30 October 2011

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve - Halloween special

Planning: 51-53 Canonbie

The Forest Hill Society has objected to the plans for a development at 51-53 Canonbie Road.
You can view the application here. And you can view the letter of objection here.

Since the submission of the objection some amendments have been included in the plans, in particular removing the parking from the rear of the property and adding three parking spaces to the front of the property, within two metres of ground floor bedroom windows. We have adjusted our objection to take account of these amendments.

25 October 2011

Planting Spring Blubs

Riverwork Days on the River Pool

Information of Events from Thames 21

October: 26th
November: 9th, 23rd
December: 7th

Join Thames21 in our new fortnightly Riverwork Days on the River Pool.

Learn how to support and manage our vital river systems by making a practical difference.
This an opportunity for people to get involved in a long-term project to enhance the character of the river, and make improvements to the river and bankside vegetation.
No experience necessary. All equipment, including safety boots, gloves and tools provided.

People of all age groups and abilities are welcome. Children under 16 need to be supervised by an adult.

TIME: 10.00am - 1.00pm
MEET: Meet at the bridge on Winsford Road, Bell Green, SE6. http://g.co/maps/r2er8

14 October 2011

Planning: Old Bank in Honor Oak and 13 Church Vale

The Forest Hill Society has recently objected to two planning applications in the local area.

Old Bank, 76-78 Honor Oak Park
Details of Planning Application for conversion to Domino's Pizza take away
You can read the full letter of objection here

13 Church Vale
Details of Planning Application for conversion of residential property to children's nursery
You can read the full Letter of objection here

09 October 2011

AGM Minutes

The following Officers of the Society were elected for a period of one year at the AGM on 6 October 2011.

Chairperson: Richard Hibbert
Vice-Chair: Michael Abrahams
Secretary: Katherine Willett
Treasurer: Alisa Owens
Membership Secretary: Belinda Evans
Communications Officer: Alison Wadley 
Committee Reports:


Quetta Kaye gave a short presentation at which she summarised the activities of the Environment and Leisure subcommitte and outlined proposals for the next year.
  • Raising awareness of environmental issues through public events such as May Day and various Open Days at local nature reserves.
  • Had reached a different demographic by holding events at Dacres Road nature reserve as well as Devonshire Road
  • 'Friends' groups were now up and running at Albion Millenium Green, Devonshire Road and Dacres Wood. It was hoped to start one for Garthorne Road too.
  • Money would be received from Ward Assembly for continuing Forest Hill In Bloom at the station next year. We had not yet heard how the results for this year.
  • There had been regular meetings with the Head of Lewisham's Environment and Waste Management team which had resulted in less bins on pavements in the Town Centre. There were still issues to be resolved.
  • Shannon's Garden Centre, Willmott Dixon and LOROL were thanked for their sponsorship of our 'In Bloom' entry
  • There would be a Christmas Tree in the Town Centre this year (funded from the Localities Fund) which we would be able to decorate again
  • There had been three 'Bring & Take' days during the year. These had proven very popular and there would be another in the spring
  • Lewisham's Environment department had said they would provide wildflower seed for the bank at Honor Oak Park station if we could organise people to broadcast the seed


