21 September 2014

Forest Hill Society AGM

The Forest Hill Society AGM will take place on 22nd October, upstairs at the Hob (opposite Forest Hill station).

We intend to present some of the findings from the design workshop that took place in July and provided some interesting ideas on the future of Forest Hill town centre. As well as presenting our conclusions, this is a good opportunity to share your thoughts on the future of the town centre, both in the short and long term.

In addition we will have elections for the committee and sub-committees for the Forest Hill Society.

Committee members don’t need to devote vast amounts of time to the Society, but if you are passionate about Forest Hill, then we would really like you to consider joining us and helping the Society achieve even more than we have already. In particular we will be looking for a new editor for the newsletter and a new secretary for the Executive. If these roles, or any others are of interest to you, please feel free to discuss them with Michael prior to the meeting.

It is wonderful that every year we have a number of new people who get involved and make a difference.

18 September 2014

Forest Hill Free Fashion Week Concert


Forest Hill Fashion Fest, Sunday 21st September, Forest Hill Station main car park.

All Change at London Bridge

2015 will be a challenging year for many commuters who use London Bridge on a daily basis. From mid-December 2014 most SouthEastern and Thameslink trains will not stop at London Bridge. SouthEastern trains to Canon Street will continue to stop at London Bridge for 18 months, and then the situation will switch so that the Charing Cross trains will stop at London Bridge, but not the Canon Street trains.

Southern trains will continue to terminate at London Bridge but there will be no interchange with trains to Waterloo and Charing Cross.

As a slight compensation for this loss of connection we will be getting longer trains on Overground, with 5 carriage trains (that's one additional carriage) being phased in from December 2014.

The train operators have told us that tickets will be valid on any reasonable route. The Jubilee line runs to Southwark, Waterloo, and from there the Northern and Bakerloo lines run to Charing Cross. This does mean that the Jubilee line is going to be exceptionally busy for more than a year, but this is the cost of major improvements to London Bridge and future interchange.

While we suffer through the rebuilding and diversions, we can look forward to 2019 when connections at London Bridge via Thameslink will make crossing London a little bit easier. The Thameslink programme is also expected to double the number of trains using Crofton Park, with 4 trains per hour expected to stop there.

More needs to be done to improve train services in Forest Hill and the Mayor of London has recently published a 25 year plan for transport. We will examine some of the ideas in that document in the next edition of the newsletter.

16 September 2014

SE23 Lolly Business Goes National

A new exciting business has been launched in Forest Hill:  Helen Wicks from the Forest Hill Society met Lucy Woodhouse, co-founder of ‘Claudi & Fin’ at the Tea Pot CafĂ© in Forest Hill.  

Lucy, together with her business partner Meriel Kehoe, have not only recently launched their new unique Greek style frozen yoghurt lollies but have won a competition to supply the lollies exclusively to Sainsbury’s.  Both women live in SE23.

Helen:  Congratulations on your success. It would be great to share your story... why ice lollies?
Lucy:  I love ice lollies...always have done.   I wanted to find a healthy lolly option for my daughter and I looked around in the chill cabinets in the supermarkets and could not find a healthy ice lolly. Most of the brands I found contained huge quantities of sugar and unnatural ingredients.  I also love Greek yogurt so decided to set about making my own ice lollies and experimented using natural ingredients at home.
The great thing about ice lollies is that small children can hold a chunky stick, thus become independent eaters very quickly.  When I gave my daughter, Claudia, her first homemade ice lolly and saw the joy on her face - I knew I was onto a winner!   It then occurred to me that there is a gap in the market!

Helen: How did you meet Mariel, your business partner?
Lucy: We both have young children whom, you won’t be surprised to know are called Claudia and Fin!   We met at a playgroup opposite Fairlawn Primary school in Honor Oak Road.    We got on really well and we both wanted to find something to fit around our children, which meant working from home.  Making ice lollies was a perfect solution. So one day, over egg and chips in Dulwich Park, I pitched the case to Meriel for an ice lolly business! 

