29 March 2009

Dacres Wood Nature Reserve

The Forest Hill Society had over 80 people of all ages visit the Dacres Wood Nature Reserve.

Information was provided by Alona Sheridan and Steve Grindlay about the history and natural features of the area. Steve Grinlay has kindly made his notes and maps available to us and they can be viewed here.

Below are a few pictures from the afternoon.

Alona speaking


Toad Spawn

Information and Activities

Lewisham PCT Consultation

Lewisham PCT is presently running a consultation (until April 6 2009) regarding the new GP-led health centre in the borough. The consultation document suggests that the new GP-led health centre should be located at the north of the borough at The Waldron health centre, New Cross.

The Local Medical Committee is concerned that this site may not be in the best interests of the majority of Lewisham residents, and risks harming existing patient services.

Local GPs have sta
rted a petition saying that any extra investment in GP and community services should benefit ALL patients in Lewisham by being easily accessible from all areas of the borough, with any new GP-led Health Centre being more centrally located.

The Forest Hill Society urge members to respond to this consultation and consider how the location of the new GP led health centre will affect people in Forest Hill.

21 March 2009

Forest Hill Society eNewsletter - 21st March

A busy week in Forest Hill with the 23 Club, the Ward Assembly, and a visit to possibly the last section of canal in Forest Hill!

'23 Club' at The Old Bank – This Monday, 23rd March, 8pm

This Italian restaurant is situated close to Honor Oak Park Station. Booking is not necessary for this evening but do look out for other SE23 Club members. The Old Bank, 76-78 Honor Oak Park, SE23 1DY, Phone 8291 1738

View Larger Map

Dacres Wood – Sunday, 29th March, 2pm (BST)

As British Summer Time begins (at last) join us for a fantastic opportunity to take a look round this site which is not normally accessible to the public. As well as interesting flora and fauna, you will see one of the last surviving parts of the Croydon Canal. The tour will be led by Alona Sheridan and the local historian, Steve Grindlay. Sturdy shoes and appropriate outdoor clothes are recommended.

Meet in the grassy area in front of the reserve gates, (junction of Silverdale and Dacres Road).

View Larger Map

Forest Hill Pools

Over the next few months the council will be consulting about the future of the Forest Hill swimming pool. At present they are proposing two options;

1. Move the pool to Willow Way SE26 in 2011 and sell off the existing site for housing, or
2. Put the project on hold until 2012 before looking again at Option 2 (new build on existing site, retain Victorian frontage, cross subsidise from Willow Way) with possible delivery in 2015.

The Forest Hill Society favour the development of Work/Live units on the Willow Way to help fund a pool development on the existing site, but want this to happen considerably sooner than 2015. A petition has been put together which supports 'Keeping Swimming in Forest Hill ' which you may wish to sign at http://keepswimming.notlong.com. We understand that this petition has already collected over 170 signatures online and well over 1,000 on paper. More about this campaign group can be found at http://ksfh.notlong.com/

Forest Hill Ward Assembly - Wednesday 25th March, 7:30pm

The Forest Hill Ward Assembly is an opportunity for residents living in Forest Hill ward to discuss issues that effect the local area, including the pools which is one of the items on the agenda. Further details of the Assembly can be found on the council website.

Venue: Living Springs International Church, 8-10 Devonshire Road , London SE23 3TJ (see Google StreetView)

13 March 2009


Wednesday 25th March 7.30-9.30pm
Forest Hill Ward Assembly Meeting. Living Springs International Church, 8-10 Devonshire Road, London SE23 3TJ

Thursday 7th May - 7:30pm
Forest Hill Society GENERAL MEETING - The Hob, 7 Devonshire Road SE23 3HE

Sunday 29th March at 2pm
Nature and history walk at Dacres Wood Nature Reserve. Meet in the grassy area in front of the reserve gates, (to the left of Homefield House.) Led by Alona Sheridan & Steve Grindlay.

Thursday 30th April - Pub Crawl.
Starts 7.30pm at the Railway Telegraph, 112 Stanstead Rd, SE23 1BS. Ends at Mr Lawrence's Wine Bar, 391 Brockley Road, SE4 2PH

Monday 4th May from midday
May Day Tidy plus picnic. Albion Millennium Green. Entrance at the end of Albion Villas Road, off Sydenham Park Road.

Monday March 23 at 8pm - classic Italian.
The Old Bank, 76-78 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DY Phone 8291 1738.

