18 August 2007

Jersey Tiger Moths

Forget the Island of Rhodes and its famous Tiger Moths. You can see them right here in Forest Hill! The stunning Jersey Tiger Moth has, for slightly mysterious reasons, started breeding in the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve and is the only inland colony of the species in Britain. The other colonies are in the Channel Islands and on the South Coast.

They have black and white striped forewings and orange hindwings, decorated with black spots. And, unlike most moths, they go about their business during the day so there are plenty of opportunities to spot them.

They were first seen in small numbers at the Nature Reserve in 2004. But this summer, there have been numerous sightings around SE23.

It’s thought that a female tiger moth discovered the Nature Reserve in 2003. And, like so many of us who found our way accidentally to Forest Hill, decided to make it her home. And breed…

03 August 2007

Forest Hill Craft Market

Saturday 18th August brings a craft market right here, to Forest Hill!

The market will take place in the Forest Hill station car park from 10am-3pm, so come along and show your support for this innovation.

Horniman goes Batty

Tuesday 28th August 9pm-10pm is the Horniman Bat safari. Limited places are available for this chance to see bats in Sydenham Hill Woods.

Admittedly the photo here comes from my honeymoon in Dominica and is almost certainly not a species that would be seen in London, but amazingly bats do live in this corner of London.

To book a place on the safari contact the Horniman museum on 020 8699 1872 ext 129.

30 July 2007

Archaeology in Forest Hill

On Sat 25th and Sun 26th August (8am - 6pm) the Great War Archaeological Group are organising an exploratory dig around the WWI gun emplacement at One Tree Hill (sometimes erroneously called the bandstand). They want to encourage community involvement in the first instance by inviting people to come and watch the dig (and there will be someone to talk about their work) and possibly contribute local family recollections of the time. If this study reveals findings of interest there will be further explorations when they would hope to involve local groups (such as schools) and individuals.

If you need any further information please contact:
Sandy Pepperell
Chair, Friends of One Tree Hill
Tel: 020 8699 2812

29 July 2007

View from Forest Hill in 2012

We all know that some of the best views of London are from Forest Hill, but this view may seem just a little unfamiliar. A recent article in the Evening Standard had this picture to show what London's skyline could look like in 2012.

Update 13/3/08: Since this is one of the most popular entry points to this site I felt I should provide a link to an even better picture from Skyscrapernews.com this is again taken from Forest Hill looking across all of London - what a great view!

Planning News from Forest Hill

There have been a number of planning developments in Forest Hill in which the Society have been taking a close interest.

The redevelopment of Pizza Hut and the Red Cross shop on London Road DC/07/65320 was rejected by the council planning department on the grounds that there was 'insufficient design quality for this prominent location and would not preserve or enhance the Forest Hill Conservation Area'. We are pleased that the council took account of the objections by us and others.

William Hill will be moving from their current location to the site of Blockbusters on London Road, as was mentioned in the last newsletter. This follows approval from the council.

The site of McDonalds is being considered for redevelopment with a proposal (DC/07/65749) for demolition of the first floor and construction of three additional storeys at first, second and third floor levels, incorporating balconies and roof terraces, over the commercial shop units. Comprising 2, one bedroom and 7, two bedroom, self-contained flats, together with the installation of a new shop front.

The Forest Hill Society has written to oppose the current plans on a number of grounds:

1. The design of the proposed development may compliment the design of the Sainsbury’s store, but it does nothing to preserve the character of the high street within this conservation area. This building will significantly change the balance of architectural styles in the centre of Forest Hill, further detracting from the character if this conservation area.

2. Unlike neighbouring sites on London Road, the proposed design has residential upper floors directly above the shop front, rather than stepped back from the pavement. This reduces the light on the pavement and again alters the character of this road in a negative way.

3. With the increase height of this development and the increased profile along the side of the site, there will be a negative impact on the alleyway between this site and the Sainsbury’s site. This is an important pedestrian route from the council car park to the high street and it is our concern that with the reduced daylight to this area it will attract anti-social behaviour and discourage people using the high street for their shopping.

4. There are further concerns from the Society over the impact of any construction work on the site and would seek assurance that the passageway from the car park to the high street would remain accessible throughout any period of construction. We also ask that consideration is also given to the impact of construction on pedestrian and vehicle use of London Road during this period.

Finally, we have recently heard that two appeals have been received by the council regarding their rejection of plans to build 84 flats behind Tyson Road (DC/06/63803) and 10 flats on Sunderland Road, on the site of the old Conservative club (DC/06/63172). The Society believes that the council were right to reject both of the proposed developments and will be closely watching the appeals process.

If you are aware of any other planning issues that require the Society's attention then please let us know about them.

03 July 2007

Tyson Road in the Local Development Framework

Under the proposals Lewisham’s preferred option for the Tyson Road/Christian Fellowship Site is for residential development. If you agree or disagree with this view you have until 2 August to submit your comments.

It is not easy to navigate the documents on the Lewisham website and so if you want to find the references to the Tyson Road/Christian Fellowship Site here are some directions:

Document name – Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment - Preferred Options Report - Development Policies and Site Allocations.

This looks at various plots of land in the Borough and, in Appendix C, sets out the Council's preferred development option for each site. The Tyson Road/Christian Fellowship Site is listed as Site 20 and discussed on page 239 (numbered 541) of the document.

Document name – Development Policies and Site Allocations - The Preferred Options Report

This summarises the Council's preferred development option for each site. The Tyson Road/Christian Fellowship Site is again listed as Site 20 and discussed on page 281 of the document.

