16 July 2010

Forest Hill Assembly Feedback

We were asked by Lewisham Council to gather the views of local residents about the effectiveness of local assemblies. These are the results of that survey:

Top Priority: Town Centre

Weighted Priorities (100% = everybody's top priority):

  • 84.3% - Town centre (empty shops)
  • 59.4 % - Lack of community facilities
  • 56.5 % - Environmental issues
  • 49.3% - Parking and traffic enforcement
  • 41.7% - Youth provision
  • 8.7% - Other

Other priorities

  • Safer pedestrian crossing over the A205 by WH Smith. It is very dangerous and unpleasant crossing this road, particularly with children.
  • A)Fastfood restaurants/ restaurants and their rubbish. B) Public waste being removed from the bins and then the plastic bag left overnight to be ripped open and spread over the streets again.C)High quality Secondary school provision.
  • crime and youths/gangs loitering by chicken shops etc.take away cartons and empty drinks containers being discarded in the street
  • Ease of crossing the main roads (which are very dangerous) to the town centre.Smartening up the whole area! They did it in East Dulwich, thy can certainly do it in FH!
  • Enforcement of planning restrictions.
  • Enter Forest Hill in 'Lewisham in Bloom'. Get Greenscene/Enviroworks to grow 15000 plants for free distribution
  • It is about time Lewisham stopped Developer's destroying Forest Hill's distinctive character. In particular the Planning Department should be clamping down on garden grabbing and overdevelopment.
  • It would be good to have a regular visible police presence
  • Less traffic enforcement, more parking spaces. More parking spaces will stimulate trade.
  • more seating on pavements for older folks who need to sit and rest a while when out shopping etc.
  • Pedestrian crossing in Perry Vale near shops and near station.
  • Pedestrian crossing places at all sets of traffic lights across the borough: two crossings are particularly dangerous: Lewisham High Street crossing Courthill Road, and Sydenham High Street crossing Newlands Park.
  • Potholes
  • Provision of local tennis courts in the area
  • south circular!
  • stopping developers converting gardens into houses, and large houses into multiple flats - our local primary fairlawn is massively oversubscribed also - speed controls/enforcement on honor oak road - traffic still very fast
  • The condition of the roads around Honor Oak Park (eg. Tyson Rd, Dunoon Road, Devonshire Road, Honor Oak Rd) and the constant increase in street furniture.
  • Lack of GP surgery in Forest Hill ward and the largest area in Inner London without close proximity to a GP.
  • Public art in the town centre
  • Town Centre – improve streetscape and reduce street clutter
  • Personally, I think there are other pots of money providing youth opportunities, and I think doing something about the empty shops should take higher priority. An idea about having pictures in the empty shop windows advertising the Horniman is the sort of thing assembly funds could cover. It is also a way of lobbying or putting pressure on the town centre manager. it all relates to the immediate environment too - though by environmental issue they could mean things like recycling. It is not clear. Parking and traffic are also environmental issues.
  • Lack of community facilities will be partly addressed by the new Pools!
  • Overall appearance of the town centre: dirty and cracked pavements, litter, uncoordinated, unnecessary and repetitive signage.
  • Street cleaning. The cleaning of roads and pavements, particularly the south circular.
  • Refurbishment of the railway bridge.
  • Implementation of the recommendations in the street furniture report and a widening of the scope of the survey to the surrounding town centre streets.

