Showing posts with label steve bullock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steve bullock. Show all posts

24 July 2012

Pools to open imminently

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock has just posted the following on his Facebook page
Just had a swim in the new pool in Forest Hill!!!! Its been a long struggle but worth it - the new building looks great and so does the old frontage - everyone involved is working their socks off to get it ready to open to the public in a few days time - I was there with some local school students to make sure the pool really is as good as it looks. it is!
This is great news and will be a great addition to Forest Hill.

15 July 2009


We are pleased to report that Mayor Steve Bullock has taken the decision to put the extra money into swimming in Forest Hill. We are now on track to have swimming on the Dartmouth Road site before the 2012 Olympics. The frontage will be retained with a great two pool leisure centre behind.

The Mayor admitted at the meeting that there could have been significant planning problems in building a new leisure centre on Willow Way, a fact that was never mentioned during the consultation. He felt that the additional cost of a pool on the existing site was worth the expenditure compared with the risk of a development on Willow Way being delayed by planning problems. It was also mentioned that if funds were not committed now, a new leisure centre might never be built – public expenditure cuts in the future were a near certainty.

The design is expected to be based on that drawn up by Allies and Morrison and first shown to stakeholders in February this year. A copy of the relevant pictures from the stakeholder presentation is attached. This design really impressed the stakeholders when it was first revealed and it was a major disappointment when it was then revealed that it was unaffordable.

Whilst making the decision, the Mayor agreed to extend the time that the Council would wait for funded proposals from the community for a civic use for Louise House beyond the previous date of November 2009. He also instructed Council Officers to provide some assistance in preparing such proposals. With the Library and Pools site in Civic use, it would be a real shame for Louise House, the building in between, to be converted into housing which has been the Council’s intention. A major effort to develop proposals for Louise House is expected to be the next focus for local community groups now the Pools battle has been won.

The Mayor also said that he had been impressed by the Forest Hill Society proposals that live / work units should be built on the Willow Way site and he instructed the Council’s planners to consider such a use for the site along with any other proposals that might come forward. Any revenues from such a development would offset the additional cost of the new pools on Dartmouth Road. At the moment, the Council is effectively putting a value of zero on the Willow Way site but the Forest Hill Society’s advisors feel that a value of £1.5m is realistic.

This is the best possible result for Forest Hill town centre and for the people of Forest Hill.

This has been a hard fought campaign by the Forest Hill Society and other local groups including Keep Swimming in Forest Hill, Sydenham Society, Tewkesbury Lodge Estate Residents Association, and local councillors.

Particular thanks to Hilary, Penelope, Jeff, Quetta, and Michael from the Forest Hill Society committee who have put a huge amount of effort to getting this result. Without their hard work and dedication it is likely the outcome could have been very different.

07 July 2009

Forest Hill Pools - The Third Option

Over the last few years the Forest Hill Society has consistently campaigned for a return for swimming on the site of Forest Hill pools at the earliest possible opportunity.

In May 2009 local residents were given two options to either move swimming into Willow Way, or wait for at least six years to see swimming return to the current site. The Forest Hill Society continued to support the Dartmouth Road site as the best option, whilst recognising that an early return of swimming for vital for the health of Forest Hill residents and Forest Hill town centre.

The report to Mayor and Cabinet now contains a third option which would provide exactly what we ask for; a pool on Dartmouth Road in the timescale of the Willow Way site. We strongly support this option and call on the mayor to support this option when he makes his decision on the 15th July 2009.

We believe that this option would not have been considered without the work of the Forest Hill Society working with other local groups, councillors, council officers, and the mayor. It may be premature, but we would like to thank all those who have worked to return swimming to Forest Hill.

23 May 2009

Planning for a Pool on Dartmouth Road

Below is the content of the proposal from the Forest Hill Society to Sir Steve Bullock regarding bringing swimming back to Forest Hill as soon as possible.

A sketch of the proposals for the site can be viewed here.

Dear Sir Steve,

We have given careful consideration to the various options that are around about the use of the existing pools site and the alternative site at Willow Way. We are concerned that the potential of achieving planning permission is not being realistically stated and that alternative options for funding a pool, on the pools site, are being ignored.

