20 February 2010

23 Club: February and March

The Events Committee thought it would be interesting to widen out the scope of the 23 Club events beyond visiting local restaurants in the evening or for Sunday lunch, so you will see that this month we are going to a newly opened cafe in Honor Oak (Hopscotch), and to a fairly recently opened bar near to Hopscotch (The Stone Bar) in March. Please note you don’t need to pre-book for February or March – 23 Club seating will be signed – just turn up.

Tuesday February 23: Hopscotch : a new cafe in Honor Oak

72 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DY www.hopscotch-cafebar.com

Meet at 11am for coffee and/or 4pm for tea (no booking needed) – tables will have 23 Club ID

Tuesday March 23 : Stone Bar : a new Caribbean style bar in Honor Oak

68-70 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DY www.stonebar.co.uk

Meet between 6-8pm for drinks (no booking needed) – tables will have 23 Club ID

If you decide to stay and have supper you don’t need to book. Menu info is on the website.

Friday April 23 : evening : St George’s Day Celebration

April 23rd is St George’s Day, and we think it would be fun to mark this in some way. If you have any suggestions, please do contact me so the Events Committee can consider them – dragon-slaying followed by a barbeque would be ideal, of course, but may be fraught with H&S regulations these days .

How the 23 Club works The Club is open to Forest Hill Society members and their guests. Please make your booking (if necessary) direct with the restaurant, saying you want to be seated with the 23 Club group. Everyone orders and pays separately.

23 Club email list and venues Finally please send details of anyone who wants to be added to this 23 Club email information, and also pass on any suggestions you may have for restaurants in the Forest Hill area, and ideas for other local options.

Forest Hill Street Clutter Report

The Forest Hill Ward Assembly commissioned a report on the state of the high street and street clutter which will be submitted to the Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet, requesting analysis and action to address the poor state of the Dartmouth Road and London Road.

With 25% of retail units now closed in Forest Hill town centre, urgent attention is required to improve the high street. This is a great time to be looking at ways to improve the high street so that shops can benefit best from the East London Line Extension in May and the new swimming pool in 2012.

You can read the full report here.

Planning Application: 81 Dartmouth Road

The Forest Hill Society has submitted an objection to the planning application for conversion of the shop on the corner of Dartmouth Road and Clyde Vale.

Our primary concern is the loss of a good retail unit in a prime location, almost opposite the swimming pool.

You can read the objection here.

05 February 2010

February eNewsletter

It’s quite a lengthy eNewsletter this month but we wanted to let you know the latest about Forest Hill Pools and the good news about toilet facilities in the Horniman Triangle. Details of this month’s 23 Club are still to be finalised but I’ll get them to you very soon. We also have a combined spring social event with the Sydenham Society – a visit to Brogdale Farm, the home of the National Fruit Collection. So please take a deep breath and struggle through to the end…


We now have more details about the architects’ plans for our pools on Dartmouth Road. Roberts Limbrick, the Gloucester-based practice appointed by Lewisham Council, presented their thoughts and plans so far to the stakeholders group and to the Forest Hill Ward Assembly on 1st February.

The architects propose orienting the two pools in the same direction as the current pools but with the changing area in between. This would enable both pools to be lit by natural light from windows along the walls. The teaching pool would be more enclosed with a flexible exercise room above. A gym situated above the changing rooms would get natural light over the larger pool, which would be double height.

There would be two entrances, the current one on Dartmouth Road and another on the side by Kingswear House by a new cafe. This would lead to a public area or mall behind the cafe and the superintendant’s house. There would be disabled access and coach drop off in front to the Dartmouth Road entrance. There would be some disabled parking, but no other onsite parking as the site is too small.

The stakeholders and those attending the assembly had a number of questions around the parking, service access (down a side road between the Pools and Louise House), safeguarding pedestrians, the material to be used, and green issues: some of the roof may be green (sedum or grass), the pools would be covered when not in use to conserve heat, sustainable energy sources have been discussed.

