19 December 2011

Planning: Hindsleyʼs Place and Westbourne Drive

The Forest Hill Society has written in support of the planning application for live work units on Hindsleyʼs Place and Westbourne Drive.
The Forest Hill Society is interested in supporting well designed high quality buildings and appropriate development. In relation to this application, we write in support of it for two reasons:
  • The live/work units proposed provide a flexible and valuable building type that has been successfully demonstrated in the Forest Hill area at Havelock Walk and other developments. We are keen to support proposals that propose genuine live/work development such as this because they add to the richness of the area and support small scale employment opportunities.
  • The proposals are of a high quality and address concerns that have been raised to earlier proposals on the site. This development will make a significant improvement to Hindsleyʼs Place, in particular.

    Planning: 33 Dartmouth Road - DC/11/78718

    The Forest Hill Society has written in response to this planning application to oppose the proposed change of use of 33 Dartmouth Road from A1 to A4.

    Dartmouth Road has had a difficult few year, since the closure of the swimming pool in 2006, however with the reopening of the pool next year we have a strong belief that retail units on Dartmouth Road will be revitalised with the increased passing trade, especially on the route between the station and the pool. At this time we need to council to protect existing retail units so that as the fortunes of Forest Hill change there will be opportunities for new businesses to set up retail units on the high street.

    This site is within the core shopping area of Forest Hill and is therefore covered by STC4: Major and District Centres - Core Shopping Areas

    Within the Core Shopping Areas, the Council will strongly resist any change of use involving the loss at ground floor level of Class A1 shops. The following factors will be taken into account when considering exceptions:
    (a) whether the proposal harms the overwhelming retail appearance of the shopping frontage, with an over-concentration of non-retail uses (normally 3 non A1 uses together and 70% maintained in A1 use);

    In reference to STC 4a, this unit is next door to a pub and a pizza takeaway (currently closed). Changing this unit from retail to non-retail would harm the retail appearance of the road at this section.

    We are also concerned about the proposed hours of operation including until 3am at weekend. This is later than any other pub in the area and feel it would be an unnecessary disturbance for neighbours.

    With the existing concentration of pubs in the immediate vicinity, and new ones approved for opening directly across the road, we believe that this is not an appropriate use for this unit.

    Burns Night 2012

    Following the success of previous years, our Burns Night celebration will again be held at the Foresters/All Bar One, near Forest Hill station.

    Please note that this year, the evening will be on Thursday 26th January (a day late for purists, but please make a note in your diaries). If you would like to get involved in helping organise or addressing the Haggis, please contact alisa@foresthillsociety.com

    14 December 2011

    Lighting Up in SE23

    Under a Private Finance Initiative, Croydon and Lewisham councils have appointed Skanska to improve street lighting across both boroughs including the underpass in Forest Hill. The councils won £151 million of government funding.

    The project includes an initial five year core investment period where the main replacement of lighting stock, traffic signs and street bollards will be undertaken by Skanska, with an ongoing maintenance and repair programme until 2036. During this period, 20 subways will be relit, 38,000 new lighting columns (lamp posts) installed and over 7,000 illuminated traffic signs and bollards will be replaced on a ward by ward basis. Perry Vale is the first ward to be upgraded locally, with work expected to start in February. Forest Hill, Sydenham and Crofton Park wards follow in the second year of the contract.

    The replacement programme takes many factors into account when considering whether to replace or upgrade the existing lighting including age, condition and compatibility of existing equipment. In many circumstances the roads undergo a complete re-design and positions of the columns may be changed as it's not always possible to integrate the existing columns in the new design layout.

    Also, the new design sets light the footpaths in addition to the highway, which means that the majority of the lighting columns will be positioned at the back of the footpath where possible. Lighting on side roads will be converted to Iridium white light sources, rather than the current yellow, sodium lamps.

    One of the major factors in the replacement programme is to reduce energy consumption, and a typical saving of 30-40% per road can be achieved by utilising the latest technology. It is also possible to detect faults quicker due allowing the street lighting to be maintained much more efficiently.

    13 December 2011

    Localism and SE23

    The much talked about Localism Act will bring into force a range of changes that affect local authorities and planning. Much of this will come in to force on the 6 April 2012. This gives a greater role to local authorities under a 'general power of competence'. They will also be given greater powers to work with other councils in order to drive down costs and consider different ways of delivering services.

    Some of the most revolutionary changes will be powers given to communities, such as the ability to challenge the running of Council services and propose cheaper alternatives, and the community 'right to buy' assets of community value. In terms of planning, communities will have a stronger role in developing planning policy through Neighbourhood Planning proposals, and a new requirement for developers to consult with the community on proposals before submitting a planning application.