Andrew Reid then presented the report of the Transport sub-committee.
  • The committee meets every 4-6 weeks
  • We continue to keep pressure on the relevant authorities to improve the standard of our stations and their surroundings.
  • We represent the community at Lewisham Transport Liaison Meetings and on the LOROL and Southern Passenger Boards
  • Platform extensions to 10 car are under way. Forest Hill platforms are now both being extended towards Croydon.
  • Network Rail claimed they had finished the works at Honor Oak Park and handed responsibility to LOROL. There were still areas which looked unfinished and we would raise this with LOROL
  • Work was supposed to have been completed on Forest Hill Subway, but the programme had slipped and Network Rail were refusing to refurbish steps or supply handrails. The relevant personnel at Lewisham and Network Rail were leaving shortly, so progress may be further delayed.
  • The December timetable would see 10 car trains running on some Southern services, but the 1725 and 1824 services were being withdrawn due to low passenger numbers on these badly spaced services.
  • The Olympics would impact train and bus services. The Overground should be running later evening service. A member requested that we lobby LOROL for later running ELL services, particularly at the weekend
  • In the near future, there would be:
    • Possible cuts to our London Bridge service starting in December 2012. Southern will only be able to run 24 trains per hour into London Bridge instead of the current 30, but are unable/unwilling to tell us how this may affect us.
    • Step free access at Honor Oak Park, Brockley and New Cross Gate as part of Access for All. The current date for this to be completed is December 2013.
    • a new Franchise from 2015. We expect consultation on this to take place late next year
  • In the more distant future,
    • Further extensions to the platforms for 12 car trains (for Thameslink)
    • Direct service from East Croydon to Finsbury Park when Thameslink is completed in 2018
    • Crossrail would provide step free access at Whitechapel
    • The Overground would probably be extended to 5 car trains, with Selective Door Opening at Canada Water, Rotherhithe, Wapping and Shadwell.
    • An extra two trains per hour have been proposed by TfL from Crystal Palace to Dalston Junction
    • TfL are currently working on proposals for Tramlink to be extended from Harrington Road to Crystal Palace providing 6tph to Beckenham and Croydon.
    • Tfl had produced draft plans showing the DLR being extended from Lewisham to Forest Hill via Catford
    • Tfl had supported extension of the Bakerloo line via New Cross Gate, Lewisham and Catford to Lower Sydenham and Hayes
    Despite these improvements, our line was still expected to be one of the most crowded by 2021
  • We had met with TfL London Streets and they had promised a number of improvements to the A205 South Circular including a right turn lane under the Railway Bridge onto Waldram Place and removing the loading restrictions outside Mirror Mirror on London Road.
  • We had met with Lewisham to discuss the abysmal gritting last winter. They would be providing chains for the griting lorries so that they could treat the hilly roads, among other improvements
  • Network Rail had told us that the A205 South Circular would be closed on 10 October so that the Railway Bridge could be repainted. It was not known whether this was an all day or early hours closure.
  • Live Countdown information is now available by sending a text to 87287 or online at m.countdown.tfl.gov.uk. This allows you to find out the times of the next bus at any bus stop by simply entering the bus stop number, which is displayed on a label attached to the bus stop.

Planning and Development

Hilary Satchwell explained how the Planning committee operated and ran through the various planning applications which we had objected to in the last year. Two current applications which had provoked strong local feelings included an application by Domino's Pizza to change the Old Bank in Honor Oak from A3 (Restaurant) to A5 (Takeaway) and Southwark's plans to use Honor Oak Rec for burials.

She then went on to discuss Neighbourhood Planning. We had recently run a very successful event in conjunction with Sydenham Society.

Communications and Membership

Alison Wadley gave a brief presentation on the activities of the Communications sub-committee and asked for feedback on the Newsletter. We had introduced PayPal as a means of payment this year and it was proving popular. Most people were paying extra to cover PayPal's fees.

Chairman's Report

Richard Hibbert then summed up before the elections of the Officers. This year had been one of less intense campaigning and more supporting of other single interest groups, such as the Friends of Honor Oak Rec due to our concentration on the Town Centre. We had persuaded Lewisham to put in a bid for the Outer London Fund, but this had been ultimately unsuccessful.

He went on to thank all members of the Executive for their contribution over the year, particularly Quetta, Charlie, Alison, Alisa and Hugh. He also thanked Peter, Liz and Helen who were stepping down this year for all their work.

Man Digs Pond

An exciting event from our friends at Albion Millennium Green...
  • A Man will move.
  • A Man may sing.
  • A Man will not speak.
  • A Man may cry.
  • A Man will not leave until A Man has dug a pond.
Over 24 hours, A Man will dig a wildlife pond, complete with a garden bog area, flora and fauna and a rock garden for amphibians.

Start: Saturday 5th November 8.00pm
End: Sunday 6th November 8.00pm

Venue: Albion Millennium Green

From 1.00pm - 8.00pm on Sunday, delicious and great value bbq food for sale, (with veggie options).

This is a free event. The audience can come and observe A Man working for as long as they want. There will also be an opportunity to sing if you want to. School choirs and groups and individuals of mixed singing ability will sing a song or two as an accompaniment to the action. From 1.00pm till 8.00pm Sunday you can just turn up and sing anything you want. As long as there is nothing offensive in the lyrics. There will be no amplified sound, so no microphones. Feel free to bring an acoustic instrument. Out of respect to the neighbours there will be no drumming after dark.

Getting There:
Entrance at the end of Albion Villas Road. London. SE26 4DB.

02 October 2011

Forest Hill Society AGM 2011

Thurs 6 October, 7.30pm Upstairs at The Hob (opposite Forest Hill Station)

Come along and find out what your local community group achieved this year and what's being planned for next year. The Forest Hill Society AGM is open to all residents in SE23 and we’d love to see you there. If you are interested in joining the Executive Committee, helping out at events and local activities, or just finding out what we do, then please do come along to a relaxed and social evening. There’ll be a bit of updating on what we’ve been doing and what our plans are, and a vote for committee members. Primarily, it’s about finding out what you want.

