22 June 2012

General Meeting - Saturday 23rd June 2012

On Saturday, 23 June we will be holding a General Meeting from 5pm at the All Inn One (53 Perry Vale).

The meeting will start with a brief presentation from Fusion Lifestyle on the new pools in Forest Hill.  The latest we have heard is that they will open on 9 July, but it may be later in July. Following the presentation will be a barbecue where you can enjoy meat or vegetarian option.

17 June 2012

Planning Application: 120 Stanstead Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to the planning application for turning 120 Stanstead Road into a Domino's Pizza take away. You can view the application on Lewisham website.

The concerns of the Society focus around the impact of the eight moped that will be used at peak times, particularly in terms of noise, parking, and disruption to pedestrians.

Full details of the objection from the Forest Hill Society can be read here.

13 June 2012


Sat 2nd, 10am to 4pm: Living Roof workshop at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve.
Sunday 3rd, 10am to 3pm: Food Fair at Forest Hill station. 13 stalls, a wide variety of local produce.

Mon 4th, Noon to 5pm: Living Roof Celebration at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Plant the roof while enjoying some music, food and drinks.

Sat - Sun 9th -10th June: Horniman World Music festival in the gardens 1-8pm both days

Sun 10th, 2pm to 4pm: Bird Boxing- a new comedy. Ross and Bruno return to rummage in Albion Millennium Green. Audience members can build their own bird boxes in a race against tine. Suitable for families, foragers and freeloaders

Sun 10th, 5pm to 6pm: Find a Theatre. Are you excited by the idea of a new open air performance space in Forest Hill? Come along and explore Albion Millennium Green and share your ideas and opinions about how we can create something wonderful.

Sat 16th, 2.30: Gardening afternoon to extend our entry in the RHS ‘It's Your Neighbourhood’ competition and ‘Lewisham in Bloom’. Meet in front of the Job Centre, Dartmouth Road, to dig out and plant up the tubs around the trees. Bring gardening trowel and a carrier bag.

Sat 23rd, 5pm to 7pm: Foresters/All in One, General Meeting and Barbeque.

Fri 29th, 6pm to 9pm: Alhambra, free sangria, tapas and discount evening, launch of one week exhibition by Sydenham portrait artist Pawel Wasek

Sun 1st - 17th : Sydenham Arts Festival (various locations)

Sunday 1st, 2.30: Forest Hill Station forecourt: Tidy up of the station beds in advance of our RHS judgement day on Monday 2nd . Bring gloves etc.

Sat 7th, 11 - 4.30pm: The brilliant Blythe Hill Festival. FHS stall. Celebrate Blythe Hill Tavern local pub of the year (normal pub hours).

Sun 22nd: Spanish wine and food tasting, Alhambra (ticketed event, modest cost)

Fri 17th, from 7.30: Stone Bar, members’ social,

Saturday 22nd: Forest Hill Pools re-opening event.

Sunday 23rd: Open House
Sunday 30th: Dacres Wood Open day

12 June 2012

Funds Found for the Subway

Last week we heard from Lewisham Council that the total funds required for the refurbishment of the Forest Hill pedestrian subway have been safeguarded. This now includes improvements to the steps and handrails as well as wall and ceiling cladding, proper drainage, and lighting.
The extra £28,000 was made available by Lewisham Council as part of monies that were set
aside for improvements to the East London Line Extension.
In total over £150,000 will be spent to on the subway starting in September, finally bringing the subway up to the standard that Forest Hill residents and visitors deserve.

Newsletter: Tube Could Come to SE23 (Again)

Following an earlier article on a possible DLR connection Michael Abrahams gives our views on how we could be connected to the Bakerloo line.

The first option for the Bakerloo Line is the Honor Oak Park route. This would be underground as far as Catford Bridge and then join the line at Lower Sydenham. This route has the added benefit of adding new stations in areas with relatively poor train connections (Burgess Park and Peckham Rye Common).

While this could come into conflict with the DLR plans, this is one of our favourites and would relieve pressure on our increasingly crowded existing services.

Option 2 is a less favoured Tulse Hill route.

Option 3 is the preferred route for Lewisham Council. It provides a new underground route to Lewisham from where it would follow the Hayes Line via Catford. It is possible that as part of this route there could be an interchange with New Cross Gate and a new station at Bell Green, so this route could be adjusted to be of benefit to Forest Hill residents.

There are two further routes to which we would like to see consideration given. A route via Crofton Park would be the shortest tunnelling option, extending the Bakerloo line to south of Camberwell, where it would join the existing train line from Denmark Hill, via Peckham Rye, Nunhead, and Crofton Park, to Catford. This would make better use of the Crofton Park line, and allow for a possible extension to Bellingham and Bromley North.