    Neighbourhood Planning
    This lets communities have more of a say on proposals, allowing them (within reason) to draw up a 'neighbourhood plan'. In 'unparished' areas such as London, the community and Council will need to define what a 'neighbourhood' is and the best group to draw up a plan.

    We have been working with the Sydenham Society on this. In September we organised an event to discuss the key issues. This focused around four locations: Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Kirkdale and Sydenham/Lower Sydenham. This went very well and a report has been produced and is available on our website. An area that we want to work on is to have better information about the specific character of the area so this can be used to inform decisions about new development.

    Our next steps include meetings with Lewisham Council, and the organisation of a Neighbourhood Forum. Then we will be working on a programme of community workshops and events over the next 12-18 months and seeking funding support for this.

    12 December 2011

    Man Dug Pond

    A new wildlife pond has arrived on Albion Millennium Green. ‘Man Digs Pond’ was the creation of local performer, Bruno Roubicek who collaborated with Friends of Albion Millennium Green to produce this unique community event.

    The pond was constructed during 24 hours from the 5 – 6 November, accompanied by around 40 singers including a choir from Holy Trinity School and a community choir organised by Alix McAdams.

    With around 21 volunteers and support in kind from such diverse sources as Theatre Royal Stratford East and Lewisham Green Scene, the event involved a big effort from many in Forest Hill and beyond, so thanks to all who helped, especially Mark Edwards who supplied the delicious food at cost price and Rosalind Meadows who helped out with some great pond plants and advice.

    Two weeks later and the pond looks great. Lets hope we get some frogs in the Spring.

    11 December 2011


    Our exciting initiative of planting at the station and along London Road has been awarded a certificate in the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme.

    We were assessed in the summer and awarded a 'thriving' status - one category (and only three points) down from 'outstanding'. An excellent first year attempt. The beds have also recently been planted with hundreds of spring bulbs, which will be an awesome display next year.

    Well done and many thanks to Quetta Kaye and all the green fingered volunteers, and especially to those who laboured through the summer months hauling watering cans.

    Thanks to Shannon's Garden Centre for donating plants, the Horniman Gardens for donating compost, Natures Gym for helping us break the back of the project by removing the old shrubs, Willmott Dixon for helping to repair some of the flowerbeds and LOROL for their encouragement and support in making this happen. Also thanks to Lewisham Council and the Forest Hill local assembly for providing funds.

    08 December 2011

    See It, Report It!

    As part of our drive to improve the area, we encourage our members to report any fly tipping, graffiti or other problem to Love Lewisham (see a poignant example illustrated below). You can report anything from a faulty street light to a dead animal and the sooner it is reported, the sooner it will be removed - don't walk past it.

    Reporting is simple and can be done in several ways.
    • If you have a smartphone and dataplan, download a free application for your phone. You can then take a photo of the problem and send it to LoveLewisham.org. The app automatically logs the location and a picture ensures that the correct team is dispatched to clean up the area, saving time and money.
    • Use the LoveLewisham.org website. Simply create an account or sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, AOL, Google, Yahoo or Windows Live ID (among others). Your password is secure and it is never sent to LoveLewisham. Once signed in, select the location on a map (or type it in), add a picture (if you have one), give them a few details (such as a description) and click the Add button.
    • By TEXT message or MMS. Just send a text or MMS message to 07725 20 20 20 with LCS in the Subject field or as the first part of the message. Include a picture if you can and give a description of the problem and the location. LoveLewisham will get back to you if they need more information.
    • Click on the 'Do It Online' tab, then 'Report It' on the Lewisham.gov.uk website complete the form.
    • Phone Envirocall on 020 8314 7171 and speak to a human.
    Whilst it can sometimes take a couple of reports to resolve the problem, the Society has reported over 20 problems, which have all been resolved.

    Membership Matters

    As I stated at the AGM, our priority for 2012 is building our membership and encouraging existing members to help where they can. With more members we can show wider community engagement and effect more change in SE23. With more members we can have a louder voice about where we live.

    Some of our smaller campaigns take a lot of time, but do not require expert knowledge, just common sense. So how can you help?
    • Update your membership to include other family at your address. It's free!
    • Encourage your friends and neighbours to become members. Give them a voice too.
    • Let us know how we are doing. A postcard, email, tweet or poke are always welcome.
    If you can spare some time then why not:
    • Help deliver newsletters. Each route is quite short and it's only four times a year
    • Grow a few plants for our "In Bloom" flower beds. Pick out litter or deadhead the plants when walking past (Everyone can tell the difference between plants and litter!)
    • Staff a stall at one of our events – even if only for an hour - or bake a cake.
    • Write an article for the newsletter on something you are passionate about.
    So join in, make new friends and have some fun! As one member recently told me "The Forest Hill Society is the friendliest organisation I've ever joined; everyone just helps each other". Please contact me via 2, Perry Rise, SE23 2QL or by email at richard@foresthillsociety.com if you can help.

