31 March 2023

Children's Book Sale - 29th April

The Forest Hill Society will be running a book sale for second hand children's books on 29th April outside Forest Hill Library from 10am-4pm.

All funds raised will go towards supporting the library, but even more importantly, we will get books to local children to increase reading.

 




Spring Planting - April 22nd

Saturday April 22nd

Forest Hill Society volunteers will be planting in Forest Hill station forecourt, and the platform and other planters we care for in the town centre, on Saturday April 22nd, meeting by the main station entrance at 2.30pm. No experience is necessary and we welcome all comers, but please bring protective gloves and, if possible, a trowel - although we do have some spares. As we work in close proximity to busy roads this will not be suitable for children.

If you would like to find out more, please email email@foresthillsociety.com

Tell your friends, and come to lend a hand.


Planning Application: Bell Green Gas Works Development

Development of three buildings ranging in height between 5 and 15 storeys with 261 residential units at Land at the Former Bell Green Gas Works, London, SE26

Application DC/23/129814



We are writing to object to the above application on the basis of the following points:

1. The level of affordable housing proposed is wholly inadequate, as currently only 4% is proposed. A development of this size should not be approved without getting closer to or higher than the council target of 35%.

2. The development does not comply with Lewisham’s target housing mixes, with too few family dwellings and a disproportionate number of one bedroom dwellings.

3. The location of the proposed residential buildings are so close to the Livesey Memorial Hall that they threaten the viability of the Hall and sports grounds. The existing use of the rear space as a smokers bar area will conflict with the residential bedrooms which overlook the rear of the Hall, creating friction between new residents and the established community use of the hall resulting in complaints. The Livesey is protected under the Agent of Change principle in the revised National Planning Policy Framework of 2018. The Lewisham Plan quotes it, saying “New noise-sensitive development is situated away from existing noise generating uses and activities, or, where this is not possible, providing adequate separation and acoustic design measures.”

While the Applicant intends to address the Livesey’s potential for noise nuisance issues by making windows facing the Livesey non-opening, the ventilation system does not provide adequate cooling and in combination with a poorly modelled fa├žade providing little shading, overheating in the new apartments is a real risk. We would recommend that consideration is given to planning conditions that would prevent complaints of noise nuisance directed at Livesey Memorial Building caused by poorly situated new housing.

4. The public spaces in the proposals are problematic, with large areas including play areas, overshadowed, poor relationships to buildings and inappropriate planting and cycle parking.

5. There is no improvements proposed to the surrounding pavements, highways or wider public realm which is currently poor and will be vital if it is expected that new residents will make their way to the closest station at Lower Sydenham. Improvements that join up pedestrian access around the site are vital to make this development work well and should be considered as part of any approval process.

6. The application does not contain proposals for contributing to the local infrastructure that their development’s new residents will rely on. In particular we are concerned about the stress that this development (and future neighbouring developments) will place on health services in the area.

7. The Livesey consists of 3 nationally Listed Structures. The Livesey Memorial Hall, its Front Wall, and the Livesey Hall War Memorial are each separately listed Grade II by Historic England. The draft Lewisham Local Plan I c. states that: “Important views, both of and from the listed building are protected”, in developments involving listed buildings, and Application site adjoins the Hall’s curtilage at their western boundary. The views shown indicate that the proposals will adversely affect the Listed Building and Structures.

8. The heights of the buildings have not been adequately justified either by reference to existing buildings in the locality or the Bell Green Vision. Although the Bell Green Vision is not an approved planning document, it gave an indication of potential and acceptable heights for the Bell Green development area, based on criteria. Key to the criteria was the location of a new station on an extended Bakerloo Line, providing the justification for greater densities and more height. Even though this criteria is not met, and will not be for at least the foreseeable future, the Applicant considers that this is justification for the proposals to rise to 15 storeys. This has not been justified in relation to the rest of the Vision’s masterplan area nor in relation to the current townscape. The height of the tower should therefore be reconsidered.

We therefore ask that unless these issues are fully addressed, that the application be refused.

07 March 2023

Planning Application: 57 Willow Way

An application for a new mixed-used commercial and residential development on Willow Way has been recieved by Lewisham Council. Below is the objection sent on behalf of the Forest Hill Society.


I am writing on behalf of the Forest Hill Society, regarding the proposed development at 21-57 Willow Way,SE26 4AR, planning application reference DC/22/129789.  This relates to the demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment of the site with a block of 5-6 storeys, providing employment use (Use Class E(g)) at ground floor and 60 residential units above, with associated landscaping, car parking and amenity areas. 

While we are generally supportive of the provision of employment use and residential units, especially affordable units, in this location, we have the concerns and comments noted below.

