31 December 2012

Wishing you a happy 2013

2012 has been a fantastic year for Forest Hill and we hope that 2013 will continue to see the positive development we saw in 2012.

This year saw the reopening of the swimming pool, the completion of the Horniman Gardens redevelopment including their new education centre, a monthly food fair at Forest Hill station, and many new shops up and down the high streets.

The Forest Hill Society were able to play our part in the changes that took place in Forest Hill this year in a number of ways:

  • With local assembly funding we were able to arrange the installation of swings and table tennis in the Horniman Triangle
  • We have set up a monthly food fair, bringing people into the town centre
  • Our market stall holders have begun to set up a permanent presence in Forest Hill, with Aga opening a deli, and we hope Ruth and Nathan will continue the success of the pop-up butchery into 2013
  • We were instrumental in the successful bid for Portas Funding which will continue to build on the progress made in 2012, with more pop-up shops, more markets, and a town centre hub
  • We helped Dacres Wood gain a Friends group, with some great plans to improve this unique habitat in Forest Hill 
  • We were also able to help local businesses re-launch the Traders Association, and it has been great to see them working together to improve the attraction of the town centre
  • Finally, with the support of the local assembly funding, we have been able to brighten up the town centre and stations in Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park 

What's going to happen in 2013?
It is always difficult to predict the future but we can be sure of a few things;
On transport - Honor Oak Park station will have step free access (at least to the platforms - the gap between the platform and the train is another matter), and the subway in Forest Hill will be refurbished making the crossing of the railway a more pleasant affair.
We will continue to run monthly food fair (though not in January), with the SEE3 team running complimentary markets to make Forest Hill even more of a destination.
The success of new businesses, and the continued availability of empty units, should attract more new businesses to Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park. We know of a number of businesses currently looking for the right location in Forest Hill for their business, and the Forest Hill Society and SEE3 team are giving them every encouragement.

So we wish everybody in Forest Hill a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

18 December 2012

Station News

There are a number of pieces of news which our rail travelling members will be interested in.
  1. The station building has been repaired following the ram raid on the ATMs in June. The hoardings will be removed once the new ATMs have been installed.

  2. TfL recently published their ten year business plan. The good news is that the Overground fleet of trains will be extended to 5 cars each by 2016, increasing capacity by 25%. However, this will require selective door opening at some stations (including Canada Water) as the platform is not long enough.

    There will also be two extra trains each hour from Crystal Palace, meaning a total increase in capacity of over 50%, which will be welcome news.

  3. London Overground passengers are now able to access a free WiFi service at our local stations under a contract between public WiFi provider, The Cloud, and TfL. Passengers will be allowed 60 minutes of free internet access per day at every London Overground station at no cost to the fare or taxpayer.

    Passengers will have 60 minutes’ free internet access each day at each station through a one-time registration process available at all 56 London Overground-operated stations. WiFi access will be available in the immediate vicinity of stations.

    Steve Murphy, Managing Director of London Overground Rail Operations Limited, said: “Access to the internet is no longer limited solely to home or to the workplace, and people’s expectation is to be able to work and communicate effectively and seamlessly while they’re on the move so we’re delighted to support this initiative which will bring reliable, free WiFi to London Overground’s customers.”

15 December 2012

Sydenham's SEE3 Festive Fair, Sun 16th December

Seasonal gastronomic goodies will be on offer at SEE3's Festive Food and Gift Market from 10am to 4pm on Station Approach, outside Sydenham Station.

SEE3 Sydenham Festive Food and Gift Market

There will be some stall holders from our Food Fair along with some other enticing offerings, so go along and say hello.

Aga’s Little DeliChristmas deli
Van DoughWood fired Pizza
Tongue N CheekStreet food
Anna & MagdalenaPolish deli
On The HoofBread
DB FoodsSouth African foods
Stag & BowVintage art & images
Alvin's Jerk WrapsJerk wraps
Man Made FoodsCakes for men
Uli's CakesSavoury scones and jams
Capo Caccia Fine FoodSardinian delicacies
Living La Vida CocoaSpanish delicacies
Daisy's D├ęcor & MoreHandmade home accessories
Sylvia’s Vintage GemsVintage accessories
Taste of SpainSpanish foods
Resistless LtdChimney cakes
Miss Poppy CakesCakes
Angela Kay DesignsCraft
Two Hungry BeesVietnamese street food
Elizabeth Cranwell-WardChutney

While you are there, you could also drop in on Conquer Gear (Sydenham's PopUp shop at 4 Station Approach) and Jill (the Sydenham Hub), just around the corner at 27 Sydenham Road.

11 December 2012

SEE3 Forest Hill Festive Fair , Sat 15th December , 10am–5pm

Forest Hill Pools will go all Christmassy on Saturday 15 December.

From 10am-5pm the market, just outside the main entrance to the pools, will showcase the best local talent, offering hand-crafted trinkets, wooden toys, jewellery, candles, ceramics, vintage accessories and Christmas tree decorations.

Forest Hill Festive Fair poster

There will be sixteen stalls including a few local favourites. They will be selling a variety of goods from food to candles and a variety of vintage and festive goods.

Miss Poppy CakesCakes
Aga's Little DeliDeli
DoopodoopoLocals artists work
Stag & BowVintage art & images
DB FoodsSouth African foods
South London PrintsSouth London illustrations
Shop Eastern BlocCrafts from the former Eastern Bloc
B Creative & CoFestive decorations
My True light CandlesHandmade candles
BubblylicousHandmade soap
Isa Marie SkincareOrganic skincare
Mariona OteroReflector ties and cards
Solivio SoapsSoaps
Sock MonkeySock monkeys
Desnee's VintageVintage and upcycled homeware
Committee of TasteVintage homeware and flowers

Organised by the SEE3 team.

