06 April 2008
1884 - Forest Hill Pools built. They are amongst the oldest public baths of the Victorian era.
2001 – a management-only contract is drawn up for the pools which means no investment in maintaining the infrastructure or upgrading facilities. Not surprisingly, the condition of the pools deteriorate.
2005 – a consultation process starts to determine the future of Forest Hill Pools. Only two options are offered - to refurbish the pools or knock them down and build a new facility with just one pool. Most people who replied choose the rebuild option.
October 2005 – consultation meetings are held. There is a very vocal minority, which strongly opposes demolishing the Victorian pools and urges refurbishment of the existing building.
March 2006 – the pools are closed when the roof is deemed unsafe.
The Mayor is persuaded by the strength of feeling at the public meeting to opt for refurbishment, pending the results of an intrusive survey.
May 2006 - English Heritage turns down an application to have the building listed.
November 2006 – the consultants who carried out the intrusive survey report that extensive repair and replacement of most of the plant and fittings would be required to bring the pools up to modern standards. However, they believe the building fabric retains its structural integrity, so refurbishment is an option.
February 2007 – The Mayor announces that he has decided to have the pools refurbished. A timetable for the work is produced with the grand opening planned for 2009.
February 2008 – further feasibility studies are carried out and the results are discussed at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting. The full extent of the pools’ structural problems becomes clear. The Mayor agrees with the recommendation to demolish the existing buildings and build a new, two-pool facility on the site of the pools and Louise House.
We ran a Save our Services petition, which over a thousand people signed, the South London Press ran an article about our cause and we even got a mention in parliament. Now, finally, Network Rail has given us reassurances that there will be no significant reduction in our rail services into London Bridge after the opening of the East London Line Extension.
Last Autumn, Network Rail published its draft Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) setting out proposed levels of rail services from 2010. It clearly suggested a significant reduction in services to London Bridge. There were doubts too about the continuation of the current off-peak services to Victoria.
Network Rail now says that the total number of trains between 7am and 10am will remain at the current level of 18 with only a slight adjustment to the present hourly spread of trains. All trains, they tell us, should be 8 carriages long whereas currently some are only 6 carriages long.
The indications are that the present direct, off-peak services to Victoria may continue. At peak times, the extension of the East London Line to Crystal Palace will reduce journey times to Victoria and Clapham Junction, although this will involve a change at Crystal Palace.
These services are dependent on the agreement of the Department for Transport and on its discussions with the train operators and Transport for London when the franchises are renegotiated in 2009. The Forest Hill Society will therefore continue to closely monitor the situation over the next couple of years to make sure that these revised proposals become a reality.
It’s also very exciting to see Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill now appearing on Tube Maps across London! It may only be on a faint, dotted line at the moment, but come 2010 we will have an extra 8 trains per hour of 4 carriages on the East London Line Overground providing fast and regular connections to the Jubilee Line, Crystal Palace, Docklands and the East of the City of London.
Other improvements include Oyster readers at all stations along the line. Commuters working in the east of the City, travelling on a direct connection to Shoreditch, will benefit from cheaper tickets by avoiding zone 1. The southbound platform at Forest Hill is to be made accessible to disabled passengers with money from the Department for Transport.
On the negative side, all services between London Bridge and Forest Hill/Sydenham will be stopping services, removing existing fast services. From 2009, there will be no more through trains to Charing Cross.
We will continue to press for 10 or 12 carriage trains into London Bridge to take into account the suppressed demand for rail services in this area. This would require the extension of all station platforms along the route.
The Society is grateful to Jim Dowd, our local MP, and Len Duvall, our GLA member, who have lobbied hard in support of our aims. The Save our Services campaign was run jointly with the Sydenham Society.
We would like to thank everyone who signed our petition.
We’ve recently learned from Southern Railways that when Oyster readers come into operation at Forest Hill Station in January 2009, the gate to Perry Vale will be kept shut throughout the day, only opening during evening peaks. From 3pm until the end of the peak, members of staff will be on hand to read everyone’s oyster card with handheld readers.
This system would inevitably create delays for passengers exiting at Perry Vale. We also question whether staff would be willing to stand in the rain, snow, or freezing/boiling temperatures for hours at a time with trains every five minutes. In reality, this system is likely to lead to the gates being closed all day.
