26 May 2009

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Sunday June 7th – 1pm-6pm. Forest Hill Society picnic in the Horniman Gardens. We should be easy to spot so do bring your picnic hamper and join us on what is absolutely bound to be a gloriously sunny day.

23 CLUB - Tuesday June 23 at 8pm : Elachi 16-23 Sunderland Road SE23 2PR : Phone 8699 0866

Saturday 27th June 2009 – Blythe Hill Fields Day. Fun community event with music, a wide variety of stalls and donkey rides. The Forest Hill Society will be there with a stall selling our popular SE23 cakes!

Sunday 5th July and Sunday 12th July - Craft and Design Fair at The Hob.

4th, 5th, 11th and 12th July, 11am to 7pm – Havelock Walk Open Studios. Part of Sydenham Arts Festival.

23 CLUB Thursday July 23 at 8pm : Try (formerly Tapastry) 39 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DZ : Phone 8291 2822

Saturday 9th August, starts at midday – Jerk Chicken Cook Out at the Horniman Gardens. The Forest Hill Society will be there with a stall.

23 CLUB Sunday August 23 at 1pm : Forest Hill Tavern – lunchtime, family friendly get-together 108 Forest Hill Road SE22 0RS : Phone 8693 0338

Sunday 13th September at 3pm— Green Chain Walk Festival - walk via Horniman Gardens, One Tree Hill, Nunhead Cemetery and Peckham Rye Park
Meet at Horniman Gardens, by the museum gate. Duration 2 hours. Led by Peter Frost.

23 May 2009

Planning for a Pool on Dartmouth Road

Below is the content of the proposal from the Forest Hill Society to Sir Steve Bullock regarding bringing swimming back to Forest Hill as soon as possible.

A sketch of the proposals for the site can be viewed here.

Dear Sir Steve,

We have given careful consideration to the various options that are around about the use of the existing pools site and the alternative site at Willow Way. We are concerned that the potential of achieving planning permission is not being realistically stated and that alternative options for funding a pool, on the pools site, are being ignored.

Firstly we are concerned that the potential of achieving a pool on the Willow Way site is being overstated generally and particularly in the current consultation. A pool on this site is strictly speaking contrary to the UDP and a leisure use does not meet many of the criteria set out as mitigating reasons why non-employment uses would be considered. Pushing ahead this option could be problematic for the council. Legal guidance has already stated that residential would not be allowed on the Willow Way site and such an option has been removed from the consultation, however, it remains questionable whether a swimming pool would be suitable for the location.

As well as resulting in a loss of employment, moving the swimming pool from the Dartmouth Road site would also be contrary to regional policy intended to retain leisure uses in town centre locations. This location is not recognised as meeting most of the criteria for the location of a swimming pool – specifically it is outside a designated town centre and is not correctly located to provide the maximum level of access to swimming within a 20 minute walk from their homes. The location is within a 20 minute walk from the Crystal Palace pool, which means that half the catchment area is already served by another pool. This calls into question the long-term viability of this site for leisure use.

There is a similar planning problem when considering the loss of a pool and park from Dartmouth Road for conversion to residential. This will have a detrimental effect on the town centre and specifically on the library, which will no longer be adjacent to a leisure destination. This will again require a major change of use of the land, and with the density of housing proposed, close to existing housing and two grade 2 listed buildings, is likely to meet resistance from local residents.

We understand the financial problems that you have in providing the pool on the existing Dartmouth Road site but the Forest Hill Society have been working on a proposal for Live/Work development to cross-subsidise the pool on the existing pool site. The would comprise approximately 50% live/work units providing 25-30 jobs, and just under 50% residential units above the live/work units. We believe that this option will maximise the employment available on the site (greater than for the likely use of the site for pure employment as either B8, B1, or B2, or for the pool). However, we recognise that this does not fit with the 100% employment use that is outlined in the UDP and in the draft core strategy options produced in 2009, although it does achieve the objectives for flexible, creative employment accommodation.

The use of Willow Way as a mixed site for employment and residential is actually a very good use of this site that assists with the regeneration of the area, maximising employment (and possibly a small amount of residential use), whilst maintaining additional employment in leisure services at the existing pools site. It has to be done in the right way to create a viable live/work community, but the residential element will positively assist in this desire. We recommend that the council consider the Wilow Way site as a suitable site for mixed use development, allowing such a development in the south of the borough as well as a number proposed for the north of the borough. This is the best use for this site independent to any consideration of the pools location.

There should not be any significant problem in designating Willow Way as a mixed development in the Core Strategy and Spatial Strategy that are being produced and this would allow for the building of live/work units plus residential on Willow Way in the same timeframe as the alternative idea for housing on the existing pools site. The council should then be able to move forward with plans for the development of the new pool on the Dartmouth Road site, knowing that approximately £2m can be realised from the sale of the Willow Way site (our conservative estimates show a minimum of £1.5m land value based on 2009 property values).