This site is an important element of the Willow Way Employment Location, as identified in the emerging Local Plan, and it is unfortunate that there is currently no detailed or agreed masterplan for the wider site, against which these current proposals can be appraised.  The indicative masterplan provided with the Application is not clear on when the works to the public realm, including shared surface and the widening of Willow Way, will take place and how this will be achieved without the loss of area to the sites opposite to the Application Site. A detailed and agreed masterplan would clarify issues such as access and servicing, which are important considerations in the mixing of employment use and residential accommodation on the site. 

The Transport Assessment identifies one loading bay for the use of all three employment uses.  This bay will therefore be used regularly by goods vehicles and we have safety concerns that the location shown, outside of a main residential entrance, may not be suitable and that further thought should be given to the servicing strategy.

Regarding parking related to the development, it is noted that only disabled parking is provided. The Application documents suggest that there will be little demand for parking from new residents, but we still have concerns that without parking controls along Willow Way, car parking, access and pedestrian safety may become an issue. The road is currently consistently parked up with cars encroaching on the footpath, providing poor pedestrian access. This would be exacerbated if residents increase parking demand.

Regarding the massing, we remain concerned regarding the overall height of the proposed buildings which is excessive when compared with the 3 storey buildings in the adjacent Sydenham Park Conservation Area and the recently built 4 storey buildings at each end of Willow Way.  The mezzanine level in the employment use results in a height closer to 6 storeys overall.  We would recommend that the overall height is reduced by at least one storey.

We would ask that the above concerns be considered carefully before the proposals are determined.

06 March 2023

Honor Oak and Crofton Park CPZ Consultation

Lewisham Council have been asking residents for their views on their proposals for street enhancements and CPZ across Crofton Park ward.

Details of the consultation can be viewed at https://pclengagement-hub.co.uk/en-GB/projects/stapi , although the consultation has now closed.

The Forest Hill Society wrote outlining some of the concerns we have heard from local residents and members:


We acknowledge that the London Borough of Lewisham has declared a Climate Emergency and is keen to implement changes that will help to deliver on the commitments that were made to reduce the dependence on cars, and their toxic effects, in our area of London.

With this in mind, we would like to raise some points in response to the ongoing consultation that is currently underway mainly in the Crofton Park ward around Honor Oak Park, which is therefore relevant to the members of the wider Forest Hill Society. We are writing to you directly as the format of the consultation does not adequately take note of responses from those who are not directly resident in that area, but we feel that this is very relevant to the work of the Society.

1. We are concerned that the current structure of the consultation could create more problems for the wider area. The selection of a single, limited area between two train stations, but only covering some of the surrounding streets, risks displacing cars onto other local streets and not fixing the issue. In particular, Devonshire Road already has a traffic and a parking issue, and it is on the boundary of the area proposed for the CPZ, and so this is highly likely to be exacerbated. This may also be true on other boundary roads such as Westbourne Drive and Church Rise. We believe it would be unfair to implement any CPZ intervention without completing the consultation in the surrounding areas as well, and to implement all areas at once, if this is to go ahead.

2. We are also concerned that the goals of the Sustainable Streets initiative are incomplete. While we welcome the improvements that might arise from a reduction in cars parking on our streets, this needs to be accompanied by investments in active travel and making streets safer for walking and cycling if residents are to switch away from cars.

We recognise the benefit of better cycle parking provision, more car club bays, clear sight lines at corners and tree cover, but these cannot be done without considering the wider implications of safe cycle routes, traffic calming, reduction of rat-runs, and other interventions to increase green spaces and rain water absorption. We understand that Lewisham is considering these separately under the terms of "Healthy Neighbourhoods" but they are not included in the current consultation. This is likely to cause confusion and duplication if the investments from both programmes are not coordinated. We believe that the two programmes need to be implemented together so that residents get the benefit of better, safer and less congested streets, not simply the disincentive of parking permits and charges.

3. In practical terms, we would like to request that any contracts that are signed with third parties for parking enforcement are made fully transparent. Just like with private parking enforcement, there is the potential for a conflict of interest for a business that is rewarded for issuing fines instead of for achieving the Sustainable Streets goals, and could result in low levels of trust and satisfaction, undermining the Council's goals. It is important that the incentives of all parties are aligned, and transparent, and the revenues raised are similarly reported in a transparent way so that residents can see a direct link between this additional revenue source and the benefits in their own streets.

The Forest Hill Society will, of course, continue to engage with the consultation processes in the rest of Forest Hill in Stage 2, and may expand on these points in that process, but we hope that the above issues will be taken into account in the review of Stage 1.