18 April 2019

Planning Application: Duncombe Hill Green

There has been a planning application for 7 two-bedroom flats on the green space at the junction of Duncombe Hill and Brockley Rise. You can read the full details of the application on Lewisham's website.

The Forest Hill Society has written to object to this planning application with concerns about:

  • Loss of Green Space
  • Impact on trees with Tree Preservation Orders in place
  • Poor quality of design and over-development

The full details of our objection can be viewed here.

01 April 2019

Lewisham Drivers to Switch Sides

Last week Lewisham Council, in an act of defiance against Brexit, took the decision to fully implement the European Union Traffic Convergence Directive from the 1st April 2019. The main change that we will see on Lewisham’s roads will be the switch from driving on the left to driving on the right side of the road – in line with all other EU countries.

Although drivers in Lewisham will need to drive on the right on all Lewisham roads, this will not apply to TfL roads (red routes) – including the South Circular. Drivers will be expected to change lanes as they turn and Kate Ford, Director of Roads in Lewisham, has said that “interchanges will actually be easier as there is more space for turning when you are switching form one side of the road to the other” - just remember not to turn into on-coming traffic!

Sidney Hampden has been leading a campaign to reduce speeds on roads and has welcomed the changes, stating that “Lower speeds can be achieved through a variety of road interventions. Road humps and cameras have been shown to reduce speeds in 20mph zones, but researchers have speculated that asking road users to switch lanes at regular intervals encourages them to drive more carefully and at lower speeds – resulting in safer road conditions for pedestrians and zebras crossing as well as for drivers”.

But there is no doubt that one of the main drivers of this policy is a last-ditch attempt to keep Lewisham in the EU. Councillor Evelyn Ward has said that Lewisham wants “EU nationals to feel welcome on our roads, and what could make them feel more welcome than driving on the right? We want to show that Lewisham is a forward-thinking borough that is open for business in all directions”. The changes are predicted to give a huge economic boost to Lewisham, which is expected to become a tourist hub for visitors from Europe, and even from America.

The Forest Hill Society is not convinced that this is the right move. We are concerned that road users will not know where the red routes begin and where they end as red markings on the road continue for 50 metres away from the official red routes. It is also not clear what will happen on boundary roundabout, such as on Sydenham Hill. Unlike other Lewisham roundabouts, where road users will orbit counter-clockwise, this roundabout is officially in Southwark despite residents on three sides being classed as Lewisham – so it would be easy for drivers to forget which way to go on the roundabout and end up being too polite to go anywhere!


There has been further opposition to the plans expressed in parliament, led by Lady Wellbrooke. Lady Wellbrooke claims that Lewisham’s 70% remain vote in the 2016 referendum does not constitute a mandate to shift to the right, and the signs being displayed across Lewisham are contrary rules relating to political advertising.

The new rules, scheduled to start on 1st April 2019 will only apply to cars – buses will be exempt, so that passengers can safely embark and disembark from buses using existing doors. However, all buses operating in Lewisham will be required to have ambidextrous entry and hover board storage facilities by January 2015.


* Press release issued by the Forest Hill Society on 1st April 2019. Some of the details in this article may not be valid on any other day of the year.

31 March 2019

Dates for Your Diary - Spring 2019

Spring Walk: Sunday 28th April, 2:30pm. Meet at Honor Oak Park station

Edible Plant Give-Away: Saturday 4th May, 2:30pm. Forest Hill station’s forecourt
A selection of edible plants, grown by the Horniman Gardens and surplus to requirements, will be given away by volunteers from the Forest Hill Society.

Guided Walk through the Woods along Sydenham Hill Ridge: Tuesday 7th May, 6:30pm. Meet at Bluebell Close off Sydenham Hill. (Organised by Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Forum)

Spring Planting at the Station: Saturday 11th May, 2.30pm. Meet in Forest Hill station’s forecourt

24 March 2019

Summer Visitors to SE23

 Swifts are seen (and heard) in the UK from May to August, and they are regularly seen over parts of SE23. There are swift

nesting colonies in Wynell Road (off Perry Vale), Kilmorie Road, Lowther Hill and Devonshire Road/Tyson Road.

Swifts are small, fast and agile with a distinctive silhouette. They are often seen in groups circulating high in the sky and have a distinctive 'screaming' call.

They are migratory birds, flying from Africa to northern climates where they nest and raise their young, before flying back to Africa. Amazingly, swifts spend most of their lives flying and never land, other than to nest. They even sleep whilst flying!

Swifts have adapted to nesting in buildings, not trees, which means cities are ideal nesting grounds. However, swift numbers have declined dramatically because their existing nests are under threat from building renovation, and there are few alternative nesting spaces in modern buildings.

Swifts depend on gaps and small holes high up in buildings, for example under eaves or behind gutters. But as houses are repaired these holes and gaps are blocked up and swifts lose their nesting places.

Each swift pair return to the same nest every year. Unfortunately if their nest has disappeared they cannot breed unless they find a new site, which is difficult because modern building design does not provide nooks and crannies.