Comments about Forest Hill

  • Why can flower troughs not be placed on the railings in the town centre to enliven the otherwise dreary entrance into the centre of Forest Hill? I have been told that flowers were not allowed because the south circular is a red route. But the main traffic junction at Camberwell Green is a red route and the railings there are covered in flowers. Flower boxes are also attached to the railings at the Crystal Palace main traffic junction, near the bus terminus.
  • 1 The attempts over the years by local councillors to ensure that local shops are occupied has met with limited success and I feel that we should now encourage the landlords to convert the shops into residential accommodation. 2 Continue to exert pressure on the council to ensure that wheelie bins are not left on the pavements in Dartmouth and London Roads.
  • A butchers, bakers and greengrocers!
  • A quick look at the empty car parks tells you everything you need to know! Things should improve now that the free parking period has been extended behind Sainsbury's, this needs to be implemented south of the Railway station, too. Discussions with local shop-owners always come back to unaffordable business rates and limited parking. The new pools may help to revive our town centre, but Lewisham needs to commit to this and invest more in what could be a green jewel in the borough's crown!
  • Already mentioned. More parking facilities so that people can more easily shop in FH than anywhere else.
  • Am very exercised by the issue of litter. LBL is doing a grand job, but we've got to persuade our young people to use the bins. Could this be tackled through primary schools? Y6 children allowed to act as litter ambassadors/persuade local fast food outlets and shops selling sweets/crisps/coke etc. to provide bins/sponsor more litter bins.
  • Attracting quality businesses to the centre is key to regenerating the area. Forest Hill should be drawing in the types of small scale local retail outlets that East Dulwich now has in abundance, particularly food shops (butcher, fishmonger, delis, greengrocers, etc).
  • Believe a more varied choice of shops would be better - too many estate agents and hairdressers. Would not like any further 'supplementary' businesses being tacked on to shop fronts in London Rd,and do these have planning permission?
  • Better connections to the West End.Increase buses; set up a non stop bus service from Charing Cross, along the 176 route, with first stop at Goose Green and fewer stops on Lordship Lane.
  • Better public transport facilities late at night
  • Build an improved station at Forest Hill with more facilities.
  • Building local networks - various groups already in existence and helping them to interact or at least be aware of each other and able to work together as appropriate. Build a virtual Forest Hill on the Internet as a connection / information point.
  • Could the parking on the Perry Vale side of the station be free so that shopping could be made easier
  • Ensure local historical landmarks are retained,like Louise House, and trees planted to keep the area attractive and to attract new businesses, pubs and restaurants.
  • Forest Hill is already lovely, but what a pity the Cinema was turned into a Weatherspoon Pub. As it would have been a great cinema now and could have been like the cinema in Greenwich which has a cafe attached and a couple of cinemas within it. The cinema was a great loss to Forest Hill.
  • Forest Hill is one of a few places divided by the south circular. It also suffers by being chopped in quarters by the railway too.Because of the very real importance of the south circ to Forest Hill there NEEDS to be MORE OBVIOUS PARKING for passing traffic - to help small niche businesses thrive.Whilst it's all well and good for the eco-fascists trying to force everyone to walk, cycle and get on the train - that is not sufficient to encourage business to FH.Forest Hill should be treated as an exception to the general thought about discouraging car use - because cars are unfortunately so important to FH.
  • I chose parking as the most important issue because parking is needed for businesses to thrive and all else will struggle without thriving local businesses.
  • Ideally Forest Hill would be allowed to declare independence from Lewisham and be given control of its own destiny.
  • Improving the parking,continuing with the swimming pool refurb,having creative ideas about providing more youth facilities
  • Increase the little buses that come through Perry Vale to Station and onto Upper Sydenham. We still need an entrance for wheelchairs onto the station from Perry Vale side.
  • It has been good to see the Community Police Officers out and about. I hope this continues.
  • It would be good to get the commercial centre of Forest Hill looking like it was a thriving and interesting place to shop. Fewer closed shops, and more non fast-food shops would be great.
  • It would be worth seeing if anything can be learnt from the success of Lordship Lane - not sure if that area developed without any assistance from the council but it has made a huge difference to the area. Also, the main centre of the Forest Hill shopping area is around the station yet it is an ugly and depressing excuse for a building with an ugly car park attached - if something radical could be done to improve this (and I don't mean cosmetic things like flowers) it might start to act as a focus for regeneration.