Firstly we are concerned that the potential of achieving a pool on the Willow Way site is being overstated generally and particularly in the current consultation. A pool on this site is strictly speaking contrary to the UDP and a leisure use does not meet many of the criteria set out as mitigating reasons why non-employment uses would be considered. Pushing ahead this option could be problematic for the council. Legal guidance has already stated that residential would not be allowed on the Willow Way site and such an option has been removed from the consultation, however, it remains questionable whether a swimming pool would be suitable for the location.

As well as resulting in a loss of employment, moving the swimming pool from the Dartmouth Road site would also be contrary to regional policy intended to retain leisure uses in town centre locations. This location is not recognised as meeting most of the criteria for the location of a swimming pool – specifically it is outside a designated town centre and is not correctly located to provide the maximum level of access to swimming within a 20 minute walk from their homes. The location is within a 20 minute walk from the Crystal Palace pool, which means that half the catchment area is already served by another pool. This calls into question the long-term viability of this site for leisure use.

There is a similar planning problem when considering the loss of a pool and park from Dartmouth Road for conversion to residential. This will have a detrimental effect on the town centre and specifically on the library, which will no longer be adjacent to a leisure destination. This will again require a major change of use of the land, and with the density of housing proposed, close to existing housing and two grade 2 listed buildings, is likely to meet resistance from local residents.

We understand the financial problems that you have in providing the pool on the existing Dartmouth Road site but the Forest Hill Society have been working on a proposal for Live/Work development to cross-subsidise the pool on the existing pool site. The would comprise approximately 50% live/work units providing 25-30 jobs, and just under 50% residential units above the live/work units. We believe that this option will maximise the employment available on the site (greater than for the likely use of the site for pure employment as either B8, B1, or B2, or for the pool). However, we recognise that this does not fit with the 100% employment use that is outlined in the UDP and in the draft core strategy options produced in 2009, although it does achieve the objectives for flexible, creative employment accommodation.

The use of Willow Way as a mixed site for employment and residential is actually a very good use of this site that assists with the regeneration of the area, maximising employment (and possibly a small amount of residential use), whilst maintaining additional employment in leisure services at the existing pools site. It has to be done in the right way to create a viable live/work community, but the residential element will positively assist in this desire. We recommend that the council consider the Wilow Way site as a suitable site for mixed use development, allowing such a development in the south of the borough as well as a number proposed for the north of the borough. This is the best use for this site independent to any consideration of the pools location.

There should not be any significant problem in designating Willow Way as a mixed development in the Core Strategy and Spatial Strategy that are being produced and this would allow for the building of live/work units plus residential on Willow Way in the same timeframe as the alternative idea for housing on the existing pools site. The council should then be able to move forward with plans for the development of the new pool on the Dartmouth Road site, knowing that approximately £2m can be realised from the sale of the Willow Way site (our conservative estimates show a minimum of £1.5m land value based on 2009 property values).

Unfortunately Willow Way cannot completely cross-subsidise the estimated cost of the pool if it does cost £12.5m, with a shortfall of £5m from the funds the council have earmarked for the Forest Hill pool. We believe that most of the remaining £3m shortfall can be addressed by the reduced cost of building over that last two years, and by careful consideration to reduce costs on the site.

The current plan for option 2 is to push ahead with building a pool on the Willow Way site prior to approval for building housing on the existing site. We believe that if this can be done for option 2, a similar process can be put in place for option 1, allowing for the building of the new pool on the existing site to commence in the same time frame.

This option, of pools on the current site and mixed use on Willow Way should result in less risk to the project as a whole, by a minor and justifiable change to the designation of Willow Way, rather than significant changes to the designation of both sites of proposed development. This will provide for swimming facilities at the earliest possible opportunity in a site favoured by residents, planning and leisure guidelines, and by council officers to whom we have spoken.

We believe that an Outline Planning Application on this site may be a good way of testing and determining the future of the Willow Way Site and would be happy to help you wherever we can in the preparation of such an application.

I look forward to your response on this proposition.

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.