Roberts Limbrick does seem willing to engage with stakeholders and the public so now is the time to make your views heard before planning permission is sought later this year. Do you have a burning issue you would like us to raise? Do you need provision for underwater hockey, for example? Do you want to be able to watch your kids while they are having lessons? Do you want separate male and female changing areas or a changing village?

Whatever it is, please contact us via the Forest Hill Society.


This was an issue which concerned a great many of us when Forest Hill Beach (the fancy sand pit opposite the Horniman Museum) opened last Easter. There were no toilet facilities and this caused considerable problems for young children who couldn’t be expected to make it all the way to the Museum’s toilets which the time came. So, the excellent news is that there will be new toilets next to the café in the Horniman Triangle in mid-Summer.

This has become possible because the Forest Hill Ward Assembly agreed to spend £3850 on the architects' designs. The designs were discussed at the last Ward Assembly on Monday 1st February and, after listening to advice from Martin Hyde of the Council’s parks department, the local residents attending the assembly chose the option which would attach the toilets to the existing café building.

The current plan is for there to be two small toilets and a larger disabled cubicle which would include baby changing facilities. There will be a RADAR key available from the café for those who don’t have one and want to use the baby changing facilities.

The council is including the full £80,000 for the cost of building the new facilities in the new parks contract and the architects are expecting to complete their work and send it for planning permission in April. Martin is hoping that building can be finished for mid-summer.

We’re grateful to the local residents and councillors who petitioned and campaigned for these facilities and hope they will make everyone’s life easier when they’re down at the beach.


Thursday 11th February, 7.40-9.30: Forest Hill Methodist Church, Normanton Street


February 25th 11.00-2.00 Nature’s Gym will continue to prepare the ground and, weather permitting, a collection of damson trees and a mulberry tree will be planted on the north side of the Green. Interested in helping? Bring gardening gloves, branch loppers or secateurs.


Saturday, April 17th combined FHSoc/SydSoc visit to Brogdale Farm in Faversham, Kent - the home of the National Fruit Collection. The aim is to arrive at Brogdale by 11.00a.m. and have a cup of coffee; do the guided tour of the collection of blossoming fruit trees (approx 1 hour); lunch in the Brogdale cafe and either browse the rest of the site at leisure or linger in the gift shop. You can read about the farm at www.brogdalecollections.co.uk

We’re going in individual cars rather than a coach but the idea is that drivers with spare capacity offer lifts to other members. Contact should be made with chair@foresthillsociety.com to let us know how many to expect.

Phoenix Works Planning Application

The Forest Hill Society is objecting to the latest plans for the Phoenix Work development which is located behind Dartmouth Road, close to the railway line. The site has been semi-complete for over a year but all work stopped following the collapse of a crane.

The latest application uses the same outline of the development but increases the number of residential units. Below are the main reasons for the Forest Hill Society's objection which can be read in full here.

* Density levels equivalent to 950 habitable rooms per hectare, significantly higher than most developments in the area and twice as high as the previously approved development
* Concerns over emergency vehicle access and fire safety in the courtyard area
* Lack of private amenity space for many of the 17 family dwellings
* Lack of parking for cars and bicycles
* Less than desirable access to the commercial units within the development

27 January 2010

Forest Hill Local Assembly - Mon 1 February

The next meeting of Lewisham's local assembly is to be held at
Living Springs International Church
8-10 Devonshire Road
London SE23 3TJ

on Monday, 1 February 2010 from 7.30-9.30pm

We hope to see you there!

The following topics will de discussed.

Forest Hill Pools

Forest Hill pools has been an interest at the assembly since the first meeting. The assembly has received presentations and taken part in the consultation over the future of the pools and Roberts Limbrick has now been awarded the contract to design the new pools.
Work on the new Forest Hill pools is now progressing very quickly. The architects and Lewisham's Head of Property have been invited to keep the assembly up to date on progress, and the design team will present their latest designs and ideas to you for this exciting development. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback to the initial designs. This is an opportunity for your ideas and opinions to be taken into account in the final design.

