30 November 2014

Final Report from Planning Workshop

On the 23rd July 2014 the Forest Hill Society and See3 organised a workshop to look at the town centre of Forest Hill. The workshop was organised to facilitate a group of built environment professionals, architects and landscape architects who live or work in or near SE23 to use their time and skills to improve Forest Hill Town Centre. In particular, to build upon the many positive outcomes as part of the Town Centre’s role in SEE3, as one of the Portas Pilots.

The objective for the workshop was to help identify what works and doesn’t work in the town centre at the moment; to help develop a community led vision for change and action; and to develop creative ideas for making the town centre a better place.

Full details of the report are included here:


Next Steps:
The initial ideas coming out of the workshop and set out in this report are intended to spark debate, make people think differently about what we have now and what might be possible in the future.

What is clear is that over the past 10 years much has changed for the better in Forest Hill, key sites have been developed, the Pools have been rebuilt and reopened, and the Horniman continues to be a major attraction within the area. There has also been a change in the fortunes of the high street with new shops opening, a range of cafes and other new high street uses. However, there are other areas that have not improved, specifically including key linkages, the impact of the south circular and some prominent town centre sites - the main one of these being the station itself.

Following on from the workshop it is important that these initial ideas are tested, developed and given broader consideration by the community. These ideas and the professional expertise donated by members of the local community at the workshop have the potential to change our view about Forest Hill Town Centre and its surrounding links and connections.

It is now intended that this work informs the production of a new vision for Forest Hill. This will take considerable community effort, collaboration with a range of agencies and organisations to do this. It is something that the Forest Hill Society and SEE3 intend to lead on but this will only be achieved with the ongoing positive support, time and energy of our community.

The major longer term priorities identified from this work are:
1) A particular focus is the street works planned for Dartmouth Road and that has funding identified for it by Lewisham Council. These will be designed and developed from Autumn 2014 and the group involved in this design workshop, are keen to support this work. The idea from the workshop for a series of linked spaces, each with a different focus/character has a lot of potential to improve this busy and congested part of the 'high street'.

2) Creating a more positive arrival space to Forest Hill around the station, both on the London Road side and at Perry Vale. There is considerable potential here for both new development, improved and extended public realm and pedestrian space, and a more attractive built environment generally. This part of Forest Hill is widely identified as the least attractive and yet is how most people passing through on the South Circular see it.

3) Creating a much stronger and direct pedestrian and cycle route along the railway line towards Sydenham, with improved lighting, a clearer route and effective signage. This is a route that already exists but is poor quality and is identified as a significant missed opportunity.

4) To better support and integrate Perry Vale into the town centre, including specifically connections across the railway line and the qualities of the Perry Vale triangle. This might be through new bridge links, crossings, road closures, alternative uses on the Perry Vale Car park and improved station access. This part of the town centre benefits from development sites that could help deliver these opportunities and will need a carefully coordinated approach.

These and other priorities identified during this event and from other events will also be developed as part of the community led vision. If you have the energy, interest and skills to help with any of this work we would love you to work with us in doing so.

TfL’s Consultation to close on 7th December 2014 for Proposed Bakerloo Line Extension

For many years, the Forest Hill Society has advocated an extension to the Bakerloo line into South East London; and, in autumn 2014, Transport for London opened a consultation to get opinions about possible extensions.

TfL are essentially consulting on two routes, both of which go through New Cross Gate and Lewisham. The first route goes from the Elephant and Castle, down the Old Kent Road to New Cross Gate, and continues to Lewisham. The second route goes underground from the Elephant and Castle to Camberwell and then on to Peckham Rye, before heading up to New Cross Gate and Lewisham. Both of these routes would go underground rather than making use of existing, above-ground railway lines.

Beyond Lewisham there is the possibility of joining up with the existing Catford Bridge line and taking over the tracks that run to Hayes and Beckenham Junction. There is also an additional option to tunnel from Beckenham to Bromley’s town centre.