Speech to Mayor and Cabinet

Below is the text of the speech made to Mayor and Cabinet meeting on Wednesday by Hilary Satchwell on behalf of the Forest Hill Society:

1) I’m speaking as a representative of the Forest Hill Society, and with the backing of the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate Residents’ Association, the Sydenham Society and Save the Face of Forest Hill Pools. I’m happy that we’ve been able to find a common view on the latest proposals from the Council.

2) Thank you for a report that provides some new ideas. We are really glad you have restated that you want a pool in Forest Hill – we REALLY want one too! We want a pool IN Forest Hill. Forest Hill Town Centre feels as if it is dying as a result of the closure of the pool three years ago. The report says that Option 3 could give us a pool sooner, but we would lose of one of the town centre’s key ‘anchors’ as identified in the 2003 Urban Development Framework. We have to find a way around this problem. Rushing ahead with newly conceived option three cannot be right. If you consult with such a strong preference for Option three without fully exploring the alternatives we fear there will be another fiasco.

3) We very strongly support option 2, but not as a pipe-dream for 2015. We must work together to find a way of delivering this now. Option 2 has many benefits, including good design, retention of ‘civic’ use and the pools frontage. It would revitalise the town centre and protect employment. It has minimal impact on neighbours. Our online survey and other feedback shows that it is supported by the overwhelming majority of residents. We believe that this option not only has the support of the majority of Forest Hill residents but also Council Members and Officers. It has the support of the swimming lobby and the Heritage lobby. We can’t shelve this option for three years. Nobody can accept that a solution that was first presented to the stakeholders just 3 weeks ago can’t be delivered before 2015.

The location of the pools is really important. Willow Way is 600 metres further from the centre of Forest Hill and is in Sydenham. Its catchment area overlaps The Bridge and Crystal Palace but is further from Honor Oak, Perry Vale and East Dulwich, which have no modern swimming facilities. Less people in Lewisham would be within a kilometre of a swimming pool if you move the site to Willow Way. We are concerned that a pool in Willow Way would be hidden in a back street and further from a wide range of public transport. This location will not attract custom or support long term viability. Lewisham’s leisure strategy and national guidelines recognise the importance of town centre locations for the provision of leisure and we are lucky to have a great site on Dartmouth Road!

4) We understand the constraints of planning policy and the important principle of not losing employment land from the Borough. As presented, option 2 and option 3 create exactly the same number of jobs from the pools. There would be NO NET loss of employment under option 2, and possibly an increase, if Willow Way included live work, or commercial and residential uses. On the other hand, option 3 would seriously threaten jobs in the town centre as a result of relocation of the pool. This cannot be the intention – it does not make sense to quote planning policy against Option 2 when it would actually increase employment opportunities within the borough. The issue needs further consideration and thought so that Willow Way can be used to cross subsidise the proposals.

5) We are concerned that the planning constraints of option 3 on Willow Way have been understated. Gaining planning approval for a significant leisure use outside of a defined town centre is contrary to both Lewisham Council Policy and national planning policy statement 6 on Town Centres. At the same time, putting high density housing on the Pools site would materially affect the setting of 2 listed buildings. We haven’t had the privilege of seeing the planning advice received on the proposals but know that Planning isn’t usually such a black and white issue as has been presented.

6) We are also concerned that the problems of delivering housing on the Pools site have been grossly understated. Delivering 60 flats on an existing leisure site in the current economic downturn and against public opposition will be difficult. It must be easier to construct a robust and sensible argument for the delivery of a mixed use development on Willow Way and a New Pool on an existing leisure site in the Town Centre. Option 2 only requires an increased range of uses on one site whilst option 3 needs a change of use on both. Some employment on Willow Way and a new leisure facility on Dartmouth Road will regenerate the Town Centre. The benefits significantly outweigh the case for leisure employment only on Willow Way, more empty shops on Dartmouth Road and high risk, high density housing.

7) Option 3, as the only recommendation to be delivered in the short term in this report, is the wrong one. Issues are not being considered in the round and it is not yet quite the right time for another consultation. Both Option 2 in 2015 and option 3 in 2011 would kill the town centre at a time of great opportunity with the coming of the East London Line. Pursuing Option 3 raises significant issues including, without being melodramatic, the future of Forest Hill as a Town Centre.

