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  • Forest Hill Society

Planning: Bird In Hand Pub, 35 Dartmouth Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to plans to change the Bird In Hand Pub, planning application DC/23/132691: Demolition of the existing canopy and construction of a 3 storey extension plus mansard roof at the side, an additional storey at first floor level at the rear and an external staircase, together with alterations to lower ground for bike and refuse storage to provide 6 self-contained residential units and 3 self-contained Bed And Breakfast Rooms at Bird in Hand PH, 35 Dartmouth Road SE23.


We are writing to object to the above application by virtue of the detrimental impact on the Forest Hill Conservation Area.

The Forest Hill Conservation Area is characterised by its commercial and retail centre around the railway station and surrounding suburban residential streets and green spaces. The application site has historically operated as a public house, having replaced a previous public house on the site between 1895 and 1916. The form, materiality and appearance of the building is representative of the Victorian and Edwardian architecture that characterises the Conservation Area. Moreover, its glazed brick frontage, which we accept had been covered previously, although potentially without the benefit of Planning Permission, provides interest and variety to the streetscape, particularly considering the loss of historic shopfronts in the Conservation Area. The pub’s position at the corner of Dartmouth Road and Bird in Hand Passage, as well as the space provided by the shelter on the south elevation, give the site more prominence in the streetscene. Therefore, it is considered that the application site currently makes a positive contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area.

We believe the application proposals would result in harm to the significance of the Conservation Area through the loss of features and elements of the site which contribute positively. We have discussed the proposals in turn below:

Additional Height and Roof Form

Given the immediate two-storey context of the site, the proposed three storey plus mansard extension would be overbearing to the surrounding and adjacent modest two-storey terraced buildings.

The mansard roof exacerbates the impact given its height is almost identical to the storeys below. This side of Dartmouth Road is very clearly more traditional than the other side, and whilst there are instances of contemporary forms or mansards beyond Dartmouth Road, such as in the more recent developments towards the railway, the built form along Dartmouth Road has retained traditional hipped or pitched roofs. There are no mansards on any buildings on this side of the road fronting Dartmouth Road. The acceptance of a mansard roof in place of an original roof form would establish a dangerous precedent within this part of the Forest Hill Conservation Area as well as result in the loss of an original hipped roof form and chimney.

Proposed Appearance

The proposed inset balconies to the front elevation would be out of character with Dartmouth Road, which does not have analogous examples. Moreover, the form and scale of the proposed balconies does not tie in well with the modest scale and character of the existing building. The openings facing Bird in Hand Passage would detract from the traditionally-scaled windows across the building as well as look odd at the mansard level where the opening is more trapezoidal in shape. Given the overriding character of this side of Dartmouth Road and the host building, any new balconies should be positioned to the rear.

Extension Towards Bird in Hand Passage

Historic mapping shows that between 1916 and 1952, a historic smithy was demolished to make the building line consistent along the northern side of Bird in Hand Passage. Whilst the terraced housing at the end of the street was demolished for the Phoenix Works development, this building line was maintained in the new development. The extension of the site towards Bird in Hand Passage would reduce the ability to appreciate the historic building line as well as the changing townscape as one moves towards closer to the railway. Whilst the submitted Daylight/Sunlight Report has raised no issues with such impacts on the neighbouring properties, the drastic increase in height on a historically open space would have an overbearing effect on the streetscene.

Elevational Treatment

Lastly, the drawings indicate that the glazed brickwork would again be covered by render. Although it is noted that the glazed brickwork was covered until recently, it is not clear whether this ever had Planning Permission. Furthermore, as a historic, original cladding material that is most often associated with public houses, this treatment is an important element within the streetscene of Dartmouth Road and the wider Conservation Area. Its loss should be resisted.


Therefore, the above comments have highlighted where harm to the significance of the Forest Hill Conservation Area is being derived as a result of the application proposals. The submission has not demonstrated that alternative schemes have been discounted nor that this is the least harmful proposal. The application has also not presented any public benefits to outweigh the heritage harm caused, as per Paragraph 202 of the NPPF.

Although a Heritage Statement has been submitted in support of the proposals, we do not believe it fulfils the requirement set out in Paragraph 194 of the NPPF, which states: “In determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance.” The Heritage Statement does not sufficiently assess the significance of the Forest Hill Conservation Area, nor the impact of the proposals on that significance.

We have also noted that the submitted Design and Access Statement makes reference to Flat being a 1 bed, 3 person unit, but we have assumed the ‘3 person’ is a typo and it should be ‘2 person’.

We therefore request the application is refused.


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