Fiver Fest hits Forest Hill

With over 25 local shops and businesses participating, each with their own festive £5 deal, its sure to be a great time to enjoy what the town has to offer.
The event will run from 8th-15th of December with a late night opening on the Thursday 13th.

Details at Totally Locally Forest Hill.

04 December 2012

Win a Forest Hill Pools membership

Fusion Lifestyle is offering the chance to win a three-month membership to the new Forest Hill Pools, worth £108.75. For your chance to win, simply fill in the form on Lewisham's website. Entries close 23 December 2012 and the winner will be notified in January 2013.

29 November 2012

Pop-up Butcher and Greengrocer

We are very excited that Franklins will be collaborating with The Butchery to provide fresh fruit and veg throughout December at 49 London Road. Both have been regulars at our food fairs during 2012 and it is great to welcome them to the high street for December.

On Saturday, 1st December The Butchery will be providing samples of their own smoked pastrami, sausage rolls and pork pies.  Their range will include Mangalitza Pork from Chipping Norton, native breed Old Spot pork from HMP Hewel Prison Farm, Llanwenog Lamb from the Forest of Dean, 45 day dry aged Dexter Beef from champion breeder Michael Bancroft in Preston Bagat; Fosse Meadows Truly Free Range Chickens, Creedy Carver ducks, wild pheasant, rabbit and mallards.

There will be an opening special of dry aged native breed beef mince at 6.95/kg, and in the afternoon home made Krupnik (Polish Honey Christmas Vodka) to warm up visitors.

There's lots more going on this weekend across Forest Hill, Kirkdale, and Sydenham and you can find out more at SEE3.co.uk or download the full SEE3 brochure for December.

Shutter artwork by Supermundane and Butch.  

19 November 2012

SEE3 Christmas Events – Brochure

SEE3 (the Forest Hill, Sydenham, and Kirkdale Portas Team) have put together a great booklet on the events taking place around SE23 and SE26 during December, and wow - there's a lot going on!

Many of you in the area will be receiving a copy through your mailbox soon, but if you just can’t wait, download the SEE3 Christmas Events List right now, and keep an eye out for it on your mat.

18 November 2012

Lewisham Hospital Public Consultation Meeting

The Sydenham Assembly Coordinator's Group and the Sydenham Society have arranged a Lewisham Hospital Public Consultation meeting at Sydenham School, Dartmouth Road starting at 7.30pm on Thursday 6 December. Dr Jane Fryer, Chief Medical Advisor to the Trust Special Administrator, will present the draft recommendations set out in the TSA report.

Please come along to this public consultation meeting - the TSA will be bringing along the short video and consultation packs - so please make your views known through the feedback forms as well as asking questions, giving comments and offering any alternatives.

16 November 2012

Bring some Christmas sparkle

Silver Twisted Ring, Brooch and Pendant

Rather than buying a mass produced present for your loved one, why not make a lovely piece of silver for them?

In just three hours you will make one (or maybe two) of these lovely items under the watchful eye and guidance of experienced jeweller and university lecturer Paul Ravn. Depending on your ability, you will start with the twisted rope ring before moving on to the brooch or pendant. Make sure to get the ring size for your intended recipient before you come.

There will be two sessions on Saturday, 24 November.

The morning session (from 10am to 1pm) will be for anyone 8 years of age or older. Adults supervising children do not need a ticket unless they wish to make some jewellery themselves (which we would, of course, recommend). Maximum of two children under 18 per adult.

The afternoon session (from 2pm to 5pm) is currently for adults only.

Tickets are just £10.90 each, which includes tuition and the silver, and are available online at familysilver.eventbrite.co.uk for the morning session and adultsilver.eventbrite.co.uk for the afternoon session.

Terms and Conditions

  • A minimum of 5 tickets must be sold for each session to proceed.
  • Tickets are non refundable unless the event is cancelled
  • Exact location will be disclosed once tickets are purchased.
  • If there is insufficient demand, we reserve the right to open the afternoon session to families.

15 November 2012

AGM - 22nd November

Forest Hill Society AGM
Thursday 22nd November - 7:30pm - Upstairs, The Hob (opposite Forest Hill station)

Join us to celebrate a tremendous year in the regeneration of Forest Hill and let us know what we should be doing in the next year. The Forest Hill Society has made a real difference and we would like you to consider joining our team to make stuff happen around Forest Hill. A small amount of time from more people would allow us to make even more of a difference to Forest Hill and Honor Oak.

07 November 2012

Lewisham Hospital Threatened

The Forest Hill Society asked Dr Penelope Jarrett, a local GP and Forest Hill Society member, to provide a briefing on the TSA proposals for the closure of A&E services at Lewisham Hospital.

South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) was formed in 2009 by the merger of 3 hospital trusts: Queen Mary Sidcup (QMS), Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) at Woolwich, and Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust, whose biggest hospital is the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) at Farnborough. The main reason for the merger was the year on year deficits they were accumulating, which by then had added up to a debt of £149 million. Sadly, the merger has not solved the problems, and SLHT continues to operate with a loss of over £1 million per week. It is predicted to have a further debt of £207 million by the end of this financial year. The total cumulative debt will be £356 million. This is on an annual income of about £440 million.