8) When it is right time to consult please make sure that the consultation asks open, informative and useful questions. The answers will then be useful if something unforeseen happens. We need a consultation that provides useful information about what people want from the pools project, in addition to a response on specific options, if that is what you think you need. We don’t need a tick box form for the 2 ‘closed’ options. We want a much more participatory approach involving stakeholders and residents. We don’t need another closed consultation with stakeholders kept in the dark. Let’s work together on this to deliver a first class leisure facility on the Pools site as soon as we can.

9) We understand that there is a proposal being developed for an arts centre in Louise House and would like your support for it, at the very least by financially supporting a feasibility study. We need the creative and youth oriented activities in Forest Hill that this proposal could bring.

10) Please consider what the Community has said and find a way to make option 2 a reality in the short term. This is what the Community wants and this is what your Officers recognise is the best option. Waiting until 2012 to revisit the options is not acceptable. We have already waited three years.

Thank you.

17 November 2008

Oystergate continued - Letter to Southern Railway

Southern Railway once again have plans to close the Perry Vale exit after 8pm and to install ticket barriers close to the foot of the stairs at this exit. The Forest Hill Society has written to object to these plans, see below:

Cc: Cllr John Russell, Cllr John Paschoud, Steve Bullock, Jim Dowd MP, Passenger Focus, London TravelWatch, Lewisham Head of Transport.

Dear Ian,

I was hoping that in the last two weeks you may have had an opportunity to respond to my previous email. As you will know the planning committee accepted the plans for the new ticket barriers at Forest Hill Station as they believed there were no planning grounds on which to object to this application.

However, the Forest Hill Society continue to have significant concerns about the plans for the new barriers at Perry Vale, specifically on the grounds of passenger safety and access to the station outside peak hours.

As I mentioned below the previous closure of this exit, the main exit during the evenings, prompted an outcry from local people, Jim Dowd raised the issue in Parliament, a council motion was raise by Councillor Russell which was passed, and a meeting at Forest Hill station with Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, Jim Dowd, representatives of the Forest Hill Society, London TravelWatch, Southern Railway, and London Rail.

It was confirmed by Southern Railway's representatives at the planning committee meeting that the gates will be shuttered and locked from around 8pm every evening causing major inconvenience to people living in Forest Hill. Already many less able-bodied people are unwilling to use Forest Hill station for their journeys from London Bridge, preferring to alight at Sydenham and get the bus back again (not a quick journey). For half of rail users who live on the east of the station they will be forced to go up a flight of steps, across the footbridge, down another flight of steps, out of the station and round WHSmith, down another flight of steps, though a badly lit underpass, and then up another small flights of steps, when they can currently use the single set of steps that you will be locking up in the evenings.

The planning officer responsible for the case has confirmed that a risk assessment has been undertaken, including a passenger count, but that details could not be provided to him "as it is an internal Network Rail document". I do not believe any such headcounts have been undertaken since the plans for barriers on platform 1, when headcounts and passenger flows were calculated by closing this exit. I believe that any modelling that was done based on this research cannot be used to apply to the Perry Vale exit, which gets more than 50% of the traffic from mid afternoon until after midnight. I would urge you to make any such documents available so that everybody can understand why you believe there is no safety risk - I am sure that there are ways to obtain these documents (at least by some of those copied on this email).

During rush hour the barriers present a danger to passengers due to the distance of the gates to the bottom of the steep stairs, going round a corner, and all in poor lighting conditions. In the event of one or two Oyster or paper tickets failing to function quickly this will lead to a rapid backlog of people round the corner and up the steps. In wet or icy conditions, passengers all have umbrellas open - blocking the dim light available, and restricting access to the furthest ticket barriers from the stairs. These conditions will inevitably lead to slips and injuries to rail passengers, something which should be a major concern when making such changes to access.

I have already noticed that there are rarely staff at the Perry Vale exit after 6pm during the height of rush hour services. Your argument that these plans are about revenue protect simply do not match with the service that you currently provide. The level of manning by revenue protection officers would suggest that when ticket barriers are installed we can expect closure of these gates during the main evening rush hour.

I believe it is in the interest of Southern Rail to resolve this situation by changing the plans for gates at the station. There is space for you to install ticket barriers further from the steps, there is another option of placing level access ticket barriers to provide a new exit at the Perry Vale car park, where there is plenty of space for such a structure.

