Showing posts with label SE26. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SE26. Show all posts

12 September 2009

109 Kirkdale Planning Application

The Forest Hill Society has written to object to the proposed development at 109-111 Kirkdale.

Our main concerns are on the impact to the streetscape, access to the rear building, issues of overlooking, inadequate amenity space, lack of parking provision, and the effect this development could have on the redevelopment of the Willow Way site for employment use.

Details of the application can be found on Lewisham's website.
Full details of the letter of objection from the Forest Hill Society can be read here.

23 June 2009

Pools Consultation Results

The results of the consultation were presented to the Stakeholders group yesterday evening. You can view the results on the Lewisham Council web site.

Although total numbers are not given we understand that the result is just over 51% in favour of the Willow Way pool in Sydenham (slide 14), although the margin of error makes this a statistical draw and it is difficult to weigh up the differences between schools who may or may not use the pool and individuals who may or may not use the pool.

Of key importance to people in favour of both options is an accessible location (slides 15 and 16). A key consideration for those who voted for Willow Way was that they want to see a pool in the area as soon as possible, and the consultation told them that Willow Way could be delivered faster than the Dartmouth Road pools site.

One clear message (slide 18) is that in all groups people are more likely to visit the site if it were built in Dartmouth Road and the groups who are most likely to go swimming are also those who most preferred the Dartmouth Road site.

Online respondents were the most Forest Hill based group (slide 10), and out of this group a massive 66% favoured the existing site, and an enormous 93% would swim there, compared to only 38% if it were in Willow Way. Taking this into account we believe that the Forest Hill Society has accurately reflected the views of local people and will continue to push for the pool to be built in the Forest Hill town centre, not in an industrial estate in Sydenham.

Please feel free to add your own comments below.

20 June 2009

May Bank Holiday Revels on our Millennium Green

Some places celebrate May Bank holiday with parades, or dancing, maypoles and ribbons. Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies decided to join forces to celebrate with.... a group litter clear-up.

Millennium Gardens, a little visited green oasis at the end of Albion Villas Road, off Sydenham Park Road, was the venue. And, true to Bank Holiday tradition, on a grey, overcast day, enlivened with occasional drizzle, a small group of stalwarts turned up armed mainly with eagerness to sort out any mess.

If that all sounds a bit grim, well, it really wasn’t. With a freshly mown grass meadow, a copse of deciduous trees, bluebells, lilac, frothy masses of mayflowers and the remains of a tennis court with benches, we set to hacking through stinging nettles to retrieve the miscellany of rubbish which had been dumped over the perimeter wall. An hour or so later, a now warmed-up people-chain had passed old sofas, defunct computers, bags of domestic and garden refuse and other junk into a clearing near to the exit from where it could be collected.

It’s amazing what people throw away – and where they choose to throw it. Why would anyone dump their junk into a lovely public space like Millennium Gardens? But discarded old chestnut paling was quickly identified by gardeners in the group as recyclable for bean or netting supports. And a couple of wooden pallets, separated by bricks and stuffed with other debris, were reconstructed into a bug hotel.

There were about thirty of us for the picnic lunch, tucking in with a satisfied air after a job well done. Revels it wasn’t, but a junior cricket match on the meadow green and senior boules on the old tennis court rounded off the afternoon.

Maybe next year we could have dancing and ribbons and maypoles?

02 May 2009

General Meeting, Picnic, and the Pools

Thank you to everyone who’s been supporting our social events recently. There have been a lot of them and we know you can’t get to them all. There are still more events to come this month. We always like to see new faces so do take a look at what we’ve organised.

Most importantly, we have our General Meeting on 7th May at The Hob. This is a chance to discuss the major issues facing SE23 (I guess the Pools might crop up) and the way forward for the Forest Hill Society. If you’d like to become more actively involved in the Society’s work – in whatever capacity – do make yourself known to us at the meeting.