In July, the Secretary of State for Health appointed Matthew Kershaw as the first ever Trust Special Administrator (TSA). The SLHT Trust Board was dissolved, and the TSA is running the Trust, and developing proposals for the future. His draft proposals were published last week, and we have until midnight on 13th December (30 working days) to comment on them.

The full report is 84 pages long, and lists many failings within the SLHT including that it is the bottom 10% Trusts for A&E wait times, recent non-compliance with Care Quality Commission  standards (now improving) and high expenditure on temporary staff. The TSA says there is evidence of poor leadership, poor record keeping, and poor financial governance. The PFI contracts cost £70 million each year.

The proposals are presented under 6 headings. Unsurprisingly, the TSA suggests the hospital should be run more efficiently, outsource various services and lose many jobs, including 140 doctors. Less expected are the recommendations that the debt be written off, and some extra money be given to QEH and PRUH to cover some of the excess costs of the PFI. I think this is to be welcomed, but we do not know if the Department of Health will agree.

The TSA proposes the break-up of the SLHT, with the PRUH possibly taken over by Kings Healthcare partners, or put out to tender. The suggestions here are very vague.

The concerns for those of us in Lewisham are the detailed proposals for the Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust, which is not even part of the SLHT. It should “join with” QEH, and Lewisham A&E should be downgraded to an urgent care centre. A&E itself is not particularly expensive, but patients who are admitted to hospital need emergency surgery, ITU, X-rays and scans...

The TSA suggests developing a centre for elective surgery at Lewishan, but even if you have elective in-patients, critical care services quickly become non-viable. This raises the question of whether is is safe to deliver babies at Lewisham, and so the TSA suggests closing the delivery ward. The future of children's services, which are particularly good at Lewisham, are not clear. The TSA points out that reduced services at Lewisham would mean that some of the land there could be sold off to raise money.

Unexpected consequences would include loss of the GP training scheme, which is based at the hospital. Many graduates of the scheme, such as myself, stay on to work in the area. Typically, GPs train in medicine, surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, A&E and mental health, so need a hospital site with all these departments.

Lewisham is a very well run hospital, which had a small deficit a few years ago, but it has worked to turn this into a surplus. In the last year they have opened a brand new A&E, costing £12 million, without using PFI. It works well with local GP commissioners and the council, and new collaborative pathways have been developed (e.g. musculoskeletal, memory service). All this is threatened: Lewisham commissioners will not be able to plan services for the people of Lewisham. There is also a real risk that instead of Lewisham Hospital improving the management of QEH, the link could ruin the finances at Lewisham.

It would seem that Lewisham is being penalised for not having a ruinous PFI contract!

The report does not contain enough information to convince me that the financial modeling is correct.  Is the TSA is assuming that the 70 people admitted each day to Lewisham Hospital will instead go to QEH?  The report claims it will only take residents of Lewisham an extra 14 minutes to reach QEH A&E by public transport. I think it will take longer.  I do not think that most people would go there anyway: as a GP I have spent the last 6 years asking patients which hospital I should refer them to. Only one person chose QEH!  If Lewisham were to close, I personally would go to Kings.  There are very significant questions about the capacity of Kings or QEH to cope with extra A&E attendances, and indeed with taking on the 4,500 babies that are currently delivered at Lewisham. Obstetric services throughout London are severely stretched, partly due to a huge increase in the birth-rate in the capital (Lewisham, schools are learning about this, as they have to build more classrooms) and partly due to a chronic shortage of midwives. The report says nothing about this, but I have heard many stories about how A&E and obstetrics at both Kings and QEH  are already struggling to cope.

There are a number of other areas of discussion in the report. I will briefly consider two general areas which the TSA uses as clinical arguments to support his proposals.

The first is the idea of care in the community, or in people's homes. This is generally thought to be a good idea, and many people would wish to be so supported. However, there is no good evidence that supporting unwell people at home is much cheaper than doing so in hospital: the nurses have to spend time travelling from one place to another, and monitoring someone's condition is difficult too, especially if they live alone. Sensible interventions do not always prevent admissions: I remember seeing an elderly lady who was unwell on a Friday. She had a urine infection, I prescribed the right antibiotics, and got the pharmacy to deliver them that day. But she was still admitted to hospital the next day by SELDOC as the infection made her confused and she was not remembering to take the antibiotics. Primary care is being cut in the same way as other parts of the NHS.  There are not really enough GPs, and certainly not enough district nurses or health visitors. We have been significantly understaffed in Lewisham for some years, and services are really struggling with the existing workload. It would require very significant up front investment before community services could even hope to make any real difference to hospital admission rates.

The second clinical area he refers to concerns consultant rotas, especially cover at nights and weekends, in A&E, medicine and obstetrics. There is reasonable evidence that having more senior staff, more involved in patient care, improves outcomes and reduces death rates somewhat. However, if you make people work at weekends, you have to give them time off during the week, thereby downgrading current weekday services, which might end up with the same number of deaths but just spread evenly during the week. Merging hospitals does not necessarily solve the problem, because you are then making one consultant responsible for more patients. Of the 70 patients admitted daily at Lewisham I would estimate that about 50 of them are medical patients. The on-call consultant can only spend a short time with each one as it is. The report actually refers to recommendations that each patient is reviewed twice in the first 24 hours. Assuming the consultant did not eat or sleep, and did not spend any time walking from one bed to the next, that is 14.4 minutes per patient review. This does not seem feasible! If you then merge hospitals and expect one consultant to cover double the number of patients, it quickly becomes ludicrous. You need more consultants!