Horniman Triangle play park toilet block

Forest Hill assembly allocated £3,850 from the £50,000 ward fund to take plans for toilets for the Horniman Triangle play park through the planning process. The money that the assembly has allocated means that it should be possible for the new toilets to be open in the summer.
The assembly meeting will be your opportunity to hear about these plans and ask questions.

Forest Hill town centre improvements

The assembly is working with Economic Development to improve the Forest Hill town centre. This will be on the February assembly meeting agenda, along with lessening the worst effects of the economic recession.
This is your chance to raise your concerns and ask questions about what the Council is doing to promote our town centre. Improving the town centre is one of the ward priorities and this discussion will give the assembly a chance to look at the ways that this can be done.

High Street clutter report

Forest Hill Assembly allocated £2,500 from the £50,000 allocation to pay for a report on how the layout and look of the high street can be improved and made to look less drab and cluttered. The finished report and its findings will be presented at the February meeting. The report will make a number of recommendations for actions to improve the look of Forest Hill. An initial draft can be downloaded here (6MB).
If the assembly supports the recommendations, it can request to raise the issue with the Mayor and Cabinet following discussions with officers on options and solutions.

The coordinating group

The coordinating group meets every couple of months and includes the assembly officer, one of the local councillors and other members of the assembly who are appointed by the assembly meetings. The role of the coordinating group is to help plan and run meetings, plan and prepare for the assembly and address the key priorities of the ward as decided by the assembly.
If you are interested in joining the Coordinating Group please contact Sam Dias on 020 8314 3386 or sam.dias@lewisham.gov.uk.


All homes in the ward should have received a copy of the Forest Hill Assembly newsletter. If you have not received a copy, please contact Sam Dias on 020 8314 3386 or sam.dias@lewisham.gov.uk so that she can chase the delivery company and get a refund. In the meantime you can download a PDF from here.

16 December 2009

United against train service cuts!

In an unprecedented show of force, volunteers at every station from Sydenham to New Cross Gate handed out flyers on the mornings of 17th and 18th November telling passengers about the proposed cuts to their services. The Forest Hill Society worked hard on this with the Sydenham Society, Telegraph Hill Society, Brockley Central and the Honor Oak Park Residents Association because only a tough, co-ordinated campaign is going to Save Our Services.

We need to spread the message about the extent of these cuts and what they mean in practice which is why we’re investing so much time, effort and a little money into this fight. Many of the commuters we spoke to as we handed out the flyers were completely unaware that these cuts were being planned.

Our online petition is gaining support by the hour and now has over 2600 signatures. We’re working hard with councillors and London Assembly members to see if there is any way to stop the cuts. We’ve also co-operated with local councillors of all parties to secure a clear and cross-party statement from Lewisham Council against cuts to our services.

We’ve written to the Minister for Transport, both privately and in an open letter, requesting a meeting. We’ve received a reply but he has not agreed to meet us, despite multiple requests. So, why are we so strongly opposed to these cuts? Well, much as we’d like it to be otherwise, the pessimists sometimes get it right. Those people who predicted that the East London Line Extension through Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park would be at the expense of existing rail services seem to have been spot on. From May 2010, our daytime and evening peak services will be cut from six trains per hour to four per hour.

Using the figures we’ve been given by London Overground, we believe that the ELLX coupled with the REDUCED rail service to London Bridge will do nothing to relieve the current level of overcrowding on our commuter services. This is because passenger numbers are expected to rise substantially – by 30% according to London Overground.

Yet, once the ELLX does become overcrowded, there is no scope for increased capacity. This is because the signalling system on the core section in East London can’t cope with more trains than are currently planned. It’s also difficult to see how the operator could simply add extra coaches given that several stations along the route can’t take the longer trains.