Barriers that are installed must be open during all hours of operation until TfL take over the running of the station in September 09, when they will provide this level of service. If this cannot be achieved with the gates locked then they should be left open or a temporary alternative exit provided at this side of the station.

I would ask that a meeting take place at Forest Hill Station, after 5pm on a weekday in the next couple of months, so that you and John Oliver can understand the difficulties presented by the scheme that has been drawn up for one of the busiest stations on your network, and I would welcome your suggestion on another busy station that I can visit during rush hours to see how the positioning of gates at the base of steps will work in practise. As far as I can recall there are no such barriers anywhere in central London on the overground or underground systems, but I have not personally visited them all.

I hope you understand that the Forest Hill Society does welcome the introduction of ticket barriers for revenue protection and for the advantages of using pre-pay Oyster cards in the future. However, safety and accessibility are our primary concerns and we hope that you also take these concerns seriously.

I can only apologise to all those I have copied in that I have once again had to involve you in this issue when we thought that we had resolved the situation back in July. I hope that we can continue to count on your support to maintain the safety and limited accessibility that we do have for passengers at Forest Hill.

18 September 2008

Mayor and Cabinet - next steps on Swimming Pools

The mayor considered the pools issue this evening and once again reaffirmed his commitment to swimming in Forest Hill.

STFOFH (Save the Face of Forest Hill), the Forest Hill Society, and the Forest Hill Ward councillors all recommended to the mayor that a design competition is held. The mayor said he liked the idea and would not rule out the possibility, once we have the next feasibility study. He was concerned that it could add significantly to the timescale for developing the pool and he would need compare this with the timescale for appointing an architect through other means (European Tenders process).

The mayor was confident that English Heritage would not list the pools building following two rejections of the listing. Some people from STFOFH suggested to me that they would not seek to do this (however, it only takes one person to apply for listing). The mayor did indicate that the officers are making sure English Heritage is aware of their plans for the site. Both local councillors and I had suggested that the council apply for immunity from listing for the pools, to make sure that the 'sheds' at the back do not get listed and that the council can properly consider redevelopment that includes just the frontage or total demolition. However, this is apparently not possible until the planning application stage - which is still a long way off.

The mayor did clearly rule out refurbishment as too much of a risk even if it were technically possible - which is apparently doubtful.

There was no commitment to extra funding but a reassurance that the £7.5m allocated to the project would be safe.

Councillor Chris Best emphasised the need for a quality facility fit for the 21st Century with proper provision of accessibility requirements. She suggested that the changing facilities were 'not fit for purpose'.

The mayor accepted the report from the officers. Suggested that the feasibility study should be completed by January / February 2009 (a clarification sought by the Forest Hill Society regarding 'early 2009'). He asked that between now and then that officers keep the stakeholders group informed of the situation and progress.

It will be interesting to see what the conclusions of the feasibility study will be, what can be done with Louise House, what the future holds for the frontage of the pools, if there could be a design competition, and how much it will all cost.

28 July 2008

Victory in Oystergate!

Mayor Steve Bullock has received the following letter from Southern Railways:

Dear Sir Steve Bullock

Firstly, I must apologise for the delay in sending you this letter following the meeting with John Oliver, our Acting Commercial Director last week.

We have now reviewed our operations since the gates went live and taken into account the views expressed at last week’s meeting. As a result we have decided to revise the operations at both stations as follows:

Forest Hill
As from Monday 28 July we will be providing access to both platforms while the gates are in operation between 0600 and 2000 on Mondays to Saturdays. The access point from Perry Vale onto platform 2 will have a member of staff checking and collecting tickets during these hours.


As from Monday 28 July we will provide access to platform 1 for all passengers with a valid ticket from 0630 to 0930 and then from 1600 to 2000 on Mondays to Fridays. There will be a member of staff present to check and collect tickets. Outside of these times during the day (0930-1600) entry and exit will still be available via buzzer entry for those requiring level access on platform 1.

I hope that this new arrangement is seen as a positive move on this issue.