  • it's a good place to live - but not yet a good place to shop. business rates need to be proportionate to turnover - shoestring start-ups and family-run businesses need to be sustainable, and high overheads are prime reason why they fail. how many years do we have to continue to walk past empty shops while just down the road east dulwich does it so much better??also - it's a good place for families so pls ensure that family homes are not continually converted into flats
  • Keep publicising regular arts events to draw people in. Have more craft or market events. How about a Forest Hill Festival?
  • Look at Lordship Lane and how that has transformed in 15 years. How can we do that here - sad though it may seem, being able to park briefly near the shops you want without getting a ticket helps. The darned south circular doesn't go through East Dulwich - can we minimise its impact somehow? Bulldozing the station and starting again?! Trees.
  • make entering F Hill from the south more enticing - we asked at F Hill assembly for signs on the railway bridge. Encourage small shops - butcher,baker, greengrocer and possibly upmarket charity shops. At present it looks pretty dreary to a newcomer, though the new coffee bars/deli add a welcome touch. Make it clear that parking at Sainsburys is now very cheap (or free!) Publicise Havelock Walk artists
  • More hanging baskets would cover the facades of empty shops. Encouraging more unique shops to take up the empty shop spaces.
  • More tree planting. Encouraging in people to create nice shops (and not burger joints). Mooted long ago, but the use of sculpture/signs/maps to lead people up to the Horniman museum.
  • More visible neighbourhood police at night as the Devonshire Road area, in particular, the bottom of Benson Road, car loads of black youths gather in their cars and in the spare land at the bottom for music and conversation sometimes way into the hours and keep the residents awake and the road is full of fast food rubbish and empty drink bottles.
  • Need to turn the South Circular into an asset rather than a liability; advertise what is available in Forest Hill, publicise locations and cost of parking using Lewisham banners and hoarding above underpass. Get shop owners to take responsibility for the areas in front of their premises (weeding, painting, litter)
  • Redevelop the town centre (i.e., intersection of London and Dartmouth Roads) to provide a public space that would become the centre of Forest Hill.
  • Regeneration of the centre of Forest Hill must be a key priority. Build on the Horniman Museum and Gardens and make the route from the station to the Museum a real focus. Once the new Pools come on line do the same along Dartmouth Road.
  • Reopening of Forest Hill Pools as a matter of urgency.
  • revisiting the improvement plan done some years ago, which had some good ideas. Walking around as a pedestrian can be unpleasant do an effort to make this better eg the connection between the two side could be some use the new railway bridge as a community crossing?Prioritise walkers when trying to cross the road. Until the pool rebuilt concentrate on the bit near the South circ. People do use sainsburys how can they be enticed to go elsewhere, ease of walking may help. Havelock Walk is a good example of improving the environment, I believe the Owner has some good ideas, eg removing unnecessary street furniture as it does feel cluttered. I know there have been experiments about taking out traffic lights, oxford street regent street junction.
  • Smaller estates should benefit from green spaces funding
  • Speed cameras and speed reduction measures (Your speed is XX, slow down!) on Perry Rise, behind the station where the sharp bend is.Letting derelict shops along Dartmouth Road and London Road out at cheap rents until market recovers.Pedestrianising (with bus and bike access) Dartmouth Road.
  • The balance of the shops is wrong.Lots of places to eat and drink but not enough shops that sell things.For example, I remember when we used to have a shoe shop.Part of the answer lies in our hands. We've got to use the shops that exist.I hope the new flats along the railway line will produce customers.
  • The most serious problem for me and for anyone who isn't a sprinter is to sort out the traffic lights at London/Dartmouth Rd junction of South Circular so that pedestrians can cross safely at the corner with the laundrette. More generally, the South Circular is an environmental hazard (not to mention its other evils which would require huge sums to sort out) so it should be a low-emission zone and that should be enforced.
  • The pavements could be better maintained and kept cleaner; shopfronts could be tidied up; and the station yard would be improved by planting trees.
  • Traffic in Woolstone is dreadful since the new health centre was built parking for residents is a nightmare.Where you have a amp drivers park so close up that it is almost impossible to drive out safely especially when vehicles have blacked out windows as does one car that is regularly parked outside our house. I even came home one day to find someone parked ON the driveway and was quite upset that I was annoyed
  • Trees more trees at the station not plastic hanging baskets!!I hate the flytipping there seems to be more and more of it ever since they ask a charge for collection.
  • Using the old fire station in Perry Vale as some sort of community cafe room.

