29 January 2015

Planning Application: M&Co application by Morrisons


The Forest Hill Society have written to oppose the application from Morrisons Supermarkets to convert M&Co on London Road. Below are the details of our objection:


I write on behalf of the Forest Hill Society to object to planning application DC/14/89770 for alterations to the shop front and side access arrangements at 10-12 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3HF. 

We understand that planning permission is not required for the change from the current A1 retail use of this property to the use of the proposed supermarket.  However, this application raises a number of important issues about this proposal that we believe will be detrimental to the function and operation of the shopping area of Forest Hill.  We believe that the Council should be extremely concerned about the highways and servicing impacts that will arise directly from the proposals within this application in that they facilitate a much more servicing intensive use that conflicts directly with the surrounding streets and pedestrian users. No information on servicing, deliveries or refuse arrangements is included with this application.

The proposal in this application includes changes to the side access into this building from Havelock Walk, partly for access to the upper floors but this also gives access to the main store area "for access and means of escape for ground floor retail unit".  We are concerned that this change to the side access may be intended to be used for servicing and for deliveries for the new supermarket and that both Havelock Walk, and this busy stretch of London Road is highly unsuited to this arrangement or possibility.   Another concern that we have is that the new set back doorway onto this edge creates a hidden space and may facilitate crime and antisocial behavior in this area.

No information is provided in this application to explain how the regular heavy servicing necessary for a supermarket use will be accommodated on this busy corner of the South Circular and TFL red route.  The proposed changes to the building to not make it clear how this will work or whether they intend to use the front or side access for servicing.  It is also not clear where deliveries are to be stored before they go on the shop floor.   If the existing service bays are to be used that are along London Road 20m or so away then this will mean trolleying deliveries from this point into the store on a very regular basis.  We would like to understand whether TFL have been asked to comment on the impact this may have on the adjacent bus stops.

No obvious space is provided within the new internal layout for storage, refuse or the other paraphernalia that goes with smaller supermarkets and which if not properly planned for end up on the street causing a nuisance to pedestrians and other town centre users (there is a particular current problem with this at the small Tesco Store on Kirkdale/Willow Way which causes problems for pedestrians and other users as well as looking unattractive). This is one of the busiest and most congested corners of Forest Hill already with bus stops, vehicular traffic, servicing bays, road crossings and many shop units.  This corner cannot cope with the amount of bins that are already located here and any more will cause considerable harm.   At the very least we would expect a planning condition that prevented the locating or storing of trolleys for deliveries or store use, bins or other items outside of the store on the public highway.   The current shop frontage has a set back doorway which at least allows those entering the shop to shelter from the busy street.  The new shop front arrangements do not allow this.

We are of the view that there is no need for an additional cash point in this location as there are at least 5 others within 50m of this point.  This is a busy and narrow area of the pavement given its use and location and this will just add to the congestion.  We would disagree with the applicant's statement that the pavement is wide in this location. 

Our last concern is about the design of the shop front itself and whilst these changes are not extensive we are concerned that they do not enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.  This is therefore a missed opportunity to improve the area and particularly this building which is one of the least attractive in the town centre but in a highly visible location.  

In summary, our objections to this application are:
  • Lack of clarity over servicing and refuse proposals and arrangements that come about as a direct result of the proposed changes in this application;
  • The purpose of the enlarged side entrance included within this application and its impact on Havelock Walk;
  • The design of the new access onto Havelock Walk and the potentially dangerous set back area along the alley way;
  • Impact on the street scene of additional servicing vehicles along London Road;
  • Impact on access to and the operation of Havelock Walk (which is entirely unsuitable for large vehicles or lorries);
  • The missed opportunity to enhance this building and this part of the Conservation Area; and
  • There is no need for an additional cash point machine in this location.

We hope that you will be able to refuse this application until acceptable proposals for servicing the new use are established that will minimise any impacts on this important corner of the town centre.  We believe that any servicing proposals should be widely discussed prior to any application being approved so that the traders, shoppers and other users of the town centre can understand their impact and have a chance to comment on them.

26 January 2015

Burns Night Supper 2015


Barry Milton addressing the Haggis. One of the highlights of our Burns Supper at The Hill, Dartmouth Road.

07 January 2015

Planning Applciation: 26 Inglemere Road

An application has been made to convert a building to the rear of 26 Inglemere Road to a one bedroom dwelling. The application can be viewed on Lewisham website.

