30 November 2014

Final Report from Planning Workshop

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

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

Full details of the report are included here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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