But don’t get too excited yet. Any extension would take years to build and would be unlikely to start before 2023. Consequently, the new line would not be expected to be operational until some time in the 2030s. This may seem like an awfully long time away but at least the ideas are being discussed, and this makes an extension more likely than it has been at any time since the 1930s or 1940s, when it was first proposed!

So what’s in it for Forest Hill?
Clearly, the proposed routes do not come to Forest Hill. However, a route between Catford and Lower Sydenham is just on the edge of SE23 and if it was chosen we would lobby for a new station at Bell Green, which is a more suitable transport hub than Lower Sydenham. Peckham Rye is also not particularly far from the edge of SE23. Importantly, we would also have the option to change at New Cross Gate for faster routes to Waterloo, Charing Cross, and Paddington. This would be in addition to our links to London Bridge, Victoria, Canada Water, and the new Crossrail interchange at Whitechapel (which would probably provide a faster interchange to the West End, Paddington, and Heathrow).

Most importantly, a Bakerloo line extension should provide additional capacity to South East London’s over-stretched services, which are expected to be even busier in 2030.

Haven’t we heard all of this before?
There were plans for a southern extension to the Bakerloo line in 1931, 1947, the 1950s, and the 1970s but in the last 10 years the wisdom of the Bakerloo line extension has been gaining traction with transport planners across London. The introduction of the Old Kent Road as an area that could see massive regeneration, and funding from such a project at least partially funding the extension (as with the Battersea extension of the Northern line), makes this proposal even more cost effective than had already been recognised.

In addition, the Bakerloo line, just like the East London line 10 years ago, is the tube line that is most in need of modernisation, with very old rolling stock needing to be replaced in the next decade or two. Building an extension line and completely revamping the signalling and rolling stock as part of the same project makes sense, so there is a window of opportunity that has been recognised.

Alternative proposals
What has not been considered in the current consultation are other possible routes including a much longer tunnel that could take the tube further into South East London. Every area of South London thinks that the Bakerloo line should run close to them: proposals have been made to take the line to Streatham, Camberwell/Herne Hill, Greenwich, Honor Oak Park or even through Forest Hill.

The idea of tunnelling further out (for example, under Honor Oak), rather than taking over existing train lines, is a good idea but is likely to lead to a further delay in the programme while funding is fought over.

Unfortunately, none of these proposals are likely to be able to compete for the funding that will result from the regeneration of the Old Kent Road. For this reason, most people in South East London (including the Forest Hill Society) are now getting behind the proposed Lewisham extension; and there is a growing feeling that this part of the project should be pushed forward as soon as possible, with any further extensions to Catford and Hayes coming as a second phase, if necessary.

TfL’s Consultation closes on 7th December, so we would urge you to respond quickly and make your views known!

Chairman’s Annual Report 2014

The following is a copy of a printed report that was issued by Michael Abrahams at the Forest Hill Society’s AGM
2014 has been a good year for Forest Hill and a good year for the Forest Hill Society.

Environment 

For the second year in a row, we were awarded ‘Outstanding’ by London in Bloom on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society for our planting around Forest Hill station and the town centre, as well as the Edible High Road’s sunflowers up and down the high street throughout the summer months.

Going into 2015, we are looking at ways to make Forest Hill even greener and more beautiful: including plans for a massive exercise in bulb planting for the Horniman’s Triangle, ensuring pavement trees are replaced on London Road, and continuing to maintain the plants around the station. We are already considering what would be good for next year’s Edible High Road; suggestions include fennel and other fast-growing and nice-smelling plants, as well as something more colourful.

Beyond green things, we are looking at ways to improve the look of the area above Forest Hill station’s underpass, and we are working with WH Smith and other local businesses to see how this major eyesore in the town centre can be easily dealt with.

Development and Planning

Fortunately, 2014 saw very few controversial planning applications, which left us more time to focus on long-term development of the town centre. In July, we brought together local experts in town planning and architecture for a workshop on the best ways to develop the town centre, for which local architect Ed Holloway has been assisting us with the writing up of our recommendations.