A reliable tube service from Crofton Park would reduce demand at Honor Oak Park and Brockley, which would help slightly with the capacity. Unfortunately an interchange station between the Forest Hill line and the Crofton Park (Bakerloo) line is unlikely.

A fifth option could be best for us. This would loosely follow the 176 route from Elephant & Castle, stopping at Camberwell, Denmark Hill, East Dulwich, Barry Road (either end), Forest Hill, and Bell Green (and possibly beyond). Here it could interchange with the DLR line allowing both lines to go south of Catford without using the same track. This option provides the most interchange options of all routes. It has the potential to make more difference in journey times and options for the largest number of South East Londoners, relieving congestion both on our existing train line and buses. It surely makes sense in terms of regeneration. On the downside the length of tunnelling could be prohibitive.

The DLR and the Bakerloo extensions will significantly improve public transport in South East London. This is a discussion that will continue – please tell TfL and the Society what you think!

08 June 2012

Newsletter: Underpass Impasse

Please note: This article was written before the most recent news on the underpass, which can be read here.

The condition of the underpass in Forest Hill has long been a thorn in the sides of local residents. Despite campaigns progress has been slow. We have managed a few patches in the footpath and to get the lights reconnected.

At a recent meeting with the Council, it was finally decided that they should proceed with refurbishing the subway. Lewisham has a budget of £126,000 (including monies from the developer of the flats on Perry Vale). This will not meet our expectations.The approved works include: installation of new drainage channels to pathway and track bed, resurfacing of the footpath, cleaning, repairing and painting over the mural ready for fresh artwork, and cladding the walls and ceiling of the section under the tracks (the part currently painted white).

The works will be carried out at the same time as the lighting is replaced under the Skanska PFI contract. At the moment, this is envisaged to happen some time after September, but the schedule for Year 2 of that contract has not yet been agreed. In the meantime, Lewisham will keep the pressure on Network Rail to come up with funds to refurbish the steps at both ends, to include repairing and renewing the treads and replacing the handrails with DDA compliant grab rails at both ends of the underpass. You can help by writing to Jim Dowd at dowdj@parliament.uk or House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, letting him know your feelings and urging him to raise the matter with the Chief Executive of Network Rail. Here is what we sent:

Dear Jim (Dowd)

I am writing to you as the Chairman of the Forest Hill Society concerning the refurbishment of the pedestrian underpass which connects Perry Vale with the London Road side of the railway station in Forest Hill (National Rail code FOH). The Forest Hill Society is a local amenity group representing residents of Forest Hill, SE23 and its environs with some 400 members and over 1000 followers through social media.

As you may be aware, the Sydenham Society was campaigning to improve the subway long before the Forest Hill Society was formed in 2006. Since then, we have both been working with Lewisham Council, trying to make progress.

We have found it impossible to deal with Network Rail. None of our letters or phone calls have been responded to. The only time we have had any success is by working through LOROL and yourself, when we managed to get the graffiti removed from the railway bridge over the A205 - graffiti which had been there for at least 10 years.

Our dealings with Lewisham Council on this matter have been much better, but they too have had a frustrating time, repeatedly blaming Network Rail for the delays to progress - something we have been unable to contradict due to Network Rail's determined silence.

I realise that the state of the underpass may seem to be small fry to Network Rail, but this dilapidated tunnel serves to undermine the good work residents are doing to improve the Town Centre and make it more inviting for shoppers. Lewisham Council have recently invested over £10 million in a new leisure centre and the condition of the underpass is a major obstacle in the way of regenerating the area. Network Rail own the right of way, but share responsibilities for maintenance with Lewisham Council.

Lewisham allocated funds to refurbish the underpass before the last election in May 2010, before finally issuing provisional drawings in June 2011 after protracted dealings with Network Rail.

At a meeting on 14 May 2012, we finally agreed that Lewisham should proceed with some works, including cladding and relighting parts of the underpass, repaving the footpath and improving the drainage, but their budget will not stretch to include more parts which are Network Rail's responsibility. It has always been the ambition of Sydenham and Forest Hill Societies that any refurbishment of the subway should include renewal of the staircases at both ends and modern handrails. Not only can these works not be done within Lewisham's budget, they are Network Rail's responsibility.

Network Rail have already tacitly acknowledged that the handrails are unsatisfactory. When the lifts were being installed at Forest Hill Station, Network Rail installed temporary handrails on the staircases. These have since been removed.