The Forest Hill Society, along with Councillor John Paschoud, is putting pressure on Southern Railways and others involved in the Oyster implementation to avoid shutting the gate. There are two alternatives that we would prefer:
1. Oyster reader available at the Perry Vale exit for pre-pay customers to swipe in and out, similar to the system in place until recently at New Cross Gate. This would allow the exit to remain open as it does today.
2. A new exit onto Perry Vale car park providing staffed ticket barriers all day and an accessible entrance to the station on the Perry Vale side of the station.
Further problems will occur at Sydenham and Brockley where the exits on the northbound (Sydenham) and southbound (Brockley) platforms will be remotely operated for disabled passengers only. Of course, once these gates are opened there will be nobody to stop other passengers flooding through the gates. Honor Oak Park station should be fairly straightforward as a single set of barriers can be placed in the ticket hall.
Definitely one to watch.
They come from a place far, far away but they have found conditions here perfect for colonisation. In fact, Rose-Ringed Parakeets are now one of the most frequently seen birds in gardens and parks in SE23. And with their emerald-green feathers and noisy squawk, they are an exotic addition to our urban landscape.
But how can they survive here in South East London? Although they look like they’re used to tropical summers, they actually originate from the foothills of the Himalayas, so they don’t need soaring temperatures in order to feel comfortable. They are also very good generalists, able to survive in a wide range of habitats, like grey squirrels, cockroaches and rats (only prettier).
They are strongly social birds, constantly communicating, even in flight, which is why that unmistakeable cry is so familiar to anyone living in this area.
Flocks of up to fifty are quite common around Forest Hill and Honor Oak and numbers seem to have been increasing rapidly in recent years, perhaps a result of milder winters. Across London as a whole, the population numbers about 30,000 and the RSPB estimates it will rise to nearly 50,000 by 2010. It’s thought that 90% of the UK parakeet population lives in and around London.
Nobody knows for sure how they got here but there are some exciting myths. Are they descended from parakeets released by Jimi Hendrix as a peace offering? Or perhaps they escaped from the set of “The African Queen?” The far more plausible, but prosaic, explanation is that the population of wild parakeets was started by a series of escaped pets.
Opinion is divided as to whether they are a “bad thing” and the government has ordered a survey to assess their impact on native species. There are concerns that they might compete with other hole-nesting birds such as woodpeckers and starlings but there’s no strong evidence. And whether we like it or not, it looks like they are here to
* Photo taken by Fraser Elliot on his balcony on Honor Oak Road
The more green corridors we can keep open in our urban environments, the more pleasant it is for us all to enjoy walking. At the moment, the Green Chain covers 16.5 miles of green walks from Crystal Palace to three points on the River Thames.
According to its website, www.greenchain.com, the Green Chain has “helped to protect and improve our open spaces so helping to prevent further building taking place.”
The plan is to create a spur which heads out from Crystal Palace to Sydenham Wells Park, through the woods, across the Horniman Gardens, to One Tree Hill and then on to Nunhead cemetery.
Our walk starts at 2pm at the pond in Sydenham Wells Park and should take about 2 hours. Although there is an off-road element, it should be OK for buggies. It will be led by Peter Frost from the Friends of One Tree Hill who will talk about some of the local history along the route.
If you are planning on driving to Sydenham Wells Park, you can return on the 363 bus which goes from Forest Hill Road up Sydenham Hill.
However, we now learn that the developer has withdrawn his appeal.
No reasons have been given. Perhaps the Developer had decided that they were likely to lose the appeal. In planning law, losing an appeal is a very bad thing, as it can prejudice future planning applications.
Certainly, a declaration by the Inspector that either the site had a high environmental value or that it should be preserved as open space would have been fatal to any high density development.
Of course this won't be the end of the story and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this.
The area concerned is parkland behind 15 to 17A Tyson Road and 39 to 53 Honor Oak Road.
Ackroyd Children & Families in partnership with Ackroyd Community Association and the London Borough of Lewisham is currently considering plans for the refurbishment of the Ackroyd Community Centre as part of Lewisham’s Children Centre Strategy.
The £450k refurbishment programme forms part of phase 2 of the Children Centre Strategy, which will enable Ackroyd Children & Families - a community nursery - to become a designated Children Centre from April 2009. Our particular model is unique because we are based within a community centre and are led by a voluntary management committee many of whom are local parents or live in the local community.