The Forest Hill Society has written to the council to express our concerns regarding this application:

1. Inaccurate and inadequate documentation
1.1  I am surprised the application was validated as the documents contradict each other.  The application and Design & Access Statement refer to a 1-bedroom, single storey building, yet the the Proposed Plans clearly show a staircase and area for a potential lift, and a Basement plan has also been submitted.  Why was this application validated if the submitted papers were inaccurate?

1.2 There are no photos of the existing building, only photos of an empty site.  Has an 'existing building' actually been constructed?  Aerial maps currently on Google and Bing do not show a building on this site.  If it has been built, has it ever been used for its original purpose for storage?  Without photos of the existing building how can anyone judge the Planning, design and access statement's claim that "the appearance ... is similar to its existing relationship"?

1.3 The Parking Study in the Design & Access Statement doesn't include the position of the proposed building.  Judging from drawings that do show the building and using its position in relation to 26 Inglemere Road to estimate where the proposed building is sited, it appears that the space required for turning a car would overlap with the building itself.  And if the plans in the Design & Access Statement are correct, there will be a below-ground-level patio on the western side of the house which will further reduce the area for a car to turn.

2. Lifetime Homes: poor provision for wheelchair access

There is an external ramp down to the front door but the area in front of the door doesn't seem large enough to allow a wheelchair to turn into the building.  And is the hallway large enough for a wheelchair user to get through the front door and manoeuvre around?

3. Circumvention of planning policies

The Decision Notice (dated October 2012) granting the application for the original outbuilding (DC/12/80972/X | The construction of a single storey outbuilding in the rear garden of 26 Inglemere Road SE23) imposed an additional condition that the building should not be used as residential accommodation:

"Additional Condition

The outbuilding hereby approved must only be used for storage and purposes incidental to the enjoyment of flat 1, 26 Inglemere Road and not as residential accommodation or for any commercial activities.

Reason for the imposition of the Additional Condition
The use of the outbuilding as a separate commercial or residential unit would not comply with the local planning authority's normal policies in respect of such schemes, with particular regard to the protection of residential amenity, in accordance with policy 15 High quality design for Lewisham in the adopted Core Strategy (June 2011) and saved policies URB 3 Urban Design, URB 6 Alterations and Extensions and HSG 4 Residential Amenity of the adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004)"
I see no reason why this condition should not be enforced and the current application refused.  I am concerned to see the Application Form states that pre-application advice has indicated that the application is acceptable in principle.  Residential use was not acceptable in 2012 so why is it acceptable now?  If this application is granted it will appear that the applicant has successfully circumvented planning policies by a method of incremental planning applications.

26 December 2014

Our Very Own Burns Night 2015!

Since 2009, the Forest Hill Society have celebrated Burns Night in late January and been delighted by the fine food from the Honor Oak and All Inn One pubs, and Canvas & Cream restaurant. In 2015 we will have our Burns Night feast at The Hill Lounge Bar and Kitchen on Dartmouth Road on Saturday 24th January. The Hill have run their own Burns Night ‘bill o’fare’ for a number of years and recently underwent a major refurbishment.

For those of you who are not Scottish (or at least a wee bit Scottish), I should probably explain what it is all about. Robert – or Robbie – Burns is the most famous Scottish poet and his most famous poem is Auld Lang Syne. It is a tradition on Burns night to toast the memory of Robert Burns but... it’s perhaps best not to say too much about his life now as you could find out more on the night (or Wikipedia).

However, Burns Night is not all about Robbie; it is an excuse for some good food, good company, a little alcohol and possibly some poetry, music or even some dancing. While we’re not planning any dancing, we should be able to cater to the other delights of Burns Night. Whatever our backgrounds, we would all undoubtedly enjoy coming together and sharing our common ignorance of Burns and his poetry.

If you are not sure whether you would enjoy our very own Burns Night, let me assure you, you will!

Tickets for Sat 24th January: Dinner costs £19.95 per person (excluding drinks) and starts at 7:30pm; must be reserved in advance from The Hill, 45-47 Dartmouth Road, 020 8699 5686. Please mention that you are part of the Forest Hill Society’s group.

11 December 2014

Improvements to Rail Replacement Bus Services

Over the Christmas period there will be massive disruption to train services through Forest Hill.

London Bridge station will not be serviced by Southern trains from 20th December until 4th January.
Overground will be operating an increased service with at least 4 extra trains per hour operating to/from Crystal Palace, rather than New Cross. Southern tickets will be valid on suitable Overground routes.

No services will operate through Forest Hill between Thursday 25th and Sunday 28th December.