We are looking to put together a 10-year plan for the town centre’s development. What this will be, will be up to you.

Transport

If we ignore the impending ‘meltdown’ at London Bridge station, this has been a good year for local transport. Later this year, we will see the first five-carriage Overground trains running through Forest Hill, and we should see the completion of the lifts at Honor Oak Park.

After a number of years of lobbying by us and many other groups, the Mayor of London is consulting on a Bakerloo line extension to South East London. The preferred routes go to Lewisham and then probably down to Beckenham and Hayes, via Catford and Lower Sydenham. This has the potential to put South East London on the tube map and to greatly improve transport options for the area around the Old Kent Road, eastern Forest Hill, and other parts of Lewisham.

Communications 

We are back on track with four newsletters this year. The colour used in the latest one was so well received that we intend to continue using it. We have also sent out monthly news via email; and if we don’t have your email address, please let us know at email@foresthillsociety.com.

We have improved our presence on Facebook and continue to provide updates via Twitter, so please be sure to follow us at https://www.facebook.com/foresthillsociety and @fhsoc.

And finally...
A massive thanks go to everyone who has helped to make so many of our projects to be a success. Special thanks should go to Quetta, Jake, Hilary, Ed, Annabel, Alisa, and Belinda; but also to all of the other volunteers who have manned stalls, planted and watered flowers, erected gazebos and stages, delivered newsletters, and have helped the Society to thrive.

Five-carriage Trains on The Overground

From the beginning of December 2014, we are likely to see some of the first five-carriage trains on the Overground rail network appearing on Crystal Palace routes. During 2015, all trains will be gradually upgraded to five carriages, with an existing train being converted every two weeks.

This is great news for passengers on the Overground line, and will help to provide some of the additional capacity that is needed as a result of the changes being made at London Bridge station. We have previously reported that there will be no interchange at London Bridge for trains to Charing Cross for 18 months; in fact, transfers between Southern and SouthEastern networks is likely to involve walking via the Underground station when work starts on the redevelopment of platforms 6-8. However, tickets to London stations will be valid on Underground routes from London Bridge to Waterloo and Charing Cross stations.

We have found out that two trains will be removed from the morning timetable from Forest Hill to London Bridge: the 06:50 and the 08:31. Unfortunately, this will leave a couple of gaps in the timetable.

Please note that there will be no Southern services to or from London Bridge between Saturday, 20th December 2014 and Friday, 2nd January 2015.

£4.4m Redevelopment Planned for Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum and Gardens has announced initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a £3.1m grant for a major redevelopment of two of its galleries and an innovative community engagement programme.

The gallery redevelopment, which will take three years to complete, will transform the way the Horniman displays its Anthropology collection – a Designated collection of national and international importance comprising 80,000 items – by putting more than 3,000 of the collection’s artefacts on public view, many for the first time. It follows a three-year review project that revealed the strength and depth of the collection.

The project will also include:
• restoration of some of the original architectural features of the historic building
• a flexible, creative studio space for cutting-edge displays and artistic collaborations
• a new display exploring the history of founder Frederick Horniman and his family, and the origins of the collections and Museum.

Janet Vitmayer, Director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, said: “This is wonderful news and the start of an incredibly exciting new phase in the Horniman’s history. With this redevelopment of our galleries, our public can look forward to seeing and interacting with world-class displays from many more countries and cultures. We want our visitors to be able to stand in our galleries, surrounded by objects and stories from around the world that will move, enlighten, fascinate, and inspire them.”

Alongside the HLF grant, the Horniman will need to raise an additional £1.3m from other sources including individual donors, corporate support, Trusts, and Foundations. The redevelopment is scheduled for completion in 2018.

For more info: www.horniman.ac.uk

Free Saturday Parking in Forest Hill

Lewisham Council car parks will be free all day Saturday on 6th, 13th and 20th December 2014. This includes Pearcefield Avenue and Perry Vale car parks in Forest Hill.