    The Society needs help for a number of projects in 2012. We need some help in designing leaflets and posters for various events we will be holding and campaigns such as our membership drive. We also need someone with experience in website development.

    So if you are a graphic designer or website designer/developer and you'd like to help out on a voluntary basis then email richard@foresthillsociety.com for everlasting thanks.

    Finally, I would like to welcome Martin and Richard C onto the Transport and Executive committees and thank Alisa and Alison for taking over as our new Treasurer and Communications Officer respectively.
    Richard Hibbert, Chair, Forest Hill Society

    Busy Time for Planning

    Your society has been very active looking at the many new applications for developments in the local area. Below are just a few that we have closely looked at with local residents.

    The Old Bank (Honor Oak Park)
    There were over 300 objections to the application by Dominos Pizza to convert the Old Bank restaurant to a pizza takeaway and delivery shop. Our main reasons for objecting were the poor use of a prime location which should be a retail unit. There were also concerns about the parking and noise generated by motorbikes which would serve the shop during peak hours, and changes to the signage that could be out of keeping with the area.

    We were pleased that the council officers rejected this application and hope that the site will be back in use as a restaurant or retail unit soon.

    Dartmouth Road
    Two applications to convert retail units (A1) into offices (A2). Although this would bring empty shops into use, the council has policies to protect retail units in core shopping areas and conversion to offices would have a detrimental impact on this shopping area. We have therefore asked the council to reject the change of use.

    Dartmouth Road has far too many empty shops. We hope that the opening of the pools next year will start to see a revitalisation of this important part of the town centre. Many members are concerned about the impact of empty shops which is why we successfully bid for funding to produce bright images for some of these empty shops. We are currently working with Horniman Museum on a range of images for shop fronts that will showcase the museum in the high street.

    Hindsley Place / Westbourne Drive
    A previous  application for a six-storey building on this site was withdrawn by the applicant after concerns from neighbours. A new application was submitted for a three and four storey building on this site. This would include seven live/work units built by Jeff Lowe, who has a proven track record of delivering high quality live/work units in Havelock Walk and in other locations in Lewisham. We believe this is a good use of the site and have written in support of this development. It is rare for the Society to positively support applications but we consider that this will provide an additional hub for live/work in Forest Hill and will help develop Forest Hill as an artistic area.

    David's Road
    The Society objected to plans to demolish the gym replacing it with seven flats, as this provided poor quality living accommodation with a lack of natural light and windows facing onto the pavement. If you have concerns about planning applications in the local area please contact us at planning@foresthillsociety.com.


    Our years of campaigning are now visibly evident. On 28 October Forest Hill’s new pools were ‘topped out’ at a ceremony to mark the end of the main construction phase. The Society was invited to attend as a member of the Stakeholder Group. In a somewhat pagan ritual, Steve Bullock, our Mayor, Councillor Chris Best, Lewisham Cabinet Member for Community Services, Mark Tant, MD of builders Willmott Dixon and Ivan Parkinson, Finance Director of Fusion, poured salt, oil, water and corn into a carefully prepared recess in the concrete upper floor of the building.

    We were assured that the offerings would be removed prior to filling the recess in order to ensure structural integrity.

    We were surprised to find both of the new pools full of water – apparently this was to test for leaks. At a subsequent meeting of the Stakeholder Group, we were shown all the surface finishes that were to be used in the building. The main pools hall will largely be finished in a traditional pale blue colour with white tiling in the pool and dark blue lane markings.

    The building is progressing well and should be sealed from the elements by the end of the year. Current plans are for completion by late spring with opening expected no later than early autumn 2012. (Fingers crossed that it will be ready for the Olympics!)

    The stakeholder group had a presentation from Fusion about their management plans for Lewisham‘s leisure facilities in general, and Forest Hill in particular. As a company which is also a registered charity they are committed to returning any profits they make to the benefit of the sporting facilities they manage. They have considerable experience of managing local leisure facilities including Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Baths and Peckham Pulse. With a 15 year contract to manage most of Lewisham‘s facilities, they will be looking after more than 50 facilities in the area.

    Forest Hill Returns to the 1970s

    After a suitable repast of Babycham and a cheese and pineapple hedgehog, the scene was set for Abigail’s Party, at St George’s Church, Vancouver Road, performed by the St. George’s Players.

    It was well-cast with an excellent homage to Alison Steadman, with her fabulous gauche and gangly walk. The play was perfectly rehearsed with excellent timing and energy throughout. The story line builds from cringing moment to cringing moment to a fabulous crescendo of sexual tension, frustration and naiveté: set against the sublime character of Sue.