Thursday April 23 at 8pm
The Dartmouth Arms pub, 7 Dartmouth Road SE23 3HN Phone 8488 3117

Saturday May 23 at 8pm
The Thai Orchard, 3 David's Road SE23 3EP Phone 8291 3901

Environment and Leisure Committee

We love being close to the big metropolis and having all the amenities that come with urban living. But we also love the tranquil, green spaces that make SE23 so special. James Marmion is on a mission to make Forest Hill a community we can all enjoy and we’re delighted that he’s volunteered to chair the Society’s Environment and Leisure Committee. We asked him to set out his vision.

I’ve lived in Forest Hill for ten years and in southeast London for twenty. Before coming to London, I lived in Liverpool, overlooking a lovely beach now filled with figures made by Anthony Gormley, the Peckham sculptor (which makes it even lovelier).

In SE23 we benefit from all the good places to go out that come with being close to a big metropolis. But the main reason I became involved with the Forest Hill Society was to try to round off some of the sharper urban edges that come with being next to that great metropolis. So what do we need to do?

We need to foster our green spaces. It’s been great to see the continuing development of the green chain walks and we have an active community presence at our several local nature reserves at Devonshire, Garthorne and Dacres Roads. We’ve organised a walk around Dacres Road reserve to raise its profile, stimulate involvement and, not least, admire the last remaining remnants of the canal that preceded the railway line. We’ve also combined volunteering with relaxation by organising a tidy-up followed by a picnic in one of our hidden away green spots. Elsewhere, I’d like to build support for the excellent community idea of using the vacant lot next to One Tree Hill allotments as a family allotment space.

We should promote green issues too – such as supporting the Eco Street project running in the “Rockbourne Triangle” and persuading the council to rollout benefits such as improved recycling schemes across SE23.

We need to smarten up our streetscape and immediate surroundings. The Honor Oak Park Action Group has performed wonders to improve the look of Honor Oak’s Parade and station. Wouldn’t it be good if we could have a similar, community driven group to smarten up London Road and Forest Hill station? Friends and neighbours often complain about how development of our area is handicapped by the presence of the South Circular Road. So how do we turn a handicap into a virtue? Can we improve the road with street art or planting? The railway bridge too is in desperate need of smartening up - a shame as it has the potential to provide a wonderful welcome point to Forest Hill with a good clean, a lick of paint and a well-designed sign.

Most of all I’d love to see children and families get involved – harnessing that sense of civic pride for those growing up or settling down in the area – and having our local schools and youth clubs join in with environmental projects.

I need to hear your ideas too. If you want to drop me a line about them, or if you’re inspired to get involved with what we’re doing, you can write to me at james@foresthillsociety.com.

Development Committee

The Forest Hill Society has considered a number of planning applications for developments in SE23 over the last few months. It's also looking at ways to make our town centre more attractive to shoppers, browsers and socialisers.

For the first time, we took the opportunity to support a planning application. This was the application to convert the former McDonalds site in London Road into a gym, which, perhaps thanks to our support, was approved very quickly by the planning committee.

The council granted permission for a new modern house to be built in the Sydenham Park conservation area, just on the edge of Forest Hill. The Forest Hill Society submitted an objection to this proposal which we felt was not in keeping with the conservation area. However, this issue was not discussed by the three councillors who turned up to the planning committee to discuss the matter. With no discussion of the impact on the conservation area, the councillors passed the application by two votes and one abstention.

A much larger development is still being considered by the planning department on the site of Tyson Road. The Forest Hill Society has written a detailed objection as have more than 300 other people! This development would place 75 flats on an area of green space resulting in a density in excess of the recommended maximum in a suburban context. To make matters worse, the latest draft from Lewisham of the local development framework recommends building 87 flats on this site, well in excess of the recommended maximum density. Our understanding now is that the council officers will be recommending approval for this development but councillors will have the final say at the planning committee on 31st March. We will keep you updated at here.

The development committee does not only consider planning applications. We are also looking at the longer term development of Forest Hill and Honor Oak town centres. One of the key objectives that we have is to increase the period of free parking in the Pearcefield Road car park (behind Sainsbury’s). We understand that Sainsbury’s are willing to help fund this and that the council and the Forest Hill Traders back this plan. We are just waiting for all parties to reach an agreement so that this can be implemented. We are looking for two hours of free parking so that shoppers coming to Forest Hill will be able to visit more of our shops and cafes rather than rushing to beat the parking limit. With better parking in the town centre, more people will shop in Forest Hill rather than travelling to other town centres with better parking.

