28 November 2016

Christmas Tree Lighting and Carols

Join the Forest Hill Society and Churches Together in Sydenham and Forest Hill, for tree lighting and carols on Saturday 3rd December 2016 at 3:30pm

We will be officially switching on the tree lights outside Forest Hill station.

Followed by the official switching on of the tree lights in Kirkdale at 4:45pm.

23 November 2016

Christmas 2016 in Forest Hill, Sydenham, and Kirkdale

Your guide to all the events this December across SE23 and SE26.

Highlights in Forest Hill include:
  • Havelock Walk Winter Weekend - Sat 26th & Sun 27th Nov, 12-6pm 
  • Horniman Christmas Fair - Sat 3rd & Sun 4th, 10.30am-5pm 
  • Forest Hill Christmas Tree switch on and carol singing - Sat 3rd December, 3.30-5pm 
  • Kirkdale Christmas Tree Lights switch on - Sat 3rd December, 5pm 
With lots of other events throughout December.

18 November 2016

Havelock Walk Open Studios

Open Studios - 26th-27th November 2016 at Havelock Walk, off London Road SE23
More details at www.havelockwalk.com

10 November 2016

Proposal for a One-Way Scheme on Perry Vale

The Forest Hill Society has drafted a proposal for a one-way scheme for a small section of the Perry Vale road.

The premise of this proposal is that with some limited changes to the road/walkway layout, this area could set the basis for a more attractive location: for commuters, residents and businesses. While an outline scheme has been proposed, we would expect that a more detailed review (including a possible temporary trial) would be carried out by the appropriate planning and transport authorities prior to full implementation.

We invite you to consider the proposal (shared below), and to let us know your thoughts via the survey link.

We plan to then include all responses in a report, and possible Petition, to Lewisham council, as your views will bring some local context to the proposal in terms of local support, perceived benefits of the scheme and any potential issues.

Opportunity Statement
Perry Vale is the road adjacent to Forest Hill Station.
While in recent years the suburb of Forest Hill has undergone healthy regeneration (in part due to the improved connectivity of its rail station), it cannot be said that both entry points to local infrastructure hub have thrived to the same extent.

Perry Vale businesses naturally report high passing footfall, but note that the area does not yet represent a destination for retail or leisure.

We propose that there exists an opportunity to foster the kind of organic improvements in area that have so far eluded it: principally through reconfiguration of road usage.

There are already commercial developments underway which can contribute to the regeneration of this de-facto hub entry point, and we feel that the proposed changes presented here would impact positively on the character and utility of the area concerned, and reflect many principles of key London and Lewisham policies.

After much consideration, and discussions with businesses and residents, we invite Lewisham council to consider this proposal in its planning cycle.

Add caption


Please complete our survey to let us know your views.

Horniman Butterfly House

Horniman Museum and Gardens have submitted an exciting planning application to build a Butterfly House in the gardens, replacing the park keeper's house at the top of the animal enclosure.

You can view the planning application on Lewisham's website and comment on the application.

We hope to bring you more information on this great new attraction in the new year.

08 November 2016

Southern Rail - Consultation on Cuts to Services

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has launched an extensive consultation which sets out proposed changes to the timetable which will be operated by GTR in 2018 following completion of the Thameslink Programme.

These proposals include:
a) Diverting all our East Croydon services to West Croydon - making it take longer to get to Gatwick and other destinations in Sussex.
b) Reducing our peak services to London Bridge to four trains an hour (the same capacity as the rest of the day). These services would be replaced by five carriage Overground trains to Dalston Junction.
c) Increasing services via Crofton Park to four trains per hour

The Forest Hill Society opposes the first two of these changes and supports the third. But it is important that local residents respond to this survey to show the strength of feeling.

Survey responses should be completed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2018timetableconsultation
To help you respond to the large number of questions across all the Southern, Thameslink, and Great Northern Services, we have compiled a list of the nine questions we believe you should answer, with some explanation of each.