Lewisham cannot afford to pay for handrails which meet 21st century regulations, nor to resurface the treads. Both of these tasks need redoing and I would urge you to press Network Rail to attend to these with urgency. Doing the works at the same time as installing the other tasks (expected sometime in September or October) would save time, money and inconvenience.

Richard Hibbert, Chair, Forest Hill Society

The Future of Louise House

The first stakeholder consultation meeting to find out about plans to invite proposals for the future of Louise House in Forest Hill is taking place on Wednesday 13 June 17.00-19.00 at Forest Hill Methodist Church, Normanton Street, London SE23 2DS.

Staff from the relevant Lewisham Council departments will be present and the agenda for the meeting will focus on an overview of the tendering process, with an opportunity to ask questions.

Please RSVP to louisehouse@lewisham.gov.uk if you would like to attend.

04 June 2012

New Plans for Sydenham School

As you may be aware, Sydenham School is due to be re-developed as part of the London Borough of Lewisham’s Building Schools for the Future Programme.

The developers are in the process of putting together proposals for the site and will display the current plans at an exhibition for local residents and community groups. You will hav ethe chance to view the designs and meet with members of the project team. The exhibition will take place on Monday 11 June, from 4-8pm at the Svdenham Girls' School, Dartmouth Road, London, SE26 4RD and will be facilitated by Quatro Consults.

This will be an opportunity to provide feedback and ask any questions regarding the new school prior to finalising the scheme and submitting the planning application to the London Borough of Lewisham. Refreshments will be provided.

02 June 2012

Newsletter: Development News

There has been progress on the application for 55-59 Honor Oak Park (the former Honor Oak Tandoori) to turn three shop units into one. The Council held a public meeting on 19 April, to which both objectors and supporters attended. A short additional consultation period was added because the address on the paperwork didn’t include no. 55 and was therefore incorrect.

It has been confirmed that Sainsbury’s want to open a convenience store in the new unit. Some objectors are concerned about the effects of a supermarket chain on existing grocery shops, and some are against supermarket chains in general. However, in planning rules competition to existing businesses is not a valid ground for refusal.

Issues that are valid in considering planning consent are traffic and parking. The meeting heard that deliveries would be made via the front of the store, by four vans a day, outside of peak hours. Parking was not thought to be a concern because there are already short-term parking spaces along the parade. The neighbouring funeral directors need to maintain access to the rear of their premises during the building work and assurances were given at the meeting that this would be accommodated.

There are arguments that having a major supermarket chain on a high street can have a positive effect for local businesses because it increases footfall and can bring extra custom to nearby shops. Plus, such stores have a free cash machine and this makes it easier to access cash that can be spent locally. Examples are cited where existing competing businesses have survived and even thrived by adjusting their offering to complement a new supermarket. However there is no certainty that all local grocery stores would survive and it's understandable that local traders fear they may lose customers and their livelihoods.

Good news for fans of Honor Oak Recreation Ground (’the Rec’) is that Southwark

Council's cemeteries’ strategy makes burying people in the Honor Oak Rec the least

preferred option available to them.

Southwark recently consulted over options for burials in the borough. Despite

increases in the size of Camberwell New Cemetery, the borough is running short of new

burial spaces and they needed to look at options for new capacity.

The report was presented to Southwark’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 8 May, and

includes a number of short and medium term options that prevent the use of the Rec.

This will include the use of the old Honor Oak Nursery site to the south of the Rec,

some additional grave in the west of Camberwell New Cemetery, and using ground that

had been used for common graves, with additional top soil to enable new graves to be

placed here.

In the medium term Southwark plans to reuse some graves that are older than 75-95

years and beyond 2045 more graves would be able to be used in this way. With luck and

barring major health disasters in the next 30 years, this will allow the Rec to be

used, as it is today, as a playground and well used football pitches, for the next 30


But although this is good news for users of this park, we are keen to see more

permanent protection for this park so that we don't face the same crisis in 30 years

time, or sooner. It is important that all local councils have sensible long term plans

for burials but it is equally important that we don't lose useful public sports

grounds to graves.

We have seen this playing field threatened a number of times and need to put this

matter to rest. We will be looking at ways to ensure this space is kept for long term

public use for sports and play.

If you would like to find out more about Honor Oak Rec and the continuing campaign to

save it visit honoroakparkrecreationground.blogspot.com/

Newsletter: Ambitious Plans for Our High Streets

Film cameras came to Forest Hill at the end of March, when Sydenham cameraman Sean Cameron and Forest Hill architect Ed Holloway took up our call for someone to make a video to support our bid for £97k Portas Pilot funding.