You should all have received a consultation form the Council asking for your views on the future of Forest Hill Pools. At the end of this email, we’ve included a message from Hilary, one of our representatives on the Stakeholder Group, explaining more about the Society’s position.

Monday 4th May - May Bank Holiday Revels on our own Millennium Green
The Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies are joining forces for the Bank Holiday on the 4th of May. We'll be celebrating spring with a day at a hidden green space on the border of Forest Hill and Sydenham - the Albion Millennium Green.
The Green, formerly a tennis club, was landscaped into an attractive, informal park at the turn of the century under a government scheme to develop 'Millennium Greens.’ Its entrance is at the end of Albion Villas Road (just off Sydenham Park Road), one of the prettiest streets in the area.
It's a haven for flowers and wildlife but it does need a little sprucing up. So we'll start the day with a group tidying up session and then savour the fruits of our labours with a picnic (please bring your own), games and traditional May Day activities for all the family.
So mark your diaries now. It'll be a great Bank Holiday day out - just around the corner.

Thursday 7th May - General Meeting. 7.30pm at The Hob pub opposite Forest Hill Station.

We’ll be upstairs and the bar will be open so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to socialise as well as take part in the more formal part of the evening. Doors open from 7pm. See you there.

Saturday 9th May – Dawn Chorus Walk, One Tree Hill - 5am
This is organised by the Friends of One Tree Hill. At this time of the year, the air is full of birdsong as each bird gets up in the morning. This annual, guided walk is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives! So wrap up warmly and come and see how many different birds we can identify. Meet at 5 am at the gates to St. Augustine's Church, One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park SE23. If you wish to find out more about the walk on their website

Saturday May 23 at 8pm – 23 Club

The Thai Orchard, 3 David’s Road SE23 3EP Phone 8291 3901. Please book directly with the restaurant making it clear you’re with the 23 Club or Forest Hill Society. We look forward to seeing you there.

By now all of the households in Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Sydenham Wards should have received Lewisham Council’s latest questionnaire on the future of Forest Hill Pools.

This consultation is about whether people think that a pool is better in Dartmouth Road (with a bit of a wait) or Willow Way (which they think can be delivered sooner). It also asks questions about how often people use the pool and their age group etc.

If you have lost, recycled or someone else in your household has already filled in the printed questionnaire, then it is available to complete online.

The Society’s Forest Hill Pools Stakeholder Representatives are generally of the view that:
• A new pool should be built on the existing pools site as a way of helping regenerate the town centre and attract a wider range of shops and services; and
• That the pool should be delivered as soon as possible, and certainly much before the 2015 date that the Council set out in the questionnaire.

The Council says in the questionnaire that the Willow Way site can't be used to cross subsidise the pools on the Dartmouth Road site because housing is not going to be an acceptable use for this site, given its current designation as an employment site.

So this leaves us with a bit of a difficulty as neither of the options as they are presented in the questionnaire really meets the needs of Forest Hill. A number of the FHS Executive have been working to try and get the Council to reconsider the current options as they stand. The work that has been done indicates that it may be possible to redevelop Willow Way for live/work development or mixed uses including employment and that this development COULD then be used to cross subsidise a new swimming pool on the Dartmouth Road site. It may not meet the whole funding gap that has currently been identified but it may well go some way towards doing so. In that case, it may be possible to deliver a new pool on the current site much sooner than 2015.

We also think that if the responses to the questionnaire support the idea of a new pool on the current site then it may be possible to persuade the Mayor to reconsider the current options on the table and work to find a solution that delivers it sooner.

If anyone has any questions about the Pools project and the Council’s current consultation then please let us know. We are very keen that Forest Hill has a pool back soon and that it is in the best place for the majority of residents of this part of Lewisham and for the regeneration of our town centre.

13 March 2009

May Bank Holiday Revels on our own Millennium

The Forest Hill and Sydenham societies are joining forces for the Bank Holiday on the 4th of May.
We'll be celebrating spring with a day at a hidden green space on the border of Forest Hill and Sydenham - the Albion Millennium Green.

