About Highams Residents' Association
Formed in 1955, Highams Residents' Association was created to prevent indiscriminate development of The Estate and preserve its character for future generations of residents.
contacts & links

Membership

Membership costs £2 per household per year, open to all residents.

Fees are collected annually by our committee members, allowing them to meet and discuss Estate matters face-to-face with residents. They can also be paid in cash or via Bank Transfer.

Highams Residents' Association uses the funds raised for campaigns and newsletters, legal advice, maintaining the ransom strips we hold in trust, running this website and laying on events for the community.

Talk to us if you have membership queries or wish to make a donation.

Highams Residents' Association history

Prefabs and The Highams Park

Pressure to house those displaced by WW2 led Walthamstow Council to build 178 prefabricated bungalows in the Highams Park. The park was acquired in 1934 through an agreement between the council and Sir Edward Warner. Construction began in 1947.

In 1955, the council applied for an extension to keep these "prefabs" in place until 1965.

The application was circulated to private homeowners on the Highams Estate by four residents, who then received permission to present their case against this extension at the public enquiry.

Money was raised to cover legal costs by asking Estate residents to contribute 10s per household. The remaining monies would be used to form a resident association, which was known as Highams Residents' Association.

Demolition of Montalt Villas

In 1955, the newly formed HRA attended a public meeting to protest against council plans to demolish 28 privately occupied Montalt Villas and replace them with 166 flats.

In the end, following further fundraising from residents, the council agreed that internal reconstruction could be undertaken, and the plans for demolition were withdrawn.

Following this exchange, a more collaborative tone was in evidence when in 1958, nos. 16 and 18 Montalt Road were planned to be converted into flats.

HRA worked alongside the council to ensure additional development of the Montalt Villa gardens that backed onto Chingford Lane saw only a handful of trees felled.

Wood Lane now occupies this area with its 29 bungalows and 65 garages.

Beechwood Road flats

In 1962, Walthamstow Council proposed to build a twelve-storey block of flats on the Park Farm site, on the edge of the Estate.

HRA opposed this development because it was a 'relatively small site, adjacent to Epping Forest, and at nearly the highest point in the district".

To illustrate the point, on 13 September 1962, residents erected a mast, topped by balloons, on the site to demonstrate the impact it would have on the surrounding area. Essex county council rejected the plans, and in the end, blocks of only three, four and five storeys were built.

Nesta Road mini-estate

In 1988, the owners of 11 The Charter Road and 1 Nesta Road wished to demolish both properties. Eight new houses would be built in their place. HRA, supported by the strong views of residents opposed the application and the council refused it. This led to The Estate being designated an Area of Special Character.

2 & 27 The Charter Road

More recently, in partnership with Highams Park Planning Group, the demolition of 2 The Charter Road to make way for flats was rejected by planners following objections by residents and conservation officers from Waltham Forest Council.

Then in 2021, 27 The Charter Road was unsympathetically altered, and proposals to convert it into a care home stopped following a long-running campaign backed by residents, councillors and MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

Area of Special Character

The quality and distinctive design of the architecture contribute significantly to the character of The Highams Estate.

This was recognised by Waltham Forest Council when it was granted Area of Special Character status in 1988. It is effectively "one-down" from conservation status. This designation means:

Article 4 Direction

On 2 September 2020, an Article 4 direction was put in place to preserve high-quality architectural features, ensuring any changes to the homes in The Estate consider their surroundings:

“The successful preservation of the special character of the area however depends in practice just as much on the support and co-operation of local residents. Without that co-operation, the special character of the area could slowly but surely be lost through unsympathetic changes which can be carried out without the need for planning permission.”

HRA encourages residents to respect and retain any and all characteristic features of the architecture, not least because of their increasing rarity and therefore value. Unlike their modern counterparts, original features can be restored easily. HRA can identify which parts are original and how to retain them before residents decide to make improvements.

The council and HRA review all plans submitted for approval. As a guide, the following will likely require permission or be refused in accordance with Article 4:

Planning advice

HRA regularly help residents who are considering making changes to their home.

We provide informal planning advice, recommendations for improvements and can support planning applications to the council. Speak to us if you're interested, and we'll arrange a visit.

Note: HRA committee members do not represent the council's planning department, and advice is given in good faith. Always consult a qualified architect and structural surveyor before commencing any work.

Ransom strips

During the development of The Highams Estate in the 1930s, land used to construct The Charter Road was achieved through an exchange between Essex County Council (who then owned the School) and Courtenay Warner.

However, the council refused to contribute to the cost of the new road. Therefore a strip of land was retained by Warner, and an indenture dated 4 December 1922 stated:

"that the Council, their successors or assigns shall not be entitled to pass or repass or use the proposed road or any part thereof…".

The agreement was implemented in 1932, and this strip of land continues to be demarcated by stones with the inscription “Property of Warner Estates, 1932” (an example is shown in the photo at the top of this page).

There was also a strip of land retained along the top of Nesta Road between it and Woodford Rugby Club, which had the potential to be developed by Warner. In 1983, Sir Henry Warner gifted the ransom strips to HRA in perpetuity. The three Trustees of these ransom strips are HRA Members. This ongoing arrangement gives residents more say in how two large attractive green spaces, which contribute significantly to the area's character, should be developed.

Ransom strip trustees:

Land registry document showing the location of the two ransom strips held in perpetuity by Highams Resident's Association

Contacts and useful links

Feel free to contact Highams Residents' Association if you have any questions about the work we do, are concerned about planning matters or wish to share your stories about life on The Highams Estate: highamsra@gmail.com

HRA committee members

Our committee members generously volunteer their time and skills for free. If you wish to join our committee, get in touch with us.

Local councillors (Hatch Lane Ward)

Crime prevention