Q No.
Our View
We recommend you respond to this based on your circumstances, but in favour of later running services on Friday and Saturday
We support the introduction of late night services from London Bridge or Canada Water. However, early morning services may be important to you.
Please mention late night services on Friday and Saturday in the comments section of this question.
We recommend you select Yes
This supports services through Crofton Park
We recommend you support this
This supports services through Crofton Park
We recommend you support this
This supports services through Crofton Park
We recommend you select No
These services would replace Forest Hill services to East Croydon
We recommend you select No
This makes more services fast on our line rather than stopping at Forest Hill
We recommend you select No
Unnecessary duplication of London Overground services to West Croydon.
Enforced interchange at Norwood Junction, a station that has no step free access for interchange (on the way to Gatwick Airport).
We recommend you select No
These services world replaces Forest Hill services to East Croydon
We recommend you support SN3.1 and reject SN3.8. We also recommend you reject the reduction in peak hour services to London Bridge

05 November 2016

Forest Hill Society AGM Minutes

Held in Louise House on 20 October 2016

The Chairman, Michael Abrahams, welcomed everyone to the Society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).  Michael began by inviting Tara Cranswick, CEO of V22 to brief the meeting on Louise House developments.

Louise House
Tara described the many improvements during the past year including the new landscape at the front connecting Louise House to the library, and planting in the garden to the rear.  Feedback from the public was important in guiding this work e.g. the need for wider pavements.  A grant had been obtained for the next big project, which is renovating the basement, and the improvements to Dartmouth Road scheduled to commence in 2017 would link Louise House, the library and Forest Hill Pools.  A highlight had been the Holiday Summer Club and this would continue next year.  The Society newsletter will keep everyone up to date on what’s happening in Louise House.

Forest Hill Library
The new Library Manager, Simon Higgs briefed the AGM on our community library which re-opens on 24 October run by a consortium comprising V22, the Forest Hill Society and the Trader’s Association.  The consortium really cares about the future of the library and literacy in Forest Hill.  There had been a fantastic response from the community.  A crowd funder target of £6000 had been reached in just two weeks.  Already 110 volunteers had signed up.  100% of the studios for rent had been let on day one.  A Friends Membership scheme was up and running and a web site, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  But more volunteers are needed. 

A Management Board is in place and Advisory Boards will be formed including one for young people.  Feedback from the public is critical if the community library is to be success.  Donations of books are welcome.  If they are not quite right for the library, books can be sold to raise funds. 

Forest Hill Society DevelopmentsMichael Abrahams summed up the year (a copy of his report was shared at the meeting). The library had been the focus – first the fight to keep it under council control and then working to make sure the library had the best possible future. 

The two big events had been a great success – the Burn’s Night supper, which would be repeated and the Society’s 10th anniversary celebration when Shakespeare “visited” Forest Hill in the shape of Teatro Vivo theatre group. 

Work on Dartmouth Road was set to begin in 2017 and now the Society had plans to improve Perry Vale for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The improvements at London Bridge station were now having a positive effect on train services but the latest consultation with Southern Rail indicated a reduction in peak hour services and no trains to East Croydon in 2018.  While Overground plan to run extra services these should not be seen as an offset for reduced Southern services, which have longer trains. The Society will submit a response to the consultation and individuals are encouraged to do so too.

The most visible part of the Forest Hill Society’s work in 2015-16 was its planting at the station and in the town centre; for the fourth year running Forest Hill was judged to be “outstanding” in the RHS awards. The new ‘Tyre Towers’ in Perry Vale were innovative and the Edible High Road tubs had been revived.  More volunteers are needed to help with planting.  Another session is planned for 29 October and there is a litter pick up on 12 November.  A workshop supported by local architects and planners had produced a design for a new building for the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Quetta Kaye’s Environment Committee Report was shared at the meeting.

In discussion, the following main points were made:
•    Trains – would direct services run again to Charing Cross?  Probably not, though the Society is keen to see late running services; a 24 hour Thameslink Service was relevant in this respect. 
•    The Tewkesbury Lodge Resident’s Association is concerned that tarmac laid up to trees leads to roots breaking up pavements.  This is unnecessary.  There are good examples elsewhere e.g. Court Lane where drainage is better and this should be the approach adopted elsewhere.
•    Cycling – a strategy being developed with the Sydenham Society will describe improvements for cyclists and pedestrians in the Forest Hill – Sydenham – Perry Vale area.  The strategy is to be discussed with local councillors. 

