15 January 2016

Dartmouth Road Public Realm Enhancements – Forest Hill Society Response

 Consultation on Dartmouth Road Public Realm Enhancements – Response on Behalf of the Forest Hill Society
I am writing on behalf of the Forest Hill Society regarding the proposed public realm enhancements on Dartmouth Road, SE23. We continue to support the principle of the works proposed however, we have a few areas where we have concerns or seek further clarification as the project progresses.
  1. Parking Provision
  • One of the “key scheme objectives” is to manage parking. With the exception of the parking layouts provided on the plans, no details of parking management have been provided. If the current parking management practices remain, the Forest Hill Society is concerned that pavement parking and other antisocial parking behaviour will remain commonplace. This will have the added problem that the quality materials used in the public realm improvements will be damaged as a result of antisocial parking.
  • The Forest Hill Society has concerns regarding the proposed inset loading bays towards the north end of Dartmouth Road. These have been located at narrow parts of the pavement and could present an unnecessary obstruction to pedestrians. The loading bay outside 19 Dartmouth Road would leave just 1.8m pavement width when in use. This pavement width would be further curtailed by the frontage display in front of the florist. If there is to be a parking bay placed here there would need to be agreement for no use of the space outside the shop – which would be a shame as the flowers brighten up the high street. The loading bay on the other side of the road would be better placed outside Paddy Power to reduce the impact for pedestrians at another narrow part of the pavement. We are also concerned about the height of the pavement from the road at this point would make loading bays dangerous for pedestrians, so we would want to ensure that the change of levels are not dangerous in these bays.
  • Inline images 1The Forest Hill Society supports the prohibition of parking on all parts of Dartmouth Road with the exception of the marked parking/loading bays. However, we would request that the design team also considers the aesthetic benefit of avoiding the use of yellow lines. This could be achieved through the use of signage along the lines of these images:

  1. Road Marking and Pedestrian Priority
  • Some concerns remain regarding the uncontrolled pedestrian “courtesy crossings” and how effective they will be at slowing traffic and giving pedestrians a good opportunity to cross.
  • The Forest Hill Society believes that an additional controlled crossing, possibly in the area of the Forest Hill Pools, would benefit pedestrians, but we recognise that this may be difficult to achieve.
  • We note that motor vehicles will retain priority over pedestrians at all side streets. The Forest Hill Society requests that the design is re-examined to see if pedestrian priority can be safely provided at side streets through clear signage, road markings and materials.

  1. Traffic Management
  • The Forest Hill Society supports the 20 mph speed limit, but from observations of borough-wide limits in other parts of London, we have concerns regarding compliance. Providing a safe and attractive space is critical to the success of the Dartmouth Road as Forest Hill’s high street, and the speed limit plays a significant part in this. Details of the Council’s strategy for enforcement of the speed limit are therefore requested.
  • The Forest Hill Society supports the provision of the additional northbound and southbound bus stops, including the proposed locations.
  • Stated improvements for people cycling are no more than coincidental with the other scheme objectives. The design proposals will, in reality, do very little to make Dartmouth Road an attractive and inclusive place to cycle. We would like to see a wider strategy for improving safe cycling routes around Forest Hill.
  • The previously proposed inset parking bays outside Forest Lodge have been removed from the plans. The Forest Hill Society is concerned that residents of Forest Hill Lodge (and non-residents) will continue to cross the pavement in motor vehicles. This would present a continuation of the current safety hazard presented by parking outside Forest Lodge close to a pedestrian crossing, as well as potentially damaging the new public realm due to overloading of the surfaces by motor vehicles. The Forest Hill Society requests details of how this issue will be managed, either through physical means such as bollards (less preferred as they would form ‘clutter’ in the streetscape) or through enforcement

12 January 2016

Planning Application: Bird in Hand Public House

A planning application has been submitted to build a pergola to the side of Bird in Hand pub on Dartmouth Road. The Forest Hill Society has written to the council opposing the details of the application.
You can view the application at on the Lewisham Planning website: DC/15/094390

Text of objection:

The Forest Hill Society’s objection is in relation to five aspects of the proposed development which are described in detail below:
1. Access to the area covered by the proposed pergola and potential for antisocial behaviour;
2. Effects on the amenity of nearby residences, particularly at night;
3.  Design quality and effects on the Forest Hill Conservation Area;

4. Concerns about inherently unsafe design; and
5. Effects on the highway, specifically pedestrian access along Bird In Hand Passage.

1. Access to the area covered by the proposed pergola and potential for antisocial behaviour
The Forest Hill Society is concerned about the potential to access the pergola area directly from Dartmouth Road. There would be a lack of control over this access by the pub staff and the provision of a covered area directly adjacent to Dartmouth Road may attract antisocial behaviour both during daytime and night time.

