The role of the development committee covers two main areas; the first is to review and comment on planning applications in the area and the second is to keep up with other local issues or initiatives, related to proposals that affect the physical environment of Forest Hill and Honor Oak.
The list of planning applications that we have commented on over the past year is covered below. We try to comment (for clarification, in support or objecting) on schemes that we think are important for the area as a whole and as such we don’t generally comment on smaller householder applications for extensions or smaller works. We are interested in trying to encourage good proposals that reinforce the strong character of Forest Hill and that help keep the town centre and other high street areas busy and vibrant. With the extended Conservation Area we are also interested in trying to make sure that this helps form a framework for high quality proposals within this central area, and is not ignored.
Other local issues and initiatives over the past year include:
Forest Hill Pools
The main issue for the year has continued to be the Swimming pools. Things have moved forward considerably over the past year and we have continued to take part in the Councils Stakeholder Group Meetings.
After a good level of local debate and a public meeting in June the detailed proposals received planning permission in July of this year. Whilst we have some relatively minor concerns about the bulk and design of the building we are generally happy that this will be a very positive addition to Forest Hill and provide a much needed boost to Dartmouth Road.
The old pools were demolished over the summer, leaving only the retained superintendent’s block and a large pile of rubble on the site. The Council is currently identifying a contractor to build the scheme and intend to start work on site early in the New Year. The Council are working towards opening the pool before the Olympics in August 2012.
Alongside the progress that has been made on the pools project the Council and a number of stakeholders have been trying to secure a future for Louise House, the listed building next door to it. In March the Council invited Expressions of Interest from Groups who felt they could take on the building. Two groups came forward, proposing to use the building an arts centre or community run serviced offices and nursery. The office and nursery scheme has been further developed by the Crystal Palace Community Development Trust (CPCDT), who is working with Lewisham Council to seek funding which will enable the project to move forward. In the current economic climate and against a background of public sector cuts this will be challenging. But there are hopes that the autumn round of Lottery funding will provide some support.
In September the Forest Hill Society was instrumental in arranging for Louise House to be open for Open House London. This London wide weekend event sees a broad range of buildings open to the public and attracts a very wide audience. In collaboration with the Sydenham Society, the Friends of Louise House and Lewisham Council we showed over 100 people around the building, had an exhibition about the building’s history and also hosted an exhibition about Janusz Korczak.
The other ongoing issue for the Society is the town centre. There have been a number of new shop and café openings, which we are really pleased to see, and we understand there are more in the pipeline.
Over the year the Street Clutter report prepared for the Ward Assembly has been taken to the Council with a recommendation that something needs to be done to see this implemented.
Over the next year we are planning to focus more on the town centre and to keep a close eye on progress on the pools. We are also looking for suggestions of other buildings that we might be able to help get opened up as part of Open House 2011.
We would love to hear from you if you would like to get involved in the work of the Development Committee
PlanningThis has been another busy year for planning issues, particularly with the Tyson Road planning appeal.
Back in October last year the council rejected the latest plans for the Tyson Road development. However, the developer appealed against this decision and in February 2010 there was a week long appeal hearing. The Forest Hill Society acted as a 'rule 6' party, allowing us to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses from the developer. With the assistance of local residents, Councillor John Russell, and John Hutchinson from the Sydenham Society, we presented a well constructed objection to this development. However we were up against a team of well paid professionals including the leading planning barrister in the country.
Unfortunately the inspector allowed the latest scheme, although the previous, larger scheme was rejected. The fact that one scheme was rejected and another was allowed shows how close this decision was. Following the general election one of the first acts of the new government was to strengthen protection for backland sites and it is possible that, had these rules been in force at the time of the inquiry, we would have had a different outcome. Hopefully future developments of this nature will be prevented by this change to planning guidance.
On the more positive side Forest Hill swimming pool was approved for partial demolition and redevelopment. Work on the new building should be starting this year and we can look forward to swimming in Forest Hill once more in 2012.
Other planning applications which the Society commented on:
|109-111 Kirkdale (DC/09/72209/X)||Objected (overdevelopment)||Rejected|
|29 Ewelme Road (DC/10/74149)||Objected (overdevelopment)||Rejected|
|81-83 Dartmouth Road|
|Objected (loss of retail space)||Rejected twice and approved third application with modifications|
|Horniman Gardens||Approved with reservations (too many trees in bandstand area and lines of sight round the new building)||Approved and some of our concerns have been addressed (no trees in the bandstand area)|
|Approved on appeal|
|35 Sunderland Road||Objected (church in a residential area with noise issues)||Gone to appeal|
|Hoarding on London Road||Objected (out of character with conservation area)||Rejected|
|Former Post Office||Approved||Waiting for decision|
|Flats above former post office||Objected||Waiting for decision|
|27 Shipman Road||Objected||Waiting for decision|
|74 Canonbie Road||Requested further information||Waiting for decision|
|Church on Manor Mount/David's Road/ Devonshire Road||Will be objecting|
|6 Church Rise||Will be objecting|
This record shows that the Forest Hill Society's concerns are often upheld by Lewisham planning department. We try hard to object on solid planning grounds and this approach gives us credibility when discussing planning issues.