16 January 2007

Tyson Road development rejected

The Tyson Road development has been refused planning permission by Lewisham Council.

The full text of their decision can be read here.
The reasons given can be summarised as follows:

1) Overdevelopment/excessive density.

2) The proposal does not reflect the existing character of the surrounding area and is out of scale with the neighbouring buildings.

3) Poor design of proposed buildings on Tyson Road.

4) Insufficient work done in relation to existence of protected species and lack of compliance with Council policy on nature conservation.

We welcome this decision by Lewisham Council planning department but understand that the developer may appeal.

13 January 2007

More on the Trains

Below are some extracts from documents obtained by a member of the Forest Hill Society under the Freedom of Information Act from Transport for London:

Covering letting in response to the FOI request:

"By introducing eight East London Line trains per hour (tph) to the Slow Lines, it is anticipated that the current service to London Bridge will reduce by two tph all day, i.e. from eight tph in the peak and from six tph to four tph off-peak. Thus, the number of trains running on the Slow Lines increases by six tph all day. The final train service specification will be dictated by the outcome of Network Rail’s South London Route Utilisation Strategy which goes out for formal consultation between May 2007 and August 2007."

Letter from Peter Foot (Department for Transport) dated 15 June 2006 to Alison Clarke at Network Rail:

"We understand that Network Rail remains 'uncomfortable' with the intensity of the service foreseen though the combination of ELL and South Central franchise trains. Whilst DfT acknowledges these concerns, the Department is very aware that passenger demand forecasts indicate that the number of passengers using the rail network, particularly in the commuting peaks, will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. This, in turn, is likely to drive the need for more trains to operate on the network. Some of the increased capacity benefits deriving from the introduction of ELL services would be lost if there were to be a significant reduction in South Central franchise service. The level of franchised service has already been reduced in order to arrive at the specification that was agreed on 19/8/05, and it is doubtful whether a lower level of peak direction service is sustainable."

I believe that these two quotes demonstrate:

a) That although a reduction is services by 2 tph is not necessarily the final outcome, it is what is anticipated by TfL.

b) Network Rail may wish to further reduce service through Forest Hill, either by further cuts to existing services or by a reduction in the ELL use of the line. DfT believe that further cuts would negate any benefits derived from the ELL extension.

c) DfT forecast that the current planned capacity will not be sufficient in the foreseeable future (the italics for more were in the original letter not added by me). This means that cutting any services to London Bridge in 2010 will lead to overcrowding in the short term on the route to London Bridge (our projection), and major problems in the medium term as demand increases according to DfT projections.

03 January 2007

Local Meetings

We are planning to organise another general meeting for The Forest Hill Society later this year but in the meantime there are two local meetings that may be of interest to you:

There is a Forest Hill Ward Meeting hosted by the ward councillors on Monday 8th January at 7.30pm, Holy Trinity Church Hall, off Sydenham Park Road. More information can be found on se23.com. This meeting will focus on issues in the Forest Hill Ward and is primarily intended for residents in this council ward (although I am told other people will not be turned away!)

Later in January, on the Tuesday 30th January at 7:30pm there will be an Area Forum for all residents in Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Sydenham wards. This meeting will take place at St George's Church at the junction of Woolstone Road and Vancouver Road. More information can be found on the Lewisham Council website.

Forthcoming Events

The Forest Hill Society has two events for members in January and February.

On Sunday 21st January we are having our first pub crawl. This is a chance visit a selection of pubs in Honor Oak and Forest Hill and possibly have a drink or two along the way! We will be meeting at 7pm at Bar Equal in Honor Oak, but be prompt or you might get left behind.

On Sunday 25th February Steve Grindlay will be taking us on a 2 hour historical walking tour of Forest Hill starting at 2pm at Christ Church, South Road and concluding in London Road at 4pm. Steve knows a huge amount about local history and you are guaranteed to learn something new about the area.

28 December 2006

Round up of 2006

As we approach the end of the year I thought it would be a good opportunity to sum up what has been achieved so far.

Formation of the Society

At the beginning of 2006 there was no Forest Hill Society but during April and May discussion on the se23.com forum showed that many people were interested in forming some type of Civic Society for Forest Hill. A group of people from the forum met on 23rd May 2006 at the Dartmouth Arms and we put into motion the formation of the Society.

By 25th September 2006 we had delivered 10,000 leaflets across SE23 and some surrounding roads and we had our first Annual General Meeting. Response to the Society was excellent, with 150 people coming to the first public meeting and from this a committee of 23 people were elected to run the Society.

By December our membership had risen to 300 people, a very good start but we still need more. December saw the publishing of our first newsletter which was delivered to every member and made available to everybody else on the web.

