19 May 2008

Green Chain Walk - Sunday 25th May, 2008

Sunday 25th May, 2pm at the lake in Sydenham Wells Park.

The Forest Hill Society has organised a guided walk from the park to One Tree Hill. It should take about 2 hours and be suitable for most types of buggy, even though there is an off road element through Sydenham Woods. 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.

The idea is to celebrate the plan to extend the popular Green Chain walk linking South East London’s open spaces to SE23.

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, http://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.

We've just found out from the vicar of St Augustine's on One Tree Hill that there will be refreshments available at the church on the afternoon of our Green Chain Walk. There is a concert at the church which starts at 3pm so, if we up the pace, we might get to enjoy some music as well!

17 May 2008

Local Ward Assemblies

Forest Hill Ward Assembly
Date: Tuesday 20 May 2008
Venue: Living Springs International Church, 8-10 Devonshire Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3TJ
Map of location of meeting (next to the station)
Time: 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Perry Vale Ward Assembly
Date: Monday 2 June 2008
Venue: Perry Rise Baptist Church, Perry Rise, SE23 2QL
Map of location of meeting
Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Crofton Park Ward Assembly
Date: Wednesday 2 July 2008
Venue: St Hildas Church Hall, Brockley Road, SE4 2DG
Map of location of meeting
Time: 7:30pm to 9:30pm

And don't forgot next Sunday, 25th May, is the Forest Hill Society Green Chain Walk. More details in the previous posting.

12 May 2008

Letter to Southern Rail

Thank you for passing on this information [passenger counts at Forest Hill station]. What I do not see included (and what I do not believe was measured) was the flow of people onto or off the station from the Perry Vale entrance on the Southbound platform and Forest Hill. During peak hours this can be a significant number of people as I believe you have accepted (particularly in the evening peak).

At a recent General Meeting of the Forest Hill Society we listened to views of local people who make use of Forest Hill station and, while they were pleased that the gates would continue to be open after 3pm, there was an overwhelming feeling that shutting the Perry Vale entrance before 3pm was not in the interests of passengers. For many passengers heading south, towards Croydon and Victoria before 3pm this will mean they will need to use four sets of stairs to access platform 2, at a time when we are meant to be seeing improvements in accessibility. This retrograde step goes against accessibility improvements that are more widely planned on the railway.

There was also significant concern regarding the placement of two ticket inspectors on the southbound platform, as this will further slow down customers wishing the enter and exit the station between 3pm and 8pm. There were fears that such a large number of people queuing to get through the gate, whilst others are trying to move past them to access the footbridge, will lead to safety issues on a daily basis. Forest Hill is a very busy station with over half of people in the evenings using the Perry Vale exit and this will lead to congestion, and pushing, especially with new shelters for the ticket inspectors further restricting the flow of people. No safety assessment has taken place on this side of the station regarding the changes you plan to make, unlike the installation of the ticket barriers on in the ticket office which have been carefully subjected to the necessary tests.

We know that when the East London Line comes to Forest Hill in 2010 there will be Oyster barriers / posts at all entrances and exits to the station. If Southern Railways are not willing to implement a proper barrier or post at the Perry Vale entrance, then we believe no changes should be made until such time as TfL make plans for proper access to the station, with the gate on Perry Vale remaining open at all times until such plans are implemented. There is no reason to make life a misery for passengers in 2008 and 2009 prior to a better implementation in 2010.

I would like to thank you for the information provided in other communication that indicated that, as I requested, the Perry Vale exit will remain open and unmanned after 8pm (when the barriers at the ticket office will also remain open and unmanned). But in speaking to other local residents it is clear that there is strong feeling that this gate must remain open at all times throughout the day, whether manned or unmanned. This entrance provides import access to the station with only a single set of stairs to the southbound platform.

I hope you will also consider the health and safety implications of two ticket inspectors checking the tickets of over half the passengers at one of the busiest stations on your network, at a point in the middle of the station platform.

Until a new exit can be built to the Perry Vale Car Park, the best solution for the accessibility and safety of passengers at Forest Hill is to leave the gate open on the southbound platform, as it is at present.

Michael Abrahams
Chair, Forest Hill Society

Copied to Jim Dowd MP, Len Duvall MLA, London Travelwatch and local councillors.