A local swifts group (known as Lewisham Swifts) was created by Rebecca Headd, a Forest Hill resident who wanted to protect her local swift colony in Wynell Road. The group, which aims to raise awareness of swifts and tries to protect and extend nesting sites to increase the swift population, has now grown to cover the whole borough.
Lewisham Swifts maps reported swift sightings across the borough. This forms a picture of where swifts might be nesting and is also a way of encouraging people to take an interest in the birds.

Last May, ten swift nest boxes were installed on the side of a block of flats in Wynell Road by the London Fire Brigade, who used it as a training exercise to use their ladder platform. The boxes are visible from the top of Wynell Road at the junction with the alley, so passers-by can keep an eye out to see if any swifts take up residence.


Edible Plant Give-Away

Saturday 4th May, 2:30pm at Forest Hill station’s forecourt.

A selection of edible plants, grown by the Horniman Gardens and surplus to requirements, will be given away by volunteers from the Forest Hill Society.

Possibly with some music to enjoy too!

23 March 2019

Heathrow Airport’s Flight Path Consultation

By Tim Walker, Forest Hill Society’s Flight Path Group

Many people are bothered by noise from aircraft heading over our area to Heathrow and London City airports, though research shows that the decibel level and frequency of aircraft at which people become significantly disturbed varies. Surely, some aircraft noise is part and parcel of living in London? When planning huge expansions, airports are under environmental pressures as expectations rise for less noise and pollution. How then should Forest Hill ensure that its interests are taken into account?

In August 2018, I published a report on aircraft flying over our area, entitled No respite from aircraft noise in SE23. This explained how two airports, Heathrow and London City, combine their aircraft’s flight paths over Forest Hill, with each airport’s planes flying different paths and changing flight direction in different wind conditions. One of the report’s surprising findings was that south east London was unique in getting this double overflight situation; there was never a day when we did not get either one airport or the other’s planes, and quite often we get both at the same time. The Times picked up on this recently, name-checking Honor Oak and Forest Hill when the London Assembly reported on the issue.

London City airport controls the lower-level airspace over Forest Hill. In February 2016 residents along a line from Sidcup to Catford, Forest Hill, Dulwich, Herne Hill and north to Vauxhall noticed a sudden change: Aircraft that were previously dispersed were now flying along a very precise path over the same homes and schools at or under 2,000ft. People living under this relatively new low-altitude concentrated route are now affected significantly worse than before.

Until 4th March Heathrow is running a huge consultation, the first of several, on a complete redesign of the higher -level airspace they control over London. A third runway is planned for 2026 and, whether or not it is built, the airspace that has evolved piecemeal over 70 years will be redesigned.

After these issues were discussed at the last Forest Hill Society AGM, a group of members has been intervening where it has seemed effective, for example by:


  • Taking a seat on behalf of the Society on the Heathrow Community Noise Forum
  • Approaching Lewisham’s councillors and environmental protection officers to see how Lewisham might engage more — and act on our behalf on consultations like Heathrow’s
  • Discussing shared issues with the Dulwich Society
  • Briefing London Assembly members and members of the new Heathrow Community Engagement Board on south east London’s overflight issues
  • Preparing a guide for south east Londoners on the current Heathrow consultation


We’d like to see regular breaks from aircraft noise for all communities, planes flying higher for longer and an end to the crossing of flight paths above us. We'd also like to make sure that the voices of Forest Hill and neighbouring south east London communities are heard on plans that affect us. Each individual can make a small difference by participating in consultations and by complaining, when disturbed by noise, to airports.

Aside from our overflight issue being noted by The Times, it has also been acknowledged by London City airport, which has for the first time carried out some initial noise monitoring in our area; and by Heathrow airport, whose consultation specifically mentions the need to address the double overflight situation. 

22 March 2019

125 Years of Bowling in Forest Hill

The Forest Hill Bowling Club is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year, and they will be hosting three Special Celebration Matches plus other events throughout the summer season.

Bowls is a sport and pastime for everyone. You can make new friends at the Club and spend summer afternoons and evenings in safe and pleasant surroundings.

For those who have not bowled before or who have limited experience, the Club can provide the assistance of its qualified bowls coaches.

Their outdoor season starts on Saturday 20th April and runs until Sunday 22nd September. From the beginning of May, they meet for practice, skills and coaching on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5pm.

The Club’s members play matches on Wednesday afternoons, Thursday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Why not pop along to try bowls for yourself?

Address: 28 Wynell Road, Forest Hill, SE23 2LW
Website: www.foresthill-bowling-club.com

21 March 2019

Water Bottle-filling Fountain at the Horniman

By Brendan Cuddihy

You may have noticed something new at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in late 2018. The museum is one of twenty well-visited locations chosen by the Mayor of London for the first wave of new public water fountains that provide free access to healthy tap water for refilling water bottles. This is part of an effort to reduce the more than 20 million single-use plastic bottles that Londoners consume every week, many of which end up in landfill or polluting the environment.

We think this is a great initiative and would love to see more of these bottle-filling fountains around Forest Hill.

What do you think, and where would you like to see them located? Let us know in the comments