Assembly Feedback

  • I think it is also good to take the opportunity of the ward assembly to learn about other things which are going on. I have already suggested that in Perry Vale we might invite someone from Hexagon Housing to talk about the time bank they are promoting for SE23, SE26 and I think SE22. The local credit union might be of interest to people too.
  • Timing of meetings - seems fine to me.
  • Would like to see town centre manager at more assembly meetings as I feel the empty businesses must be a key priority
  • Listen to what people who have lived in Forest Hill all their lives would like to see
  • make more order at meetings.people inclined to shout and chat!!
  • Make sure that known gasbags among community groups get the final slot! Evenings or Saturdays are good. Chairs need to be strict on time.
  • Needs to be in an evening after 7
  • Not attended yet, rather than never.
  • Nothing to offer
  • Preferably not in churches.
  • The meetings that I have attended have been well organised and have taken place at a convenient time (19-30). I prefer a location in the centre of Forest Hill.
  • The meetings that I have attended have been well organised and at a convenient time (19-30). The central location near to Forest Hill Station is a good venue.
  • These assemblies need child friendly supported areas,they need to be outside of working hours at the weekend.If these issues amongst others are addressed the assemblies may be better attended.Plus advertising in local shops etc.
  • They are fine. Maybe an odd weekend meeting would be easier to get to.
  • Vary when meetings are held eg different days of week including weekends
  • Very well organised; time and venue convenient.
  • Weekday evening is the best time - preferably starting 7.30 or 8.Good to advertise a few issues on which the Assembly will concentrate but have time for discussion of 'AOB'
  • well-run and relevant - only quibble some questioners occasionally ignored in favour of the more vocal - generally male

03 July 2010

World City - Music Village Festival at the Horniman

Cultiural Co-operation, a London-based arts and education charity with an internationally respected history of innovation and achievement, is bringing their World City Music Village to London this weekend and next.

The Music Village is Europe’s longest running festival of world cultures and the 23 Music Villages since 1983 have provided a public platform to over 3,000 world class artists from 80 countries, and a safe, yet fertile, ‘contact zone’ in which audiences of all races and faiths can learn about and openly celebrate each other’s cherished artistic traditions. Its abiding principle of free admission to all its events has enabled over 2 million people to attend.

If you want to enjoy the full flavour of their festivals, then go the main event in Victoria Park this weekend (July 3/4 - catch the Overground to Hoxton and then a bus) or Hyde Park next weekend (July 10/11).

However, they are also running a smaller show (aimed at families) in the Horniman from 1 pm tomorrow. There will be music in the Bandstand and dancing in the Gallery Square as well as various craft stalls.

Music on the Bandstand

1.30 – 2.15 pm Sumaya
Thrilling contemporary flamenco.

2.45 – 3.30 pm Hai La Drum
Hai La Drum (Let’s Hit the Road) are led by violinist Baz Stanescu with Pete Watson on accordion,Jason Henson on guitar and Dan Sheppard on double bass together they perform infectious Romanian and Balkan folk music and Gypsy jazz.

4 – 4.45 pm Mauricio Velasierra
Virtuoso flautist Mauricio Velasierra fuses the rhythms and melodies of the Andes and Africa.