2. Effects on the amenity of nearby residences, particularly at night
Use of the pergola area (including legitimate use) may have an adverse effect on the amenity of nearby residences, particularly those on Bird In Hand Passage and opposite the site on Dartmouth Road. This would be an issue especially at night. If the Council is minded to grant planning permission for the proposed development, it is suggested that restrictions on its hours of use are imposed.

3. Design quality and effects on the Forest Hill Conservation Area
The Forest Hill Society believes that the design of the proposed development is of insufficient quality with respect to its prominent location on the high street and especially with regard to its location in the Forest Hill Conservation Area. The proposed pergola would be very prominent when viewed from Dartmouth Road and the materials, which are not commonly visible in the conservation area, would be obviously out of keeping with the conservation area. Furthermore, the applicant’s Heritage Statement discusses only direct impacts on the fabric of the public house building and does not discuss impacts on the setting of the broader conservation area.

4. Concerns about inherently unsafe design The design includes a gate that opens outwards over the steps on Bird In Hand Passage. This would appear to be inherently unsafe both for people exiting the pergola area and anyone happening to be on the steps when the gate is opened.

5. Effects on the highway, specifically pedestrian access along Bird In Hand PassageThe Forest Hill Society notes that pedestrian access on the north side of Bird In Hand Passage currently uses the raised platform area and the steps leading downward along Bird In Hand Passage. The proposed development would prevent use of this route. The Forest Hill Society requests that the Council takes a view as to whether this route legally forms part of the highway (even if in private ownership), and whether the safe use of the route by the public should remain a priority. If this route is well used, the Forest Hill Society would like to see access along it retained. However, if it is not well used and does not form part of the highway, the Forest Hill Society would not object on this basis.

The Forest Hill Society would like it noted that this is not an objection in principle to a pergola at the Bird In Hand, and believes that all of the above concerns (with the potential exception of the highway issue) could be overcome through design and management measures. If a future planning application was to be lodged proposing a high-quality design with management measures sufficient to protect the amenity of nearby residences, the Forest Hill Society may support such an application.

27 December 2015

Burns Night 2016

One of the most fun events in the Forest Hill Society calendar is our annual Robert Burns Night Supper where we combine Scottish food, Scottish poetry, and a wee dram of Scottish whisky in a great evening.

This year the Forest Hill Society in conjunction with All Inn One, on Perry Vale, will be hosting a Burns Supper on Saturday 23rd January.

There will be the traditional Address to the Haggis and the opportunity to listen to or to read from the works of Robert Burns. We will also have some local musicians to round off the evening.
The meal is from 7.30pm, and if you'd like to join us you must book in advance, please call the pub on
020 8699 3311 or email info@allinnone.org.uk to book. The cost is £19.95 per person for 3 courses and a very enjoyable evening. (Please let them know if you would prefer the veggy haggis to the meaty version).

Everybody is welcome; members, non-members, Scots, Sassenachs, and all friends of Scotland.

Early booking is recommended. Last year not everybody who left it until the last minute was able to get a seat.

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

14 December 2015

Consultation: Dartmouth Road Streetscape Improvements

Lewisham Council is conducting a consultation process to agree significant improvements to Dartmouth Road between the junction with London Road and Thorpewood Avenue. The Council would like to receive further comments on these documents from the community, to inform the continuing detailed design process.

Please respond either email to transport@lewisham.gov.uk. The closing date is midnight on Sunday 17 January 2016.

Full details on: https://lewisham-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/regeneration/regeneration_and_asset_management/dartmouth_road_streetscape_improvements?tab=info


09 December 2015

Sports News - Forest Hill Park FC

Clayton Walters tells us about Forest Hill Park Football Club, our local team in the Kent Invicta league.

Due to our success working up the leagues, we play our home matches at Ladywell Arena. This is due to the fact that the stadium must be of a suitable standard (graded by the FA) to compete in the Kent Invicta league at Step 6 level of the National League System. The league has requirements for floodlights and other facilities for the ground grading standards.

We have progressed quite rapidly and are key in providing a good non-league level of football within our community and beyond. It's vital that we continue to compete and offer coaching to some local schools and clubs within our community.

Club History
Forest Hill Park FC was officially formed in 1992. A group of keen young footballers (Dean Dennis, Peter Stephens & Clayton Walters) - residing in the Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park – decided to form a team, registered with the Football Association, so that they could compete in a structured football league - a progression from the weekly matches in Honor Oak Park.

The club name derives from the area links between Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park. The club badge was designed around this idea; each elevated arrowed tree stands for each founder member, and the Oak tree of Honor, in One Tree Hill, which is a woodland park offering superb views over South London and beyond.

