Showing posts with label newsletter0610. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newsletter0610. Show all posts

02 July 2010

Location, Location, Location...?

We may not all be fans of property shows on TV, but when they feature Forest Hill we feel obliged to take a peek. On 3rd June, Channel4’s “Location, Location, Location” featured arty couple, Ben and Lucy, who thought they wanted a flat in East Dulwich only to discover that SE23 offered a whole lot more.
We got in touch with Lucy to find out what changed her mind.

How did you get involved with the show?
We never really had a huge desire to go on telly to be honest. We just wanted help finding a house but the filming was really fun! The production team looked at loads of properties for us – they really work hard at finding you good places.

You seemed pretty negative about Forest Hill when presenter, Phil, first suggested it. 
I guess we just didn’t know the area that well and I had kind of set my heart on East Dulwich. We were worried that it might not have much of an atmosphere or community feel.

So what changed your mind?
What was great about doing the programme was that we got to spend a few days in the area cycling about and checking out the feel of the place. We went into some nice pubs and shops and went up to the Horniman Museum gardens which I really loved. We got the feeling that this was a friendly place and that people who lived here seemed similar to us.

You missed out on the house on Shipman Rd.  Are you still looking? 
We are actively looking again and have set our sights on moving in the autumn. However, we are finding that prices have gone up quite a bit in the last six months and we may not be able to afford Forest Hill now!! Competition for properties is insanely fierce with many places going within 2 or 3 days of being on the market. It’s really tough but we are trying to stay optimistic!

And our favourite question here in SE23 - which is better, Forest Hill or East Dulwich?!! 
Ha ha, Forest Hill of course! Now someone sell us your 2 bed flat/house pleeeeease!!

Transport - Not Everything is Rosy

We have the London Overground AND geraniums outside Forest Hill Station (thanks to Shannons Garden Centre) but problems still remain, as Andrew Reid of our Transport Committee explains.

TRAINS Following assurances that peak hour London Bridge trains would be eight coaches long from the introduction of the new timetable, we were surprised to see four and six coach trains running. We were told these were planned and not the result of rolling stock failures.  This makes a mockery of the stated intent to extend platforms to run ten coach trains by the end of next year. 

The petition protesting against cuts in our rail services both to Charing Cross and during the evening peak from London Bridge gathered well over five-thousand signatures and was presented to the Minister then responsible for rail services, Chris Mole, on 23rd March.  We received the standard response that with an additional eight Overground trains an hour, we do not need this capacity to London Bridge.  We disagree and will bring this to the attention of the new government. 

ROADS The results of the Perry Vale Traffic Study are now on our website.  It came up with little hard information on problems, but recommended further studies to analyse the accidents which had occurred, measure traffic and count pedestrians crossing in various locations. 
Many local residents have concerns about traffic in Devonshire Road and we have discussed possible solutions with TfL and Lewisham Council. 

PARKING The plans for Forest Hill Pools provide only a single disabled parking bay. Any further parking will have to be in local roads.  The lack of on-site parking was an inevitable consequence of the cramped site available for the development. We sympathise with local residents. Clearly this is a fine balance and the situation will need to be reviewed once the Pools open. 

...and the London Overground does have some problems which we are hoping to have rectified. The air conditioning seems unable to cope with high external temperatures. Whilst TfL were aware of the problem, they were surprised that it had failed on three of the four trains we sampled on the first day.  They are working on a fix – one test train has been running already.   

We have told TfL that we’d like the Overground to run later in the evening – at the moment it stops running from Canada Water earlier than Southern trains from London Bridge.   We are confident that later trains will be timetabled in future if there is a demand.

There are now only four Southern trains per hour from London Bridge and we do know that this has caused problems for many of you. Others have said that whilst the reduced service is an inconvenience, the opening of the London Overground has meant the trains are less crowded and the journey more comfortable as a result. We shall have to see how people’s travel patterns adapt to all the changes over time.