5.15 – 6 pm Harare
Led by highly energetic ex-Bhundu Boy Kudaushe Matimba, Harare bring an eclectic mix of Zimbabwean styles from Jit Jive to the traditional hypnotic rhythms of the mbira (thumb piano) which reflect the different backgrounds of the group.

Dance in the Conservatory

1.15 – 1.45 pm Baila Peru
The UK’s longest running Peruvian dance group bring their Amazonian rhythms and carnival spirit to the Horniman having previously delighted audiences at the Thames Festival and Carnival del Pueblo.

2.15 – 3 pm Beeja
Classical Indian dance.

3.30 – 4.15 pm Deborah Alleyne-Degazon
Deborah Alleyne-Degazon’s high-energy Caribbean dance is complemented by live drumming.

4.45 – 5.15 pm Jose Navarro
Master puppeteer Jose Navarro.

In the Gardens

Children’s Area
Drop in for art and craft with Makendoo and facepainting from Face/Off, Hands On Masks at 1 – 1.45 pm and Storytelling from 2.15 – 3 pm and 3.30 – 4.15 pm

Food Stalls
Pizza in Piazza serve up authentic Italian delicacies, Bhangra Burger give quarter-pounders an Asian twist, plus Caribbean Jerk.

Youth Yurt
A chance to see a display of work by the Horniman youth project that explores the theme of teenage identity. Come along to the Youth Yurt to see the display, meet members of the project and find out about how to join the brand new Horniman Youth Panel that is being launched this summer!

Wildlife Garden
Meet Perrymount Primary School Museum Club and enjoy a tour of the Wildlife Garden. Drop in between 1 - 3 pm.

Gallery Square

Museum Club showcase activities 11 am - 1 pm
Meet Horniman Primary School and Eliot Bank Primary School Museum Clubs and find out some Horniman history. Make a Horniman tea packet and enter a competition.

02 July 2010

Blythe Hill Fields Festival

The Friends of Blythe Hill Fields are holding their annual fair this weekend on Saturday 3 July, from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm.

As well as the usual stalls (cakes, plants, crafts, Punch and Judy, bouncy castle), there will be family games, sports, live music, drumming workshops and dance from local artists. Come along and see us there.

TimeGroupType of Music
1130 - 1150Dads AloudClassic 50s, 60s and 70s R&B and rock n roll from local dads.
1155 - 1215The Artie FufkinsGrown up pop - think Crowded House.
1220 - 1240The Lost CavalryIndie folk band - mellow sound. Local drummer.
1250 - 1310Dorian and the ModesTraditional Irish folk music from the Blythe Hill Tavern
1315 - 1335Brockley Rise SingersChoral a capella from Brockley Rise Centre
1340 - 1400Frank and AnnieRootsy folky blues duo
1405 - 1425The Hankdogs featuring PianoLocal folk group - with Andy Hankdog, Nunhead's easycome acoustic legend.
1430 - 1450SuckerFestival stalwarts with a fun punky sound.
1500 - 1520Sid SingsBlues acoustic three piece band from Catford.
1530 - 1600Nzinga DanceAfrican dance and drumming.
1600 - 1630Brockley Ukelele GroupA mix of songs from punk to pop to hip hop is given the uke treatment.

If you haven't been up already, go and look and try the new playground! Many months of planning and construction has finally come to fruition and there is now a brilliant new resource for children and parents to enjoy for many years to come. It is a fantastic addition to the Fields and is a major achievement which the Friends are delighted with.

Location, Location, Location...?

We may not all be fans of property shows on TV, but when they feature Forest Hill we feel obliged to take a peek. On 3rd June, Channel4’s “Location, Location, Location” featured arty couple, Ben and Lucy, who thought they wanted a flat in East Dulwich only to discover that SE23 offered a whole lot more.
We got in touch with Lucy to find out what changed her mind.

How did you get involved with the show?
We never really had a huge desire to go on telly to be honest. We just wanted help finding a house but the filming was really fun! The production team looked at loads of properties for us – they really work hard at finding you good places.

