Showing posts with label development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label development. Show all posts

03 October 2013

The Honor Oak

The Honor Oak on St German's Road was one of Forest Hill's better pubs until recently. Unfortunately, the last tenants ran the pub into the ground and have allegedly stripped it bare - including removing all the radiators.

After being approached by several members of the Society who were concerned that The Honor Oak might follow the same fate as The Windmill and The Forest Hill Hotel and be converted into flats or a mini-supermarket, we recently applied for the Honor Oak to be listed as a community asset.

If approved, then should Punch Taverns decide to sell the property, the community will be offered the right to buy the building. If you'd like to get involved and hear about the journey, please join the mailing list at

The table below summarises the ‘assets of community value’ nominating and bidding process in four simple stages.

Stage one: Identify an asset for nomination
If an eligible community or voluntary group thinks that a local asset meets the definition of an ‘asset of community value’ they can fill in an application form and ask the Council to list the property as an ‘asset of community value’. If the nomination meets the relevant criteria and is approved by the Council, the asset will be included on the list. A list will also be compiled for any unsuccessful nominations that do not meet the criteria.

Stage 2: The owner wants to sell their asset
If the owner wants to sell their asset they must notify the Council, which will then notify the community group that nominated the asset and publicise the proposed sale to the wider community. If within six weeks of informing the Council of their intention to sell their asset an eligible community interest group does not come forward, the owner is free to sell their asset for a period of eighteen months from the date that they notified the Council of their intention to sell the asset.

Step 3: A designated community group wants to bid for the asset
If an eligible community interest group does express an interest in bidding for the asset, this group or groups will be granted extra time to prepare a business plan and gather the finance needed to purchase the asset. All in all, the time-frame for groups to put together their bids is six months starting from the time the asset owner informs the Council of their intention to sell the asset.

Step 4: The point at which the asset is to be sold
The six month window of opportunity is only for eligible community interest groups to put their business plans together and gather necessary funding. Once the six month window has expired, the asset owner is free to sell their property to who they want. They are under no obligation to sell the asset to any eligible community interest group or groups who bid to purchase the asset.

14 March 2013

Forest Hill Town Centre: A plan for the next 10 years

The last town centre plan for Forest Hill was produced in 2003. This plan was formally adopted by the Council and set out to redevelop the station area with strong links to both the Horniman Museum and to the Civic buildings of the Pools and Library. I think we can safely say that the museum, library and pools have been greatly improved over this period, but the station area has changed very little.

Ten years on, it seems a good time to start planning for change in this part of the town centre. During this year we hope to work with the Council and a range of stakeholders on a new ten year plan for Forest Hill Town Centre to take us through to 2023.

At the moment it is still very much only an idea but over the next few months we will start thinking about the best way to develop this plan. This will involve working with stakeholders (including both Network Rail and Lewisham Council), engaging with residents through the Forest Hill and Perry Vale Ward Assemblies and other events, and making good use of the many design related professionals that we have in the area! This is a real opportunity for a community generated vision for the town centre to help bring about positive change.

We see this process as taking forward some of the neighbourhood planning work that was started with the Sydenham Society in 2011, whether it ends up being a Neighbourhood Plan or something else.

We will keep you up to date with progress. Next time you are walking to the station have a good think about what needs to be different or should happen there…because we will be asking you about this very soon!

07 September 2012

Forest Hill Pools pass final milestone

Lewisham Council have finally taken possession of the new leisure complex on Dartmouth Road and Fusion Lifestyle were given the keys on Tuesday.

We have been reluctant to post any updates recently given previous false starts, but the final fit out of the gymnasium and other areas now begins in earnest so that the pools can be opened before the official opening on Saturday 22 September.

There will be a day long feast of entertainment, activities and fun throughout the area. While Forest Hill Pools will be one of the main focus areas with taster sessions, tours of the new facility, exhibitions and more, there will be other activities going on.

Forest Hill Library will have a Victorian theme, with story telling sessions, the chance to record your memories of Forest Hill in days gone by and some creative writing opportunities. There will be entertainers throughout the day, traditional Victorian board games and free Victorian sweets.

The day will also be a chance to find out more about the Portas Pilot - an initiative to help regenerate the area and drop in on Sydenham School as they celebrate their 95th anniversary.

Forest Hill Traders will be launching their "Totally Locally" campaign (more on this later). Havelock Walk's artists will also have their amazing original art and design on display.

Truly a day with something for everyone.