Helen:  Have you always lived in SE23? 
No, I am originally from Derby but moved to London for work and lived in several rented flats. In 2003, I read an article in the Evening Standard about Forest Hill, I had never heard of Forest Hill but like the sound of it, so decided to pay a visit and as soon as I got off the train, I knew I wanted to live here.  I rented near Horniman Gardens, then Tyson Road and eventually bought my first home not far from Honor Oak Park Station.

Helen: Was it an easy decision to leave Morrison’s and start up your own business?
Lucy:  I lived above our family fruit and vegetable shop from the day I was born for seven years and am from a family of entrepreneurs so it was probably going to happen one day! My previous work in branding, marketing and manufacture certainly helped to make me feel it was possible. Support from family and friends, the flexibility around childcare and finding a great business partner in Meriel, all helped.


Helen: How did you start up?
First of all, in my kitchen, we experimented with lots of ingredients and tested the finished products on various children and also gave samples to play groups.
We market tested the branding of our product. We sent on-line surveys to friends and friends of friends.  We received over 200 responses.   As a result we were able to improve the images used on our packaging. We were told that the characters looked sad so we made the eyebrows look more appealing!   The British Library in particular was an excellent source of information and free reports.

Helen: Did you receive any professional support?
Lucy: Yes, one company that was particularly useful were the Enterprise Nation, an organisation that helps ‘start ups’. The advice we received there from Emma Jones was incredible and the website is full of really useful tips, well worth the small fee of £20 per year membership. Tony Goldsmith from South East Enterprises was also brilliant, he helped us with our business planning. 

Helen:  Wow!  An exclusive contract with Sainsbury’s!  What a fantastic achievement, how did that come about?
Lucy: I just saw the competition on the ‘Start up Britain’ website, now ‘Centre for Entrepreneurs’ and we decided to enter and we were one of four companies to be offered a contract.  It was very competitive, with over 400 food start-ups competing.  Ten were shortlisted and we all had to pitch our product to a panel, in Dragon's Den style.  We launched our Claudi & Fin Greek Style Frozen yoghurt lollies in multipacks of 4, in Sainsbury’s in May 2014. 

Helen: Are you still making the lollies in your kitchen?
Lucy: Sainsbury’s have worked with us to find a manufacturer who complies with the strict standards required. We did have to compromise however and the product is unfortunately not organic but still contains nearly 20% fruit, and vitamin D.

Helen:  Is Forest Hill Sainsbury’s stocking the lollies?
Lucy: Unfortunately no, but the lollies are on sale in larger Sainsbury’s, including Sydenham and Dog Kennel Hill branches.

For more information visit: Claudi & Fin website: www.claudiandfin.co.uk

15 September 2014

Crystal Palace Park Update

By Mehul Damani (Crystal Palace Park Community Stakeholder Group) www.twitter.com/mehuldamani


 A “masterplan” for rejuvenating Crystal Palace Park was submitted in November 2007. Commissioned by the London Development Agency, the original aims were to increase the park’s profile as community, heritage, leisure and educational asset through restoring some historical park features and building new facilities.

The latest proposal comes from Chinese ZhongRong Group, who intends to spend £500M on reconstructing the Crystal Palace and restoring the wider park. According to ZhongRong, their design will remain faithful to Sir Joseph Paxton’s cast-iron and plate-glass masterpiece, built originally to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. As for the rest of the park, the intention is to honour the masterplan’s provisions “to create a modern 21st century park of national importance which reflects Paxton’s original ideas and responds to the needs of local residents.”

Various questions remain. What will the ultimate purpose of the rebuilt palace be: commercial, social or cultural - and what kind of tenants are we likely to see? How do we manage the impact on the local community and transport infrastructure of resurrecting such a major structure, likely as it is to attract large numbers of visitors? 