You seemed pretty negative about Forest Hill when presenter, Phil, first suggested it. 
I guess we just didn’t know the area that well and I had kind of set my heart on East Dulwich. We were worried that it might not have much of an atmosphere or community feel.

So what changed your mind?
What was great about doing the programme was that we got to spend a few days in the area cycling about and checking out the feel of the place. We went into some nice pubs and shops and went up to the Horniman Museum gardens which I really loved. We got the feeling that this was a friendly place and that people who lived here seemed similar to us.

You missed out on the house on Shipman Rd.  Are you still looking? 
We are actively looking again and have set our sights on moving in the autumn. However, we are finding that prices have gone up quite a bit in the last six months and we may not be able to afford Forest Hill now!! Competition for properties is insanely fierce with many places going within 2 or 3 days of being on the market. It’s really tough but we are trying to stay optimistic!

And our favourite question here in SE23 - which is better, Forest Hill or East Dulwich?!! 
Ha ha, Forest Hill of course! Now someone sell us your 2 bed flat/house pleeeeease!!

Transport - Not Everything is Rosy

We have the London Overground AND geraniums outside Forest Hill Station (thanks to Shannons Garden Centre) but problems still remain, as Andrew Reid of our Transport Committee explains.

TRAINS Following assurances that peak hour London Bridge trains would be eight coaches long from the introduction of the new timetable, we were surprised to see four and six coach trains running. We were told these were planned and not the result of rolling stock failures.  This makes a mockery of the stated intent to extend platforms to run ten coach trains by the end of next year. 

The petition protesting against cuts in our rail services both to Charing Cross and during the evening peak from London Bridge gathered well over five-thousand signatures and was presented to the Minister then responsible for rail services, Chris Mole, on 23rd March.  We received the standard response that with an additional eight Overground trains an hour, we do not need this capacity to London Bridge.  We disagree and will bring this to the attention of the new government. 

ROADS The results of the Perry Vale Traffic Study are now on our website.  It came up with little hard information on problems, but recommended further studies to analyse the accidents which had occurred, measure traffic and count pedestrians crossing in various locations. 
Many local residents have concerns about traffic in Devonshire Road and we have discussed possible solutions with TfL and Lewisham Council. 

PARKING The plans for Forest Hill Pools provide only a single disabled parking bay. Any further parking will have to be in local roads.  The lack of on-site parking was an inevitable consequence of the cramped site available for the development. We sympathise with local residents. Clearly this is a fine balance and the situation will need to be reviewed once the Pools open. 

...and the London Overground does have some problems which we are hoping to have rectified. The air conditioning seems unable to cope with high external temperatures. Whilst TfL were aware of the problem, they were surprised that it had failed on three of the four trains we sampled on the first day.  They are working on a fix – one test train has been running already.   

We have told TfL that we’d like the Overground to run later in the evening – at the moment it stops running from Canada Water earlier than Southern trains from London Bridge.   We are confident that later trains will be timetabled in future if there is a demand.

There are now only four Southern trains per hour from London Bridge and we do know that this has caused problems for many of you. Others have said that whilst the reduced service is an inconvenience, the opening of the London Overground has meant the trains are less crowded and the journey more comfortable as a result. We shall have to see how people’s travel patterns adapt to all the changes over time.

Pecks in the City

When our Membership Secretary, Belinda Evans, was offered chickens as a birthday present, she immediately jumped at the idea. Fresh eggs for breakfast! Slugs and snails eaten up from the garden! But is the Good Life really possible in SE23? Belinda shares her experience:

After a little research, we decided on a traditional wooden coop and run and found ‘Ark birds and bees’ in Charring, Kent www.arkbirdsandbeeskent.co.uk for hybrid hens and all the chicken paraphernalia we would need for happy, contented hens. 
So Milly, Molly and Mandy came to live in Forest Hill.