I am aware that for many people arguments about health service policy can seem abstract and remote, but if you do nothing else I would urge you to consider where you would go if your felt you were seriously ill, and there were not A&E at Lewisham, and then tell the TSA about it.

To comment on the proposals go to www.tsa.nhs.uk. There you can read a summary of the proposals, and comment on the online response form.

03 November 2012

Save Lewisham Hospital A&E

The Forest Hill Society supports the campaign to keep a fully functional A&E at Lewisham Hospital. To find out more about the campaign please visit http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/

You can support the campaign by signing the petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lewisham-hospital/

29 October 2012

Subway Closure

Next week will see the closure of the Forest Hill pedestrian Subway for major refurbishment. This is something that the Forest Hill Society has been asking for since our formation.

The aim of this work is to provide a dry, well-lit, safe, connection between the two sides of Forest Hill. The sides and ceilings will be clad and new lighting installed. Improvements to the steps will be made and handrails provided on the wall as well as centre.

During the next few months it is expected that the subway will be closed to pedestrians, with the alternative route via the South Circular. This will be inconvenient for many people, but will result in a much better subway for years to come.

Below are a few photos from the subway as it looks today.

10 October 2012

Bring and Take Day at Dacres Wood

Sunday 28th October 2012 - 1.00 pm – 4.00 pm
(access via a Honeyfield Mews between Catling Close and Homefield House, near the junction of Dacres Road and Silverdale) see http://goo.gl/maps/0hPuf

Swap unwanted items for something you need – typical items include CDs, DVDs, small electrical items, bikes, lamps, plants, kitchenware, books, clothes, toys

Items should be in good condition and easy to carry home.

There will also be a van for the collection of WEEE Waste – this is electronic waste that no longer works, eg broken kettles, hairdryers etc.


A Forest Hill Society event in conjunction with Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve

09 October 2012

Planting at Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park Stations - 20th October

Forest Hill Society are planning autumn bulb planting and general tidy-up for the areas we've planted in Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park on Saturday 20th October 2.00-4.00pm, meeting in the forecourt of Forest Hill Station and Honor Oak Park station for simultaneous planting at both stations!

Could you please let us know if you are likely to be available as it is very useful to have an idea how many people might be helping - email@foresthillsociety.com

We hope to see you on the 20th October, with gardening gloves, and if you can bring secateurs, trowel and a spare plastic bag. Many hands make light work - and it's fun!

26 September 2012

Mouth Almighty Book signing

Book signing at Sugar Mountain, 57a Dartmouth Road, SE23 3HN by Salihah Agbaje

Local author Salihah Agbaje will be signing copies of her play, Mouth Almighty, on Saturday, 29 September 2012 at Sugar Mountain on Dartmouth Road from 11:30am.

Mouth Almighty is a magical yet cautionary tale of a young boy’s curiosity. Set in an ordinary town, 11 year old Justice is a typical boy with an inquisitive mind, mischievous nature and an unusually big mouth. When boredom kicks in, an invitation from a strange, yet fascinating man, leads him to the lair of a mad scientist and a truly unforgettable experience. Mouth Almighty is a splendid mix of important lessons, humour and sparkling imagination that is certain to get young minds racing.

Salihah Agbaje is an actress, television presenter and drama tutor who has always loved writing and started off as a youngster writing poetry and performing it for private audiences. A lively and avid performer onstage and off, it was no surprise that Salihah took up Performing Arts A-Levels alongside English Literature and Language. She later went on to study at university and holds a BA in Media Performance.

Salihah’s Theatre in Education Company; Spoken World Productions was established in 2009. Salihah has been leading her team of performers and tutors around South London holding previews of the play Mouth Almighty. The drama workshops are based around important issues children may encounter including bullying, stranger danger and the values of keeping good friendships.

19 September 2012

Forest Hill goes Totally Locally

Forest Hill Traders will launch Totally Locally, the award-winning shop local campaign, in Forest Hill on Saturday 22 September with a day of "Totally Locally Fiver Fest" deals - a mini shopping festival for the town where participating shops will have a special £5 offer. This is planned to coincide with the official opening of Forest Hill pools.

Totally Locally Forest Hill aims to encourage people to spend at least five pounds every week in their local independent shops in SE23

Deals on offer will include:

  • Any Totally Awesome 12 inch pizza for a Fiver at Question Bar
  • A Totally Beautiful Bunch of Flowers for a Fiver at Laurels Florist
  • A Totally Bootylicious Fiver deal on a selection of knickers at The Fitting Studio
  • A Totally Brilliant offer of three cards for a Fiver at B cards
  • A Totally Campervantastic free camper van book with any store purchase at Campervantastic
  • A Totally Cool free pair of Children's Disney Character Sunglasses when you spend over £5 on the children's character range at Marie's Boutique
  • A Totally Crackers £5 deal on a selection of takeaway meals at Tse's Chinese
  • A Totally Dappy £5 off your purchase when you spend £15 or more at Dapper
  • A Totally Dazzling £5 Jewellery festival plus £5 off all purchase over £50 at Doopo Doopo
  • A Totally Edible 6oz Burger with Fries for a Fiver at lunch and dinner at All Inn One
  • A Totally Fabulous voucher for £5 off any hairdressing or spray tan service over £25 at Mirror Mirror. (One per customer and not to be used in conjunction with any other promotion or discount. To be used before October 31st)
  • A Totally Gobstoppering 100g bag of sweets free at Sugar Mountain when you spend a Fiver
  • A Totally Gorgeous offer of buy any 2 items and get the 3rd for £5 (*cheapest item) with a free glass of bubbly upon entry at Best of Both Boutique
  • A Totally Herbally 4 herbs for a Fiver (normally £1.69 each) at Shannon's Garden Centre
  • A Totally Hilarious 2 tickets for a fiver for the comedy on Sept. 22nd at 9pm for at The Hob. That's a saving of £8
  • A Totally Magnificant £5 off with every £20 spent, plus free Victorian themed sweets and beverages served all day at Bunka
  • A Totally Potty choice of panini from the Totally Locally Menu with any drink and a home made brownie for a Fiver at The Teapot
  • A Totally Proper pint or a Pimms with a pancake for a Fiver at Canvas and Cream
  • A Totally Radical £5 off all purchases over £50 at Finches Ski and Bike
  • A Totally Relaxing Coffee and a Sandwich for a Fiver at Aga's Little Deli
  • A Totally Satisfying Half Dipped Beef Sandwich and a drink for a Fiver at Sylvan Post. There will also be a carnival atmosphere with live bands and prizes, cocktails and capers
  • A Totally Spicy £5 off eat in meal between 5.30-7.30 pm at Thai Orchard
  • A Totally Staggering £10 worth of haberdashery for a Fiver, or a 'mind-Bowing' £5 off any workshop booked on the day at Stag and Bow
  • A Totally Tropical and Delicious selection of medium meat and vegetarian dishes for a Fiver at Black Hummingbird
  • A Totally Watchable 3 DVDs for a Fiver at For Your Eyes Only

Shoppers will be able to collect a map showing the location of the offers from the Totally Locally stall at the official opening of Forest Hill Pools.

Forest Hill is the latest of many towns across the UK to take up the Totally Locally campaign. This free initiative supports Forest Hill's traders to show the value of local shopping and its benefits for the local economy. Many of the shops, businesses and stalls will have special offers - highlighting Totally Locally's message that if everyone in Forest Hill spent just £5 a week in their local independent shops, it would bring an extra £3.5 million into the town's economy every year.

"This is a chance for locals to discover Forest Hill's great shops and businesses, and the real difference they make to our town," said Totally Locally organiser, Serge Sumerling. "Many of my customers have often told me how much of a thriving place Dartmouth Road once was, with butchers, green grocers, fishmongers, you name it along it"...."You could say there's a bit of a buzz on the street right now and local residents both old and new, are taking a real interest in what's happening and want to be a part of it. I guess we want to find a way to celebrate all the good things happening and to help put Forest Hill back on the map. There are so many people in Forest Hill who really care about their town, are proud of its heritage and want to be a part of its bright future. I'm just one of them... to me its London's Hidden Gem that just needs a little dusting off!

"The launch at the Pools opening is one of many events we have planned this year. It’s all about appreciating and celebrating what we have here on our doorstep.

"Totally Locally has had a big impact on the towns that have run the campaign. We are confident that it can do the same for Forest Hill. We have a wealth of wonderful shops here and Totally Locally will highlight the hidden gems right on our doorstep," continued Serge.

"Totally Locally celebrates all local businesses, from Forest Hill's florists to accountants, from clothes shop to gift shops", said Nigel Goddard from Totally Locally. "These small businesses support many other local businesses, which keep the local economy alive. It’s what the whole fabric of a town like this is built on. The stronger the local economy, the better it is for the whole town".

"Totally Locally isn’t anti-supermarket or anti-internet", said Totally Locally founder, Chris Sands. "There is a place for all these things in our lives. It’s just highlighting how a small change in spending habits can make a huge change to Forest Hill. We have a choice to make the place we live that little bit better by just diverting £5 of our weekly spend back into our local economy. And everyone wants their town to be great, don’t they?!".

For more information about Totally Locally visit their website at www.totally-locally.co.uk/foresthill/

18 September 2012

Parking on your street

Lewisham are consulting about the future of parking in the Borough.

The contract with NCP is up for renewal next year and so they are seeking people's views on how parking should be managed throughout the Borough. This applies to car parks, on street parking and controlled parking zones.

It is really important to feed your views in to the council as this could affect parking policy for the next 10 years or more.

One option under consideration is for the whole Borough to become a controlled parking zone. This would simplify things for Lewisham, may enable the introduction of noon - 2 pm parking restrictions as well as prevent distant commuters from parking on the road by the stations. However, it would probably not solve the parking problem near stations as many local residents drive to the station so that they can get to child care or similar commitments on their return.

The Campaign for Better Transport's (CBT) recent annual study of car dependency in British cities found that London is the least car-dependent city in the UK. Fewer and fewer people feel the need to own a car, and with most of the new homes being built next to transport hubs (another CBT recommendation) per capita car ownership is likely to experience another big drop, reinforcing the downwards long-term trend for car ownership per capita in inner London. The question is whether this trend wlll beat the predicted population growth and inevitably increase pressure on parking space on Lewisham's roads.

The parking survey can be completed online, or hard copies can be picked up at libraries, housing offices, the parking shop and access point.


12 September 2012

Planning Application: Miriam Lodge

The Forest Hill Society has written to object to the planned development of Miriam Lodge on Dartmouth Road.

The plans can be viewed on the council website and include the increase from 125 to 186 hostel places for homeless people with the addition of a six story extension to Miriam Lodge.