The Green, formerly a tennis club, was landscaped into an attractive, informal park at the turn of the century under a government scheme to develop 'Millennium Greens.’ Its entrance is at the end of Albion Villas Road (just off Sydenham Park Road), one of the prettiest streets in the area.

It's a haven for flowers and wildlife but it does need a little sprucing up. So we'll start the day with a group tidying up session and then savour the fruits of our labours with a picnic (please bring your own), games and traditional May Day activities for all the family.

27 February 2009

Lewisham Misses the Point on the Pools

At the Mayor and Cabinet meeting on the 25th February, the Mayor Sir Steve Bullock decided to go ahead with a further consultation on the options for Forest Hill Pools. The options that he has decided to consult on take a very narrow view of what it is possible to achieve, fail to look at the issue in the round and ignore the strong views of Forest Hill residents who both want to see swimming return to Forest Hill in the near future but also want to see a pool on the pools site.

The options that the Mayor has resolved to consult on are either to:
  • Look again at the delivery of Option 2 in 2012 with possible delivery in 2015; or
  • Deliver a pool on the Willow Way site in 2012 and to fund it through housing (up to 60 flats) on the existing pools site.
The concern is that both of these options create significant problems for Forest Hill. Under both of these alternatives the pools site is likely to remain empty and semi derelict for a number of years and neither option provides the short to medium term support for the town centre that it desperately needs. Whilst there is an argument that says that Willow Way is not an entirely bad site for a new swimming pool, this isn’t the case if you have a better site in the town centre, ready and waiting.

As you will be aware what the Forest Hill Society had been pushing for is an option that would meet the majority of residents and pools users requirements – and at the same time underpin the Dartmouth Road end of the Town Centre. This focussed on the designs for option 2 but sought to find a way to make it affordable and to deliver it now. To us the advantages of option 2 are clear, we believe it would be a way of uniting the various groups who all have different objectives for the project and developing something of which we could all be proud.

The view is that Option 2 would:
  • Provide a high quality sensitive design that would minimise its impact on adjoining residents;
  • Meet the requirements of the heritage lobby who want to keep the pools frontage and see them retained in public use;
  • Meet the requirements of swimming groups and keen pools users who want a 2 pool swimming facility as soon as possible;
  • Help reinforce the town centre and support local traders; and
  • Provide the simplest route through Planning as it is sensitive to the adjacent listed buildings and the potential Conservation Area Extension.

In fact at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting Steve Gough, the lead officer for the project said that the Option 2 Pools would be the simplest to deliver, if it could be funded.

The potential problem with funding this option relates back to the Willow Way site and the potential to redevelop it for a mix of residential and employment uses to cross subsidise the pools proposal. At the stakeholder meeting a couple of weeks ago the only barrier presented to achieving this was a planning issue related to the loss of employment on the site. Having looked into this further we believe that there are ways of making an argument for mixed uses on this site that could be in accordance with this policy, particularly as Lewisham are in the process of rewriting their Planning Policy framework at the moment. Key to this is the fact that under both of the options there would be no net loss of employment across the two sites. In fact option 2 might actually increase jobs if commercial and employment is provided on Willow Way alongside the housing, and it would also help support existing and new employment uses in the town centre. So we believe with the right argument this is possible and that therefore option 2 is affordable now, with less planning risk than option 3.

Another issue that has been raised by this process is that The Mayor and elements within the Council seem to believe that there is a silent majority out there that disagree with all of this and don’t care about the location of the pool, the town centre or housing on the pools site and who think the Forest Hill Society and other groups and residents are just being obstructive to swimming. We would really like to hear from a wider range of people as it would be really helpful to know if we are really being that unrepresentative, although we use a variety of methods to get opinions from across all aspects of Forest Hill residents - members and non-members. However, consulting on the 2 consultation options as currently set out will not tell us this as it is not based on fair and reasonable propositions about what may be possible and, as with last summer's consultation, is unlikely to give space for those who disagree with both options to contribute their opinions.