Perry Vale Proposed Improvements
Rob Owen described a proposal to make the north end of Perry Vale one way as a means to re-generate the area to the east of the station (a draft opportunity statement was shared at the meeting showing the proposed new configuration).
There was lots of support for the proposals at the meeting.  The area for development could be extended to the car park.  One way north was probably the best direction of travel.  The proposals might include improvements to shop fronts too.  Could the bus stop be nearer the station?
Councillor John Paschoud supported the proposals.  He was happy to discuss them with fellow ward councillors and with the Lewisham Highways Department.  This work was probably suitable for the “Minor Works” Programme, which made it a realistic proposition. 

Treasurer’s ReportMichael Abrahams presented the report.  Accounts were shared at the meeting.  While spending had exceeded income during the past year the Society had a healthy bank balance.  Income from membership fees was constant.  Significant items of expenditure were on the Shakespeare on the High Street (also supported by a Ward Assembly grant) and a financial contribution to Forest Hill Fashion Week.

ElectionsThe following were re-elected:
•    Michael Abrahams as Chair
•    Alisa Owens as Treasurer
•    John Firmin as Secretary
•    Belinda Evans as Membership Officer

An additional 14 members were elected as ordinary members of the executive committee.

Other Business
Street Lighting – To save £165,000 Lewisham is to reduce street lighting in residential areas it seems without consultation (councillors have not been consulted either).  Apparently, there was a pilot in 2015 when three streets in each ward were chosen.  The lack of consultation is regrettable given the concern about the risk of rising crime and road accidents resulting from less street lighting overnight.  Will this be extended to walkways like the one beside the railway?  Might businesses be persuaded to sponsor lighting in certain roads?  Maybe they would consider reducing the lighting for fewer hours?  If the system is such that individual lights can be controlled this may provide scope for a compromise.

Do we have an update on the plans for the old police station?  An application to convert the site into housing including social housing has been accepted.

24 October 2016

Press Release: Forest Hill Library Reopens Today

Forest Hill Library reopened by a sweet-shop owner, a fishing-tackle entrepreneur, and Bertrand Russell’s grandson

Forest Hill Library in South London re-opened today, 24 October 2016, as a community library with specialisms in philosophy and the visual arts. A counterpoint to the fate of so many similar libraries across the country, the building will continue to act as a community hub and library, with events for children, facilities for jobseekers and activities for pensioners, but will have some unique features which will make it a destination for people from across the capital.

The Grade II listed Forest Hill Library originally opened in 1901, and has been under the management of the London Borough of Lewisham for many decades. The successful community bid to run the library was put together by V22 – the art organisation based in neighbouring Louise House; the Forest Hill Society – the main residents’ association in SE23; the Forest Hill Traders’ Association – a local business forum; along with several concerned individuals.

Plans for the building include:
•    a specialist art library
•    a philosophy collection put together by the Philosophy Foundation, along with a range of philosophy events for schools, young people and adults
•    new second language sections in the children’s library
•    a collections curator who will take advantage of the 5 million-plus books available through the Lewisham Library and Information Service and the London Libraries Consortium to create browseable displays, including a monthly crowd-sourced theme
•    a dedicated schools’ co-ordinator
•    a continuation of existing events such as the origami club and under 5s stories and songs, as well as new events inspired by the partners, the community and tenants

The Forest Hill Library building will be staffed by volunteers, 110 of whom have already signed up. The initiative is being kick-started by a Crowdfunder campaign and Friends of Forest Hill Library scheme which has already raised several thousand pounds in a few weeks with enormous community support.