The Forest Hill Society have a number of concerns relating to:
  • The size of the new building in relation to neighbouring properties
  • Potential impact on crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Overlooking from rooms in the old and new buildings
  • Inappropriate density of development
  • Loss of amenity space for existing residents
A full copy of the objection can be read here.

10 September 2012

Aga's Little Deli Grand Opening

We are delighted to announce that Aga's Little Deli will be the first stall from our Food Fair to move in to permanent premises.

Aga signed the lease to 49 Dartmouth Road (next to Question Bar) on 7 July and will be throwing open the doors to her new Deli and Cafe at noon on Sunday, 16 September.

There will be many, many tasty surpises in store including an oyster bar and lovely argentinian wine, cheese, olives, bread and many more delicacies. Take your friends with you and welcome this wonderful addition to our town centre. They will be there till 9pm, but go early to make sure you are not disappointed.

Rest assured that Aga will be at our next Food Fair as well and we are working with other stall holders to find them premises. Hopefully Aga will be the first of many stallholders to fill our vacant shops.

07 September 2012

Forest Hill Pools pass final milestone

Lewisham Council have finally taken possession of the new leisure complex on Dartmouth Road and Fusion Lifestyle were given the keys on Tuesday.

We have been reluctant to post any updates recently given previous false starts, but the final fit out of the gymnasium and other areas now begins in earnest so that the pools can be opened before the official opening on Saturday 22 September.

There will be a day long feast of entertainment, activities and fun throughout the area. While Forest Hill Pools will be one of the main focus areas with taster sessions, tours of the new facility, exhibitions and more, there will be other activities going on.

Forest Hill Library will have a Victorian theme, with story telling sessions, the chance to record your memories of Forest Hill in days gone by and some creative writing opportunities. There will be entertainers throughout the day, traditional Victorian board games and free Victorian sweets.

The day will also be a chance to find out more about the Portas Pilot - an initiative to help regenerate the area and drop in on Sydenham School as they celebrate their 95th anniversary.

Forest Hill Traders will be launching their "Totally Locally" campaign (more on this later). Havelock Walk's artists will also have their amazing original art and design on display.

Truly a day with something for everyone.

06 September 2012

Lewisham Council calls for Expressions of Interest in Louise House

Lewisham council is calling for people or organisations with sustainable solutions to bring Louise House, a grade II listed building which is situated on Dartmouth Road between Forest Hill Library and the newly re-developed Forest Hill Pools, into use to step forward.

Anyone interested in putting the building to good use will need to submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) by 21 September.

The council is looking to secure a viable and sustainable long term use for this landmark building; a use which is not only financially viable but which is also compatible with the adjacent public buildings.

Louise House is owned freehold by the Council and the successful tender would need to provide a sustainable solution to bring the property into use. Lewisham are not in a position to offer financial support to a bidder either by way of capital or revenue contributions.

Full details regarding the tendering process can be found by clicking on this link

03 September 2012

30 years of conservation at Sydenham Hill Wood

Celebrate the 30th birthday of London Wildlife Trust's first nature reserve at free events starting this September. Sydenham Hill Wood, saved from a series of development threats in the 1980s, was opened as
a freely accessible nature reserve in the autumn of 1982, as one of the first steps by London Wildlife Trust to demonstrate people's desire to protect sites in the neighbourhood for wildlife.

Over the next few months London Wildlife Trust will be holding a number of public events to celebrate Sydenham Hill Wood's 30th birthday, beginning with an Open Day on Sunday 9th September. There
will be walks and talks to discover more about the Wood's wildlife and its history, as well as cake stalls and a chance to meet people who have been involved at the Wood down the years. The event will run from
12noon to 16:30 with the main congregation being situated at the top of Cox's Walk, near the footbridge.

Despite the development and upheaval since the 1850s Sydenham Hill Wood is home to a number of species of plants and animals indicative of an undisturbed, natural environment, including English bluebell,
wild garlic, wood sorrel, early dog violet, woodruff, wild strawberry and wood anemone, a member of the buttercup flower that takes a century to spread 2 metres across the ground. This diversity is all
the more impressive due to the Wood's standing within one of the world's largest cities. This underlines the importance of a long-term effort in conserving the Wood's ancient character. Surprisingly, Sydenham Hill Wood is home to a number of butterfly species, including the often unnoticed purple hairstreak, a canopy-dweller in old oak woodland.

Today the Wood is a popular place to visit, and is the focus for a devoted volunteer group that help assist the Trust in maintaining the Wood as a critically valuable nature reserve for central south London.

02 September 2012

A curious entomologist - free course

A one day introductory course offering the opportunity to learn the simple techniques of finding a wide variety of insects, collecting, examining, selecting sample specimens to be killed and preserved for future reference and identification.

You will learn the simple techniques of finding a wide variety of insects, collecting, examining, selecting sample specimens to be killed and preserved for future reference and identification. Led by Richard Jones who is a nationally acclaimed entomologist, a former president of the British Entomological and Natural History Society, This course is aimed at anyone with an interest who wants to expand their knowledge base. It offers hands-on experience of the best ways to find and capture insects, how (and why) to start a collection and how to go about researching and identifying finds.

Places are filling up fast, but we still have some spaces on 13th October 9.30-4pm.  If you are interested please email Nick Pond or call him on 020 8314 2007.

29 August 2012

Forest Hill Food Fair - 2nd September

Report on Portas Launch

With standing room only, a capacity crowd listened eagerly as members of the Core Team told them about the Portas Pilot and what it meant for Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham.