Local residents have prepared feedback to this proposal asking for the area to be designated as public space. This will protect biodiversity on the site, avoid over-development on the site, avoid issues of drainage and flooding to surrounding properties, and protect the trees on the site. If you would like to back their campaign you can send your views to planning.policy@lewisham.gov.uk

Two sample letters have been written which you may wish to use in whole or part. There is a long version as well as a summary of the key points.
(The views in these letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Forest Hill Society)

24 June 2007

Welcome to the Society's June Newsletter

The following articles on the blog are from the June edition of the Forest Hill Society Newsletter. Paper copies are delivered to all our members - if you have not received your copy please contact us.

To view all the newsletter articles in one go click here.

We kept the Newsletter shorter this time to reflect the summer lull but we hope you’ll still find plenty of information about what the Society gets up to – and what is happening around Forest Hill.

Since the last Newsletter, we’ve had another chance to exchange views at our General Meeting on May 10th. It was great to see so many members there and to welcome new ones. The Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, was the Guest Speaker and dealt with a wide range of questions including the future of Forest Hill Station, playgrounds and traffic. We were also joined by representatives from the Horniman Museum discussing the plans for the Gardens. See the latest update on this story here.

Liz Hannaford, Editor, Forest Hill Society

Last Post?

The Forest Hill Post Office on Dartmouth Road is to close down and relocate to WH Smith in front of the station. The move is supposed to happen by the end of next summer and is part of a nationwide strategy for creating a “sustainable network of flagship Post Office branches.” But what will it mean for local residents?

Forest Hill Post Office is among fifteen in London, which will be moved into a local WH Smith branch. Mayor Steve Bullock told the FHSoc General Meeting that he was “deeply suspicious” of this proposal and described it as a “straightforward attempt by the Post Office to put commercial interest above public service obligations.” He says he is making his concerns known to Post Office Ltd.

WH Smith, unsurprisingly, insists that in the six locations across the country where this move has already been piloted, it’s been a success with customers welcoming “the pleasant environment, good levels of customer service and convenient locations.” And the Post Office believes this commercial decision makes sense because the two businesses have a lot in common.

But let us put aside for a moment the arguments about whether or not the relocation of post office business into the private sector is a Good Thing or not. There are other very local concerns about moving our Post Office into the WH Smith store. Is the retail space available actually big enough to accommodate a busy post office with long queues? What happens to the site vacated by the Post Office? Will it become yet another gap on our high street?

Of course, the optimistic view is that this could be a great opportunity. WH Smith may decide to redevelop their premises to fully exploit this new line of business. At the same time, money is being directed at Forest Hill Station in coming years to improve accessibility and to make it ready for the ELL.

Perhaps these projects could somehow come together to produce the town centre we’ve all been waiting for – the town centre envisaged by Lewisham Council not so many years ago when it said the station should be relocated to the WHSmith site.
The local councillor, Philip Peake, says the current proposals from the Post Office are short on detail and promises he will be pursuing the issue.

UPDATE: Jim Dowd Lewisham West MP has also organised a Parliamentary petition urging the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to use his powers to ensure that the Post Office does not reduce the level of services currently available to customers under its new partnership agreement with WH Smith.

And, of course, the Forest Hill Society, is on the case!

Society News (including Transport & Planning)


Since the last newsletter, there have been traffic management improvements to Honor Oak Park and Honor Oak Road. We are pleased that Lewisham Council has done something to improve the quality of life for residents on these busy roads but we are concerned that the speed bumps (or pimples!) do not seem to be big enough to slow down the HGVs. We will be investigating the possibility of getting a Speed Sign, which tells drivers when they are going too fast.

Our lobbying of Esso, TfL and Lewisham Borough Environmental services has
stopped the leaking water at the Esso Petrol/Tesco Food store on the junction of Honor Oak Road and London Road. But we will continue monitoring the area to ensure that the water leak does not reappear.

In Parliament

The Forest Hill Society has lobbied hard to alert people to the threatened reduction in our London Bridge train service. So we were delighted on 9th March when our local MP, Jim Dowd, raised the issue in Parliament. He asked the Transport Minister for reassurance that the benefit of the East London Line Extension would not be diluted by cuts to other services.

Gillian Merron, the Transport Minister, replied that no final decision about timetabling had been made and hoped that this would “reassure” Jim Dowd’s constituents. It does not! Her whole reply seemed to suggest that a reduction in the train service to London Bridge was a given.

We’re maintaining our campaign on this important issue. The Forest Hill Society and other local community groups were congratulated in Parliament for putting so much work into analysing the implications of the ELL project. So the campaign is definitely having an impact in the right places.


The Society is currently reviewing a proposal for the redevelopment of Pizza Hut and the Red Cross shop on Dartmouth Road. The plan is to refurbish the shop units and to add flats above.

There’s also an application to convert part of Blockbusters on London Road into a William Hill betting shop. Unfortunately, our options are limited here since this is more a matter of licensing than planning. However, we are actively looking into this because we know it concerns many people.

We’re also looking at the bigger picture. How do we want to see Forest Hill develop in coming years? With this in mind, we're going to be undertaking a “Living Streets” assessment, which looks at the quality of the streets that we live on and what can be done to improve them. “Living Streets” used to be the Pedestrians Association and describes itself as the “champion of streets and public spaces for people on foot.”

The Society is always available to review planning applications and to support residents where development is proposed. Our email address is foresthillplanning@gmail.com