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15 January 2016

Dartmouth Road Public Realm Enhancements – Forest Hill Society Response

 Consultation on Dartmouth Road Public Realm Enhancements – Response on Behalf of the Forest Hill Society
I am writing on behalf of the Forest Hill Society regarding the proposed public realm enhancements on Dartmouth Road, SE23. We continue to support the principle of the works proposed however, we have a few areas where we have concerns or seek further clarification as the project progresses.
  1. Parking Provision
  • One of the “key scheme objectives” is to manage parking. With the exception of the parking layouts provided on the plans, no details of parking management have been provided. If the current parking management practices remain, the Forest Hill Society is concerned that pavement parking and other antisocial parking behaviour will remain commonplace. This will have the added problem that the quality materials used in the public realm improvements will be damaged as a result of antisocial parking.
  • The Forest Hill Society has concerns regarding the proposed inset loading bays towards the north end of Dartmouth Road. These have been located at narrow parts of the pavement and could present an unnecessary obstruction to pedestrians. The loading bay outside 19 Dartmouth Road would leave just 1.8m pavement width when in use. This pavement width would be further curtailed by the frontage display in front of the florist. If there is to be a parking bay placed here there would need to be agreement for no use of the space outside the shop – which would be a shame as the flowers brighten up the high street. The loading bay on the other side of the road would be better placed outside Paddy Power to reduce the impact for pedestrians at another narrow part of the pavement. We are also concerned about the height of the pavement from the road at this point would make loading bays dangerous for pedestrians, so we would want to ensure that the change of levels are not dangerous in these bays.
  • Inline images 1The Forest Hill Society supports the prohibition of parking on all parts of Dartmouth Road with the exception of the marked parking/loading bays. However, we would request that the design team also considers the aesthetic benefit of avoiding the use of yellow lines. This could be achieved through the use of signage along the lines of these images:

  1. Road Marking and Pedestrian Priority
  • Some concerns remain regarding the uncontrolled pedestrian “courtesy crossings” and how effective they will be at slowing traffic and giving pedestrians a good opportunity to cross.
  • The Forest Hill Society believes that an additional controlled crossing, possibly in the area of the Forest Hill Pools, would benefit pedestrians, but we recognise that this may be difficult to achieve.
  • We note that motor vehicles will retain priority over pedestrians at all side streets. The Forest Hill Society requests that the design is re-examined to see if pedestrian priority can be safely provided at side streets through clear signage, road markings and materials.

  1. Traffic Management
  • The Forest Hill Society supports the 20 mph speed limit, but from observations of borough-wide limits in other parts of London, we have concerns regarding compliance. Providing a safe and attractive space is critical to the success of the Dartmouth Road as Forest Hill’s high street, and the speed limit plays a significant part in this. Details of the Council’s strategy for enforcement of the speed limit are therefore requested.
  • The Forest Hill Society supports the provision of the additional northbound and southbound bus stops, including the proposed locations.
  • Stated improvements for people cycling are no more than coincidental with the other scheme objectives. The design proposals will, in reality, do very little to make Dartmouth Road an attractive and inclusive place to cycle. We would like to see a wider strategy for improving safe cycling routes around Forest Hill.
  • The previously proposed inset parking bays outside Forest Lodge have been removed from the plans. The Forest Hill Society is concerned that residents of Forest Hill Lodge (and non-residents) will continue to cross the pavement in motor vehicles. This would present a continuation of the current safety hazard presented by parking outside Forest Lodge close to a pedestrian crossing, as well as potentially damaging the new public realm due to overloading of the surfaces by motor vehicles. The Forest Hill Society requests details of how this issue will be managed, either through physical means such as bollards (less preferred as they would form ‘clutter’ in the streetscape) or through enforcement

12 January 2016

Planning Application: Bird in Hand Public House

A planning application has been submitted to build a pergola to the side of Bird in Hand pub on Dartmouth Road. The Forest Hill Society has written to the council opposing the details of the application.
You can view the application at on the Lewisham Planning website: DC/15/094390

Text of objection:

The Forest Hill Society’s objection is in relation to five aspects of the proposed development which are described in detail below:
1. Access to the area covered by the proposed pergola and potential for antisocial behaviour;
2. Effects on the amenity of nearby residences, particularly at night;
3.  Design quality and effects on the Forest Hill Conservation Area;

4. Concerns about inherently unsafe design; and
5. Effects on the highway, specifically pedestrian access along Bird In Hand Passage.

1. Access to the area covered by the proposed pergola and potential for antisocial behaviour
The Forest Hill Society is concerned about the potential to access the pergola area directly from Dartmouth Road. There would be a lack of control over this access by the pub staff and the provision of a covered area directly adjacent to Dartmouth Road may attract antisocial behaviour both during daytime and night time.

2. Effects on the amenity of nearby residences, particularly at night
Use of the pergola area (including legitimate use) may have an adverse effect on the amenity of nearby residences, particularly those on Bird In Hand Passage and opposite the site on Dartmouth Road. This would be an issue especially at night. If the Council is minded to grant planning permission for the proposed development, it is suggested that restrictions on its hours of use are imposed.

3. Design quality and effects on the Forest Hill Conservation Area
The Forest Hill Society believes that the design of the proposed development is of insufficient quality with respect to its prominent location on the high street and especially with regard to its location in the Forest Hill Conservation Area. The proposed pergola would be very prominent when viewed from Dartmouth Road and the materials, which are not commonly visible in the conservation area, would be obviously out of keeping with the conservation area. Furthermore, the applicant’s Heritage Statement discusses only direct impacts on the fabric of the public house building and does not discuss impacts on the setting of the broader conservation area.

4. Concerns about inherently unsafe design The design includes a gate that opens outwards over the steps on Bird In Hand Passage. This would appear to be inherently unsafe both for people exiting the pergola area and anyone happening to be on the steps when the gate is opened.

5. Effects on the highway, specifically pedestrian access along Bird In Hand PassageThe Forest Hill Society notes that pedestrian access on the north side of Bird In Hand Passage currently uses the raised platform area and the steps leading downward along Bird In Hand Passage. The proposed development would prevent use of this route. The Forest Hill Society requests that the Council takes a view as to whether this route legally forms part of the highway (even if in private ownership), and whether the safe use of the route by the public should remain a priority. If this route is well used, the Forest Hill Society would like to see access along it retained. However, if it is not well used and does not form part of the highway, the Forest Hill Society would not object on this basis.

The Forest Hill Society would like it noted that this is not an objection in principle to a pergola at the Bird In Hand, and believes that all of the above concerns (with the potential exception of the highway issue) could be overcome through design and management measures. If a future planning application was to be lodged proposing a high-quality design with management measures sufficient to protect the amenity of nearby residences, the Forest Hill Society may support such an application.