Finally, it looks like ZhongRong may obtain exclusive rights over a large section of the park that is currently designated as metropolitan open land - what will the impact be of such a deal on future developments in the park? And to what extent will the community have a say when it comes to final design, integration of facilities and the ongoing management and operation? 

Visit www.thelondoncrystalpalace.com to see the latest proposal and www.crystalpalacepark.org.uk to get involved and have your say.

12 September 2014

Member’s Profile: Alisa Owens, Treasurer of the Forest Hill Society

How long have you been Treasurer?
This is my 3rd year in charge of the finances.

What appealed to you about joining the Society?
I popped along to an AGM out of nosiness really soon after I moved to Forest Hill in 2008. There was a nice group of people sharing sensible ideas with a common interest of making Forest Hill a better place to live and after putting up my hand to suggest something, I quickly had my arm twisted into joining in!

Where does the money come from? How do you collect it?
Our funds come from membership fees. These are  £5 annually and can be paid in cash, by cheque, standing order or paypal. Standing order is the best for us as this requires no involvement from us and is cost free to the society. Paypal involves a cost to us, which a lot of people aren't aware of, and is why we ask for £6 for paypal subscriptions.

In addition to membership fees, we take on a number of projects which are self funded. We have received a number of grants from the Lewisham Local Assemblies which have paid for a watering system for the plants at the station as well as the murals on some of the empty shops, amongst other things. The Edible High Road project is self funded, with traders buying their flower tubs and the markets last year broke even, though this was after an Assembly fund towards the cost of licences that went back to Lewisham.

How do you make decisions about how the money is used?
There are a number of standard items, but for larger items, the Chair and I will discuss and then take any proposal to the Executive.

What are your proudest moments working for the society?
The first Edible High Road was a highlight for me. A lot of the hard work was done by Quetta Kaye, but a couple of others were heavily involved to bring it all together on the day. It was a great day and the trees looked fabulous up and down the high streets in both Forest Hill and HOP.

In your view, what is FH Soc’s greatest achievement?
I think the involvement in the Pools was a great win for the area and I am really excited by what is coming out of the planning workshop.

How long have you lived in Forest Hill? What attracted you to the area?
We moved here in 2008 and like many people across the years, I was attracted to the fact that I could afford a house, something impossible where I'd been living before. People see this as a new phenomenon, but I've talked to people who moved here 20 years ago for the same reason.

How have you seen Forest Hill change over the years?
At the moment it is the sheer number of skips! I have a 20 minute walk to Honor Oak Park station every morning and pass innumerable renovation projects - the most impressive at the moment being the renovation of the Honor Oak pub, which will no doubt be finished by the time this goes to print. The HOP parade has also seen a huge change. It had potential when I moved here and seems to really be alive now.

What do you like most about the area?
I love the fact that people talk to each other. Simple maybe, but this is the first place that I have lived in London where that happens. I even talk to my neighbours - which I didn't think happened any longer!

I really like the choice of restaurants nearby. I've lived in Clapham and West Hampstead and think we have a far better choice here. Le Querce and Sodo are current favourites, and for take-aways, I thoroughly recommend Gurkha's Flavour on Stanstead Road and Cherry on Perry Hill.  

What would you like to see most in Forest Hill? 
I'd like to see a good mix of independent shops as well as some chains, with a variety of stores that make Forest Hill town centre worth going to.

In particular, I'd like to see all the shops on Dartmouth Road open and a new approach to the Perry Vale triangle - it would be great if some of the planning workshop ideas come to fruition there.

News from the Horniman

By Janet Vitmayer, Director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens


I often hear from local people how much they value the Horniman and how important it is to the local community. This cuts both ways – our visitors, and especially our local visitors who come here time and again, are the lifeblood of the Museum.

Over the last year, Forest Hill residents have been keen supporters of our Farmers’ Market – which celebrates its first anniversary this autumn – snapping up the array of produce each Saturday from our fantastic traders, many of whom are local themselves.