Unfortunately Willow Way cannot completely cross-subsidise the estimated cost of the pool if it does cost £12.5m, with a shortfall of £5m from the funds the council have earmarked for the Forest Hill pool. We believe that most of the remaining £3m shortfall can be addressed by the reduced cost of building over that last two years, and by careful consideration to reduce costs on the site.

The current plan for option 2 is to push ahead with building a pool on the Willow Way site prior to approval for building housing on the existing site. We believe that if this can be done for option 2, a similar process can be put in place for option 1, allowing for the building of the new pool on the existing site to commence in the same time frame.

This option, of pools on the current site and mixed use on Willow Way should result in less risk to the project as a whole, by a minor and justifiable change to the designation of Willow Way, rather than significant changes to the designation of both sites of proposed development. This will provide for swimming facilities at the earliest possible opportunity in a site favoured by residents, planning and leisure guidelines, and by council officers to whom we have spoken.

We believe that an Outline Planning Application on this site may be a good way of testing and determining the future of the Willow Way Site and would be happy to help you wherever we can in the preparation of such an application.

I look forward to your response on this proposition.

15 May 2009

02 May 2009

General Meeting, Picnic, and the Pools

Thank you to everyone who’s been supporting our social events recently. There have been a lot of them and we know you can’t get to them all. There are still more events to come this month. We always like to see new faces so do take a look at what we’ve organised.

Most importantly, we have our General Meeting on 7th May at The Hob. This is a chance to discuss the major issues facing SE23 (I guess the Pools might crop up) and the way forward for the Forest Hill Society. If you’d like to become more actively involved in the Society’s work – in whatever capacity – do make yourself known to us at the meeting.

You should all have received a consultation form the Council asking for your views on the future of Forest Hill Pools. At the end of this email, we’ve included a message from Hilary, one of our representatives on the Stakeholder Group, explaining more about the Society’s position.


Monday 4th May - May Bank Holiday Revels on our own Millennium Green
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.
So mark your diaries now. It'll be a great Bank Holiday day out - just around the corner.


Thursday 7th May - General Meeting. 7.30pm at The Hob pub opposite Forest Hill Station.

We’ll be upstairs and the bar will be open so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to socialise as well as take part in the more formal part of the evening. Doors open from 7pm. See you there.


Saturday 9th May – Dawn Chorus Walk, One Tree Hill - 5am
This is organised by the Friends of One Tree Hill. At this time of the year, the air is full of birdsong as each bird gets up in the morning. This annual, guided walk is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives! So wrap up warmly and come and see how many different birds we can identify. Meet at 5 am at the gates to St. Augustine's Church, One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park SE23. If you wish to find out more about the walk on their website


Saturday May 23 at 8pm – 23 Club


The Thai Orchard, 3 David’s Road SE23 3EP Phone 8291 3901. Please book directly with the restaurant making it clear you’re with the 23 Club or Forest Hill Society. We look forward to seeing you there.


FOREST HILL POOLS CONSULTATION STARTS
By now all of the households in Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Sydenham Wards should have received Lewisham Council’s latest questionnaire on the future of Forest Hill Pools.

This consultation is about whether people think that a pool is better in Dartmouth Road (with a bit of a wait) or Willow Way (which they think can be delivered sooner). It also asks questions about how often people use the pool and their age group etc.

If you have lost, recycled or someone else in your household has already filled in the printed questionnaire, then it is available to complete online.


The Society’s Forest Hill Pools Stakeholder Representatives are generally of the view that:
• A new pool should be built on the existing pools site as a way of helping regenerate the town centre and attract a wider range of shops and services; and
• That the pool should be delivered as soon as possible, and certainly much before the 2015 date that the Council set out in the questionnaire.

The Council says in the questionnaire that the Willow Way site can't be used to cross subsidise the pools on the Dartmouth Road site because housing is not going to be an acceptable use for this site, given its current designation as an employment site.

So this leaves us with a bit of a difficulty as neither of the options as they are presented in the questionnaire really meets the needs of Forest Hill. A number of the FHS Executive have been working to try and get the Council to reconsider the current options as they stand. The work that has been done indicates that it may be possible to redevelop Willow Way for live/work development or mixed uses including employment and that this development COULD then be used to cross subsidise a new swimming pool on the Dartmouth Road site. It may not meet the whole funding gap that has currently been identified but it may well go some way towards doing so. In that case, it may be possible to deliver a new pool on the current site much sooner than 2015.

We also think that if the responses to the questionnaire support the idea of a new pool on the current site then it may be possible to persuade the Mayor to reconsider the current options on the table and work to find a solution that delivers it sooner.

If anyone has any questions about the Pools project and the Council’s current consultation then please let us know. We are very keen that Forest Hill has a pool back soon and that it is in the best place for the majority of residents of this part of Lewisham and for the regeneration of our town centre.