10 May 2008

Garthorne Road Nature Reserve

10th May was a guided tour of Garthorne Road Nature Reserve. Below are a few photos from the area that is not normally open to the public.

Bitter Vetchling. A plant in the pea family which is rare in London. This is possibly the only site where they are found in Inner London.

A butterfly spotted beside the meadow.

Dave Smith, our guide for the morning, emerging from a field of Cow Parsley.

Giant Hogweed. A phototoxic plant found in small numbers in parts of the nature reserve. Contact with this plant can cause server itching in sunlight.

More photos on Flickr.

08 May 2008

Presentation on the Pools from the General Meeting

This is the presentation by Steve Gough and Aileen Buckton from last nights general meeting.

03 May 2008

General Meeting - 7th May

The Forest Hill Society will be having a General Meeting on Wednesday 7th May at 7:30pm (doors open 7pm) at Forest Hill School on Dacres Road. This will be a chance to discuss issues that you feel are important for the Forest Hill Society to address in the local area. We will have two guest speakers from Lewisham Council; Aileen Buckton, Executive Director for Community Services, and Steve Gough, Director of Programme Management and Property, who will be giving us the latest information on the rebuilding of Forest Hill Pools, one of the most important issues for the development of our town centre.

Members and non-members are welcome.

24 April 2008

Craft Market in Forest Hill this weekend

There will be a Craft Market in the car park at Forest Hill station, Saturday 26th April 10am-3pm. Help support the idea of a craft market in the town centre by coming along, spending some money and maybe visit some of the other local shops and cafes/restaurants in the area. Weather is expected to be good!

On Sunday 27th April
at 2pm our friends at the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate Residents Association will be hosting a public meeting in the Dutch Barn, Horniman Gardens. The plans for the Gardens will be available for viewing, and after a presentation from Museum staff, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Refreshments will be available. Everyone welcome.

07 April 2008

Good news for Rail Services

For over a year the Forest Hill Society has been campaigning against any reduction to services from Forest Hill to London Bridge. At the end of March the final version of the Route Utilisation Strategy was published and this document has included many of the recommendations put forward by the Society.

The final version of the RUS document can be viewed on the Network Rail website.

  1. Same level of service to London Bridge from Forest Hill over the peak period.
  2. Additional trains to London Bridge from Honor Oak Park (all services from Forest Hill will be stopping service).
  3. Introduction of peak services to Victoria via Crystal Palace.
  4. Early implementation of train lengthening, from the current 6-8 carriages in the peak up to 12 carriages. This is planned to be implemented by 2012.
  5. 10 trains per hour on the East London Line (an increase from the 8 trains planned).
  6. Thameslink services at peak times taking passengers from Forest Hill north of London Bridge. These services will start in 2015.
One note of caution, it is likely that between 2012 and 2015 there will be a reduction in services to London Bridge. This will be partially off set by longer trains and alternative routes via the East London Line, but it seems worthwhile to get ThamesLink services from our stations from 2015.

Thanks to the campaign we have been running we will get more trains, longer trains, and an increase in choice of destinations. All of these issues were identified in our submission to Network Rail, although we had not actually requested Thameslink trains stopping at Forest Hill. This is a welcome increase to services and good news for the people of Forest Hill.

Newsletter - March 08

The following 10 entries are taken from the March newsletter to members of the Forest Hill Society. Please feel free to comment on any of the articles and let us know what you think.

06 April 2008

Chair's Report - April Newsletter

I am delighted that our next General Meeting on 7th May will be at Forest Hill School - my old school - which has been completely rebuilt over the last few years. It’s a specialist school for the performing arts and has some great new facilities so our general meeting will be a fantastic opportunity to see some of these and to join the discussions on what you feel is important in and around Forest Hill.

Two topics that are bound to crop up are the rail service and the pools. We’ve finally had information from Network Rail, which indicates there will no cut to peak rail services to London Bridge with the coming of the East London Line. We are pleased that our year long campaign on rail services has produced promising results and we will continue to monitor the situation with the re-franchising of the South Central network.

The report on the pools was published in early February with bad news for the existing building. The Forest Hill Society will be working with the council to make sure we have the best solution to swimming and other leisure services in the heart of Forest Hill.

This year we are continuing to focus on improving the town centres in Honor Oak and Forest Hill. This is not an easy task but one that clearly needs some attention. Do get involved!

Michael Abrahams
Chair, Forest Hill Society