Our Horniman Members scheme has also been embraced by the local community, with 40% of our current members living in the Borough of Lewisham. The benefits to members include a discount in our shop, exclusive events and offers and of course, free unlimited entry to the Aquarium and temporary exhibition (Extremes closes in November, for anyone yet to enjoy it). Our core supporters group, the Friends of the Horniman – made up of many Forest Hill residents – continues to fundraise actively on our behalf, most recently through the annual summer Art Exhibition which attracted larger crowds and more revenue than ever before.

Local people have been out in force to support recent events here at the Horniman, including our new series of Jazz Picnics on Wednesdays in July, and the Curious Tea Party, attended by more than 10,000 people over a wonderful weekend. Our new Lates programme offering adults a creative mix of art, music, dance and film has also been warmly received, attracting as many as 800 visitors to each evening event.

Not everyone in our community is able to visit and enjoy the Horniman so easily, however. A significant part of our work is to make the Museum and Gardens more accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with numerous community groups, for instance with older people affected by dementia and people with long term mental health issues.

Our recent good news – funding of £2.9m over three years from Arts Council England – recognises our popularity with a diverse audience, and will allow us to attract more visitors from the local community in south east London, as well as further afield.

I hope many of our neighbours in Forest Hill will continue to enjoy themselves at the Horniman in the months ahead. There’s plenty going on, from our Halloween and Christmas fairs to our new exhibitions, Revisiting Romania: Dress and Identity, and Kurt Jackson: River, not to mention the many educational visits we host each term by local schoolchildren and of course all of our family-friendly activities. We look forward to seeing you all soon.

To find out more about events and activities at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, or to become a Horniman Member, visit www.horniman.ac.uk


The 'Outstanding' Grow Mayow Community Garden

As well as the Forest Hill Society gaining 'Outstanding' in the London In Bloom competition, another local group achieved the same accolade:

Grow Mayow Community Garden has been awarded the highest level of achievement from the Royal Horticultural Society and London in Bloom in this year’s RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood initiative.


Iris Borgers and Erika Sager were presented with the Level 5: Outstanding award at the RHS London In Bloom ceremony at the Surrey County Cricket Club on Monday, 8 September.

“This is a wonderful achievement for the Garden that would not have been possible without the help of local volunteers who have spent countless hours planting, weeding, watering and moving mulch” says Iris Borgers, Garden Director.  “We are also very thankful for the support we have received from Martin Hyde at Green Scene, Shannon’s Garden Centre, Mayow Park Systems, Havelock 11, Caribbean Mix Cricket Club, Friends of Mayow Park and Streetscape whose contributions and donations have made the reinstatement of the front garden possible.”

Grow Mayow Community Garden Project is open to public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 2pm and has weekly volunteer sessions on Tuesday mornings from 10am to noon and Wednesday afternoons from noon to 2pm. They host a variety of events for children and from September will be running their own Nature Kids Club on Thursday mornings from 10:30 to Noon.

Further details about Grow Mayow Community Garden Project and all upcoming events can be found at growmayow.blogspot.co.uk



11 September 2014

Dartmouth Road improvements work

It is still early days but we know that Lewisham Council have been successful in their bid for funds from TfL to improve Dartmouth Road (north). In total it appears that £650,000 has been allocated over the next two years to make substantial changes to a key section of the high street.

There are a number of challenges in the stretch of road from the swimming pool to the station, these include; lack of parking/too little time in parking bays, parking away from bays blocking the road and the footpath, difficulty for pedestrians crossing the road, lack of provision for cyclists, and poor use of public spaces outside Sylvan Post and Heron House.

We are expecting consultation by Lewisham Council to identify priorities and find solutions that are right for shops, shoppers, school children, and bus routes. We will keep you updated about the plans as we find out more over the next few months.


08 September 2014

Outstanding!

The Forest Hill Edible High Road has been judged as 'Outstanding' by the RHS London in Bloom Judging panel!

Congratulations to the
volunteers from the Forest Hill Society, Forest Hill station and local businesses!