Liz Dart, Head of Community & Neighbourhood Development at Lewisham Council, started the evening off by explaining how the bid process had worked and what not to expect from a Portas Pilot; it was not about investing in infrastructure or the environment, it was about making our high streets lively, dynamic, exciting and social places that give a sense of belonging and trust to the community. One of the fundamental requirements for a Portas Pilot is a “Town Team”: a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for the high streets. This is one way you can be involved.

£80,000 had been awarded for the pilot and this was backed by matched funding from Phase Two works at Bell Green (£100,000) and the High Street Innovation Fund (£15,000). The money will be used to back three projects which aim to re-instill a sense of place and vitality in our high streets.

Ed Holloway, a local architect, then explained the first of the three principle projects outlined in the bid. Jack & Jill are to be two community hubs in Forest Hill and Sydenham. These will be located in currently empty units and renovated by local tradesmen while training some young people (NEETs) to learn a skill. The hubs will be used as a base for the Town Team to interact with the community, showcase local businesses and run business workshops among other uses.

Due to a technical hitch (we had an old presentation up), Louise Brooks, a marketing professional then introduced The Shop Revolution. This project will refurbish up to 12 units for a series of PopUp events with the aim of stimulating demand for empty units. The Shop Revolution will work with Landlords and potential businesses to ensure that we get the right mix of businesses. The Shop Revolution will also work with landlords to find meanwhile uses for premises while looking for long-lasting tenants, maybe under the terms of a meanwhile lease. The ultimate aim is to designate our high streets as a destination – somewhere worth visiting – to bring in visitors from outside the local community.

Richard Hibbert, Chair of the Forest Hill Society, then presented Market Makers. This project will enable the running of a market in each centre. There are already two fledgling markets – the Forest Hill Food Fair on the first Sunday of the month and the Girton Road Car Boot sale on the second Sunday – but it was upto the communities to say what sort of market they wanted. This would be determined by people coming forwards with ideas for stalls and markets and through engagement via the Jack and Jill community hubs.

Councillor Chris Best then summarised the evening, encouraging people to get involved. It was only through community involvement that the pilot would be a success. It was up to you to be involved in the Town Team and shape the future of your high street.

Thank you to everyone who showed up at the Launch Event last night. It was great to see such enthusiasm and so many new faces. We look forwards to seeing you again in the near future. If you filled in a questionnaire, then we will be in touch once we have processed them. If you haven’t filled one in yet, then sign up for our newsletter and we will be in touch shortly.

As promised, a copy of the presentation can be downloaded here. Apologies to those at the back of the Pavilion who could not see the slides.

Reproduced from SEE3.co.uk

24 August 2012

Anyone for Table Tennis?

A table tennis table has now been installed in the Horniman Triangle between the cafe and the sandpit. This was funded by the Forest Hill Ward assembly following a bid from the Forest Hill Society.

Please come along and give it a try!

23 August 2012

Thameslink Franchise

The Forest Hill Society has submitted a response to the combined Thameslink and Southern Franchise document provided by the Department for Transport.

Summary of Our Recommendations

1.                 Thameslink stopping service on the Sydenham corridor as outlined in the 2007 Route Utilisation Strategy.
2.                 Continued connections from Forest Hill to East Croydon.
3.                 Plans for the introduction of 12 carriage trains on the Sydenham corridor.
4.                 Minimum services frequencies of 4 trains per hour at Crofton Park.
5.                 Inclusion of minimum specification for off-peak services, including maximising the central Thameslink corridor beyond the primary Thameslink routes.

Full submission can be read at http://www.freewebs.com/foresthill/Thameslink%20Franchise.pdf

Mayow Park Beach - Wednesday 29th August

Greenwich and Lewisham Young People's Theatre present: 'Coming to a beach near you'
Mayow Park, Wednesday 29th August, 1pm-4pm

20 August 2012

Forthcoming Events - August 2012

On Thursday 23 August, you will get your first chance to find out more about the Portas Pilot.  As you may have heard, Sydenham, Kirkdale and Forest Hill were successful in the second round of bidding.  The Town Team (called SEE3) will outline the three projects which have received funding and explain how you can get involved.  Come along to the Horniman Pavilion at 7:30pm to find out more.

Our next Food Fair will be on Sunday 2 September at Forest Hill Station, with its blend of fresh and hot foods.  Come along  between 10am and 2pm to give the new vendors a try as well as supoprting the regular stall holders.  We are delighted to say that the first of our stall holders will be opening a shop on Dartmouth Road in September and another couple are looking for premises.
On Saturday, 8 September, we will be holding a public meetng at 2pm to establish a Friends of Dacres Wood group.  This will be held at the nature reserve in the Field Centre which is accessed down the driveway next to Homefield House.
Sunday 9 September will see TheLittleGreenSccreen screening the second of their open air cinemas as part of Showtime at Grow Mayow. 'Garbage Warrior' will screen at 7:30pm, with upcycling art sessons with the Skip Sisters atrting at 3pm.
Saturday, 22 September should see the official opening of the pools.  It is frustrating that the pools are not yet open, especially given the false starts and media coverage, but we are assured that progress is being made and Willomtt Dixon should hand the building over to Lewisham and Fusion Lifestyle soon. They are still running ahead of schedule, albeit slightly later than had been hoped.
The Executive Commitee has been working flat out for the last two years on various projects.  Our AGM will be in October and we need fresh blood to reinvigorate us with their ideas and enthusiasm.  If you are frustrated about transport, planning or environmental issues or can simply offer your support to help, then please contact me via email@foresthillsociety.com.  We would also benefit hugely from having someone with PR, publishing or legal expertise on the committee as well.  The Olympics ambassadors demonstrated the depth of community support in the UK; lets make the Olympic legacy a community one a well as a sporting legacy.
If you have any ideas for how the Assembly Funds should be spent this year, bids must be in by 31 August for Forest Hill (up to £2000), 14 September for Perry Vale (up to £2000) and 12 October for Crofton Park (up to £500). Contact email@foresthilsociety.com for an application form and further details.
The nice folk over in Sydenham are looking for images to do with Sydenham for their Greyhound Wall Competition.  If you would like to have your photo preserved for posterity, then head over to whatifsydenham at whatifsydenham.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/be-part-of-the-greyhound-wall-artwork/ for further deails. You can submit an entry providing you or the subject matter have a connection to Sydenham.