This will give you a chance to load up on goodies in the wide range of independent business around Forest Hill. More information on some of the local shops can be found at http://totally-locally.co.uk/foresthill/category/hidden-gems/

The car parks are less than 10 minutes walk from Horniman Museum and Gardens which holds Saturday morning markets and many other exciting events.

24 November 2014

Your Guide to Christmas in Forest Hill, Sydenham & Kirkdale

SEE3 has produced a guide to events happening in December 2014 across Forest Hill, Sydenham, and Kirkdale.

There's lots of events, fairs, and opportunities to shop locally, so take a look inside.



22 November 2014

Dates for your Diary

2014
Book launch, ‘Sydenham & Forest Hill Through Time’ by Steve Grindlay: Sat 29th November, 3-5pm. Kirkdale Bookshop, Sydenham.

Forest Hill Society’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony & Carol Singing: Sat 6th December. Forest Hill station’s forecourt, 3:15-5pm. Lighting at 4pm.

Traditional Christmas Fair: Sat 6th & Sun 7th December. Horniman Museum, 10:30am-4:30pm.

Crofton Park Ward Assembly: Sat 6th December, 11am, St. Saviour Church (on the corner of Brockley Rise and Herschell Road).

Havelock Walk Open Studios: Sat 6th & Sun 7th December; 12-6pm.

2015
Forest Hill Society’s Burns Night: Sat 24th January. The Hill Lounge Bar and Kitchen, 45-47 Dartmouth Rd., 7:30pm. £19.95; booking essential.

Forest Hill Ward Assembly: Tue 17th February, 7pm. Venue TBC.
Perry Vale Ward Assembly: Tue 10th March, 7pm. Venue TBC.

04 November 2014

Annual General Meeting 2014 - Minutes



Held at The Hob on 22nd October 2014


Welcome

The Chairman, Michael Abrahams, welcomed the assembled to the AGM, in particular the three Forest Hill Ward Councilors.  Apologies for absence had been received from Alisa Owens, the Vice Chair and Treasurer, and from Membership Secretary Belinda Evans, Quetta Kaye, Alona Sheridan and Jake Twyford.

Michael introduced local architect, Ed Holloway, who would describe the outcome of the workshop of local architects and town planners that had considered plans for the town centre.


Urban Design Workshop

Ed Holloway said the workshop had drawn on the part implemented Supplementary Planning Guidance from 2003, Neighbourhood Plans and a useful Street Clutter Report commissioned by the Ward Assembly.  Four development zones had been identified. 

1.    The Station front and London Road: There was potential to develop the area in front of the main entrance to the station.  New trees could be planted symbolizing Forest Hill, a piazza built and mixed use made of the rest of this important area, while maintaining drop off access to the station.

2.    Perry Vale and to the east of the Station: A new crossing over the railway line would link what felt like a separate area to the rest of the town centre and encourage greater use of the Perry Vale car park.  Also, there was potential for the north end of Perry Vale to be a pedestrian area with a street market.

3.    Dartmouth Road spaces: Themed public spaces could be developed, making better use of what was already there.

4.    Dartmouth Road/railway links: The area to the immediate west of the railway line had seen several new unconnected developments.  Improvements could be made to the footpath to make this area more accessible on foot and by bicycle.

A report of the workshop had been drafted and when completed details would be available on the Society web site.  Many of the ideas from the workshop could be implemented without major expenditure.  With a little more work, the report could be the basis for a submission from Lewisham for money from the new Greater London Authority (GLA) High Street Re-generation Fund.  This would be in addition to the Council’s successful bid for £650,000 from Transport for London to improve the north end of Dartmouth Road.

In discussion, the following main points were made:

·         More use was made of the Perry Vale car park when it was free possibly easing he pressure on local streets.  Options included lengthening the time parking was free, dividing the car park into pay and non pay zones and improving the road signs directing cars to the car park.

