29 November 2008

Tyson Road Objection

The Forest Hill Society is opposing the latest planning application for Tyson Road which was mentioned here previously. Full details of the objection can be read here. Some of the key reasons for rejecting this application are:
  1. Over-development - 76 flats in a backland site
  2. Loss of Biodiversity
  3. Vehicle and pedestrian accessibility
  4. Flood Risk
  5. Crime Prevention
  6. Grounds and gardens that do not meet Lewisham Council policy
We urge members to email the planning department to object to this application. At present there are only 16 objections compared to 193 objections to the previous application which was very similar to the new application.

Please feel free to use the text from the Forest Hill Society objection and add your own opinions.

In related news there was an article in the South London Press last week about this site.

24 November 2008

76 flats on Green Space - no thanks!

Once more, Loromah Estates have submitted a planning application (no. 08/70207) to build large blocks of flats on the green, wooded space behind Tyson Rd and the Christian Fellowship Centre on Honor Oak Road. You can see photos of the site on this website


The last time developers submitted an application to build on the site, local residents mounted a vigorous campaign to preserve this important green space and almost 200 people sent objections. The Council refused planning permission saying the plan to build 84 flats on the site was too dense, poorly designed and out of keeping with the area.

Now the developers have made some small concessions (only 76 flats this time!) and are trying again but residents still feel this is over-development which will have a big impact on local roads and schools. They're hoping to encourage even more people to send objections to the Council this time. To find out more, email the residents' group on se23openspace@hotmail.co.uk. You can also sign the online petition on


The Forest Hill Society and other local groups are also sending the Council detailed objections which will be posted here soon.

35 Sunderland Road - Protected Tree Preserved

Following the objection from the Forest Hill Society, the application to fell the eucalyptus tree has been refused on these grounds:
"The Eucalyptus tree is of high visual amenity value from both the near and distant realms.
The report submitted with the application discounts any damage to the building by the
tree. ... The Council has no objection to crown reduce the Eucalyptus tree T1 by 25%."

Well done to Lewisham Planning Department for making a good decision.

21 November 2008

23 Club dates for your Diary

Sunday November 23 at 1pm – classic & modern British; world
All Inn One, 53 Perry Vale SE23 2NE Phone: 8699 3311
This get-together is at lunchtime and the pub is child friendly. It is near Forest Hill Station.

Tuesday December 23 at 8pm – Christmas Dinner,Italian style
The Old Bank, 76-78 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DY Phone 8291 1738
Close to Honor Oak Park Station – a bank converted into a restaurant before the credit crunch!

Friday January 23 at 8pm – Burns Night theme evening
The Honor Oak pub, 1 St German’s Road SE23 1RH Phone 8690 8606
More details of the Burns Night will be available nearer the time – there are rumours of haggis (including vegetarian ones) and whisky tasting!

Monday February 23 at 8pm –Chinese
Tse’s, 54 London Road SE23 3HF Phone 8291 0019
An opportunity to enjoy the Chinese New Year celebrations!

20 November 2008

Oystergate continued - Response from Southern Railway

Response from Southern Railways:
"Southern has been reviewing arrangements for closure of the gates at Forest Hill Station. You will be pleased to learn that the decision has been taken not to close this entrance until after the last train has departed. Closure will be undertaken remotely from our control centre.

The less good news is that the gate will be closed from the middle of next week while the new entrance and gate line is constructed. It would not be safe to allow passengers access to what will in effect be a building site for several weeks. Posters are being prepared for display at the station to provide details of the works."

The Forest Hill Society is pleased that the barriers will remain open during all hours of operation but we are disappointed that the safety concerns have not been addressed. Hopefully we will hear more from them soon.

17 November 2008

Oystergate continued - Letter to Southern Railway

Southern Railway once again have plans to close the Perry Vale exit after 8pm and to install ticket barriers close to the foot of the stairs at this exit. The Forest Hill Society has written to object to these plans, see below:

To: ian.rashbrook@southernrailway.com
Cc: Cllr John Russell, Cllr John Paschoud, Steve Bullock, Jim Dowd MP, Passenger Focus, London TravelWatch, Lewisham Head of Transport.

Dear Ian,

I was hoping that in the last two weeks you may have had an opportunity to respond to my previous email. As you will know the planning committee accepted the plans for the new ticket barriers at Forest Hill Station as they believed there were no planning grounds on which to object to this application.

However, the Forest Hill Society continue to have significant concerns about the plans for the new barriers at Perry Vale, specifically on the grounds of passenger safety and access to the station outside peak hours.

As I mentioned below the previous closure of this exit, the main exit during the evenings, prompted an outcry from local people, Jim Dowd raised the issue in Parliament, a council motion was raise by Councillor Russell which was passed, and a meeting at Forest Hill station with Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, Jim Dowd, representatives of the Forest Hill Society, London TravelWatch, Southern Railway, and London Rail.

It was confirmed by Southern Railway's representatives at the planning committee meeting that the gates will be shuttered and locked from around 8pm every evening causing major inconvenience to people living in Forest Hill. Already many less able-bodied people are unwilling to use Forest Hill station for their journeys from London Bridge, preferring to alight at Sydenham and get the bus back again (not a quick journey). For half of rail users who live on the east of the station they will be forced to go up a flight of steps, across the footbridge, down another flight of steps, out of the station and round WHSmith, down another flight of steps, though a badly lit underpass, and then up another small flights of steps, when they can currently use the single set of steps that you will be locking up in the evenings.