This means that after the campaigning by the Forest Hill Society, Sydenham Society, Steve Bullock, Jim Dowd, Len Duvall, London Passenger Watch, and local councillors we have succeeded in having access to the station during all hours of train operation (I am assuming that the gate will continue to be open after 8pm). Many thanks to all the residents and politicians who helped make this possible.

We will continue to campaign for level access from the Perry Vale side of the station but this is a significant change by Southern Railways which we welcome.

Hat tip: Love Perry Vale

09 July 2008

The barriers go up in Forest Hill

This week has seen the new system of ticket barriers and shut gates at Forest Hill. Passengers at Sydenham have been suffering now for a month from limited access to platform 1 at the station and now Forest Hill has limited access to platform 2. The ticket barriers themselves are not a big problem, although they can lead to congestion getting into the station, the real problem is the 'secondary' gates which, at certain times of day, can be used more than the main entrance/exit.

Southern Rail have listened to some of the concerns of the Forest Hill Society (most notably leaving the Perry Vale exit open after 8pm) but the introduction of these barriers has been done with little consideration of how it affects passengers in the local area.

Mayor Steve Bullock has invited the Managing Directors of Southern Railways and London Rail to Forest Hill station at 5:30pm on Friday 18th July. In his words " must be aware of the anger that is being expressed by your fare paying customers who use Forest Hill and Sydenham stations. The installation of barriers is causing delays and inconvenience of a large scale as well as putting those individuals who have mobility problems of any kind in a very difficult position."

Why should commuters have to queue for up to 8 minutes(*) in the rain to show a damp piece of card to ticket inspectors?
Why should the Perry Vale exit be shut before 3pm but open after 8pm?
Why rush ahead with ticket barriers when there are better solutions?

The Forest Hill Society recommends the following course of action:
  1. The Perry Vale gate should be open 24 hours a day, either manned or unmanned. It should not be closed again unless a buzzer is installed for passengers with limited mobility
  2. Southern and TfL need to install automatic ticket barriers on the Perry Vale side of the station either at the foot of the stair or at a new entrance at the Perry Vale car park
  3. Long term the Perry Vale exit needs to be fully accessible and the easiest way to achieve this is to create a new exit in the car park in Perry Vale, just a few metres from the existing platform
If you are around Forest Hill station next Friday at 5:30pm look out for Steve Bullock and possibly some railway officials and tell them what you think of what they have done to Forest Hill station. Recommended train to Forest Hill from London Bridge 17:25 - a service that is always busy and the majority of people are travelling to Forest Hill or Sydenham.

Please post comments regarding the changes at Forest Hill and we can pass them on to Steve Bullock and the rail authorities.

* Reference Sydenham Town Forum

17 June 2007

Sir Steve Bullock

The Queen's birthday honours included a knighthood for Forest Hill resident Steve Bullock, the mayor of Lewisham. Congratulations to Steve from the Forest Hill Society.

21 May 2007

Minutes of the Forest Hill Society General Meeting

May 10th at the Christian Fellowship Building

Michael Abrahams (Chair) welcomed approximately 50 people (including three local councillors) to the meeting and introduced the guest speaker – Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham and local resident of Forest Hill.

Steve Bullock welcomed the existence of the FH society as the council is always looking to work with local groups. He then touched on several topics of current interest to FH Society members:

  • FH Pools – refurbishment work is due to start in February 2008.
  • Schools – FH School now had a new building and Sydenham School is due to be upgraded.
  • FH Station Site – had been identified in a 2003 study as a key site and the East London Line should be a trigger to its development.
  • Water Supply – was currently unavailable to parts of Forest Hill – a permanent solution should be in place by the end of 2008.
  • FH Post Office – the plan to move the Post Office into WH Smith store was generating concern that the result would be a second rate Post Office and a second rate store.
  • FH Neighbourhood Team – visibility had been low due to the Sergeant being off ill. A Police Constable will now take over his duties.
  • Current Planning Applications – an application had been received to demolish the Pizza Hut and Red Cross site in FH and put up a new building.

Michael Abrahams then asked for questions from the floor and Steve Bulloc said that he was happy to take away any issues raised that he was unable to answer on the night.

Issues Raised & Steve Bullock’s Responses

Policy behind the movement of Post Offices

SB – appears to be entirely commercial reasons – Post Office not willing to discuss.