One other important improvement to the local shopping centre has been arranged by the Forest Hill Traders, the town centre manager, and other council officers; Dartmouth Road now has daily rubbish collections. This has removed all the wheelie bins from along the shopping area, making it easier to visit the shops and presenting a much better face of Forest Hill.

If you have suggestions about ways to improve the town centre, or if you'd like advice on planning issues affecting you, please contact Michael Abrahams, Chair of the FH Society Development committee.

Transport Committee

Forest Hill Station is to get a new Footbridge to link the platforms. Yes, it really is true.
The Forest Hill Society has been working closely with Network Rail and Lewisham Council's transport planning department recently and, thanks to the "Access for All" funding programme, a new footbridge design to link the two platforms is almost complete.

This new design will replace the existing footbridge and make it covered, brighter and safer, as well as having a lift. There are many more planned improvements, especially as the Forest Hill Station and Honor Oak Park Stations change management ownership to Transport for London (TFL), as part of the East London Line tube extension.

Tenders are due to go out in the middle of this year to seek a contractor to construct the new footbridge. The plan is then to choose a contractor quickly and look to start the work by June 2009 and complete it by May 2010 (subject to tender responses).

There will be a period of disruption to the station, including a period when there will be no bridge and, on some occasions, the South Circular (A205) may also need to be closed at Waldram Crescent for a few hours very late at night for a very short period. Because of the obvious disruptions, The Forest hill Society will be working closely with Network Rail, Lewisham Council and TFL to ensure these are kept to a minimum.

The Forest Hill Society Transport Committee is looking at ways to improve roads and transport in SE23. We are pursuing various ideas with Lewisham Council, TFL, Network Rail and Southern Rail. These include Forest Hill and Honor Oak station improvements, OysterCard points, extended bus services, sensible traffic light phasing, better pedestrian crossings (Perry Vale), parking and many other issues.

BUT, we need your input and ideas so that we truly reflect a balanced view of what locals want. Contact Tony Petim, Chair of the Forest Hill Society Transport Committee, and have a chat.

The 23 Club

The 23 Club got off to a flying Highland start this year with nearly 30 people coming to the Burns Night evening at the Honor Oak on January 23rd – a record attendance. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet.

When approached about the 23 Club idea by Rob McIntosh, publican, Jamie, rose to the challenge magnificently. We were particularly impressed that he managed to trap enough wild, local haggis to give us all a free taste, together with the classic bashed neaps. Rob’s father, Alan, recited Burns’ Address to a Haggis beautifully before plunging into it with the dirk.

If you have suggestions for the 23 Club (people to join the e-mail list, places to go, things to celebrate, anything else, including criticism!), please let us know. P.S. Some e-mail addresses collected that night have bounced back. If you have not had a follow-up e-mail, contact us and we will correct the database.

Forthcoming 23 Club Venues Monday March 23 at 8pm – classic Italian. The Old Bank, 76-78 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DY
Phone 8291 1738.
This is a converted bank close to Honor Oak Park Station.

Thursday April 23 at 8pm – an opportunity to mark St George’s Day. The Dartmouth Arms pub, 7 Dartmouth Road SE23 3HN
Phone 8488 3117

Saturday May 23 at 8pm –Thai cuisine. The Thai Orchard, 3 David’s Road SE23 3EP
Phone 8291 3901

Just to remind you, the 23 Club is open to Forest Hill Society members and their guests. Please make your booking directly with the restaurant, saying you want to be seated with the Forest Hill Society or 23 Club group. Everyone orders and pays separately for their meal.

Finally, please send details of anyone who wants to be added to this 23 Club e-mail information, and also any suggestions you may have for restaurants in the Forest Hill area, to mary@foresthillsociety.com.
Bon appetit!

May Bank Holiday Revels on our own Millennium

The Forest Hill and Sydenham societies are joining forces for the Bank Holiday on the 4th of May.
We'll be celebrating spring with a day at a hidden green space on the border of Forest Hill and Sydenham - the Albion Millennium Green.

The Green, formerly a tennis club, was landscaped into an attractive, informal park at the turn of the century under a government scheme to develop 'Millennium Greens.’ Its entrance is at the end of Albion Villas Road (just off Sydenham Park Road), one of the prettiest streets in the area.