Amazingly, one of the hens (we have since found out it’s Milly) laid an egg in the car on the way home. So even before we had unpacked ‘the girls’ from their cardboard box, we were tucking into the freshest boiled egg.  

The girls settled in well and we have had an egg a day since arrival, thanks to Milly.
Every evening when I return from work and during the day at weekends, the girls are out in the garden scratching around, destroying bedding plants and eating my new veg.

But disaster struck early one Sunday morning when an urban fox managed to push through the mesh on the run and carry off Molly. It was really sad as the chickens were showing their personalities and Molly and Mandy were inseparable. But chickens don’t seem to care and an egg was laid within 20 minutes of the massacre and I can be content in the knowledge that Molly’s last day in Forest Hill was a pleasant one.

In typical modern style we have created a spreadsheet that calculates the ever diminishing cost per egg (cost of outlay divided by the number laid). You’ll be pleased to know that as of today every egg has cost us nineteen pounds! That means that last Sunday’s delicious omelette cost us £114 even before we’d added the cheese.

May Day at Millenium Green

Despite inclement weather, May Day was celebrated in style at the Millenium Green off Albion Villas Road. The quagmire of the day before had dried out with the help of the sun enabling the planting of six heritage apple species providing the foundation of the Millennium Green Community Orchard. 

The Forest Hill Ward’s Localities Fund had provided the money for the purchase of the trees, support stakes and mulch mats and with the planting holes pre-prepared, on May Day Shaun Spiers (Chief Executive, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England), John Thompson (Director, Lewisham’s Green Scene), our respective Chair and Vice Chair Richard Hibbert and Michael Abraham, Tim Lund (Chairman, Sydenham Society), and Bruno Roubicek (local resident and AMG prime mover) popped the trees into the ground.

Work with Lewisham’s Nature’s Gym and many other volunteers over the previous months had cleared the undergrowth in preparation for the Great Day and already damson, plum, greengage and a mulberry tree had been planted.
The planting was followed by an auction. The local artist, Maria Strutz, had generously donated an apple- themed original art work entitled ‘Labyrinth’ which had been kindly framed by Jacob Twyford.  Tim Lund auctioned his backpack of freshly-picked heritage rhubarb and a collection box was passed around – all of which raised a total of just over £200. This will go towards redirecting the Green’s naturally rising spring water into the creation of a small wild life water feature.

A picnic lunch (with a shower of hailstones) was followed by a performance by the Dacre Ladies’ Morris Dancers.  Spectators were invited to join in – an invitation eagerly taken up by those whose feet were not numb or encased in mud.

Tyson Road - Developers win appeal

The long running battle to save the Tyson Road green space was effectively lost after the Planning Inspector allowed the Developer’s appeal on its 2009 planning application.  However, the Society was vindicated in its opposition to the 2008 planning application as the Developer’s appeal on that scheme failed. 

We are very disappointed with this result but taking this planning battle to the very highest national level has proved a valuable learning experience.

One of the very good things about a public inquiry is that all sorts of information becomes public knowledge.  In the run up to the Tyson Road hearing it became clear that there had been very extensive discussions between Lewisham’s Planning Department and the Developer prior to the 2008 planning application being submitted.  Now, it is perfectly right and proper for a local planning authority to provide guidance to developers but at no time during the period between November 2007 and June 2008 did it seek the views of the local community or consult with the local amenity societies on the proposed scheme. 

Lewisham also agreed a ‘statement of common ground’ with the Developer.  This was so wide ranging that it left very little scope on which to challenge either the 2008 or 2009 applications. 

However, the Forest Hill Society applied for permission to contribute to the public inquiry as a third party and was able to cross-examine members of the developers’ team. We were not bound by the tight reasons for refusal that the council was arguing and were able to present local residents as witnesses giving the inspector a better understanding of the site. This resulted in further concessions by the developer.