We’re passionate about making SE23 an even better place to live.

If you are interested finding out what the Executive Committee gets up to with a view to joining please email richard@foresthillsociety.com

If you’d like to help out on a less formal basis come along on the night and see what takes your fancy or, email alison@foresthillsociety.com and we’ll be in touch as and when.

Date for your Diary

Sun 23 Oct 11am-3pm: Open Day at Dacres Wood Nature Reserve
Sun 30th Oct - 2:30pm : Spring Bulb Planting at Forest Hill Station

Sat 5th Nov - Sun 6th Nov, 8pm-8pm: Man Digs Pond, Albion Millennium Green

Weds 12 Oct 7pm: Perry Vale Ward Assembly, Forest Hill School, Dacres Road, SE23 2XN
Tues 1 Nov 7.30pm: Forest Hill Ward Assembly, (venue TBC)
Weds 9 Nov 7pm: Crofton Park Ward Assembly (venue TBC)

Success at Assembly!

We are happy to report some excellent news following our campaigning! The Forest Hill Local Assembly voted to fund 13 projects across the ward and the Forest Hill Society was lucky enough to receive funding for all four of our proposals - totalling just under £19,000. Two projects will improve the Horniman Triangle play park: the addition of two new sets of equipment; swings for the young and games tables for all ages. The games tables will allow park users to play table tennis on sturdy outdoor tables.

The two other projects improve the town centre. We’ll be able to continue the flower planting around the station and opposite the Horniman Museum. The funding will also allow us to maintain the planting and expand the scheme to other locations in the town centre, as well as improve watering facilities at the station, to make maintenance much easier. The final project will target empty shop fronts in the town centre and use them to display large images from the Horniman collection, brightening up the town centre and providing a visual link between the town centre and the Horniman Museum.

A great result for us, and for the community. Well done to the Society members and SE23 people who worked so hard to develop and submit these bids.


Richard and Julia have been running the Foresters for over ten years making it more family friendly, and offering a good range of food and drink. The building itself is fascinating, originally mid-Victorian, but following bomb damage, a major make-over was undertaken in the 1950s.

Unknown to many, on Monday nights they hold an acoustic bluegrass session. This American roots music, derived from English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish folk, with jazz and blues influences, originally featured guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and double base. As Forest Hill local, Dave Marshall, explains they accept all comers such as dobro and drums, and delve into other genres, popular and traditional.

Dave is a captivating character. He recalls his formative years in the 60s when he was mesmerised by groups including The Animals, Howling Wolf and John Lee Hooker at Newcastle’s Club A’Gogo. He late ran a folk club at the Bird in Hand.

The session is held virtually every Monday, check http://ukbluegrass.com/forum/ (search for ‘Foresters’) for details or contact Dave directly: davermarshall@yahoo.com. Session members, such as dobro player Mark Langmead, can give advice on lessons and where to buy a instruments.

You don't need to play to enjoy the session. You can enjoy a quiet chat, read or contemplate life, and let the music wash over you. For those new to this you may wish to take out the wonderful Coen brothers DVD 'O Brother Where Art Thou'.

The Foresters has tried other nights including trad jazz, and Blues, sadly falling my the wayside. Richard and Julia are happy to consider suggestions.


We are keen to hold regular events for both members and all residents of SE23. Previously, this was done via social evenings in local restaurants and called the 23 Club. We felt that these events, apart from being at a cost, also missed out some of the fabulous things to do in the area. Plus the word club could sound a bit exclusive. And that we are not!

So, we plan to organise monthly events, on or around the 23rd of the month. The forerunner was a river walk in August along the Pool and Ravensbourne, from Bell Green to Ladywell. It was a lovely walk and a gorgeous day, so much so there was a mass dipping of toes to cool off. However we need ideas so come to the AGM or look out for e-news for details.

Chair's Report - September 2011

It may seem that we have been a little quiet in recent times, in the absence of high profile issues such as the possible demolition of the pools, and threats to our train services. These united the community in opposition. But let me reassure all members that our work does not stop there and there is plenty going on behind the scenes!

The main campaign we have supported this year has been the ongoing fight to save Honor Oak Rec from being claimed as burial space.

Another focus has been the town centre. To this end, we have been actively involved in decorating the Christmas Tree and planting the flower beds outside the station and organising a pop-up event. We have also been active in removing graffiti, pushing for the underpass to be refurbished and getting the railway bridge repainted, as well as meeting with TfL to make some changes to the South Circular. Some of these changes are still in the pipeline and we will be following up to make sure that the promises are delivered.