25 July 2012

Forest Hill wins Portas Funding

Thanks to the determined efforts of a dedicated band of volunteers, Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham's joint bid for upto £100,000 of government funding to revitalise the High Street has won one of 13 Portas Pilot grants in the second round of bidding.

With £100,000 of matched funding towards town centre improvements for Forest Hill and Sydenham from the Phase Two development of Bell Green and a further £15,000 from Lewisham, the pilot will concentrate on three projects.

Jack & Jill

Two high street shops will be renovated for creative community engagement, exhibitions, showcasing local products, business workshops, ‘pop-up’ events and as a Town Team base

Shop Revolution

A high impact project with lasting sustainable benefits will renovate upto 12 vacant units, letting them to an eclectic mix of businesses and organisations, including successful Market Makers traders on a Pop Up or trial basis.

Market Makers

More than a market, this will build on the success of the Forest Hill Food Fair, to pilot markets on a rotational basis across the area, with the aim of finding long term tenants for our vacant units.

Richard Hibbert, Chairman of the Forest Hill Society said "These are exciting times for Forest Hill. The Town Centre has been the top priority of the Society and the Forest Hill local assembly for the past two years and we are beginning to see the results of our efforts. We are already seeing signs of revitalisation in Dartmouth Road ahead of the pools opening in the next couple of weeks.

"We have managed to get graffiti removed from various shops and buildings in the town centre, won an Outstanding award from the Royal Horticultural Society for the planting outside the station, revitalised the Trader's Association and hosted three successful Food Fairs. The Portas funding will focus our efforts for the next stage and enable us to deliver the town centre that local residents want.

"We firmly believe that this investment in our high streets is another important step in our founding aim of making Forest Hill an even better place to live and look forwards to working with the other members of the Town Team.

"Particular thanks are due to Ed Holloway, a Forest Hill Society member, who put a lot of time and effort into enhancing the first bid and turning it into a winning bid in the second round."

04 June 2012

New Plans for Sydenham School

As you may be aware, Sydenham School is due to be re-developed as part of the London Borough of Lewisham’s Building Schools for the Future Programme.

The developers are in the process of putting together proposals for the site and will display the current plans at an exhibition for local residents and community groups. You will hav ethe chance to view the designs and meet with members of the project team. The exhibition will take place on Monday 11 June, from 4-8pm at the Svdenham Girls' School, Dartmouth Road, London, SE26 4RD and will be facilitated by Quatro Consults.

This will be an opportunity to provide feedback and ask any questions regarding the new school prior to finalising the scheme and submitting the planning application to the London Borough of Lewisham. Refreshments will be provided.

02 June 2012

Newsletter: Development News

There has been progress on the application for 55-59 Honor Oak Park (the former Honor Oak Tandoori) to turn three shop units into one. The Council held a public meeting on 19 April, to which both objectors and supporters attended. A short additional consultation period was added because the address on the paperwork didn’t include no. 55 and was therefore incorrect.

It has been confirmed that Sainsbury’s want to open a convenience store in the new unit. Some objectors are concerned about the effects of a supermarket chain on existing grocery shops, and some are against supermarket chains in general. However, in planning rules competition to existing businesses is not a valid ground for refusal.

Issues that are valid in considering planning consent are traffic and parking. The meeting heard that deliveries would be made via the front of the store, by four vans a day, outside of peak hours. Parking was not thought to be a concern because there are already short-term parking spaces along the parade. The neighbouring funeral directors need to maintain access to the rear of their premises during the building work and assurances were given at the meeting that this would be accommodated.

There are arguments that having a major supermarket chain on a high street can have a positive effect for local businesses because it increases footfall and can bring extra custom to nearby shops. Plus, such stores have a free cash machine and this makes it easier to access cash that can be spent locally. Examples are cited where existing competing businesses have survived and even thrived by adjusting their offering to complement a new supermarket. However there is no certainty that all local grocery stores would survive and it's understandable that local traders fear they may lose customers and their livelihoods.

31 March 2012

Vote for Forest Hill

Show your support by 'liking' our Portas Pilot video on YouTube.

The Forest Hill Society has been working with our bid partners to secure £100,000 funding for the Sydenham, Forest Hill and Kirkdale Town Team. This will help pull together the various traders' groups, civic societies, landlords and organisations in the area to drive improvement in our Town Centres.

The aim of the Portas Pilot is not to pay for all the improvements that we would like to see - it is much more about effecting change which will lead to those improvements through dynamic leadership.

We would love to get the street clutter removed, install better signage, let people know where the car parks are, link the Horniman Museum with Forest Hill, and fill our empty shops with quality independant offerings, but this is not going to happen unless we make it happen. We cannot just sit back and wait for TfL, the council or whoever to do it for us.