Pecks in the City

When our Membership Secretary, Belinda Evans, was offered chickens as a birthday present, she immediately jumped at the idea. Fresh eggs for breakfast! Slugs and snails eaten up from the garden! But is the Good Life really possible in SE23? Belinda shares her experience:

After a little research, we decided on a traditional wooden coop and run and found ‘Ark birds and bees’ in Charring, Kent for hybrid hens and all the chicken paraphernalia we would need for happy, contented hens. 
So Milly, Molly and Mandy came to live in Forest Hill.

Amazingly, one of the hens (we have since found out it’s Milly) laid an egg in the car on the way home. So even before we had unpacked ‘the girls’ from their cardboard box, we were tucking into the freshest boiled egg.  

The girls settled in well and we have had an egg a day since arrival, thanks to Milly.
Every evening when I return from work and during the day at weekends, the girls are out in the garden scratching around, destroying bedding plants and eating my new veg.

But disaster struck early one Sunday morning when an urban fox managed to push through the mesh on the run and carry off Molly. It was really sad as the chickens were showing their personalities and Molly and Mandy were inseparable. But chickens don’t seem to care and an egg was laid within 20 minutes of the massacre and I can be content in the knowledge that Molly’s last day in Forest Hill was a pleasant one.

In typical modern style we have created a spreadsheet that calculates the ever diminishing cost per egg (cost of outlay divided by the number laid). You’ll be pleased to know that as of today every egg has cost us nineteen pounds! That means that last Sunday’s delicious omelette cost us £114 even before we’d added the cheese.

May Day at Millenium Green

Despite inclement weather, May Day was celebrated in style at the Millenium Green off Albion Villas Road. The quagmire of the day before had dried out with the help of the sun enabling the planting of six heritage apple species providing the foundation of the Millennium Green Community Orchard. 

The Forest Hill Ward’s Localities Fund had provided the money for the purchase of the trees, support stakes and mulch mats and with the planting holes pre-prepared, on May Day Shaun Spiers (Chief Executive, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England), John Thompson (Director, Lewisham’s Green Scene), our respective Chair and Vice Chair Richard Hibbert and Michael Abraham, Tim Lund (Chairman, Sydenham Society), and Bruno Roubicek (local resident and AMG prime mover) popped the trees into the ground.

Work with Lewisham’s Nature’s Gym and many other volunteers over the previous months had cleared the undergrowth in preparation for the Great Day and already damson, plum, greengage and a mulberry tree had been planted.
The planting was followed by an auction. The local artist, Maria Strutz, had generously donated an apple- themed original art work entitled ‘Labyrinth’ which had been kindly framed by Jacob Twyford.  Tim Lund auctioned his backpack of freshly-picked heritage rhubarb and a collection box was passed around – all of which raised a total of just over £200. This will go towards redirecting the Green’s naturally rising spring water into the creation of a small wild life water feature.

A picnic lunch (with a shower of hailstones) was followed by a performance by the Dacre Ladies’ Morris Dancers.  Spectators were invited to join in – an invitation eagerly taken up by those whose feet were not numb or encased in mud.

Tyson Road - Developers win appeal

The long running battle to save the Tyson Road green space was effectively lost after the Planning Inspector allowed the Developer’s appeal on its 2009 planning application.  However, the Society was vindicated in its opposition to the 2008 planning application as the Developer’s appeal on that scheme failed. 

We are very disappointed with this result but taking this planning battle to the very highest national level has proved a valuable learning experience.

One of the very good things about a public inquiry is that all sorts of information becomes public knowledge.  In the run up to the Tyson Road hearing it became clear that there had been very extensive discussions between Lewisham’s Planning Department and the Developer prior to the 2008 planning application being submitted.  Now, it is perfectly right and proper for a local planning authority to provide guidance to developers but at no time during the period between November 2007 and June 2008 did it seek the views of the local community or consult with the local amenity societies on the proposed scheme. 

Lewisham also agreed a ‘statement of common ground’ with the Developer.  This was so wide ranging that it left very little scope on which to challenge either the 2008 or 2009 applications. 