The next year looks very busy, with over £17,000 of projects to deliver from the Local Assembly Fund, the effects of the Localism Bill to react to and a resurrected monthly social event. We would like to do more, but need more volunteers. If you have something you feel strongly about, or can spend a few hours a month volunteering then please consider joining the Executive committee. Each year some people leave due to moving house, a new job or University commitment. Children grow up and new residents arrive and we hope that they will all become active in their community.

I look forward to meeting you at the AGM and hearing your news.

Five Years on and Still Going Strong

Whilst there's no room for complacency, nor should we go all sentimental, it is still good to reflect that our AGM this year is our fifth anniversary.
Of course it's not been all plain sailing, we have a broad range of opinions and strive to represent the views of all in this, until recently, relatively hidden gem of SE London.

So how did it all start? On 23 April 2006 a local resident with the pseudonym ‘Roz’ started a post on the chat room SE23.com about setting up a new society. Interest picked up quickly and, a month to the date, around 20 of us met at the Dartmouth Arms. This included mystery residents who used evocative monikers such as Hilltop General, KK, and Loneranger.

It all seemed very organic at the time, but looking back much had already been done by the time we met, our current vice-chair (and former chair) Michael had already started working on a constitution. Importantly we ensured that this recognised that Forest Hill and Honor Oak were already thriving areas, and that our role was to make SE23 an even better place to live.

Four months later at the Friends Meeting House in Sunderland Road 150 members met. The feature was a discussion on the proposed new East London Line extension (aka the Overground) and it was refreshing that whilst most welcomed this, there was a strong voice objecting to any degradation of the existent service to London Bridge. (Now we look to more exotic proposals such at the Bakerloo and DLR extensions). You may find it interesting to revisit these minutes: www.box.net/public/rk7cyyyet6

Committee members were voted in and, in what seems like record time, the Society had gone from a speculative discussion to a fully fledged organisation.
(To be continued in Autumn 2016!).


Michael Abrahams, from our transport sub-committee, explains how three major rail projects that are already in hand, and a fourth under consideration, could affect us.

Crossrail (see right) will provide fast connections in an East-West direction across central London. For passengers from Forest Hill the interchange at Whitechapel (on the East London Line) will provide good connections to the West End, Paddington, West London and Heathrow.
Thameslink trains are expected to run a stopping service including our stations, allowing direct travel to Blackfriars, Kings Cross, and further north. This could be a half-hourly service during morning peak, extending two existing services into London Bridge.

DLR recently published a map (see below) showing proposed extensions to the East (to Dagenham), to the West (Victoria and Euston), and to the South (Catford and, taking us by surprise, Forest Hill).

The configuration of railway tracks and roads South of Lewisham is a challenge, beyond Catford is more problematic - elevated above or underneath the South Circular, or through houses.
Another option may be terminating at Bell Green rather than Forest Hill, which could be part of the regeneration of the area. We are already well served for Canary Wharf and beyond.

Finally, the East London Line phase 2 project is an important new service for Southwark residents, complimenting phase 1 taking us to Canada Water, Shoreditch, and now Highbury & Islington.

Michael will be explaining how we hope to influence the Bakerloo line extension in our next edition.

Countdown 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0

TfL has quietly introduced an online Countdown bus information service for mobile phones and PC/Mac users. After testing has completed, this should enable you to find out approximate bus times by either typing in a bus route, postcode, bus stop name, bus stop code or if you have a smartphone, GPS will find your local stops for you. You can find the site on your mobile at http://m.countdown.tfl.gov.uk or on your computer at http://accessible.countdown.tfl.gov.uk/


In spite of having a lot of money spent on the ticket hall and steps up to the road, Honor Oak Park Station continues to look like an abandoned building site. New benches have been provided, but some are behind fences! As a moderately disabled person, I find that it is not easy to get on/off either the Southern trains or the Overground ones. Why oh why did they not raise the level of the platforms to make it easier for every passenger to get on/off the trains while they were modernising the station? The slope has been stabilised and a ‘weed field’ established. Will this avoid any maintenance?

SE23 On Show

A number of local historic buildings were open to the public on 17/18 September as part of the London Open House Weekend. Here we focus on one of our many gems.

The Capitol pub entertained a couple of hundred or so visitors, taking them around many of the original features. Opened in 1929, and now Grade II listed, this is the only remaining John Stanley Beard designed cinema in the country. In its heyday it sat 1,640 for films, variety shows and the Saturday morning childrens’ club. On the first day the queues went all around the building. It was the perfect location, as the comedy actor Frank Thornton (‘Are You Being Served’, and ‘Last of the Summer Wine’) recalls, being on the convergence of bus, tram and train. Planned for silent movies, it pioneered a new sound system where the speakers went behind the screen, which had 1000s of small holes made in it.