The planning officer responsible for the case has confirmed that a risk assessment has been undertaken, including a passenger count, but that details could not be provided to him "as it is an internal Network Rail document". I do not believe any such headcounts have been undertaken since the plans for barriers on platform 1, when headcounts and passenger flows were calculated by closing this exit. I believe that any modelling that was done based on this research cannot be used to apply to the Perry Vale exit, which gets more than 50% of the traffic from mid afternoon until after midnight. I would urge you to make any such documents available so that everybody can understand why you believe there is no safety risk - I am sure that there are ways to obtain these documents (at least by some of those copied on this email).

During rush hour the barriers present a danger to passengers due to the distance of the gates to the bottom of the steep stairs, going round a corner, and all in poor lighting conditions. In the event of one or two Oyster or paper tickets failing to function quickly this will lead to a rapid backlog of people round the corner and up the steps. In wet or icy conditions, passengers all have umbrellas open - blocking the dim light available, and restricting access to the furthest ticket barriers from the stairs. These conditions will inevitably lead to slips and injuries to rail passengers, something which should be a major concern when making such changes to access.

I have already noticed that there are rarely staff at the Perry Vale exit after 6pm during the height of rush hour services. Your argument that these plans are about revenue protect simply do not match with the service that you currently provide. The level of manning by revenue protection officers would suggest that when ticket barriers are installed we can expect closure of these gates during the main evening rush hour.

I believe it is in the interest of Southern Rail to resolve this situation by changing the plans for gates at the station. There is space for you to install ticket barriers further from the steps, there is another option of placing level access ticket barriers to provide a new exit at the Perry Vale car park, where there is plenty of space for such a structure.

Barriers that are installed must be open during all hours of operation until TfL take over the running of the station in September 09, when they will provide this level of service. If this cannot be achieved with the gates locked then they should be left open or a temporary alternative exit provided at this side of the station.

I would ask that a meeting take place at Forest Hill Station, after 5pm on a weekday in the next couple of months, so that you and John Oliver can understand the difficulties presented by the scheme that has been drawn up for one of the busiest stations on your network, and I would welcome your suggestion on another busy station that I can visit during rush hours to see how the positioning of gates at the base of steps will work in practise. As far as I can recall there are no such barriers anywhere in central London on the overground or underground systems, but I have not personally visited them all.

I hope you understand that the Forest Hill Society does welcome the introduction of ticket barriers for revenue protection and for the advantages of using pre-pay Oyster cards in the future. However, safety and accessibility are our primary concerns and we hope that you also take these concerns seriously.

I can only apologise to all those I have copied in that I have once again had to involve you in this issue when we thought that we had resolved the situation back in July. I hope that we can continue to count on your support to maintain the safety and limited accessibility that we do have for passengers at Forest Hill.

Help Tidy Up Honor Oak Park

Our friends in the Honor Oak Park Action Group are arranging a day of action this Saturday. Please join them to help improve the area around Honor Oak Park Station.

16 November 2008

139 Sunderland Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to the planned development of 139 Sunderland Road (DC/08/69950/x). You can read a copy of the letter to planning officers here.

08 November 2008

Tree Preservation: 35 Sunderland Road

At 35 Sunderland Road is a large eucalyptus tree that already has a preservation order and application DC/08/69850/FT requests permission to fell the tree. The Forest Hill Society have written to object:

We wish to object to the proposal to fell the eucalyptus tree at 35 Sunderland Road, for the following reasons:

1. Factual inaccuracy: the application states that the tree has caused damage to the 'pavement'. However the accompanying surveyor's report states that the damage is to the 'paving', presumably in the front garden. I recently walked past the property and saw no damage to the pavement in front of the property.

2. The application does not include an arboriculturalist's report. The report submitted is a brief report by a chartered surveyor, which contains only two paragraphs about the trees. The report recommends that "an arboriculturalist be invited to inspect and report on the trees". The application provides no evidence that this has been done.

3. The loss of the eucalyptus would be contrary to policy URB 13 Trees of the Unitary Development Plan. Lewisham has previously acknowledged this, in relation to a planning application in 2006 (DC/06/63172). At that time the outlook for the eucalyptus was positive, with no suggestion that it needed to be felled, and both Lewisham Council and the Planning Inspectorate supported the retention of the three trees on the site:

3.1 An arboriculturalist's report by Simon Jones Associates was submitted with the above application and categorised the eucalyptus in accordance with British Standard (2005) 'Trees in relation to construction - Recommendations' as Category B: "Trees of moderate quality and value: those in such a condition as to make a significant contribution (a minimum of 20 years is suggested)". This categorisation took into account the tree's species and the contraints of its physical location. In no way did the report suggest that the eucalyptus needed to be removed. It did acknowledge that pruning or tree surgery was likely to be required on a regular basis to manage the tree's conflicts with its urban surroundings (s. 2.2.8), and that the constraints of its present situation would entail the need for crown reduction in the very near future (s.4.1.2).

3.2 Lewisham refused planning permission, one of the grounds being that the proposed development would be likely to prejudice the retention of the protected eucalyptus and two limes trees, contrary to policy URB 13 Trees of the Adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004) (s.5 of decision notice dated 1 November 2006).

3.3. The applicant appealed against Lewisham's refusal (Appeal reference APP/C5690/A/07/2042273). Based on a site visit in August 2007, the Planning Inspector supported Lewisham's decision in relation to the eucalyptus and two lime trees, stating 'To my mind, the loss of any protected trees in this urban setting would be a negative step in redeveloping the site. Views towards the site from Waldram Park Road confirm the value of the on-site trees and others in the street scene." (s.6).

It is for these reasons that we believe any claim that the eucalyptus is causing damage to property should be supported by strong expert evidence - evidence which is absent from this application. Both Lewisham Council and the Planning Inspectorate have acknowledged the importance of the eucalyptus and two limes, and permission to fell any of these trees should be given only as a last resort. The trees may well need pruning or crown reduction, in which case any work that is permitted should be carried out in a way that maintains the trees' contribution to the streetscape.