The London Borough of Lewisham’s library service will continue to provide advice, training and access to books from its own collections and the London Libraries Consortium. Under-utilised space upstairs will be let as offices and deskspace to generate income for the building. Anchor tenants the Philosophy Foundation will be based there, alongside local creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Tara Cranswick, CEO of V22 said,
“In a city as glorious as London, and a community as active as Forest Hill, it makes perfect sense for neighbours to come together to save this vital piece of community infrastructure and to transform it into a unique resource. Although Lewisham has had to make difficult decisions due to funding constraints, the approach it is taking does seem to be positive and proactive.”
Head of Library Services for the London Borough of Lewisham, Antonio Rizzo, commented,
“What the Forest Hill community has achieved through the library building is remarkable for two reasons. It reaffirms the stake they have in this valued and much loved building and pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved when people come together. The Library Service is excited about the opportunities that this collaboration brings”.
Michael Abrahams is the chair of the Forest Hill Society and has lived in Forest Hill since 1979. Michael was the initial Chair of the Forest Hill Society and has chaired the group between 2006‐2008 and again since 2013, he is also a member of the Forest Hill Assembly Coordinating Group. Michael is a professional online Product Manager with 15 years’ experience in on‐line information systems.
"We have been delighted by the response from the community to this initiative, with lots of people volunteering to help make this a great community library. We are proud to be working with V22, with their experience of managing studios and listing buildings". - Michael Abrahams

Simon Higgs is co‐owner of The Archie Parker coffee shop on Dartmouth Road among other business ventures.  Simon is on the executive board of Forest Hill Traders’ Association and will be integral to setting up the day to day running of the new Forest Hill Community Library. We are delighted that an eminent local entrepreneur and businessman is willing to devote his time to making the community bid a success.

"You say the word 'library' to people and they understand, they know about closures and under-funding, of libraries being turned into glorified cafes and gyms. However, the people and businesses of Forest Hill have gone a step further than just knowing about the threat to our library, they have really rallied behind us and wanted to help, be it by volunteering or donating, everyone wishing they could do more; it is a contagious momentum, heart-warming and inspiring." - Simon Higgs

Pauline Wright is the owner of Sugar Mountain on Dartmouth Road, an executive member of Forest Hill Traders’ - "I am absolutely thrilled that our community partnership bid was the winning bid for our library.  All of us bring something different to our group and together I feel we make the perfect team to create something special for Forest Hill library. I am extremely excited about giving the local kids a voice in how we run the kids library and the input from them has been phenomenal. We are all very aware this is a tough task to take on but we are all very passionate and committed to this and are not taking it lightly!" - Pauline Wright

John Russell (7th Earl Russell) is a Liberal Democrat politician. He is the son of Conrad Russell, 5th Earl Russell, grandson of Bertrand Russell and great-great-grandson of John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1864 to 1865. John has been a Forest Hill resident for over 16 years. He served as a Liberal Democrat councillor on Lewisham Borough Council 2006-10 and was the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Greenwich and Lewisham Greater London Assembly seat in 2012.

"I am delighted to be involved with this innovative community project. Libraries are gateways to learning and personal development. I am thrilled that the whole Forest Hill Community has come together to support the community library. The closure of our library would have left a gaping hole in our community. We plan to make this the best possible community library that we can; working directly with local residents we will plan services to strengthen and enhance our community. We passionately believe that a well-run and responsive community library is a powerful tool to help empower individuals and to raise the educational attainment and emotional wellbeing of our residents" - John Russell

The Philosophy Foundation 

The Philosophy Foundation is an award-winning educational charity based in Forest Hill, raising aspirations and attainment through doing philosophy in schools, communities and the workplace. The Philosophy Foundation trains and accredits philosophy graduates to facilitate philosophical conversations in a variety of community settings, but with a focus on primary schools.

Founded in 2007, The Foundation began working with 5 schools in Lewisham, but now conducts philosophical enquiries in over 40 schools around London on a weekly basis, reaching over 7,300 children every year, and working in a variety of settings including high-security prisons, hospitals and special educational needs schools.

In their capacity as the Library’s anchor tenant, The Philosophy Foundation will be ‘philosophers-in-residence’, renting office space on the premises, as well as running workshops and philosophy sessions for children and adults, and helping to create and look after the philosophy section of the library. This new specialist section will not only comprise academic philosophy books, but also popular philosophy books, and picture books for doing philosophy with children.