However, the Forest Hill Society applied for permission to contribute to the public inquiry as a third party and was able to cross-examine members of the developers’ team. We were not bound by the tight reasons for refusal that the council was arguing and were able to present local residents as witnesses giving the inspector a better understanding of the site. This resulted in further concessions by the developer.

01 July 2010

Plans for Dartmouth Road Post Office

When the Post Office closed, many of us worried that this large, empty site on our high street would become an eye sore. But the owners of Jam Circus in Brockley (pictured below) think the site has potential and have submitted a “change of use” planning application. Jam Circus is a café by day and a lively bar by night and is one of ten such venues across London owned by Antic Ltd (

The director of Antic met local residents recently to discuss his plans informally with them. Not surprisingly, some local residents – especially those living above the site – are concerned about noise levels.

Forest Hill Pools - We're getting closer

Following two major steps forward, everything is on schedule for the 2012 opening! In April, parts of the old building were demolished. Then in May, Lewisham submitted the planning application.

The application is on the Lewisham website and the Committee is likely to make a decision on it in mid July. Following the April consultation exercise the main changes are to the frontage material, and to the landscaped areas along Dartmouth Road and the former pocket park. As we had expected, the building will contain:

  • A main pool and a separate learner pool
  • A café overlooking part of the retained green space and Dartmouth Road
  • A gym with a large fitness suite and two studio spaces
  • A community room 

Overall we are pleased and have registered the Society’s support for the plans.  We have raised some concerns including: the height and ‘blockiness’ of the café; planting on the frontage; and access. We are particularly concerned about the coach pull-in at the front of the building and the amount of space left for pedestrians. 

Some of the nice ideas for getting light into the building and between spaces may have disappeared, possibly due to cost cutting to keep the building within budget. 
There’s also a missed opportunity because there is no proposal to connect the space in front of the three Victorian buildings together – the pools, Louise House and the Library.  But overall, we are confident it will be a good building and an asset to Forest Hill and hope that it can be further improved. 

Pending planning permission, the next steps will be detailed design work and the appointment of a contractor to build it. With luck, the building project will start before Christmas. 

[Ed: The Pools will be going before Planning Committee B on 22 July]

We're On The Tube!

It was a festival of balloons, dancing and a cappella sea shanties as the London Overground opened on Sunday 23rd May. Our party started on the 14.11 from Forest Hill Station to Dalston Junction with over a hundred of you joining in the celebration.

Jim Dowd, our re-elected MP, was on board and said he’d started campaigning for the East London Line Extension when he was first elected to Lewisham Council in 1974! So it’s taken a while.

But it’s not just about commuting. It’s culture, darling! Ten museums and galleries located along the line (including our very own Horniman, of course) have joined together to form CultureLine ( which has been busy promoting the weird and wonderful treasures waiting to be discovered. So we hope many more people will discover the arts and culture of South East London.

So now that we’ve finally got the Overground, what do we do with it? We asked Forest Hill Society members how it had changed their lives and you’ll find some of the replies dotted around this Newsletter together with pictures of a number of happy punters. We hope they inspire you to explore and enjoy a whole new swathe of our great city.

Chair's Report

The last quarter has been very busy with elections, planning and transport issues.  I should like to thank all those who give so freely of their time for all their efforts.  I would especially like to thank former Councillor, John Russell, for his hard work for the benefit of Forest Hill.  We wish him well and look forward to building a relationship with his replacement, Anne Affiku, and the other councillors who now represent us. Those of you who attended our General Meeting at the Hob on 10th June had a chance to meet Anne in person and we’re delighted that she addressed our members.

I should also like to thank all those who fought so hard against the Tyson Road development.  While disappointed with the ruling, it has proved a valuable learning experience for us and we hope that we can work constructively with the developer to minimise the impact on local residents.

Much of this issue is taken up with the London Overground and its impact on our lives.  We have not forgotten the campaign for better services to London Bridge and Charing Cross, so please keep us informed of any issues you may have.

It will soon be time for the Annual General Meeting and I would like to encourage all of you to consider how you can contribute to the Society.  We will be losing some committee members as they move on and will be looking for a new Newsletter editor.