01 July 2010

Plans for Dartmouth Road Post Office

When the Post Office closed, many of us worried that this large, empty site on our high street would become an eye sore. But the owners of Jam Circus in Brockley (pictured below) think the site has potential and have submitted a “change of use” planning application. Jam Circus is a café by day and a lively bar by night and is one of ten such venues across London owned by Antic Ltd (www.antic-ltd.com).

The director of Antic met local residents recently to discuss his plans informally with them. Not surprisingly, some local residents – especially those living above the site – are concerned about noise levels.

Forest Hill Pools - We're getting closer

Following two major steps forward, everything is on schedule for the 2012 opening! In April, parts of the old building were demolished. Then in May, Lewisham submitted the planning application.

The application is on the Lewisham website and the Committee is likely to make a decision on it in mid July. Following the April consultation exercise the main changes are to the frontage material, and to the landscaped areas along Dartmouth Road and the former pocket park. As we had expected, the building will contain:

  • A main pool and a separate learner pool
  • A café overlooking part of the retained green space and Dartmouth Road
  • A gym with a large fitness suite and two studio spaces
  • A community room 

Overall we are pleased and have registered the Society’s support for the plans.  We have raised some concerns including: the height and ‘blockiness’ of the café; planting on the frontage; and access. We are particularly concerned about the coach pull-in at the front of the building and the amount of space left for pedestrians. 

Some of the nice ideas for getting light into the building and between spaces may have disappeared, possibly due to cost cutting to keep the building within budget. 
There’s also a missed opportunity because there is no proposal to connect the space in front of the three Victorian buildings together – the pools, Louise House and the Library.  But overall, we are confident it will be a good building and an asset to Forest Hill and hope that it can be further improved. 

Pending planning permission, the next steps will be detailed design work and the appointment of a contractor to build it. With luck, the building project will start before Christmas. 

[Ed: The Pools will be going before Planning Committee B on 22 July]

We're On The Tube!

It was a festival of balloons, dancing and a cappella sea shanties as the London Overground opened on Sunday 23rd May. Our party started on the 14.11 from Forest Hill Station to Dalston Junction with over a hundred of you joining in the celebration.

Jim Dowd, our re-elected MP, was on board and said he’d started campaigning for the East London Line Extension when he was first elected to Lewisham Council in 1974! So it’s taken a while.

But it’s not just about commuting. It’s culture, darling! Ten museums and galleries located along the line (including our very own Horniman, of course) have joined together to form CultureLine (www.cultureline.org.uk) which has been busy promoting the weird and wonderful treasures waiting to be discovered. So we hope many more people will discover the arts and culture of South East London.

So now that we’ve finally got the Overground, what do we do with it? We asked Forest Hill Society members how it had changed their lives and you’ll find some of the replies dotted around this Newsletter together with pictures of a number of happy punters. We hope they inspire you to explore and enjoy a whole new swathe of our great city.

Chair's Report

The last quarter has been very busy with elections, planning and transport issues.  I should like to thank all those who give so freely of their time for all their efforts.  I would especially like to thank former Councillor, John Russell, for his hard work for the benefit of Forest Hill.  We wish him well and look forward to building a relationship with his replacement, Anne Affiku, and the other councillors who now represent us. Those of you who attended our General Meeting at the Hob on 10th June had a chance to meet Anne in person and we’re delighted that she addressed our members.

I should also like to thank all those who fought so hard against the Tyson Road development.  While disappointed with the ruling, it has proved a valuable learning experience for us and we hope that we can work constructively with the developer to minimise the impact on local residents.

Much of this issue is taken up with the London Overground and its impact on our lives.  We have not forgotten the campaign for better services to London Bridge and Charing Cross, so please keep us informed of any issues you may have.

It will soon be time for the Annual General Meeting and I would like to encourage all of you to consider how you can contribute to the Society.  We will be losing some committee members as they move on and will be looking for a new Newsletter editor.