"Having worked in schools across Forest Hill for the past 13 years, we are really pleased to finally have a base in the community and are excited about the opportunities this will bring for introducing philosophy – and its benefits – to a wider audience." - Emma Worley, COO

16 October 2016

Halloween in Forest Hill

Kids Lantern Making Workshops
Tuesday 25th Oct - 2-3pm - The Archie Parker
Wed 26th Oct - 2-3pm - Sugar Mountain
Thurs 27th Oct - 2-3pm - The Archie Parker
Fri 28th Oct - 2-3pm - Sugar Mountain

Fearsome Philosophy Tales
29th October, 5pm-6pm: the Philosophy Foundation will be running Fearsome Philosophy Tales for young people (7-12) at the Library.

Come and see some scary stories at Forest Hill Library, run by The Philosophy Foundation team.
They will tell some ghoulish tales and frightening fables, teasing out some thoughts from the children’s brains around questions like: what is courage? what is fear? how do we know things … and what is that knocking under the floorboards?
(Parents welcome, but must stay as silent as the grave)

Pumpkin Carving
 at All Inn One - Saturday 29th - 12pm-2.30pm
Ideal for entry in the Sylvan Post Pumpkin Competition at 3:30pm (see below)

Halloween at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve31st October, 5pm-9pm
A mix of activities for families

Horniman Halloween Fair
Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 October

    'Curse of the Mummy’ performances by Tea Dance for Little People
    Wild Fangs Creepy Creatures Cave
    Spooky Halloween Trail
    Halloween Face Painting
    Family Art Fun: Halloween Pumpkin Masks
    Arts and Crafts Market
    Farmers Market (Saturday only)

More details on the Horniman web site.

Sylvan Post

06 October 2016

New Shops in Forest Hill and Honor Oak

Chandos Pub in Honor Oak has undergone a transformation to focus on pizzas and craft beers

Farr and Wyde has opened in Dartmouth Road in the old B-Cards shop.  They promise an eclectic mix of old and new, vintage furniture and homewares sit alongside succulents, gifts and cards.

Waters Fishmonger and Greengrocer hasn't opened yet. But we couldn't wait to tell you that there will be a FISHMONGER and GREENGROCER set up in Perry Vale, just behind the station.

We wish all of these businesses well in their new ventures.

Ward Assemblies

This month ward assemblies will be voting on how to spend money in the local community. Competition this year has been greater than normal, so your vote counts for the projects that you would like to see in the local area.

Forest Hill Ward AssemblySaturday, 15th October, 2pm
Venue: Forest Hill Pools

Crofton Park Ward AssemblyTuesday, 18th October, 7pm
Beecroft Garden School, Beecroft Road, SE4 2BS

Perry Vale Ward AssemblyWednesday, 19th October, 7pm
Venue: TBC

Library Crowd Funding

Forest Hill Library will be closing for two weeks, from 10th - 24th October for the transition to a Community Library. We already have over 100 volunteers interested in helping to keep the library open and thriving, but as we get closer to the opening we need something else - CASH!

As we transfer to community management we will need money for a range of expenses to ensure the library runs smoothly and can face the challenges ahead. So at this time we are asking for the community to help us raise money for the library with this crowd funding appeal. Please take a look at some of the great rewards available for pledging money, and helping to ensure the success of this community library.

The crowd funding site can be found at:

Janusz Korczak Talk and Walk

The Forest Hill Society is delighted to welcome Wojciech Lasota, Bartosz Pieliński and Julia Dmeńska from the Polish Korczak Foundation to talk to us about Janusz Korczak and his connection to Forest Hill. The event will take place at 5pm-7:30pm on Friday 21st October at Louise House (which Korczak visited 105 years ago).

Prior to this we will have a guided walk by Steve Grindlay from Horniman Museum, starting at 4:30pm and walking from the Horniman to Louise House, tracing the path of Korczak, and arriving in time for the formal talk.

We realise this is a slightly odd time for an event, this is due to the availability of the speaker. But we couldn't pass up this great opportunity to hear more about this amazing man, and his links to Forest Hill.
To find out more about Janusz Korczak see our previous article.

Autumn Walk in the Woods

Forest Hill Society Summer Walk in the Woods: Saturday 22nd October, 2:30pm from The Woodhouse on Sydenham Hill / Crescent Wood Road.

Possibly have a nice lunch at the Woodhouse, before a walk in the woods starting at 2:30pm

Planting at the Station - 15th October

We are delighted that for the fourth year, the Forest Hill Society have been judged 'Outstanding' by Royal Horticultural Society 'London In Bloom' competition.