Whilst the consultation options as they appear to stand at the moment do force a difficult decision for residents it seems odd to set up a consultation whose result is going to alienate a large proportion of residents either way, particularly when better alternatives exist.

The one small piece of good news to come out of the meeting was that the Mayor stated that the stakeholder group should continue to be part of the pools project going forward and that a stakeholder meeting should be set up in the near future. This was in contrast to the draft of the officers report that appeared to say that they didn’t like the constituency of the current stakeholder group and that they should get rid of it and put together (a more agreeable) new one. How the Forest Hill Society form part of this group and what our role is going forward we are currently considering. However, we will continue to seek the best solution for the majority of residents and users of Forest Hill.

So the really strange thing about all of this is that the Council don’t seem to want to find a solution that could meet the requirements of the widest range of residents and swimmers, they want to press ahead with a scheme with significant disadvantages when considered in the round. In contrast to the view put across by the Mayor that this is a “choice between buildings or swimming”, there is another way, that could be delivered within the Council's £9.5m budget, that could be delivered soon, and that from the feedback we have had a great many people would support – they just don’t want to give any of us the opportunity to be consulted on it.

Please get in touch with us if you have views about these options or the pools project and particularly about the view the Forest Hill Society should take going forward.

22 January 2009

Redberry Grove development approved

Despite the objections of the Forest Hill Society, the Sydenham Society, Councillor John Russell, and over 60 local residents, the planning committee tonight accepted the proposed development in Redberry Grove.

Only three of the councillors turned up to the planning meeting - John Paschoud, Sue Luxton, and Paul Maslin - the minimum number needed to hold the meeting.

Despite a number of good arguments put forward by Michael Abrahams on behalf of the objectors, and by John Russell as a ward councillor, there was little discussion from the committee of their reasonable objections.

Sue Luxton was most concerned about making the modern building the highest environmental sustainability rating of any building in Lewisham, something that the developer, to their credit, was happy to accept.

There was some concern about possible loss of biodiversity and Sue Luxton recommended that the decision was deferred until after a biodiversity report was completed. However, this was overruled by John Paschoud's casting vote as chair. What biodiversity has been lost we shall not know, despite evidence of deer close to the site from the 1990s. If you visit Albion Millennium Green please keep an eye out for deer the size of dogs hiding the bushes. And if you see one, take a photo and email it to us!

The councillors showed no concern for the Sydenham Park conservation area, not even discussing the effect this modern building will have on the character of the conservation area. Lewisham council policy towards conservation areas appears to be that any modern building is acceptable as long as it is energy efficient and we can expect to see more buildings of this type in some of our most historic streets (of which Redberry Grove is certainly one).

Despite the defeat it is worth noting that the local residents fought a good campaign against this development, to protect their streets, so worthy of conserving, and to protect the adjacent area of nature conservation.

18 August 2008

Planning Application Redberry Grove

Below is the text of the Forest Hill Society submission regarding planning application DC/08/69263/X, 4 Redberry Grove.

On behalf of the Forest Hill Society I wish to object to the proposed development at 4 Redberry Grove which we believe is out of context for the local area.

Redberry Grove is very special road in the Sydenham Park conservation area and the development of a building that is substantially out of character will have a significant affect on the nature of the conservation area in close proximity to an area of nature conservation - Albion Millennium Green which has only recently been designated as such. By developing a new backland development in such close proximity to Albion Millennium Green we are concerned that it will have a negative effect on this area of nature conservation and access to it. Additionally 3 Redberry Grove is a listed building and again this proposed development would negatively impact on the context of this listed building.

Whilst the design and the materials used for this building are state of the art and make a very interesting modern building these are totally out of context within the conservation area, which is primarily one of large Victorian houses which have been well preserved due to the conservation area. It would be a great shame to spoil this area of outstanding Victorian architecture by the discordant nature of this development.

Policy URB 5 sections c-g should be taken into account when considering this development and we believe the council should reject this application.