On 27th and 28th December there will be a replacement bus service operated by Southern to London Bridge. As a result of lobbying by Forest Hill Society this replacement bus service will be increased from 4 buses per hour to 10 buses per hour (6 buses to/from London Bridge and an additional 4 to/from New Cross Gate). LOROL are providing an additional bus service between New Cross Gate / New Cross and Canada Water for passengers for the Jubilee Line.

However, passengers from Forest Hill/Honor Oak Park should consider if other routes would be better for them. There are frequent bus services to Waterloo on the 176 and 172, to Blackfriars on the 63, and the Catford Bridge, Catford and Crofton Park train services should be running a normal service.

More advice from TfL regarding the December works can be found at:

https://www.tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/london-bridge-rail-station/december-2014-travel

Beyond this, from 12th January 2015, there will be no SouthEastern services calling at London Bridge (they will run 'fast' to/from Waterloo East). Interchange at London Bridge to the Jubilee line will be possible for journeys to Waterloo, Southwark, and Charing Cross. We are awaiting confirmation regarding changing at Canada Water on Southern tickets for access to these stations (at present this would not appear to be a permitted route, but will they really stop us?)

06 December 2014

Forest Hill Society Member’s Profile: Hilary Satchwell, Chair, Planning Committee

By Helen Wicks (Communications Committee)

Hilary Satchwell joined the Executive Committee of the Forest Hill Society in 2008 and now chairs the Society’s Planning Committee. The Society has benefited from her architectural and urban planning expertise on a number of projects – most notably her contribution to the Forest Hill Pools’ proposals – and, most recently, from her role in facilitating the Forest Hill Town Centre Design Charette.

Originally from Hayling Island in Hampshire, Hilary studied architecture at Plymouth University, where she met her husband-to-be. As a result of her interest in urban design, she found a job in London in 1996 with an architecture and urban design practice called Tibbalds TM2. In 2003, Hilary, together with three female associates, successfully took over part of the company, which then rebranded itself as Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design. Ever since, Hilary has been a director of Tibbalds and worked on a broad range of master-planning, urban regeneration and design strategies.

Hilary’s impressive ability to bring people together and find common ground to reach consensus was tested in the early days of consultation with the stakeholder group who had differing visions of what should have been included in Forest Hill’s swimming pools project. The final proposal, which was ultimately developed by Lewisham Council, was pretty much universally supported and has resulted in two wonderful swimming pools for the benefit of the Forest Hill and surrounding communities.

Hilary has lived in Taymount Rise, Forest Hill since 2006. Working in South East London opened up a part of London with which she was not familiar. She was attracted to Forest Hill because of the affordable house prices at the time, and which offered better value-for-money than other parts of London. She loves Forest Hill’s friendly, stable and diverse community, and its green spaces and good transport links. Her two young sons attend Horniman Primary School and are very happy there. Hilary is now looking at secondary schools for her eldest son, and has been very impressed with what she has seen at Forest Hill School.

Hilary’s interests include ‘making things’, which started when she was a schoolgirl and had a Saturday job in a fabric shop. She then followed her family’s tradition of sewing and craft as a hobby and now has a large cupboard full of ‘projects’ awaiting completion! Therefore, it’s no surprise that her favourite shop in Forest Hill is Stag & Bow in Dartmouth Road. She likes the ethos of the shop, which features crafts and textiles, and has taken part in one of its lino printing workshops run by Cyrus Colquitt.

Hilary is also interested in mid-20th century design. She often takes her children to design shows and museums, and senses that her eldest son has a real eye for furniture design in particular. So, the design gene looks like it will continue into the next Satchwell generation!

Investing in Our Public Green Spaces

By Alona Sheridan (Chair, Friends of Mayow Park)

The budgets for the UK’s public parks have nationally seen significant cuts in recent years according to the 2014 Heritage Lottery Fund report. It found that 86% of park managers have had budgets cut since 2010 and almost half of councils are considering selling their green spaces. At risk are parks’ opening hours, funding for infrastructure maintenance, care of plant beds, reduced grass cutting, and loss of staff.

The HLF report sets out five key actions for parks to continue providing health and well-being benefits to communities:
• Renewed local authority commitment.
• Establishing new partnerships.
• Getting communities more involved.
• Collecting and sharing data.
• Developing new finance models and rethinking delivery.