The fund offers 12 areas across the UK a share of £1.2 million to regenerate their High Streets. The video was a precondition of entering. At the 11th hour, Sean and Ed took up the challenge and spent a mad three days zipping through Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham interviewing some key folks with big plans for the area.

As Ed says on the film, “We could show you all the negatives, but you know that already – they are common everywhere. What we’d like to show is the unique stuff…the people, the places that make these spaces activated. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm around here and we want to show you just how good it is.”

The pair took a special interest in local businesses that ‘blend’ such as Canvas & Cream, Stag & Bow and Alhambra. All of these mix community and cultural activities into their core retail trade. Our bid aimed to unite all three High Streets. trendy Forest Hill, quirky Kirkdale (still in Forest Hill Ward and the original Sydenham High Street) and leafy Sydenham, home of the annual arts and music festivals. It was great to meet Sean and Ed, and amazing to find out how many people we knew in common or could put each other in touch with. In the weeks after filming many fantastic working relationships were consolidated and formed.

Sean’s allotment buddy, Ky Lewis, put on an exhibition of pinhole photography at Alhambra. Kirkdale local Aaron came along to the private view and interviewed her as part of a film he is making about Kirkdale for his portfolio. Vicar Ed Olsworth at Holy Trinity on Sydenham Park lent us his beautiful church hall for a photo-shoot.

Kirkdale Village Traders and Community Group needed a room for a public meeting. The Grove Centre on Jews Walk loaned us its small hall. (Lucky, as more than 50 people turned up!)

Alhambra has always had culture and community at its core with a programme of exhibitions, classes and events. Over the past few weeks I have been overwhelmed by the goodwill coming our way as Kirkdale Village, which I chair, makes its final push to get our Street Beautification project complete in time for the Sydenham Festival Arts Trail in July.

Kirkdale Village was awarded £1000 by the Forest Hill Assembly last year, which the Kirkdale Traders have match-funded. With aspirations bigger than our pockets, we planned planters, signage, street art, trees… At the May Local Assembly meeting we reported on progress. By the end of the night we were talking to Kerry Hagger from the Arts Befriending Service about an inter-generational mosaic project, and to pop-up cinema queen Erica about another arts project. Someone else put us in touch with St Barts School.

Sydenham artist Joyce Treasure offered to do some fabulous street art (plywood paid for and supplied by Wooster & Stock). Joyce kindly allowed us to reproduce one of her artworks. Forest Hill printmaker Sam Topping quite out of the blue, offered to run our Schools’ Flag-making Project and to print the flags, and a staff member from Kelvingrove School came into the shop and expressed a firm desire to get involved, too!

Following up on Stag & Bow’s Local Traders’ Loyalty Card last Christmas, Janis Hendrikson at JH Skincare on Kirkdale has volunteered to develop a local currency or loyalty card scheme.

A local lady, Diana Hawk, has enlisted Urban Design students from UCL to help us position our new bike stands and planters. We’re on the hunt for a forklift truck - hopefully a local company will lend us one.

Sadly our Portas Pilot bid was unsuccessful. There is a second round of applications, so we will put in again. (More on this in our next edition.) Who knows if we will succeed? But, in a way, I feel as if we have already won. Working together on the application has brought us so much closer with some excellent new alliances.

If you’d like to meet local businesses and get involved, there’s a new networking group run by our very own marketing rock star Louise Brooks of Bake (www.bakelondon.co.uk). She’s also chairing a new Empty Shops Group. Check out the Kirkdale Village Facebook page www.facebook.com/kirkdalevillage, and you can pop into Alhambra to talk to me, www.alhambrahome.co.uk. When Sean offered to start a Kirkdale Village television channel back in March, I wondered what on earth he was going to put on it. Now it seems there is no shortage of filmworthy material!

Becca Leathlean runs Alhambra Home & Garden at 148 Kirkdale (free event Fri 29 June), and chairs the Kirkdale Village Traders and Community Group.

Newsletter: Pools - Just Weeks Until Re-Opening

Excitement is really building for the unofficial opening of the new Forest Hill Pools in July. Everything appears on track for a 'soft' opening that allows everything to be tested and to gradually work up to full capacity. Tiling is done, sprung floors are in and the pools are being filled. Fusion, the company that will run the pools for Lewisham, are working on activity and pools programmes and getting key staff members in place.

In order to make a real fanfare of about the Pools, to celebrate the achievement of delivering the project and to make sure that every single resident knows about it, Lewisham Council and Fusion are working on an 'official' opening on 22 September. They are planning a big event with lots of activities to include the library, local shops and businesses and hopefully The Horniman Museum. They have asked the Forest Hill Society to be involved and we are working on what we could help with that would tie in with what they are planning.