It's a haven for flowers and wildlife but it does need a little sprucing up. So we'll start the day with a group tidying up session and then savour the fruits of our labours with a picnic (please bring your own), games and traditional May Day activities for all the family.

10 March 2009

Station News

Finally, and after a lot of emails from the Forest Hill Society and Councillor Paschoud, we have succeeded in getting the Perry Vale exit reopened, 80 days later than we were promised (you could travel the world in that time). Forest Hill station can now return to being only the forth most overcrowded rail station in London.

The work has still not been completed and there are no ticket barriers, so we can look forward to another closure for a short period, before September, when TfL will take over running the station.

Over in Honor Oak Park the ticket office will be closed for 2 weeks from Saturday 21st March. The new floor works started this weekend - they are doing one side then moving over and starting works in the ticket office. Southern Railway ask that you please purchase tickets in advance where possible.

Nature & History Walk in Dacres Wood Nature Reserve

Sunday 29th March at 2pm. Meet in the grassy area in front of the reserve gates, Dacres Road (to the left of Homefield House, at the junction of Silverdale)

This is a fantastic opportunity to take a look round Dacres Wood which is not normally accessible to the public. As well as interesting flora and fauna, you will see one of the last surviving parts of the Croydon Canal. The tour will be led by Alona Sheridan and the local historian, Steve Grindlay.

Sturdy shoes and appropriate outdoor clothes are recommended as the ground can be uneven and slippery. To help identify the local flora and fauna, do bring tree, bird, plant and invertebrate identification books if you have them.

The children's wildlife club at Dacres Wood Reserve is being re-launched but it needs two more volunteers to make it viable. The group will meet on the second Sunday of each month, between 11am and 1pm, except during August and January.

If you are interested in helping to get this project off the ground, please contact Alona Sheridan via the Forest Hill Society.

04 March 2009

Forest Hill Ward Assembly

The 3rd Forest Hill Ward Assembly will be held on Wednesday 25th March at 7pm at the Living Springs International Church, 8-10 Devonshire Road (opposite the Hob), to discuss the £50,000 Mayor's Fund and the Forest Hill Pools.

The priorities for the Mayor's Fund are: Town Centre (empty shops), Youth Provision, Parking and Traffic Development, Lack of Community Facilities and Environmental Issues.

A local resident will be present to speak about the possibility of transforming Louise House into an Arts Centre and Theatre. This would also be a good opportunity for anyone wanting to put forward their views about the pools to speak to Councillors.

02 March 2009

Suggestion to improve the Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park railway stations

TfL, via Lewisham council, asked the Forest Hill Society what minor improvements should be made to local stations when they take over in September. Here's our list:

Forest Hill Station

  • Improvements to lighting, cleanliness and general condition of the underpass
  • CCTV coverage of the underpass and car park
  • Better safety announcements for when a train that is not scheduled to stop at the station is passing through (the notice tends to come through a bit late)
  • The ticket barrier installation needs looking at as it can become pretty congested during peak times and will get worse as numbers increase with additional trains
  • Repainting and improvement in the general condition of the platform lines and shelters
  • Relocation of the fast ticket machine closest to the entrance as queuing customers (using the machine and those waiting to be served at the ticket office) can cause a bit of congestion around the entrance to the station
  • Reinstatement of toilets - promised as part of the upgrade programme some time ago.

Honor Oak Park Station

  • The up platform – to get on the last carriage when its an 8 coach train you need to go on the narrow bit under the bridge. This is really unsafe. Extend the platform or get trains to stop right at the far end. Block the platform at the south end to prevent passengers getting under the bridge.
  • Provide cover between the end of the canopy out from the stairs up to the bridge so that all of the back end of the train has a proper covered platform.
  • Stairs and bridge to both platforms – there are many examples of rotten wood and uneven steps. The glass was broken sometime ago and never replaced. A major programme is required to bring the steps up to a respectable standard.
  • There is very little shelter on the down platform so when it rains/snows people huddle on the steps making it hard to access the platform. More shelter is required near the front of the train.
  • If there were ever toilets at Honor Oak Park, they should be reinstated to meet the upgrade pledge.
Not included, are more obvious plans such as the opening of the Perry Vale exit, and longer term plans where additional funding will be required; such as opening a new exit at the Perry Vale car park. We have heard that DfT funding will be made available for a new disabled accessible footbridge, possibly as soon as May 2010.