·         The idea of a new bridge over the railway line was welcomed.

·         There was support for better walking and cycle routes and for improved access for the disabled in the town centre.  Crossing Perry Vale outside the eastern entrance to the station was hazardous. 

·         How could the Horniman Museum and Park be integrated better with the town centre?  Options included Horniman style bollards up London Road and signs inspired by items in the museum’s collection.

·         There was concern about pollution including on Dartmouth Road.  The Society would continue to press for more hybrid buses to join the new 122 buses.  Ward Councillor, Paul Upex would raise the issue of new buses with Len Duvall, the GLA member for the Lewisham and Greenwich.


Chairman’s Report

Michael had prepared a written report, copies of which were available to the meeting.  He thanked all who had volunteered.  Michael especially thanked Annabel for the four excellent newsletters published during the past year, to Jake for his support to the music festival, to Quetta for the success of the planting at the station and the Edible High Road, to Hilary for organizing the Urban Design Workshop and to Alisa and Belinda for their contribution to essential administration.

Michael drew attention to the consultation regarding Hamilton Lodge, which was earmarked for the homeless, and also the consultation regarding the extension of the Bakerloo line.  Looking ahead, we should keep the Edible High Road going but consider new plants perhaps with more colour.  Michael closed by encouraging more people to volunteer with the Society.

 
Treasurer’s Report

Michael Abrahams presented the report in Alisa’s absence.  The Society has a healthy bank balance and brought in more than spent in 2013/2014.
Further details were made available at the meeting and are available to members on request.


Elections

By way of introduction, David McKenzie described what it was involved in being a member of the Executive Committee and its Sub-Committees. 

Michael Abrahams stood aside for the election of Chairman for the coming year.  Katrin Klinger proposed Michael as Chairman and this was seconded by Hilary Satchwell.  Michael agreed to stand again was duly elected as Chairman.

Michael Abrahams proposed that Alisa Owens be elected as Treasurer, John Firmin as Secretary and Belinda Evans as Membership Secretary.  All were prepared to stand and were duly elected.

The post of Communications Officer was left vacant. John Wysocki would however be editing the newsletter.

Existing members of the Executive Committee were willing to stand again and the following were duly elected:
Hilary, Quetta, David, John W, Penelope, Katrin, Alona, Jake, Sheila, Richard, Stefan, Katherine and Helen.

It was agreed that Brendan would join the Planning and Development Sub-Committee. Other can join sub-committees at anytime throughout the year, if they desire.


Other Business

In further discussion the following main points were made:

·         The platforms at Canada Water Station were overcrowded and dangerous.  This had been raised with LONDON OVERGROUND, who was responsible for the station.  The matter would be taken up by the Transport Sub-Committee.

·         The London Road – Dartmouth Road junction was dangerous for cyclists.  The junction was part of the TFL programme of consideration for 2015-16, when this might be addressed.

·         In some locations, new street lamps did not adequately light up the areas beneath them because of trees. 

·         Close links should continue to be maintained with other local civic societies e.g. those in Honor Oak and in Sydenham.


The AGM ended with a vote of thanks from the floor to the officers of the Society and to all who had served on the Executive Committee and its Sub-Committees during the past year. 

03 November 2014

HopCroft Neighbourhood Forum: First Meeting

Established in July 2014, the Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park Neighbourhood Forum (HopCroft Forum) will lead on pulling together a Neighbourhood Plan for the area to outline the future for Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park.

Starting with blank sheets of paper we would like to hear your views, ideas and aspirations for your Neighbourhood.

If you live or work within the Neighbourhood Area, or even regularly visit then please help us make them reality.

You are invited to Crofton Park Library (by Crofton Park station) at 7pm on Wednesday 5 November 2014, to start the process and hear about what is being planned.

There will be food and drink to help your ideas flow

Get in touch with us on:
Facebook
Twitter
Email: hopcroftforum@gmail.com