We joined forces with local side Lewisham Steelers, and entry into the Crystal Palace and District Sunday league in 1992 proved to be a positive step. Many of the players were playing a higher level of football on Saturdays, and due to the success of FHP, it was decided that Saturday football was the next step. Entry into the Bromley & District League was achieved. Our home ground was at Burbage Road in Dulwich for a few seasons, but it was agreed to move back into Lewisham borough. After that, for two seasons we competed in the South London Federation League, during which time we were runners up in the league cup.

We then transferred to the South London Alliance league 2001, playing at Catford Wanderers Sports ground. The committee members of the sports club saw our potential and requested that we play under the name of Catford Wanderers FC ‘FIRST TEAM’. We obliged for two seasons but it was felt, by the committee members, that Forest Hill Park FC must retain their identity and consequently reinstated their name with the league. A new dawn ensued as FHPFC, with the club name back and a new home ground secured in the heart of the borough at Ladywell Arena. Progression through the South London Alliance League followed, as Division one champions 2005/06 and runners up in the premier division for the following two seasons.

Entry into the Vandanel Kent County Football league was gained in 2008. In the second season FHP were crowned Division 2 West Champions and gained promotion to Division 1 West. The formation of a new Step 6 league in Kent was on the horizon, open to clubs of suitable standings. FHP fitted the membership criteria and applied to join the new league, but bizarrely a ruling from the FA deemed the application unsuccessful. In spite of the disappointing news, in the 2011 season FHP won the West Kent Challenge Shield.

A slow building process by linking with other clubs in Lewisham allowed younger players a pathway into adult county level football. FHPFC have always strived for progression and enjoyment of grass roots football by forming partnerships with other groups, gaining the prestigious charter Standard accreditation in 2010, The FA intermediate status, Lewisham Football Partnership, with a newly formed reserve side for season 2011/12. In season 2014/15 FHPFC were Hospitals Charity Cup finalists and were successful in their renewed application to become members of the National League System Step 6 Kent Invicta League for 2015/16.

For details of fixtures check out their website:
Twitter @FHPFC
And you are welcome to attend home matches at Ladywell Arena.

08 December 2015

Member's Profile - Dr Penelope Jarrett

How long have you lived in Forest Hill?I have lived in Sydenham or Forest Hill since my parents moved here when I was one year old. My siblings and I attended Eliot Bank School. My sister, sister-in-law and I all went to Sydenham School; my brother and brother-in-law both went to Forest Hill School, so I feel quite rooted here.

I was away in various places at University or work for 14 years, then came back in 1994. Oliver and I moved into our current house in Forest Hill in 1997.

When did you join the Forest Hill Society and which committees have you been on?I was at the founding meeting of the Society 9 years ago in the Dartmouth Arms Pub. At that time I did not know any of the other committee members, but we quickly agreed to work together, and I was involved with organising our inaugural general meeting at the Friends Meeting House. Since then I have been on the planning committee. I have no professional expertise in planning, but I am interested in what our environment is like, and do not mind asking lots of questions.

Do you enjoy using Forest Hill swimming pool?I remember walking to Forest Hill Pools from both my primary school and my secondary school to attend swimming lessons. It was part of my childhood. Later, my children had lessons there. So when proposals came up in 2002 to refurbish or rebuild (one pool!) I went to the meetings because I was concerned for the future of the Pools. That consultation did not come to any conclusion, in part because the local community was divided over what was wanted. By the time the next consultation began I was a member of the FH Society committee, and I agreed to be our lay representative on the Stakeholder Group.

The Council brought forward various unacceptable proposals and we had many meetings from 2007 until 2011, with much protesting along the way. I think in the end it was worth it as finally almost everyone got what they wanted: the historic facade building was retained, the actual pools are new facilities built to modern standards - and there are two of them!

What do you do when you're not looking after Forest Hill?I work as a GP in Lambeth, and I row or coach rowing - but I do spend a lot of time looking after Forest Hill! Apart from the Forest Hill Society and its various activities, I am an active friend of the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (mainly this involves baking), I am a governor of Forest Hill School, and I am a member of Perry Vale Ward Labour Party (where I argue a lot about health related issues).

Were you involved in the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign?I became involved with this in my capacity as Honorary Secretary of the Lewisham Division of the BMA. We were outraged by the proposals, both as clinicians and as local residents who use the services. The Trust Special Administrator did not have clue! It was a great campaign to be involved in, with a real communality of purpose between the scientists, clinicians, health policy experts and ordinary inhabitants of Lewisham. My daughter and I went to the High Court to hear some of the Judicial Review, which was a learning experience. It was even better when we won! But we cannot be too complacent: funding cuts and reorganisation of services are still a threat.