The Town Centre Team will work together to promote Forest Hill, Sydenham and Kirkdale, address the issues and effect change. It will benefit by sharing the many talents and enthusiasm that we have in the area and, by sharing the workload, will result in more changes for the better.

We look forwards to being active participants.

(The Forest Hill Society's bid partners include Lewisham Council, Sydenham Society, Kirkdale Village Traders, Sydenham Town Centre Steering Group and many other individuals.)

28 March 2012

Pools Update - July Opening?

At a recent meeting of the Stakeholders' group, presentations were made by Fusion Lifestyle and Willmott Dixon. The facility will be open 7am-10pm on weekdays and 7am-6pm at weekends and will include:

  • a 25m length swimming pool
  • a 16.7m length learner pool
  • a 54 piece, state-of-the-art fitness suite with 20% of the equipment being IFI accredited. The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) is a programme supporting the fitness industry to become more inclusive - catering for the needs of disabled and non-disabled people, as well as raising physical activity participation levels.
  • two studios
  • a café area. Fusion are currently tendering for the café operator. They have advertised through local and national press and received 14 expressions of interest, of those 8 have submitted pre-qualification questionnaires (the first phase of selection) and will be invited to submit a full tender brief on how they will manage the café. Fusion stated their desire to work with a partner who will actively engage with the local community.
  • a community room for hire
  • spectator viewing and
  • an exhibition area

Fusion's presentation included provisional schedules for the pools. These can be viewed on our Flickr account - Blogger refuses to display them correctly. Please feedback any comments to

The timetable for the main pool can be found here. One lane will usually available at all times during a general swim session for lane swimming.

The timetable for the Learner Pool can be found here. The community sessions are a new addition for Forest Hill Pools which have been created to allow community groups such as disabled groups a slot on the timetable to use their local leisure centre. These sessions will be open to the community and Fusion Lifestyle would like groups to come forward who are interested in using them. If you email us, we will forward your email to Fusion.

Fusion Lifestyle also asked for any opinions on how the studios should be used to be fedback

Two other items were also discussed. A specialist design company called Atelier has been commissioned by Lewisham to design a permanent exhibition or artwork reflecting the history of the old Forest Hill Pools which will be displayed in the new building. Stakeholders were encouraged to bring forward any old pictures/ photographs or information they may have of the building or the area that could be contributed to this work. Contact Tim Andrew for further details.

Finally, the Council wish to go out to tender for an organisation to take on Louise House. They are open to innovative ideas on how to feasibly develop the site whilst retaining a community focus to the site.

The Council are hoping to open the building by July 2012, with an official opening ceremony on 22nd September 2012. Photos of the current progress can be found on Lewisham's, Willmott Dixon's and Forest Hill Society's Flickr accounts.

22 March 2012

Be a star!

We want you to make a 20-30 second video for our Portas Pilot bid.

Each bid needs to include a video which shows how much the local community cares about their Town Centre and how they would improve it. We would like to include locals' views about the area in a way that will make our bid unique and personal. Your video should therefore include a high and low about either Sydenham, Forest Hill or Kirkdale shopping areas. It can be as simple or complicated as you like, with or without commentary - use your imagination! But it needs to be done quickly. We must have your video by 6pm on Sunday (March 25).

We need the actual file for editing purposes, so please use to email your video to If you post your video to YouTube as well, please add the tags se23, se26, forest hill, sydenham and portas.

The legal bit.
You will keep the copyright to your video in its raw format. By sending the video to us using, you will grant Forest Hill Society full rights to include the video in our Portas Pilot bid. Forest Hill Society and its bid partners will have full copyright of the bid video.

24 February 2012

Portas Pilots - Urgent!

We have just heard from Lewisham that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is inviting partnerships to pilot the idea of ‘Town Teams’ set out in the Portas Review.

The Portas Review believes that Town Teams can help drive innovation in the way the high street is managed, and develop a strategic and collaborative approach, and should be made up of a wide range of local interests including landlords, developers, retailers, local authorities and local communities.

DCLG are looking for 12 pilots and are offering successful bidders grant funding of up to £100k each. Given that only 12 pilots will be funded across the country, and in order for Lewisham to have the best chance of success of having one of these pilots in the borough, the Council will support one application. Forest Hill has been offered the chance to submit an application to Lewisham as the Town Centre is one of the ward priorities.