    The performance was well lit and the costumes relevant to the decade. The gem of a set was a professional evocation of the era down to the hostess trolley, the 70s lamp and the wallpaper.

    The venue is a great one, and lovely refreshments were served by other members and Players. St.George‘s Players put on two plays a year at the church in May and October and details can be found at www.st-georges-players.org.uk

    Photo Competition

    Local award-winning photographer Paul Murphy chose the winning entries and the overall winning picture came from Yomsa, which showed Honor Oak in warmer times, with a well composed, black and white picture of One Tree Hill Allotments in the summer. Yomsa wins a £20 gift certificate from local delicatessen, Hills & Parkes – so hopefully can keep well stocked up with organic vegetables through the winter!

    With only six participants, and a weighting towards pictures of snow, we have had a challenge creating the 12 month calendar!

    Please look on the flickr site, http://www.flickr.com/groups/foresthillcompetition/ for the set of fantastic winning entries.

    23 Night Out at the Foresters

    In the last newsletter we showcased the acoustic night on a Monday night at the Foresters/All Inn One.

    This time it was electric when our very own Jake brought his band, Jonah‘s Raft, to the venue for our regular series of events on the 23rd of the month.

    We had a great turn out and picked up a few new members while we were at it. Thanks to Lindsay, Andy and Vitor on guitars, Jake on cello and Christophe on cajon and percussion.

    Even better connected SE23

    The transport committee remains active on many fronts. We continue to be a thorn in the side of the authorities on both the Forest Hill Station underpass and the rail bridge. The promised repairs to the underpass were well below the expected standard and we have now enlisted Cllr John Pashoud in our dealings with the council, and in turn, Network Rail. The repainting of the railway bridge also failed to meet expectations, and we are putting pressure on for this to be completed.

    Honor Oak Park Station
    Again, ongoing work has fallen well short of our expectations, in particular the embankment and the work on the platforms, which remain tatty. We'll ask Network Rail about landscaping plans for the embankment – if not, then we will be applying pressure to get this important wildlife reserve reinstated.

    Lifts are still due at Honor Oak Park Station, probably in 2013 however, the lifts are of limited value if a step ladder is still required for the less agile to get onto and off trains! The step onto trains on platform one must be one of the largest on the network. We will shortly be down with our measuring stick, but it feels like a foot (24 cm). This presents a real challenge for anyone with luggage or a buggy let alone those with less mobility. Not really a good enough answer in the 21st Century.

    As we go to press we are considering responses on a number of issues raised with LOROL – later running of trains, fare avoidance, longer platforms, five car trains and the staffing of the new Surrey Canal Road station.

    We'll report in the next edition but meanwhile please do share your views with us.

    More tranquil times at Honor Oak. (picture courtesy of Steve Grindlay)

    05 December 2011

    Improved Recycling in Lewisham

    Lewisham residents can now recycle a larger range of materials from the doorstep collection, now including: juice cartons, all plastics, aerosols, and clothes.

    More information on Recycle for Lewisham web site

    03 December 2011

    Christmas Delights

    Forest Hill Christmas lights
    Saturday 10 December, 3.30 - 5pm, Forest Hill station forecourt
    The Society invites young and old to see the lights switched on the Forest Hill Christmas tree and sing carols. Mulled wine, mince pies and more. Get some lovely festive cheer inside you.

    Kirkdale Village Pop-Up ChristmasOn Friday 9 and Saturday 10 December, businesses and the local community are hosting a special event. Participating businesses will hold short sessions including singing, yoga, drumming, music, drumming and dancing. There'll also be theatre, fashions shows and more. Info at www.kirkdalevillage.net

    Christmas Carols at Horniman GardensSunday 11 December, 5pm - 6pm
    Due to on-going work, this will be a smaller event this year so bring your flask and mince pies! See:

    Magic of Christmas Fair – Mayow ParkOn Sunday 11 December Grow Mayow Community Garden is holding a magical mix of all things festive for all the family from 12-4pm. Children‘s crafts, handmade gifts, carols and more.

    New Year’s EveSaturday 31 December at The Railway Telegraph Stanstead Road. See in the new year with the one and only Tippa Irie in concert. 020 8699 6644
    Tickets £10 in advance. Open until 3am

    LOCAL ASSEMBLY MEETINGS(All venues and times to be confirmed, check www.foresthillsociety.com for details)
    Sat 28 Jan: Crofton Park Assembly (venue TBC)
    Thurs 2 Feb: Perry Vale Assembly
    Weds 22 Feb: Forest Hill Assembly
    Tues 22 March: Perry Vale Assembly