27 June 2017

Challenge launched to create a vision for future development of Forest Hill town centre


Discourse Architecture*, working with the Forest Hill Society, call for a debate about the future of the area around the station and a challenge to uncoordinated commercial development

A review of opportunities to reconfigure Forest Hill town centre will be presented at Forest Hill Ward Meeting at Sydenham Girls' School at 7.30pm on Tuesday 27 June. In consultation with the Forest Hill Society, Discourse Architecture propose that currently under-used sites around the station should be developed as part of a coordinated vision, which improves the environment for local residents and businesses. They argue that without a new approach unsatisfactory piecemeal development will continue unchecked. As part of their study they have researched the history and development of Forest Hill, from the short-lived canal, which was replaced by the railway, and the three stations of increasing magnificence to the current unprepossessing station, built after bomb damage to the last Victorian station. Discourse Architecture, who include local resident Simon McCormack, Michael Badu and Italian architect Bruno Tonelli, have prepared the proposals out of a sense of frustration that the absence of an ambitious strategy is creating a vacuum and that a once-in-hundred-years’ opportunity to improve the town centre will be lost.

View a map with all the images here.

Ideas include:
- A new main station building on the site of WH Smiths with step-free access to the shortened existing pedestrian underpass
- Reducing parking adjacent to the main station and creating a west-facing parade of shops and cafes with housing above. New buildings will be set back from the South Circular, which will be lined with trees
- Improved parking on the sorting office site at lower ground level, with housing at upper ground level and step-free links to the main station and Forest Hill Pools
- Making a new Perry Vale station entrance with lift access to platform level
- Creating new housing on the triangular site currently occupied by the former coal depot    Consideration of  an alternative approach retaining the Victorian coal depot, perhaps as a market or hub for start-ups
- Making the S Circular end of Perry Vale one-way to promote a better street environment for local people and businesses
- Creating an improved connection between the existing alley and the main station: improved sight lines and possibly some Havelock Walk style studio buildings

Public feedback is invited on the proposals, which can be viewed above, in an exhibition at Forest Hill Library from 28 June to 6 July. It is proposed to incorporate the feedback in a revised proposal that can be taken forward for consultation with Lewisham Council, TfL, Railtrack and other interested parties.

*Discourse Architecture was established in 2016 by Michael Badu, Simon McCormack and Bruno Tonelli to create a platform for people with an interest in the built environment to exchange ideas. Michael and Simon live locally while Bruno is based in Brescia, in Northern Italy. They communicate via email and Skype with occasional face to face meetings. Their work on Forest Hill is unpaid


  1. Hi. The slideshow won't work in Chrome on my Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S7 - so not and old one. Any chance you can add a link to a PDF of the slides, or something like that? Love the gist of the proposals, by the way.

  2. Let me know if this link works for you: https://www.slideshare.net/MichaelAbrahams15/forest-hill-urban-renewal

    I have tested the slideshow on Chrome on my Samsung Galaxy S6 and it loaded fine. But probably easiest to view on a desktop, tablet (or display boards in the library)

  3. Hi Michael. Able to view the slides with that link. Thanks. They are a bit fuzzy, though. May need to try on desktop. From what I can tell, the designs all look massively positive and woukd be wonderful if anything like this could be achieved. I see a fair amount if new commercial are residential property will be created. Is the idea that the project would be self-funding by means of selling or renting out these new properties?

  4. Simon (Discourse Architecture) here. Hi David - we anticipate that the scheme will be self-financing, with the opportunity for station improvements to be supported by funding from TfL. In the Autumn, once we've had feedback from local people on the proposals we will start consultation with stakeholders and investigate how to take the proposals forward.