If you feel that would be interested in putting together an application for our town centre then please let us know by Monday 27 February, with some of your initial ideas so that we can submit an initial bid to Lewisham by Friday, 2 March. We can be contacted on (07833) 315563 or by email

The Council will then review these initial expressions of interest and choose one area to support with a more detailed application. In considering which area to support, they will take into account previous investment in that area.

Selection of the pilots by DCLG will be based on the following criteria:

  • Mix. The twelve pilots will be a mix of high street types, geographical spread and areas with both low and high vacancy rates.
  • Strong Leadership. Pilots must have a transformational vision for their high street and the backing for this from their community and partners.
  • Commitment. Pilots must demonstrate commitment to the approach amongst businesses, landlords, the community and local authority.
  • Potential for improvement. Resources will be allocated on a value for money basis.
  • Innovation. DCLG are looking for the most innovative ideas that will have maximum impact and could be replicated elsewhere.

The deadline for applications is 30 March to DCLG, with successful applicants announced in May. Further information and the application form can be downloaded from the DCLG website. Each partnership application must identify an ‘Accountable Body’ which will be the local authority. A confirmation letter from the local authority is required with the application.

25 January 2012

Conservation Areas

There are several conservation areas in Forest Hill. If you live in one, then there are certain impacts on your rights.
  • If you live in a flat or subdivided house, then you do not have permitted development rights and must seek planning permission to undertake changes to the exterior. This includes alterations such as such the erection of a satellite dish or replacing windows or doors. Check with the Council before making any external changes to your property.
  • If your property is affected by an Article 4 direction (see below), then this removes your permitted development rights and planning permission may be required for certain minor changes, such as the replacement of windows and doors or front boundaries. Check with the Council before proceeding with any external works.
  • It is an offence to cut down or wilfully damage any tree in a conservation area without prior written consent. A plant is considered a tree once it is over 1.2m tall with a trunk over 100mm in diameter. Applications are free, but should be made at least six weeks in advance.
  • If you want to demolish (or rebuild) a wall over one metre high, or demolish a building then you must first apply for a demolition notice, giving at least six weeks' notice. Consent for demolition is not normally granted where a building contributes to the character of the conservation area.
  • Commercial properties have limited development rights, and we recommend you talk to Lewisham's Planning department before undertaking any works. All shop fronts should comply with the Council's Shopfront design guide supplementary planning document.
  • A heritage statement is required for all planning applications affecting buildings in conservation areas and listed buildings (both nationally-listed and locally-listed), including applications affecting the setting of a building.
The following areas (some of which are not in Forest Hill) are identified in the map above. A detailed map of each area can be found by following the link:

16. Forest Hill

An Article 4 direction applies to the whole of the Forest Hill Conservation Area. The conservation area was originally designated in 1976 and extended in 1994 and in 2010. It now comprises an area of 45 ha which makes it the fifth largest conservation area within the borough. The area includes Benson Road, Bird In Hand Passage, Clyde Vale, Dartmouth Place, David's Road, Dorrel Estate, Havelock Walk, London Road, Manor Mount, Pearcefield Avenue, Waldenshaw Road, most of Wood Vale and parts of Dartmouth Road, Devonshire Road, Ewelme Road, Taymount Rise, Thorpewood Avenue, Westwood Park, Woodcombe Crescent and Waldram Crescent.

17. Stanstead Grove

Designated in 1975, this is the smallest conservation area in the borough, comprising ten properties in two terraces.

19. Sydenham Hill/Kirkdale

An Article 4 direction applies to Mount Ash Road. Sydenham Hill and Kirkdale Conservation Area was designated in 1976 and consists of three different character areas: Mount Gardens, Mount Ash Road and Lammas Green. Mount Ash Road to the south is a unique example of Victorian ‘byelaw’ housing designed as a set piece of identical three-storey terraces enclosing the road to both sides.

20. Sydenham Park

Comprising Albion Villas Road, Carlton Terrace, Redberry Grove, Shrublands Close and parts of Sydenham Park and Sydenham Park Road, Sydenham Park Conservation Area was designated in 1973 and has a peaceful Gothic revival character which retains a degree of original integrity. Development took place in stages during the latter half of the 19th century, with a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced housing.

21. Halifax Street

An Article 4 direction applies to the whole of the Halifax Street area. This small area was designated in 1972 and consists mainly of one street comprising a group of tightly-knit mid 19th century semi-detached houses set behind small front gardens and a few properties on Wells Park Road.

22. Jews Walk

Jews Walk Conservation Area was designated in 1973, the area consists of semi-detached villas in a Gothic Revival style, exhibiting high quality craftsmanship.