Newsletter: Young Lewisham Project

Tucked away, quietly along Kilmorie Road there is a Youth Project that offers a variety of programmes to schools and other agencies within the Borough of Lewisham. The project has been in existence since 1974 and in its present location since 1991.

It is probably best known, at least by the young people that have been involved over the years, for being a motorcycle project but there is so much more on offer these days.

The aim of the YLP is to help young people gain confidence through achievement and to enhance their abilities through effective communication and teamwork. It provides ‘young person centred learning’ by tailoring their courses to suit the needs of the young people who take part.

The Lifeskills Programme includes carpentry, gardening, cooking, plastering, painting and decorating. There is art, design and clothes-making for after- school groups, bicycle maintenance and off-road cycle rides. And yes there is the Motorcycle Maintenance course and off-road riding training.

Over the last two years we have developed our garden and allotment which has completely transformed our project, making it a far more attractive place to work as well as giving us fresh produce.

Working with 100-150 young people each year, YLP progression routes include further education, work placements and recognition of the importance of taking personal self-responsibility. To find out more see our wonderful short video of the project http://vimeo.com/32079836 and go to our website: http://www.younglewisham.org.uk/
Dave Newman, YLP Programme Coordinator

Newsletter: More Community Gardens

The green and hilly housing estate of Windley Close in Forest Hill has recently been awarded funding to start up a community garden.

Residents came together with the idea to start a garden growing herbs, vegetables, fruit and flowers. In April they were awarded funding by Lewisham Council, Capital Growth, and are now working in partnership with their Housing Association London and Quadrant. As one resident said “Our aim is to make Windley Close a happy and healthy place to live for residents and wildlife - next year we hope to add a nature reserve”.

For advice on how to start up a community garden visit www.capitalgrowth.org - they are aiming to support 2,012 community food growing spaces by the end of 2012! For more information on the Windley Close Community Garden email us at letsgrowwindley@gmail.com

Newsletter: Celebrities Galore at the Hob

There may be a few members out there who are unaware of the tremendous success of the Hob in not only promoting new comedy and bands, local and less local, but also attracting worldwide stars such at Mickey Flanagan (centre below), Daniel Kitson and Bill Bailey who try out new material (even the junked sketches will have you in stitches), and will also occasionally step in to MC.

Ron and Emma, flanking Mickey, started off over twenty years ago at the East Dulwich Tavern, and fortunately for us saw the light relocating to the Hob in the mid naughties. We will feature them further in the next edition, meanwhile go to: www.edcomedy.com

Newsletter: We Whethered the Weather

Never has the weather forecast been scrutinised more thoroughly: in the week before, the chart was a constant parade of ominous grey clouds with raindrops slanting miserably out of them. Six am on the day, with nervous anticipation, the curtains were drawn back, to reveal clear skies and the sun, peeping through the scudding white clouds. Strike One for the Food Fair Effect!

Gathering on the forecourt at 8am, was a cheerful band of cooks, carrot peelers and bottle-washers; tents to put up, with tables to erect and delicious hand-made produce to display. Would anyone turn up? Had anyone seen the posters or read one of the 7000 fliers? What was that enormous banner for, flapping in the wind? Strike Two!

Ten-ten, the stalls already busy with eager shoppers, keen to sample the food on offer, giddy with the novelty of finding proper produce on sale. Pickles and chutneys, English cheese and ham, lovely ripe tomatoes and asparagus from Kent, fresh baked artisan bread, beautiful hand-made cakes and buns, variously flavoured Scotch eggs and the scent of freshly brewed coffee and hot Viennese sausages and goulash. People flocked down the high street. The town was alive! Strike Three!

Anxious shopkeepers scanned the posters: what were they selling down at the Station?

Surely this would ruin their prospects for a profitable Sunday? But wait: ‘No I’m sorry, we’re full right now; we should have a table in ten minutes if you’d like to hang on’. Queuing for tables on a Sunday morning, who were all these people? Trekkers on the Taster Trail? No time to ask, should have asked the assistant to do an extra shift! Strikes Four and Five!

Three-thirty, most of the stalls sold out long ago, the clouds finally roll in; time to pack up and go, before the rain comes back for the rest of April. What a great success! And the most frequently asked question? ‘When is the next Food Fair? You will do it again won’t you?’ And the answer is: Sunday 3rd June, 10am until 2pm (hot food and bar until 4pm). Strike Five for the Food Fair Effect!