What's the furthest you have rowed?The furthest measured distance I have rowed was 31 miles from Lincoln to Boston with a college alumnus crew in September this year. The absolute furthest would have been an attempted cross-channel row in 2013.  This was in a Waterman's Cutter, which has fixed seats; again a crew of veterans, this time all local women. It was very successful in fundraising for the Ahoy! Centre in Deptford (over £40k). However, shortly before we left the French shut their waters to cross channel rowers, so we decided to row to a buoy in the middle and back. Aiming for the buoy was a mistake: we should have just gone to the middle according to the chart and come back. The tides pushed us South, then North, and we were at sea for over 8 hours... I do not know how far we rowed but it was a lot more than the planned 22 miles.

What do you like most about Forest Hill?I like that it is green – lots of trees – and the people are friendly.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in the local area?It is hard to choose these days, but I have always found myself drawn back to the Dartmouth Arms.

What improvements would you like to see in Forest Hill?I really wish we could bury the South Circular in a tunnel! And indeed anything which makes life easier for pedestrians and cyclists. Otherwise, I am always in favour of more trees and greenery (Quetta does a great job!), and I love a variety of independent shops, cafes and restaurants/pubs.

Business Profile - Sugar Mountain

Most people in Forest Hill know Pauline Wright, owner of Sugar Mountain on Dartmouth Road, but we wanted to know more about the person behind the sweets and ice cream.

What made you want to open a sweet shop?
Originally another local and I were planning to open a coffee shop with a sweet shop within, where The Perryvale is now - but it didn't quite work out so I decided to open a sweet shop on my own, which suits me down to a tee as I'm just a big kid at heart!

Did I see your shop on TV?
Yes, recently ITV's Lorraine filmed a fashion shoot at the shop which was shown in early September, but watch this space as a pilot was filmed recently by a local TV and film director for CBBC. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that.

I hear you have a bit of a 'musical' past, can you tell us more?
 I trained at The Urdang Academy of Performing Arts which was in Covent Garden at the time. Amongst other things I did a stint in Starlight Express, but the funniest thing I did was dance in an Always Ultra advert when they first started selling them. It took a while before I lived that one down!

When did you move to Forest Hill?
 I moved to FH about 16 years ago and before that I lived in Beckenham for a while, and Brockley for a few years. Before that I lived in North London. But I first moved to London from Glasgow in the 80's which is why I've got a funny accent! I must say that after living in FH I'd never live anywhere else. I love the vibe and feel of FH and most of all the community spirit.

What positive changes have you seen in Forest Hill since you opened the shop?
The pools have re-opened and V22 have moved into Louise House (I'm looking forward to the community space when it's finished). Lots of independent shops have opened including The Archie Parker, The Butchery, Aga's Little Deli, Best of Both and Kids on The Hill, and The Framing Salon to name a few and I'm looking forward to more new shops opening soon on Dartmouth Road. One of my favourites though is our street piano.

You've been involved in lots of community activities including setting up a grotto for santa in previous years, and Forest Hill Fashion Week. What has been your favourite memory?
I've loved doing all of these, so it's hard to choose. My favourite event recently has got to be the FHFW alternative catwalk show with Pavement2Catwalk. For this we worked with Seniors Lewisham (aka Silver Threads), as well as people affected by mental health issues, physical disabilities, homelessness, addiction and domestic violence. Myself and Donald are planning on extending this part next year by working with more groups in the community.

My all-time favourite memory is the fundraiser I did for The Evelina Children's Hospital a couple of years ago which I done because my little customer Riley has a rare kidney disease. She's now doing really well after her transplant. This was such a fun event which included my shop landlord singing, another of my little customers playing classical music on the piano, an auction where all the other shop keepers donated items and last but not least dancing a Greese medley with other traders, customers, and friends. The best part of the event was raising around £1000 for The Evelina.

Are you involved in Forest Hill Traders Association?
There's quite a few of us that are active in FHTA and we all bring something different to the table which works really well. We'll be launching a new website soon to coincide with the unveiling of our new shop directory which will be at the station forecourt. It will be very different from the stand that's there at the moment. It will be made from bronze castings and treated oak with a sculpture on the top. You'll have to be at the unveiling to see the amazing sculpture that Cyrus from The Framing Salon & Stag & Bow has designed for us.

What advice would you offer to somebody wanting to open a shop in Forest Hill?
Do your research. I did a year’s worth of research before I opened. Check what business rates you will have to pay on the unit you are taking on as this can sometimes be a bit of a shock if you're taking on a large shop. Last but not least come and have a chat with the local shop owners. Most of us chat to our customers, so know what they would like to be added to the independent shops we have already.

If there was one thing you could change in Forest Hill, what would it be?
Pedestrianise Dartmouth Road so we can have a street party every weekend.