But we really need some additional volunteers to help keep up the good work and make Forest Hill look lovely. So PLEASE put in your diary Saturday October 15th at 2.30pm to join us at Forest Hill Station to cut back, chop down, turn over and replant so that we are establishing a good base for next year.  Even if you can only spare half an hour it would make all the difference when combined with everyone else's half hour.

26 September 2016

Forest Hill Society AGM

The Forest Hill Society’s Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday 20th October, 7:30pm at Louise House (Dartmouth Road, beside the Library) in the rear building.

This meeting will provide further information about the plans for the Library, Louise House and hopefully news of some progress on Dartmouth Road Improvement Works.

It is also your opportunity to stand for the Executive Committee or get more involved in the activities of the Forest Hill Society. We look forward to seeing you there!

Outstanding Again!

The RHS In Bloom It's Your Neighbourhood award for 2016 to The Forest Hill Society is.... "Outstanding".

Well done all those who have put in the hours and done the hard work (planting, pruning, building flower towers, etc) to make this award possible.

But we really need some additional volunteers to help keep up the good work and make Forest Hill look lovely. So PLEASE put in your diary Saturday October 15th at 2.30pm to join us at Forest Hill Station to cut back, chop down, turn over and replant so that we are establishing a good base for next year.  Even if you can only spare half an hour it would make all the difference when combined with everyone else's half hour.

Many thanks again to all the hard grafters.

25 September 2016

An Oral History of Forest Hill

Article and photos of paintings, by John Wysocki

As part of their celebrations to mark 30 years of treating NHS patients, ‘Dentistry for You’, 3 Dartmouth Road, have recently installed a couple of paintings of very familiar-looking scenes in their waiting room.

Entitled 'Station and Crossroads, Forest Hill, 1955' and 'Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, 1955', the scenes (see right) were painted by Kenyan artist Zuber Bakrani, cousin of the practice's owner Esmail Harunani, and based on historical photos.

Readers of this newsletter may be familiar with the Station and Crossroads view since it is somewhat similar to an iconic photograph that was featured in our Spring 2015 newsletter — and that is also featured in local historian Steve Grindlay's book ‘Sydenham & Forest Hill Through Time’ — albeit with the roof missing from the station's clock tower.

24 September 2016

Albion Millennium Green: An Ambitious Programme

By Ann Field, Friends of Albion Millennium Green
We started the year with an ambitious programme and already we have increased the number of volunteers coming forward for our regular, second-Saturday-in-the-month workdays. Our “Shared Vision” programme involves enriching nature and people’s experience and use of the Green, cultivating and nurturing the orchard, keeping the Green tidy, providing signage and better information about the Green and raising funds.

One of the key elements of the programme was the construction of a new pond, to replace the previous, smaller pond damaged by large dogs and foxes. The pond was dug in August and a frog has already taken up residence. There will be an official opening event on 1st and 2nd October. Look out for details on our website.

Forest Hill School Geography Ambassadors’ Group

This group conducted a survey among 120 KS3 students earlier this year. They discovered that most of the students had not heard of the Green; and then they asked for the views of those who had and how the space could be used more effectively. The second stage of the school’s research involved a survey of the parents of all students living in the area, and included questions about publicity, better use of the space and how to attract more volunteer support. In addition, a focus group of students was asked to come up with a more detailed list of activities and publicity methods that the Green’s organizers could use. Among the conclusions was the comment that “more needs to be done to publicise the existence of the Green and promote the work that the many volunteers do by means of social media and general publicity”. The Friends group will be seeking to work with the school and other local partners to organize events and to promote the Green.

We have had some bad luck with our existing notice boards so we are looking at replacing them with weather-proof notice boards which are also less vulnerable to vandalism.

Our efforts have been unsuccessful so far to raise sufficient funds and obtain permission to erect good quality signage for the Green on lamp posts in the area, but we will be having another go. If you would like to help us with these two initiatives or with any other aspect of our efforts for the Green, just get in touch. There is a special appeal for funds to enable us to buy the equipment and materials needed to carry out this programme of work.

