25 May 2007

Cleaning up in Forest Hill

News in from Lewisham council website that they intend to have a cleaning blitz on Clyde Vale Footpath, which is probably the footpath along the railway known to many locals as 'Dogsh*t Alley'.

From the website:
The next clean-up date will be on Thursday, 7 June at Clyde Vale Footpath, Forest Hill, 10am - 12noon. For more information about this event contact Colin Sandiford on 020 8314 2295.

If anybody is around at this time and would like to help out please use the contact details above. With a bit of luck they may even be able to clean up the subway a bit while they are about it.

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.

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve Walk

Glorious weather awaited as 25 or more residents from across Forest Hill, adults of all ages and several intrepid youngsters, gathered on Devonshire Road to explore a local hidden treasure, the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve.

The Reserve covers a large area along the tracks behind the houses on Devonshire Road (see map here). The Reserve functions almost exclusively with the work of volunteers. Nick Pond, in charge of nature conservation at Lewisham Council, gave us the introduction and tour. We also met Johanna Morley, Iris Borger and Tony Canning. Tony was our expert on all matters pond related. Iris manages the Wildlife Garden and also works with local schools to get younger residents involved with conservation, and Johanna is helping to energise more volunteers through the Friends of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (if you want to know more, send her an email).

The wildlife garden is complete with "luxury apartments" at the wood pile for Stag Beetles and lots of attractive, yet wildlife friendly garden features, including the amazing pond teeming with young toads and even newts. As Nick pointed out, wildlife gardening, and supporting local wildlife, like birds, butterflies, beetles and frogs does not mean you can't garden, but you need to think a little more and maybe incorporate some 'wilder' features. If nothing else, it means that leaving that flower bed unweeded and the pile of logs in the back is not laziness, but positive action for the environment!

On our a gentle trek around the Reserve it was so peaceful, other than the occasional passing train, you could imagine yourself miles outside of the city.

Nick explained how important these areas are to our local wildlife and what small steps we can take to help, such as limiting our use of slug pellets (that also kill birds and spread chemical debris), leaving areas of taller grasses to support the breeding of butterflies, building ponds to help frogs, birds, dragonflies and plants, and more.

This is not untamed wilderness. There are open meadows, well maintained paths and the classroom has the important amenities! The Reserve is not ancient woodland so it is quite open, light and easy to walk.

After 2 hours in almost 25 degree weather, the tea and cakes (home made by Iris and Johanna) were very welcome and quickly devoured whilst we rested in the sun.

If you would like to take a look around it yourself, or even get involved, it is open in the afternoon of the last Sunday of every month. Iris is also there several days a week to welcome the school students to the wildlife garden, so you could speak to her there.

Please do get involved, even if it is just for raising awareness of this local oasis. I'm sure they'd appreciate the support.

To see more photos, you can click here.

10 April 2007

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve - Guided Tour

This Sunday 15th April, Nick Pond (who's in charge of nature conservation in Lewisham) will be leading a guided tour of the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (entrance opposite Tyson Road). It's a great opportunity to explore this beautiful, secluded spot and learn about the rich biodiversity that SE23 enjoys. Iris Borger will also be on hand to talk about wildlife gardening. We're even promised refreshments! Meet at 2pm in the classroom. We look forward to seeing you there.

29 March 2007

Stanstead Road Community Garden

For a few months now a group of residents have been discussing plans to improve the area around 'Old Stanstead Road' (the bit that is not the south circular). With the support of the Forest Hill Society, and the active involvement of some of the committee members, local residents have been drawing up plans for a small community garden to improve the environment around Travis Perkins and a small plot of land.

What is particularly nice about this group is the way they plan to involve local people, from children to adults, and have been able to get the support of local businesses and Lewisham Council.

It is small scale projects such as this that help to create a sense of community and improve the surroundings for everybody in the area. We wish them the very best of luck in developing their plans for the community garden, and may what starts as a garden, blossom into even greater things!

27 March 2007

The walls come tumbling down

We are beginning to see some improvements in the path between Trilby Road and Sunderland Road. As previously reported plans are in progress to improve this pathway. Some of the pot holes have been filled in (not very well in my opinion, but it will do), but more importantly some of the concrete fences have been knocked down at the end of the path, assuming this work continues and the land at the end of the path is cleared, this should make a significant difference to safety on this path.

We are also discussing the possibility of straightening the route of the path on the corner of Trilby Road so that there are no surpises round the corner, although a mirror would also help to do this.

Update [15th April]: Posts have now been removed from the remains of the fence along the path. However, the area at the end of the path has been used to dump and burn household goods. This area needs to be cleaned up very soon, something which Forest Hill Society, Lewisham Council, and the neighbours are working on.

Update [8th May]: Resurfacing work has been carried out properly now and the path looks lovely. The burnt wood has been removed, but we are still waiting for the area to be cleared and for a new fence to be errected.

19 March 2007

Sydenham Society Public Meeting - Minutes from 14th March

Minutes from last week's Sydenham Society public meeting are available on the Sydenham Town website.

The presentation I made about the petition and survey conducted by Forest Hill Society can be downloaded from here. The presentation made by Peter Field from TfL can be downloaded from here but this is a big file (6Mb) so it may take a few minutes.

17 March 2007

Welcome to the second newsletter from the Forest Hill Society

All today's articles on the blog are from the March edition of the Forest Hill Society Newsletter. Paper copies are delivered to all our members - if you have not received your copy please contact me.
To view all the newsletter articles in one go click here.

Since the last edition we have been busy campaigning to keep the existing train services to London Bridge and we would like to thank you for your support. Our on-line petition has over 800 signatures from local residents in Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Sydenham, and beyond.

Due to popular demand we are planning to have our second General Meeting on 10th May, and I am delighted that local resident and Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock has agreed to speak at this meeting. So if you have questions about anything related to Lewisham Council, come along and put your questions to the top man. There will also be plenty of time to discuss other issues for Forest Hill and what you think the Society should be doing. This meeting is open to members and non-members and there should be seats for everybody (we have learnt from the popularity of our last general meeting). So I look forward to seeing everybody there.

Michael, Chair, Forest Hill Society

Dates for your diary

Guided Wildlife Walk
15th April 2pm, Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Nick Pond, who’s responsible for nature conservation in Lewisham, will reveal the flora and fauna which inhabit this secluded spot. He’ll also give tips on encouraging biodiversity in our gardens. Meet in the classroom.

Forest Hill Society General Meeting
10th May 7.30 pm (doors open 7pm) – Christian Fellowship Centre, Honor Oak Road (opposite
Fairlawn School). Guest Speaker – Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham.

Non-Forest Hill Society Events:
Forest Hill Day organised by the Forest Hill Traders Association.
10 June 2007, Horniman Gardens.