Visitors explored the balcony with all the seats still intact, and marvelled at the views over toward the Greenwich and the ‘Dome’. You can see one of the three resident ghosts in the previous picture.

The architecture has been described as Art Deco Egyptian, but it is more Greco-Roman. The sensitive refurbishment was carefully agreed with English Heritage and Lewisham Council; the few original features not on show were carefully hidden, or where removed replaced by a sympathetic addition. It closed as a cinema in 1973, and as a bingo hall in 1986. Developers would have loved to get their hands on it, but J D Wetherspoons preserved it for public use for the foreseeable future.

Many thanks to ‘Bean’ for showing us around and hope he recovers swiftly after repeatedly climbing all those stairs. Some members will recall the tour the Society had in one of our pub crawls. Bean please keep looking for the keys to the projectionist’s room, and tell us when you find the original Compton organ, in its time the largest in the country.
The self build ‘Segal’ houses in Walters Way, that share many similarities with timber framed buildings from Elizabethan England, have now been on display at numerous open houses. Many have now been remodelled to provide a most eclectic mix, set-off perfectly on the slope of a wooded hill only spitting distance from Honor Oak Park station.

Numerous Havelock Walk studios and The Horniman Park and Gardens were also open on the day, giving visitors the chance to see behind the scenes.

Last year we showcased Louise House, and in a years time this and the Pools may well be on the Open House list. We would be interested in hearing from others who may wish to be involved in next year’s event.


Are you a frustrated craftsperson? Do you get a kick out of DIY? Have you ever dreamt of building your own shelter in the woods? Do you watch those TV programmes about building your dream home and think “these people are buffoons!”; well the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve has just the thing for you!

We need volunteers to build a greenoak shelter with a living roof at the reserve. We’ll be running carpentry workshops during the winter, cutting and shaping the green-oak frame for the building, making the mortice joints and bracing pieces and forming the curved roof timbers.
In the spring we’ll be clearing the site, casting the pad-stones ready for an Amish style ‘barn-raising’; a two-day buildfest to get the frame erected and the roof on. Finally we’ll be running hands-on workshops to build and plant the living roof (similar to the roof on the Horniman Museum).

We’ll have seasoned professionals on hand to guide the work, but the building will truly be yours, something to look back on and say “I did that!”. Contact Jake on 020 8291 2272 or e-mail jake@foresthillsociety.com to enrol.


Following our article in the last issue on new shops, we now feature some old favourites.


Mirror Mirror, 25 London Road
Mirror Mirror Hairdressers, on the ‘boulevard’ side of London Road, has been styling the hair of Lewisham residents since 1994.
Their hairstylists are all qualified and also colour specialists who take pride in their constantly updated skills. So if you feel like an autumn spruce up, pop in and be the fairest one of all.

ON THE GREEN Shannon’s Garden Centre

99-105 Stanstead Road
Henry Shannon started his landscaping company in 1959 and won major awards, including the '1988 Principal Award for Hard Landscaping Construction' awarded by the British Association of Landscapes Industries. This was for a project carried at Coin Street River Walk, SE1.
He opened his garden centre in 1989 which was the realisation of a dream for Henry. It is now run by the next generation, and still has Henry Shannon in the background to see that it is run the 'correct way'. They are always happy to give customers advice on plants and flowers and will recommend suppliers for landscaping etc. They will also deliver if you just love gardening but can’t carry all your purchases. Shannon’s are very keen to play a part in the local community helping and advising on planting projects such as The Stanstead Strip. They have also been fundamental in getting the planting at Forest Hill station underway and this year helped the Forest Hill Society with the plants in the forecourt and on the platforms.


EJ Carpets, 1-5 Perry Vale
Established in 1974, E J Carpets is a family run business offering a wide variety of flooring including carpets, real wood, laminate and vinyl floorings
As well as advice and sales they provide a friendly and professional installation service too. As members of the Carpet Foundation and accredited by the Office of Fair Trading, it seems we have a real gem on our doorstep.

ON YER BIKE Finches Ski Emporium

25-29 Perry Vale
You can tell by the name that this is much more than a bike shop. Also a local, family run business, Finches has six different departments: Skiing, Snowboarding, Cycling and General Sports in the winter months, Skateboarding and General Sports in the summer months. They also trade online at www.finches-ski.com.
Current customers will know that the shop front on Perry Vale leads you into a wonderful 200 square metres of beamed space filled with every type of gadget and accessory you could imagine. They also stock ice spikes for shoes and boots, essential for traversing the slopes of Forest Hill in the icy winter.