The National Friends of Parks and Green Spaces is calling for the next Government in 2015 to hold a national inquiry into the funding and management of UK’s green spaces, and make it a statutory duty for local authorities to monitor and manage these spaces to conform to Green Flag standards, thus ensuring sufficient investment and resources for parks.

Urban parks are vital for physical and mental well-being; and as spaces for people and wildlife, particularly for people without gardens. In the 1980s and 1990s, parks declined due to a lack of adequate maintenance, became under-used and felt less safe, and vandalism became more prevalent. This should not be repeated.

Since then, Lewisham’s parks have seen investments and NFPGS groups work with the Council to ensure that these green spaces are valued. Currently, Lewisham has been awarded Green Flag status for 15 parks as well as Community Green Flag status for several community gardens. However, Lewisham Council has an unenviable task to make significant budget cuts to all of its services including parks.

Should NFPGS groups become more involved in Lewisham and be called upon to help in the parks’ management? Would that be desirable? If you have thoughts on how to safeguard Lewisham’s parks, please contact me by email at alona@foresthillsociety.com

04 December 2014

Make Mine a Palace Pint, Please!

By Belinda Evans (Executive Committee)

Visiting the Crystal Palace Food Market last year I spotted a stall selling hop plants and, having always wanted to grow hops, I tried to buy some. But, unbeknown to me, the hops were part of a local community project called The Palace Pint; I wouldn’t be growing hops as a decorative part of my garden but growing hops to be made into real beer!


The Palace Pint project was set up in January 2013 by the Crystal Palace Transition Town group to encourage people to grow hops in their gardens to produce a tasty local beer. It was simple to participate in the project: I bought my own hop plant from the CPTT,  planted it and, at a specified time in late September 2014, harvested the hops; and then everyone’s hops were collected together to be brewed into truly local beer!

The hop plant was a dwarf variety (Prima Donna), which grows to 7-8 ft and is therefore suitable for most gardens and patios. Growing tips and advice were available from a Palace Pint Facebook page. In the autumn, Penge-based micro-brewery Late Knights turned about 10 kg of home-grown hops into Palace Pint beer, which apparently had an alcohol content of 4.5%. The brewery also donated a generous amount of beer, once it was brewed, to us growers for a ‘bit of a do’.

Growing hops as a novice was easy this year due to the great summer that we had. Luckily for me, I had planted my plant in a warm sheltered sunny spot as I unexpectedly ended up with a first harvest of ripe hops that completely filled my carrier bag!  Since the plant is a rhizome, I am hoping that I will see green shoots reappear next year and, once again, be able to harvest hops.

The Palace Pint is a great scheme to be involved in because:
• It gets people who might not otherwise consider wielding a trowel interested in gardening.
• The hops are easy to grow, look attractive, and smell wonderful once ripe.
• It’s a chance to meet other like-minded beer lovers (or even plant enthusiasts).
• It’s part of an exciting and growing grassroots movement which, from its Brixton origins in 2012, has already spread as far as Wales.
• We get to drink our own unique beer and have a great knees-up at the end of the season!

We spotted our Palace Pint for sale in pubs in Crystal Palace (Westow House, Grape and Grain), Brockley (Jam Circus), Forest Hill (All in One) and Balham (Balham Bowls Club), as well as at Late Knights’ own bars! I tried to sample our pint in the All in One but it had already sold out. Now that’s the sign of a good local pint!

For more info on the The Palace Pint: http://on.fb.me/1wIfrxD

Santa comes to Dartmouth Road

 
Sat 13th Dec - Santas Grotto will be open from 12 till 4pm
  • Workshop - 12 till 3 - Festive Animation with Karolina Glusiec
  • Workshop -  3 till 4 -  Make Christmas card's for your family and friends and make decoration's for us to hang up in the studio

Sun 14th Dec - Santas Grotto will be open 12 till 4pm
  • Workshop 12 till 4 - Come decorate a bauble and take it home to hang on your Christmas tree

Sat 20th Dec - Santas Grotto will be open 12 till 4pm
  • Workshop 12 till 3 - Festive Animation with Karolina Glusiec
  • Kids Christmas Disco - 4 till 6 - with the fab Trev The DJ

Sun 21st Dec - Santas Grotto will be open 12 till 4pm
  • Workshop - 12 till 4 - Festive drama/musical theatre workshops with Donald Waugh aka Snake Eyes in the original Alan Parker film BUGSY MALONE
  • Showcase - 4pm - A chance for everyone to watch what the kids have achieved at the workshops with Donald today

03 December 2014

Business Profile: The Framing Salon

Cyrus Colquitt, second from right, and staff at The Framing Salon
Helen Wicks from the Forest Hill Society met Cyrus Colquitt, the owner of The Framing Salon, over a drink in the Dartmouth Arms in Forest Hill to ask him about his new picture framing business, which is well placed opposite the pub and in relation to all of the other amenities that Forest Hill’s town centre has to offer.