23. Perry Fields

An Article 4 direction applies to specific streets in the Perry Fields Conservation Area which covers Allenby Road, Garlies Road and parts of Perry Rise, Priestfield Road and Woolstone Road. To check whether your street is covered by the direction contact Lewisham Planning on (020) 8314 7400 or

24. Sydenham Thorpes

An Article 4 direction applies to the whole of the Sydenham Thorpes Conservation Area which comprises the Thorpes Estate, an Edwardian development consisting of six roads laid out between 1901 and 1914 by Edmondson and Sons.

26. Cobb's Corner

Cobb's Corner Conservation Area is one of Lewisham's newest conservation areas and was designated in 2007 following lobbying by the Sydenham Society.

13 December 2011

Localism and SE23

The much talked about Localism Act will bring into force a range of changes that affect local authorities and planning. Much of this will come in to force on the 6 April 2012. This gives a greater role to local authorities under a 'general power of competence'. They will also be given greater powers to work with other councils in order to drive down costs and consider different ways of delivering services.

Some of the most revolutionary changes will be powers given to communities, such as the ability to challenge the running of Council services and propose cheaper alternatives, and the community 'right to buy' assets of community value. In terms of planning, communities will have a stronger role in developing planning policy through Neighbourhood Planning proposals, and a new requirement for developers to consult with the community on proposals before submitting a planning application.

Neighbourhood Planning
This lets communities have more of a say on proposals, allowing them (within reason) to draw up a 'neighbourhood plan'. In 'unparished' areas such as London, the community and Council will need to define what a 'neighbourhood' is and the best group to draw up a plan.

We have been working with the Sydenham Society on this. In September we organised an event to discuss the key issues. This focused around four locations: Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Kirkdale and Sydenham/Lower Sydenham. This went very well and a report has been produced and is available on our website. An area that we want to work on is to have better information about the specific character of the area so this can be used to inform decisions about new development.

Our next steps include meetings with Lewisham Council, and the organisation of a Neighbourhood Forum. Then we will be working on a programme of community workshops and events over the next 12-18 months and seeking funding support for this.

08 December 2011


Our years of campaigning are now visibly evident. On 28 October Forest Hill’s new pools were ‘topped out’ at a ceremony to mark the end of the main construction phase. The Society was invited to attend as a member of the Stakeholder Group. In a somewhat pagan ritual, Steve Bullock, our Mayor, Councillor Chris Best, Lewisham Cabinet Member for Community Services, Mark Tant, MD of builders Willmott Dixon and Ivan Parkinson, Finance Director of Fusion, poured salt, oil, water and corn into a carefully prepared recess in the concrete upper floor of the building.

We were assured that the offerings would be removed prior to filling the recess in order to ensure structural integrity.

We were surprised to find both of the new pools full of water – apparently this was to test for leaks. At a subsequent meeting of the Stakeholder Group, we were shown all the surface finishes that were to be used in the building. The main pools hall will largely be finished in a traditional pale blue colour with white tiling in the pool and dark blue lane markings.

The building is progressing well and should be sealed from the elements by the end of the year. Current plans are for completion by late spring with opening expected no later than early autumn 2012. (Fingers crossed that it will be ready for the Olympics!)

The stakeholder group had a presentation from Fusion about their management plans for Lewisham‘s leisure facilities in general, and Forest Hill in particular. As a company which is also a registered charity they are committed to returning any profits they make to the benefit of the sporting facilities they manage. They have considerable experience of managing local leisure facilities including Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Baths and Peckham Pulse. With a 15 year contract to manage most of Lewisham‘s facilities, they will be looking after more than 50 facilities in the area.

21 July 2011

Outer London Fund bid

On June 13th, the Outer London Fund which had previously been announced by Boris Johnson, went live. This is a £50m fund to boost regeneration and rejuvenate town centres at the very heart of local London communities. The funding will be distributed in two rounds; up to £10m in Round One, the remainder in Round Two.

Round One applications had to be made through the Boroughs, so we held meetings with our local councillors and Lewisham. Thanks to our approach, Lewisham have now applied for Forest Hill as one of their places. We should hear in August whether they have been successful.

We are very excited by this as the Fund is aimed directly at the issues we have been campaigning on including letting empty units, greening of the Town Centre, better signage, improved environment, Pop Up events and removal of street clutter.

The second round will continue the package of support, adding more places and shifting the balance towards more substantial physical projects that can deliver lasting improvement. Round Two applications are required by midday on 14th October 2011 and are limited to £2M per place. We will continue working with Lewisham to develop their bid for Round Two.