Planning in 2006

There have been two major planning issues in 2006; Finches Site on Perry Rise and Tyson Road.
In the case of the Finches site the steering committee in conjunction with other local groups were able to get the developers to make a number of changes to the development that will make it better for Forest Hill and for the people living in the development.
In the case of the Tyson Road site we supported local residents who have run an excellent campaign opposing this development. We are still waiting for a decision for Lewisham planning department and we are hoping they will reject the current plans for this site.

Railways in 2006

The other major issue has been the railway. We met with Southern Railways in June to discuss a number of issues around Forest Hill station. A number of these issues were addressed in October including removal of graffiti from the footbridge, replacing guttering in the underpass, resurfacing the pavement at the bottom of the Perry Vale exit and removing a small section of wall from this area.

In November there was an announcement from the Department for Transport that Forest Hill station would be prioritised for accessibility improvements. This is planned for 2009-2011 but it is possible that it may happen sooner as work starts on the East London Line Extension.

However, our main concern regarding rail transport was the proposed cuts in services to London Bridge which are being considered by Network Rail. In November / December we worked with the Sydenham Society to raise awareness of the issue and get the support of residents and politicians to prevent any reduction in our services to the centre of London. This campaign will continue into 2007, but we have made an excellent start with 2,500 leaflets being handed out at Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill (plus more at Sydenham) and our on-line petition has got well over 500 signatures (in under a month). This has helped communicate the strength of feeling to the transport authorities and local politicians.

Forest Hill Pools in 2006

Forest Hill Pools have now been closed since the end of March and it is unclear when they might reopen. Further information regarding the survey of the pool is available in the previous post so I will not repeat this. 2007 looks like being a key year in safeguarding the future of Forest Hill Pool.

We wish everybody in Forest Hill a very happy New Year and we look forward to your continuing support in 2007.

21 December 2006

Swimming Pool Intrusive Survey

The summary of the results from the instrusive survey at Forest Hill pools has been published and can be read on the Lewisham Council Website.

Comments from the mayor suggest that although costs will rise 20% due to more work being required the council is sticking to the plan of refurbishing the existing pool.

14 December 2006

December Newsletter

Newsletters have been distributed to all members of the Forest Hill Society. If you have not got a copy please let us know so that we can update our records.

We are aiming to produce newsletters for all our members four times a year. Download the newsletter to see it in full colour!

Many thanks to Liz (editor) and Jennika (layout and graphics) who have put a huge amount of work into this newsletter.

05 December 2006

Save Our Train Service

The Forest Hill Society is working with other local societies to oppose any cuts to the existing train service to London Bridge. Currently there are proposals to cut the London Bridge service by 2 trains an hour (from 6 to 4). We welcome the coming of the East London Line in 2010 but oppose any cuts to existing services to London Bridge and Victoria.

If you use the trains on a regular basis we would like you to complete our survey of rail usage. Network Rail is meant to be surveying passenger movements but we would like to get your input, so that we can understand passenger needs from our local stations.

In addition we would like you to write or email Jim Dowd MP. His address is House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA and his email address is jimdowd.newlabour@care4free.net. We have prepared a sample letter for you to download for printing or cutting and pasting into email. Please feel free to adjust the text to reflect your own situation.

Alternatively you can sign our on-line petition.
Thank you for your support.

04 December 2006

Introducing the new Forest Hill Society Logo


We are delighted to announce that the Forest Hill Society now has its very own LOGO, thanks to local graphic designer, Jennika Argent.
Jennika wanted to emphasise Forest Hill’s arboreal origins, still preserved in Sydenham Hill Woods, for example. "The roots are included because they are the most important part of the tree," Jennika says.
Over the year, you’ll notice that the tree logo changes with the seasons. "The changing seasons of the tree represent the changes we all go through all year long," Jennika explains. "The importance of the changing seasons logo is that it shows that nothing must be stagnant and for things to improve they must continue to change and improve and grow."

02 December 2006

Tree Axed!

Adrienne and Michael from FH Society met with Councillor Paschoud and local Police Officers regarding the pathway between Shipman Road and Sunderland Road. This path is a useful shortcut for many residents in Perry Vale Ward wishing to get to the station and Forest Hill town centre, as well as Perrymount School right beside the path.

We are investigating ways to make the path feel safer and deal with some of the overgrown areas around the path. There was already some discussions about way to improve this path but there was an incident there in early November which has increased everybody's desire to improve the area.

Within a few days of discussing this with John Paschoud I am please to say the tree at the middle of the path has been cut back to avoid blocking the light from the lamppost. This path is now one of the best lit paths in Forest Hill but it still needs more improvements over the longer term.