Congratulations on your new shop, The Framing Salon, at 10 Dartmouth Road. How long have you been open? It’s all very new. We opened in July 2014.

Are you new to retail? No. I also jointly own Stag & Bow, a haberdashery and craft shop, with my partner Pascale. But when this charming little shop at number 10, next door to the Stag & Bow, became available it was an opportunity not to be missed, giving me the chance to upscale our existing framing business.

Why did you choose retail as your business? At one family Christmas, when giving out our handmade presents, Pascale’s father quipped: “you should open a shop”. It played on our minds and Stag & Bow was born. It made perfect sense to bring together our skills and histories, and we were looking for a way to manifest them. Having both grown up in SE23 and been excited about the regeneration of Forest Hill, we had eyed up number 8 Dartmouth Road for some time. Fortuitously, when we went to view it, the landlords were very keen for us to take it.

Why did you decide to specialise in picture framing? We felt the framing married well with all that was Stag & Bow, at the same time bringing together many of my skills and passions. Having always framed our own work, we inherited some amazing equipment and, after training in the subtleties of conservation framing, we were off!

While Stag & Bow has a fabulous website, is that right there seems to be very little information online about the Framing Salon - not even a website? Yes, you are right. We have not marketed or launched the Framing Salon in the conventional way. Part of that is because I have been focusing on setting up the shop and employing people, and I also still have responsibilities within Stag & Bow. Although, after two years of framing within Stag & Bow, the service had considerable awareness locally. Interestingly, I’m pleased to say, we have been very busy with lots of orders with only our beautiful frontage and interior promoting us. But, rest assured, I am developing a website!

Why did you decide to start your businesses in Forest Hill? Pascale and I both grew up in Forest Hill. Although we moved away in the in-between years, we were drawn back here. We loved the area, we lived in Forest Hill, and our children went to local schools - so it was the obvious location for work.

Whom do you employ? I was very lucky to find Flynn, an artist who brought with him plenty of experience and a keen eye for detail, after he worked at Honor Oak’s picture framers until the landlord pulled the plug. We also have Emi, a very promising apprentice who is also an artist and ex-Sydenham School pupil. So, we are a very creative and local team.

10 Dartmouth Road is tiny. How do you manage in such a limited space? Yes, it is small, but we all fit in. Having designed and built everything myself, it functions very well and is a lovely space to work in - I look forward to getting there every morning! Now that the workshop is in full production, the next phase of the project is to start having art exhibitions, too, with mid-range prints for sale as well as the time-honoured rarities we already have for sale in our print browser. I am extremely excited about the gallery element and have a list of amazing artists who I shall be showing, cutting my teeth in the ‘art game’ before looking for another space in Forest Hill to show work - I like the look of the recruitment office next door to the old Blue Mountain!

Do you have a background in woodworking? Yes. I had pretty much of an apprenticeship in traditional woodworking at the small ‘alternative’ school I went to, thinking I would make furniture forever, but then life happened! I went on to study sculpture at Camberwell College of Art and, more recently, I taught Design and Technology at Bacon’s College in Rotherhithe. My woodworking skills also came in very useful when fitting out our Stag & Bow shop. However, whilst establishing the business, I needed to work; so I continued with my own business, designing bespoke furniture and taking on other commissions.

Are you involved in the Forest Hill Traders’ Association? Yes, I am, and they are a very committed group of retailers who are passionate about Forest Hill’s town centre and want the best for Forest Hill. They employ lots of local people as well as run successful businesses. It’s a large group and not everyone agrees with everything but it is important that the Forest Hill traders have a voice. The successful SEE3 initiatives and subsequent new businesses have brought a new dimension and added value to the well-established, successful retail businesses in Forest Hill.

What advice would you give to other retailers in Forest Hill? I am a real fan of shop-window dressing. I am very proud of the Stag & Bow window displays, which we regularly change to make passers-by curious and want to come inside! I also think the external shop frontage and signage is worth investing in. A number of shops in the high street have benefited from the upgrading of their shop fronts and it all helps to make Forest Hill look smarter and less run down. I am a firm believer in old-fashioned customer care - making customers feel welcome and providing an honest, quality service.