27 July 2012

Portas Pilot First Steps

Yesterday saw the first meeting of the Town Team (or more correctly, the bid team) since we heard news of our success.

The main item discussed was how to officially constitute the Town Team so that it can take over from Lewisham as the responsible body in the longer term.

We also discussed at length the importance of being transparent and spreading the news about what the Portas Pilot is intended to achieve and what it is not. We want as many people as possible to be involved, but we also have to manage expectations, so please be patient while the nitty gritty of name, website and communications is sorted out. We hope to get this sorted out in the next week or so.

In the meantime, please contact one of the following with any queries you may have:

Richard Hibbertemail@foresthillsociety.com@FHSoc/foresthillsociety
Louise Brookslouise@bakelondon.co.uk@bakelondon/bakelondon
Ed Hollowayed@beepstudio.co.uk
Rebecca Leathleanrebecca@alhambrahome.co.uk@AlhambraRebeccaFacebook page
Chris Bestcllr_chris.best@lewisham.gov.uk@ChrisBestUKFacebook page
Paul Galepaul.gale@lewisham.gov.uk

26 July 2012

Planning Application: 139 Sunderland Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to the latest planning application at 139 Sunderland Road following the refusal of the 2009 application which was rejected by both Lewisham Council and the Planning Inspector.

The key points are that a number of the units have poor quality living space as a result of over-development of the site. However, we have welcomed the retention of the frontage of this house which was not included in the previous application. Full details of the Forest Hill Society objection can be read here.

25 July 2012

Forest Hill wins Portas Funding

Thanks to the determined efforts of a dedicated band of volunteers, Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham's joint bid for upto £100,000 of government funding to revitalise the High Street has won one of 13 Portas Pilot grants in the second round of bidding.

With £100,000 of matched funding towards town centre improvements for Forest Hill and Sydenham from the Phase Two development of Bell Green and a further £15,000 from Lewisham, the pilot will concentrate on three projects.

Jack & Jill

Two high street shops will be renovated for creative community engagement, exhibitions, showcasing local products, business workshops, ‘pop-up’ events and as a Town Team base

Shop Revolution

A high impact project with lasting sustainable benefits will renovate upto 12 vacant units, letting them to an eclectic mix of businesses and organisations, including successful Market Makers traders on a Pop Up or trial basis.

Market Makers

More than a market, this will build on the success of the Forest Hill Food Fair, to pilot markets on a rotational basis across the area, with the aim of finding long term tenants for our vacant units.

Richard Hibbert, Chairman of the Forest Hill Society said "These are exciting times for Forest Hill. The Town Centre has been the top priority of the Society and the Forest Hill local assembly for the past two years and we are beginning to see the results of our efforts. We are already seeing signs of revitalisation in Dartmouth Road ahead of the pools opening in the next couple of weeks.

"We have managed to get graffiti removed from various shops and buildings in the town centre, won an Outstanding award from the Royal Horticultural Society for the planting outside the station, revitalised the Trader's Association and hosted three successful Food Fairs. The Portas funding will focus our efforts for the next stage and enable us to deliver the town centre that local residents want.

"We firmly believe that this investment in our high streets is another important step in our founding aim of making Forest Hill an even better place to live and look forwards to working with the other members of the Town Team.

"Particular thanks are due to Ed Holloway, a Forest Hill Society member, who put a lot of time and effort into enhancing the first bid and turning it into a winning bid in the second round."

24 July 2012

Pools to open imminently

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock has just posted the following on his Facebook page
Just had a swim in the new pool in Forest Hill!!!! Its been a long struggle but worth it - the new building looks great and so does the old frontage - everyone involved is working their socks off to get it ready to open to the public in a few days time - I was there with some local school students to make sure the pool really is as good as it looks. it is!
This is great news and will be a great addition to Forest Hill.

15 July 2012

July's Social event

Come along to a wine tasting and Tapas evening at Alhambra Home and Garden, 148 Kirkdale, SE26 4BB from 6pm-9pm on Sunday, 22 July.

Costing just £19.95, the evening will include tasting three red Rioja wines and a white Rioja under the guidance of Master of Wine and Society member Rob McIntosh, as well as plenty of delicious tapas.

Please book in advance on 020 3417 6385 or by emailing mail@alhambrahome.co.uk. This should be a great evening.

14 July 2012

Devonshire Road Open Day

The Friends of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve will be having an Open Day from 11AM - 6PM tomorrow, Sunday 15 July.

There will be a chance to meet the bees (which are now safely in their new home), go for nature walks and listen to live music from Shadrack Tye, Flaky Jake, Matt Allin, Fox and the Feather, Felix Glenn and the Forest Hillbillies while enjoying plenty of Food and drnk.

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.