True, the ELLX gives us 8 trains per hour interchanging with the Jubilee Line at Canada Water and continuing to Shoreditch. By then, we will also have direct trains to Victoria in the morning peak. But we believe these additions do not make up for the fact that many of us will have fewer trains.

And that’s not all. It is now inevitable that from December 13th Southern Railways will cut our direct evening and Sunday services from Charing Cross. There will still be four trains per hour in the late evenings but they will all start from London Bridge. There will be no additional trains running between Charing Cross and London Bridge. There seems to be a complete lack of joined-up thinking on the railways in South London.

If you would like to support our campaign against rail cuts please sign our petition at http://nototraincuts.notlong.com

Introducing our New Chair - Richard Hibbert

We’re delighted that Richard Hibbert will Chair the Society for the next 12 months. We asked him to introduce himself.

Hello and welcome to another year of the Forest Hill Society. Firstly, I would like to thank Peter Irby and Michael Abrahams for their work in Chairing the Society for the last twelve months. Michael's efforts in leading the Society's campaign for the pools to be built on Dartmouth Road with live/work on Willow Way are greatly appreciated and will be a hard act to follow. Both Michael and Peter will continue to serve on the Executive Committee so we will not be losing their expertise and enthusiasm. Peter has been undergoing a series of operations on his hip and we wish him a full recovery, while Michael is taking a step back from the Society in order to prepare for an expanding family.

Three of the Chairs of our sub-committees stepped down at the AGM, leaving Liz as the only old hand (Communications and Events). Michael (Planning and Development), Tony (Transport) and James (Environment and Leisure) have stepped down due to personal commitments but will be replaced by Hilary, Andrew and Quetta respectively. My thanks to all of them for their time and hard work. I first came to Forest Hill in 2000. I could see that Forest Hill had an interesting past, neglected present and great potential. My partner kept telling me there used to be two butchers, a fishmonger and bakers in Forest Hill when she first moved here. The more I dug into the history and learned about the area, the more I felt the desire to get involved; one of my pet hates is people who complain but do nothing about it.

At about this time, Lewisham started their Local Assemblies and I volunteered to be on the Coordinating Committee. This was where I met Michael who encouraged me to get involved in the Forest Hill Society. I have been on the Executive and Transport Committees for the last year and was active in the Oystergate and Pools campaigns.

The next year has many challenges ahead, including threatened cuts to our train service by Southern and the redevelopment of the Pools. We are actively working with other local civic societies and politicians to campaign against the train cuts; we were promised that our current services would not be reduced when the East London Line extension was proposed and we intend to keep the politicians to their promise.

We also continue to push the council and Sainsbury’s to come to an arrangement for two hours' free car parking off Pearcefield Avenue. But away from the campaigning, there will be plenty of social events over the next twelve months and I hope I shall have the opportunity to meet many of you and hear your thoughts about the future of SE23.

23 Club 2010

The 23 Club enjoyed a successful year in 2009 but we’d like to broaden its appeal in 2010. For example, we could have lunch or even breakfast some months or arrange to meet for a drink in a pub or cafe rather than a sit down meal. If you have any ideas or preferences, your feedback would be really helpful while we are reviewing the way to organize it in the future. Please send your ideas on the 23 Club to Mary (at) foresthillsociety.com.

Here are some questions to encourage you:
  • Are there any venues we haven’t yet visited which you would like to recommend?
  • Do you think we should have a new start time? Currently we meet at 8pm.
  • Do you think we should reduce the number of sit down meals? What alternatives appeal to you: morning coffee, a sandwich lunch, early evening drink, anything else?

New Battery Recycling Scheme

Lewisham Council recently announced a battery recycling scheme. This is very welcome news for those of us with mountains of used batteries! ‘BatteryCans’ have been placed in libraries across our borough.

The UK has a very poor record in this field and lags well behind many of our European neighbours. Of course the ideal thing is not to have batteries to recycle in the first place by using rechargeable ones – this involves quite an upfront cost.
More details on Lewisham’s website.