware that this should be retained. However, the Government’s policies to allow the conversion of offices, and now other commercial premises, to flats under “permitted development” meant that the Council could not stop this type of redevelopment. Mr Lockwood said that he shared the concerns of the Pinner Association and Pinner residents that this had resulted in too many poorly designed flats being created in the borough. There is a danger of Harrow borough becoming a dormitory area without sufficient local employment opportunities for Harrow residents. 2,000 jobs had already been lost in Harrow due to the conversion of offices to flats, and local business were losing trade. Mr Lockwood said that Harrow Council were to continue to lobby the Government to get an exemption for Harrow borough from such permitted development of flats from commercial property.
The strong opposition from Pinner, being over 90% of the responses received to the consultation, had resulted in the major changes to reduce or eliminate the fees required in the new “Events Policy” had been example of the lively community spirit in Pinner. Similarly, Pinner Library had been retained and was to be refurbished in the near future.
Mr Lockwood proceeded to answer numerous questions from the floor. Many of these focussed on the proposal by Harrow Council to build housing for private let on the Waxwell Lane car park. Mr Lockwood replied that already informal consultations had taken place with some stakeholders and that Waxwell Lane residents had already been invited to be considered for inclusion in a “Stakeholders Reference Group”. He stressed that no decision had yet been taken as to whether the car park was to be redeveloped, and if so whether some car parking provision would be maintained. Questioners stressed the need for more, not less, car parking in Pinner, particularly when the many new flats being constructed without their own parking provision are occupied.
Mr Lockwood explained that the projected increase in the population of Harrow required a significant amount of new housing to be constructed and that there was a balance to be struck between providing the necessary new dwellings and the retention of the green open spaces enjoyed by residents.
Questioners mentioned the difficulty of contacting any responsible person at Harrow Council when a problem had occurred. Mr Lockwood suggested that where possible residents use a “My Harrow” account to report problems on-line, but acknowledged that at times the response from council officers had fallen short of the standard that he would like to be provided. He was instigating a half day training for all the staff at Harrow Council to improve their skills in providing a respectful response to all enquiries from the public.
Among other topics the poor street cleaning in Pinner was raised, to which Mr Lockwood responded that that a dedicated street sweeper had now been allocated to central Pinner, and the residential roads were to be on a more frequent four weekly cleaning schedule.
At the AGM the Pinner Association elected a “new” Chairman to succeed Bruce Watson, who had served for part of the past year as Acting Chairman. Warwick Hillman had been the Chairman of The Pinner Association many years previously and he was willing to be elected to fill that position for one year only to concentrate the minds of all the Pinner Association members of the need to revitalise the committee, some of whom had served for many years. An appeal was made for younger members to come forward to become future active committee members in order to prevent The Pinner Association no longer being the vibrant and successful residents’ amenity society it has traditionally been.