Full details of our “Shared Vision”, the calendar of events for the year, how to join the Friends or make a donation can be found on our website www.amgfriends.org.uk or Twitter: @albionmilgreen.

23 September 2016

A Little Bit About Litter

By Belinda Evans
Have you ever thought about how clean the streets of Perry Rise are? Did you know we have our own ‘litter warrior’? I have noticed this lovely person diligently picking up waste and litter, and was intrigued. So here the mystery is solved — in local resident Neville Bailey’s own words:

“Having lived in Perry Rise, Forest Hill, for 16 years I have walked to collect my newspaper each and every morning, along one side of Perry Rise to the paper shop in Perry Vale and back along the other side, collecting the litter dropped or blown into the street. I pick up cans, bottles (often including broken glass) cigarette packets plus various packages and dispose this refuse in the council bins.

The amount of discarded rubbish has increased so much that I now use a carrier bag to collect it all up, when once I only had to use one hand! It seems that the recent opening of the fast food take away at Bell Green has resulted in cars parking along the side roads and throwing out the left over waste packages, bottles and cans onto the kerbs and pavements.

I love Britain and where I live. Can’t more be done to ask parents, schools, neighbours and others to instil a bit of pride into where they live? Perhaps you, the readers, have ideas to help cure ‘litter –itus!”

So there you are, what a good idea — on a regular walk or trip to the local shop — carry a plastic bag and even if you only pick up a couple of bits of litter you are doing your bit to tidy up and improve where we live.

22 September 2016

A Cycling and Walking Masterplan for Forest Hill and Beyond

By Brendan Cuddihy (Planning & Transport Committee)
One of the aims of the Forest Hill Society is to enhance the quality of life in SE23 and over the years the Society has had some great successes in this respect. However, two aspects of life in Forest Hill and the surrounding areas that remain below par are cycling and walking. Car use is relatively high as more active travel modes are not seen as attractive by many. The hilly nature of the locality, of course, plays a part in suppressing bicycle use, but the reality is that our streets are simply too hostile for most people to even consider getting around on a bike. Walking can also be an unpleasant experience as many of our streets are blighted by high traffic levels. Sadly, serious injuries and fatalities are not unknown on our roads.

In light of this, the Forest Hill Society is teaming up with the Sydenham Society and SEE3 to prepare a cycling and walking masterplan for the local area. This masterplan will look at our streets and consider physical measures to make them better places in which to cycle and walk. It will also look strategically across the wider area, and will identify where people want to walk or cycle.
For instance, safe routes to schools would certainly play a central role. The ultimate aim will be to make cycling and walking the most attractive choice when deciding how to travel around Forest Hill and Sydenham.

Getting more people cycling and walking would provide many benefits to the community. As well as improving road safety, there would be: reduced noise and pollution for people living on busy roads; economic benefits for local businesses from increased spend associated with cycling and walking; greater social equity from improved access and reduced travel costs for non-car users; and increased independence for children, the elderly and those with disabilities. And for those times when we need to drive, fewer cars on the roads means reduced congestion.

However, there are challenges — chief amongst them being our unique geography. The South Circular and the railway line present significant barriers to ease of movement around the area. Some creative thinking and bold ideas may be needed to deal with these barriers.

Our initiative to develop a masterplan comes at an opportune time, as Lewisham Council is set to adopt its first Borough Cycling Strategy; and in Sadiq Khan we have a Mayor of London who is keen to promote cycling and walking, and combat poor air quality and the public health epidemics of obesity and inactivity.

We are currently engaging with the councillors from Forest Hill, Sydenham and Perry Vale to build political support for this initiative. We are also continuing to monitor announcements from City Hall regarding cycling and walking — one of Sadiq Khan’s election pledges was to implement a ‘mini-Holland’ cycle scheme in each borough. Mini-Holland funding would allow for the rapid implementation of the masterplan. However, we are determined to push ahead with our local initiative even in the absence of mini-Holland funding, albeit as a longer term vision for the area.

Over the winter and spring we hope to kick off a series of community workshops inviting residents and workers to design the cycling and walking masterplan. By working with the community and relying on the help of organisations such as Lewisham Cyclists and Lewisham Living Streets, we can make Forest Hill a great place to get around by bike and on foot, for the benefit of all.