Building in back gardens of existing houses

SB – needs to be addressed by the council in development plans.

Parking penalties imposed after 30 mins in Sainsbury’s car park London Road

SB – will take away.

Conditions of Local Playgrounds

SB – playgrounds mostly in public parks and these have been upgraded by at least one a year over the last few years. Agreed that more attention may need to be given to facilities for older children.

Availability of a Local Cinema

Cinema – the council cannot decide to have a cinema although the redevelopment of Lewisham town centre may provide an opportunity for one to be built. Films shown regularly at the Broadway Theatre in Catford.

Timing of traffic Lights at Honor Oak Road/London Road Junction resulting in queues on Honor Oak road and increased pollution – can it be tested?

SB – will investigate possibility of a pollution monitor.

Plans for additional events at the FH Day

SB – the festival relies on volunteers but he will be happy to talk to the organisers.

Why Re-Cycling items no longer have to be separated

SB – a new plant in Woolwich can sift and separate different materials.

Plans to encourage shops in FH

SB – East London Line may stimulate more demand for shops although no big retail units are proposed for FH. There has been some discussion of a coffee shop chain taking over a vacant unit beside Sainsburys.

Traffic Calming on Kirkdale

SB – will take away

Traffic on Perry Vale – Problem of corner with Dacres Road

SB – will take away

Empty Dustbins

SB – agreed there was a problem of other people’s rubbish being put into empty dustbins now that more items are being recycled. Council is replacing black bins with smaller ones over time but agreed to talk to the person involved in this particular case (South Road).

Painting the Railway Subway

SB – agreed to sort this out.

Accessibility of FH Station

SB – improvements will be made to accessibility at the station.

Horniman Gardens

Michael Abrahams introduced the following people:

Janet Vitmayer – Manager & Director of the Museum and Gardens

Gordon Lucas – Gardens Manager

Alice Bigelow – Community Consultant

Lottery Funding for the Horniman Gardens

The infrastructure of the gardens requires investment and certain areas need improving. A landscape architect has been appointed and an outline plan should be ready by the end of September 2007. A consultation process with a wide range of groups will go on over several years.

There will be an information stand at the Horniman May Plant Fair on the 19th May where comments and suggestions can be passed on.

Issues raised by the audience:

  • Inclusion of triangular plot of land across the road from the Horniman – to be flagged up in the lottery bid.
  • Problem of parking by visitors to the Horniman (although the Museum does encourage the use of public transport).
  • Problem of crossing Honor Oak Road for people walking to the Museum.

Suggested areas for improvement:

  • animal area, tennis courts, cafĂ©
  • summer concerts, camera obscura, greenhouses to be made into a mini Kew
  • capture children’s’ interest through the provision of a maze, tree walks, nature trail etc.
  • mini transport system within the gardens for less abled.
  • provision of a courtesy bus between FH station and the Museum.
  • open up the entrance near Dulwich and incorporate into the Green Chain Walk.

Forest Hill Society General Business

Michael Abrahams listed the issues that the Society has recently campaigned on and the events it had organised and asked people what they would like the society to do next:

Inclusion of the train service from FH to Victoria in discussions on the east London line.

Michael advised that this service will probably be lost but will have increased services to Crystal Palace with more choice of service from there.

Traffic problems in FH town centre – campaign for a one way system.

Local councillors will look at a one way system and the society will look at the traffic problems.

Campaign for open space in Tyson Road to become a community garden.

Fitting a lift at FH station to provide access to opposite platform.

Michael advised that the Department for Transport had provided money to improve accessibility at the station.

More activities to be included in the FH Day festival next year.

More social events.

The meeting closed at 9.30pam and Michael thanked everyone for attending.

24 April 2007

Mayor to speak to Forest Hill Society

Local resident, and Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, will be speaking at the next Forest Hill Society General meeting on 10th May, 7pm at the Christian Fellowship Centre, Honor Oak Road (opposite Fairlawn School). This is a chance for members of the Forest Hill Society and non-members to ask the mayor about council services in Forest Hill and across Lewisham.

There will also be the first public consultation regarding plans for developing facilities in Horniman Gardens, so if you have any suggestions please come along and put them to the team from Horniman Museum and Gardens.