17 September 2007

Rail Utilisation Strategy

This summer Network Rail published the Rail Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for South London. This official consultation document explores a number of options for improving rail transport in South London with mixed news for Forest Hill passengers.

Some positive recommendations from the RUS:

  • Longer trains through Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park to London Bridge (up to 10 carriage trains compared to the current average of 7 carriages per train during peak hours)
  • Need for increased trains even after the introduction of the new East London Line Services
  • Trains will continue to operate to Victoria from Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park
  • The East London Line Extension will provide an additional 6 trains per hour from Forest Hill through to Hoxton, finally putting Forest Hill on the 'tube' map

However there is also plenty of bad news:

  • Longer trains will not be introduced until the Thameslink service is upgraded and significant work is done to London Bridge station. Until then (which is at least 7 years away) they recommend running only 8 carriages trains during the peak
  • Direct services from Forest Hill to Charing Cross and Waterloo East will no longer be available
  • Trains service to London Bridge will be reduced (from 8 to 6 trains during the rush hour) with the introduction of the East London Line in 2011
  • East London Line trains will only have 4 carriages
  • With 'surplus demand' on our line and expected increases in passengers numbers, trains will become more overcrowded on our line

The Forest Hill Society have already expressed our concerns to MPs, our GLA member, local councillors, Lewisham Council officials, Transport for London, Network Rail, Southern Railways, and local radio. Jim Dowd MP has asked questions and even dedicated a debate to the future of our train services.

If you have not done so already, we urge you to sign our petition at http://fhpetition.notlong.com which already has over 900 signatures, and we will continue to fight to:

a) Keep our existing services to London Bridge
b) Call for 10 car trains at the earliest opportunity
c) Keep existing evening and weekend services from Charing Cross
to Forest Hill

According to Network Rail estimates, if there were space on the trains today there would be an extra 40% of people using our services to London Bridge
. We already have a poor quality train service and their proposals only make things worse for us. The Forest Hill Society shall be opposing the current recommendations and we hope you will support us, by joining the Society or by signing our petition.

Post Office Update

The current timetable is for the Post Office on Dartmouth Road to close and to move to the WHSmith (upstairs) in February 2008. There are many questions about posting facilities and access, particularly for the elderly and disabled, as well as the long term implications of this site if, and when, the station is redeveloped. Unfortunately the decision appears to have been taken without prior consultation, but the Forest Hill Society will make what representations it can to improve the plans.

Station Improvements

Working with local councillors, the Forest Hill Society has already helped to ensure that Network Rail will replace the bridge across the tracks to include lifts either end to allow better disabled access.

We are, however, still keen to allow direct access to the Southbound platforms for wheelchairs and prams. Our preferred solution is that the platform is widened and lengthened to allow direct access from the Perry Vale car park.

Along with increased disabled parking bays in the car park, this could have a dramatic effect on ease of access at what is already the UK’s 111th busiest railway station.

The Society has already got local councillors on board and hope to get the necessary support from Lewisham Council. Unfortunately convincing Network Rail to make such changes is a long and frustrating experience, but we feel this should be made a very high priority.

If you have strong feelings about this proposal, please contact the Forest Hill Society with your comments and we can share them with the interested parties.

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)