15 May 2015

Pop-up Park Posionous to Pets

Pop-up gardens, musical vegetables and the most dangerous garden for cats and dogs – all this and more is on offer at the Horniman Museum and Gardens for the Chelsea Fringe festival.

The Forest Hill venue, which already boasts 16 acres of stunning Gardens, is switching up a horticultural gear for the festival, creating not one but three pop-up gardens. The stunning temporary displays include a botanical drawing recreated using more than 3,000 bedding plants (Anatomy of a Flower), a mass planting of sunflowers (Sunseekers) and a border designed as a banquet for bees, butterflies and other pollinating creatures (Planting for Pollinators). Themed around the Horniman’s indoor Plantastic exhibition and designed by Head of Horticulture Wes Shaw and his team, all three pop-up Gardens are free to visit and open on 30 May. 

Highlights of the Gardens Festival for families on Sunday 7 June include live music from the London Vegetable Orchestra, the chance to make your own carrot recorder or cucumber trumpet, and storytelling in the Gardens. Visitors can also enjoy a tour of the Horniman’s sundials, make a seed bomb, and create a sun-printed artwork using flowers, leaves and branches.

The Horniman is also hosting MORE TH>N who are creating a ‘dangerous garden’ full of plants and flowers that are all poisonous to pet cats and dogs, to raise awareness and encourage pet owners to be responsible at home. The world’s most dangerous garden for cats and dogs will contain all manner of plants and flowers from British gardens that are toxic to our furry friends. MORE TH>N’s garden is free to visit and is open to the public (no pets allowed in the garden, but can be left outside) from Thursday 4 June until Sunday 14 June.

07 May 2015

Planning Applications: Hamilton Lodge and 118 Canonbie

Planning applications have been submitted to turn 118 Canonbie Road and Hamilton Lodge, on Honor Oak Road into hostels for homeless families. This will provide accommodation for up to 100 individuals. Details of the applications can be viewed at: DC/15/91664 and DC/15/91663 
Below is the response from the Forest Hill Society to the planning application:
We write on behalf of the Forest Hill Society about the above applications at Hamilton Lodge, Honor Oak Road and Canonbie Road in Forest Hill. This letter relates to both of these applications and should be considered in relation to both of them.

We have no objection to the principle of these applications and understand that short term family accommodation is much needed across the borough for its residents.  However, we are concerned about some of the supporting material with these applications and the quality of the accommodation, and we would like the Council to ensure that what is promised goes on to be delivered.
  • We are concerned by the quality of accommodation, specifically the sizes of some of the family rooms and the proximity to shared bathrooms. Whilst we appreciate this accommodation may well be better than much of the available alternative short term family accommodation think that you do need to carefully consider whether it is acceptable for families to live in this way for six months at a time.  There is no provision for communal internal space in either block.
  • We do have some concerns about the overall number of bed spaces across the two sites and worry that this is more people than it is sensible to house in buildings of this size.
  • The same PTAL rating is incorrectly used for both of the sites as it is based on a single location rather than the specific location of each site. The Canonbie Road Application has a PTAL rating of 2 and this may impact on its acceptability for this proposed use.  
  • There is no sunlight and daylight report and whilst we appreciate that this is for a short term use a couple of the rooms look like they would be very dark and we are concerned for the quality of life for those living there for up to 6 months at a time, and particularly children.
  • We would like to ensure that any planning permission does actually limit each families stay in the building to 26 weeks as we would be VERY concerned about families living in this accommodation for any longer periods.  This accommodation is not suitable for permanent residential use as it does not conform with policy or the London Housing Design Guide. 

05 May 2015

Dacres Wood: Spring Feast with Claudio Bincoletto

Photo by: Amy Murrell

Sunday, May 17th

You are invited to meet Claudio Bincoletto, farmer, chef, forager and environmental expert, on his visit to Dacres Wood Nature Reserve, and share in an experiment in sustainable local production of oyster mushrooms.

(Note – there is an entrance fee for this event)

10.30 – 12.00
Claudio will talk about his work, and how responsible foraging can help us all.  There will also be a nature walk and activities for children, let by Ema Felix of Secret Adventurers

12.30 – 2.00
Preparing and eating Risotto primavera and Wild herb frittata.  Claudio will be using wild herbs sourced from his allotment, but which can also be seen growing in the reserve and neighbouring gardens.  Only 20 servings will be possible, but guests are welcome to bring their own picnic as well.

2.30 – 3.30
Fungus workshop.  Claudio will be preparing recently felled sycamores for the production of oyster mushrooms by drilling them with c. 300 inoculated plugs.  There will also be opportunities to help our conservation volunteering for those suitably dressed.


  • Entrance £5 adults, children free
  • Risotto primavera £5 – limited to 20
  • Oyster mushroom plug sponsorship – £1 per plug
Plug sponsors will be entitled to a share of any mushrooms we produce – which can be expected to last from 2016 – 2018 – so please stay in touch!

Your contributions, and any donations, will go to support the work of the Friends of Dacres Wood.
Other local groups will be joining us, so join us to find out more about your local community.

02 May 2015

Planning Application: Fairway House, Dartmouth Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to some aspects of the planning application for the demolition of Fairway House (between Dartmouth Road and the railway line) and replacement with27 flats and employment space. Details of the planning application can be found on Lewisham's website.

Below are the details of the concerns raise by the Forest Hill Society:

Our main concern is that this application does very little to improve the important route along Clyde Vale connecting the train station with Kirkdale and Sydenham.  This route at the moment is inconsistent, poorly defined and in poor condition.  It has the opportunity to provide a really important strategic connection for pedestrians and cyclists in the future and unless this application delivers improvements to this route adjacent and near to the site, and also along its length, it will be a missed opportunity that will not be recoverable.  Many of the future residents and workers on this site will use this route to get to the site from the station and a significant contribution would be justified on this basis.
  • The scheme should widen the footway (and potential future cycleway) running next to the railway line, at the moment this pavement is less than the 1.8m minimum which makes it difficult for two people to pass
  • The disabled parking space proposed on Clyde Vale should be relocated so as not to prevent easy pedestrian movement along the route
  • The scheme should contribute to improved lighting, surfacing and boundary treatments between the site and the railway station, widening this route wherever possible
  • The scheme should contribute to improved sewage management to reduce the smell on this pathway
  • The highways aspect of the scheme should be designed to anticipate and facilitate future improvements that could be made along this route

We have a number of other concerns about the proposal, including:
  • The qualities of the employment space are limited and we are concerned that this means that it is unlikely to work.  The retention of appropriate employment floorspace in this location is very important both because it brings daytime activity but also because there is demand for the right kind of flexible employment uses.  Our concern here is that the particular shape and arrangement of this building means that this is unlikely to be the case here.
  • The lack of clarity of the route through the site from Dartmouth Road to Clyde Vale.  This comes about because of the poor positioning of the main block and the complex arrangement of stairs and landscape.
  • Poor amenity for the new housing, particularly that in the smaller block
  • There is widely reported sewerage and drainage problem along Clyde Vale and we are concerned that this proposal will exacerbate these issues.
  • Some of the documents within the application are unclear and it is not clear how they will be delivered/enforced.  This relates particularly to the air quality report and contamination.
  • The design quality of the building and particularly its elevations are really not as good as they could be. They are overcomplicated and lack clarity.