The principle behind Children Centres is that high quality childcare combined with a range of family support services will help raise educational achievement and result in better outcomes for children. Parents and other adults within the community will also benefit from the facilities. As a Children’s Centre, we will provide a programme of holistic services including access to integrated early education, health and family support. For example, we will be developing a parents’ forum and a baby gym from April. We run parent & toddler groups, a toy library, and aim to develop parenting and family learning programmes as well as provide information about children’s services and have benefit and health advisors operating on site
We believe that in order to invest in the wider community we need to first invest in its children and their families. By working in partnership with local schools, health and social care professionals, private and voluntary sector providers, we believe we are better able to build relationships and shape the quality of local services. Dalmain Primary School provides an excellent example of this. It has kindly offered to accommodate us whilst the bulk of the work takes place over the summer. The refurbishment is due to be completed at the end of September.
For further information, please contact Ackroyd Children & Families at 0208-291- 4933
13 March 2008
11 March 2008
This system would create delays for passengers exiting the Perry Vale exit as a member of staff checks every Oyster card. It is questionable whether staff would be willing to stand in the rain, snow, or freezing/boiling temperatures for hours at a time and trains every five minutes. In reality this system is likely to lead to the gates being closed and for passengers to get soaked while the cross the railway twice (over the bridge and then through the underpass).
Southern Railways have started work on implementation by making space for the gates at the ticket hall and then the barriers need to be installed by TfL. But the plans for the southbound platform are as described above.
The Forest Hill Society, along with Councillor Paschoud, are putting pressure on Southern Railways and others involved in the Oyster implementation to avoid shutting the gate. There are two alternatives that we would prefer:
- Oyster reader available at the Perry Vale exit for pre-pay customers to swipe in and out, similar to the system in place until recently at New Cross Gate. This would allow the exit to remain open as it does today.
- A new exit onto Perry Vale car park providing staffed ticket barriers all day and an accessible entrance to the station on the Perry Vale side of the station.
We will keep you updated regarding progress on this matter.
08 March 2008
We asked a local resident and doctor to provide a summary of some of the key points for Lewisham residents.
Response to consultation on “A Picture of Health”
By Dr. Penelope Jarrett, Member of Forest Hill Society Executive and Lewisham GP
“A Picture of Health” is a plan produced by the Primary Care Trusts of the 4 boroughs Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley (outer south-east London or “OSEL”). You should have had a document through your door (also available at surgeries, leisure centres etc). It seems that the main reasons for change to NHS services in OSEL are:
1 Financial: the current level of overspending, mainly at the PFI sites in Woolwich (QEH) and Bromley (PRUH).
2 Clinical: the European Working Time directive (which sets sensible limits to the number of hours doctors may work) and other changes to doctors’ training and the provision of medical care which mean that overall larger teams of consultants are needed to provide care to the highest standards throughout both day and night.
Since change is proposed, it seems sensible to try to accommodate reported areas of concern to patients such as access, quality of care etc
These seem generally laudable aims, but I think the proposed changes will fail to achieve them for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, and of particular interest to us in Forest Hill, most of the consultation is around what would happen at Lewisham Hospital, and it could be that we would lose acute services because of the overspends at QEH and PRUH.
There is more detail in the longer version of my response, but I will try to summarise the reasons I think it would not work as planned, and services for people in Lewisham will be worse than at present.
Financial: the preconsultation business case (140 pages – on their website) does not convince me the plan will save money. A lot of up-front investment in community services would be required, as well as investment at the hospital sites. If Lewisham A&E were to shut, many patients would go to Kings, Guys or St Thomas’. The PCT would still have to pay for them, and money would go out of “OSEL”. Some areas where they say they will save money could occur without the reorganisation.
Clinical: Lewisham performs better than the other hospitals on many indicators, and has the lowest level of MRSA and Cdiff. They already separate elective and emergency services, but on the same site. Expertise and rotas are already shared, with Kings, Guys and St Thomas’. These sorts of models could be expanded. There would be unintended consequences: the top rated paediatric service cannot be just relocated. Expertise will be lost. Similarly the highly regarded GP scheme would go, and so no more locally trained GPs.
Demographics and travel: Lewisham residents are more similar in their health needs to residents of Southwark and Lambeth i.e. inner not outer London. 57% have no access to car or van, so rely on public transport to access healthcare. Transport links to QEH and PRUH are not great, and if these are the only A&E and maternity sites that will mean a lot of travelling. So much for care closer to home!
Click here for the full text of Dr Jarrett's submission to the Picture of Health Consultation.
A letter from Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham (and Forest Hill resident), to every house in Lewisham can be viewed here. Now it is your turn to respond to the consultation.