28 November 2010

PopUp Forest Hill

We have been hard at work organising a Pop Up event for Thursday night, 2 December 2010.

What started off as an idea with small ambitions has rapidly grown due to the phenomenal response we have had. The Mayor will be at the former Post Office to open the festivities at 3 pm and with over 50 events at more than 30 venues, there is something for everyone between 3 pm and 9 pm.

Highlights include the reopening of the Post Office as "The Sylvan Post" for the night, a performance in the Library by Buddhist monks from the Tskeramo Monastery, Drumming lessons at Robert Stanford, live music at Wetherspoons, The Hob and All Inn One and making your own Christmas decorations at Stag & Bow. If you don't know where they are, have a look at the website.

Why not pop along to Alhambra Home and Garden, Bunka or The Fitting Studio for some Christmas bargains (and 10% on the night off if you mention PopUp Forest Hill) and then have a meal at Question Bar who are offering 20% discount on the night.

Nip over to popupforesthill.wordpress.com for details of all the activities and venues or click on the map below to download your own guide to What's on Where.

23 November 2010

A light at the end of the Underpass?

Some campaigns require a lot of noise and public protest; others require quiet but persistant lobbying. Improving the underpass at Forest Hill is one of the latter campaigns which Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies have been fighting for some time.

The main problem is one of ownership. Network Rail, TfL, LOROL and Lewisham are all involved in some way and getting all the parties talking to each other and agreeing their responsibilities, liabilities and how to proceed has taken several years; indeed the Mayor of Lewisham commented on the snail's pace of progress at the October meeting of his Cabinet.

However, we have recently heard from Lewisham's Deputy Mayor that the lights (installed by Network Rail as part of the works carried out when the footbridge was being replaced but later disconnected) will be reconnected by the end of this week and that Shirley Broughton has just been appointed as the (long promised) Project Manager.

Progress on the replacement panels and resurfacing may have to wait a little longer, but we will keep the pressure up.

Ed: The lights were finally connected on 2 December and the underpass is now one of Lewisham's bright spots

19 November 2010

Construction contract awarded for new Forest Hill Leisure Centre

Lewisham Council has just released the following announcement:

Work is expected to begin in January on building a new leisure centre in Forest Hill following the award of a construction contract to Willmott Dixon.

Roberts Limbrick Architects will work alongside Willmott Dixon to create the new complex with two new pools and other leisure facilities on the site of the former Forest Hill Pools. The existing Victorian frontage of Forest Hill Pools will be retained.

Facilities in the new building will include a 25-metre pool, a 16.7-metre learner pool, fitness gym, two studios, community room and a café. The new development will include facilities and access for those people with disabilities.

Councillor Alan Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to move towards the next crucial stage of this long-awaited facility.

“Willmott Dixon made an excellent and detailed bid and I have complete confidence that the company will meet the challenges demanded by this complex structural engineering project. The company clearly understood the constraints of the site and have taken an innovative approach to their site set-up.”

Councillor Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This whole project has benefitted hugely from close collaboration and partnership.

“The final design was very much the result of a strong working relationship between the architects and the stakeholder group that was set up by the Council to liaise closely with residents. Together we found a solution that meets the needs of the local community and recognises the limited space available.”

“We have an excellent design provided by Roberts Limbrick Architects and now with Willmott Dixon on board we have an excellent construction company to build it.”

“The two companies will now work very closely together to deliver the new facilities. Willmott Dixon will start work on the site from January 2011 and we fully expect the leisure centre to be open to the public by the end of 2012.”

Mark Tant, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon, said: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to create a fantastic new pool in Forest Hill. We’ve done a lot of work in recent years in Lewisham, such as Hither Green Primary School and Crossways Academy, and like those projects, we will aim to ensure our work benefits local businesses as much as possible through the sub contractors we use.”

16 November 2010

Perry Vale Fire Station - Planning Application

The Forest Hill Society has objected to the current plans for the development of the old fire station on Perry Vale. Details of the application can be read on Lewisham website and the full text of the Forest Hill Society's objection can be read here.

The key concerns for the Society are lack of social housing, concerns over parking and internal layout, and lack of gardens or amenity space for the 13 flats in the development.

13 November 2010

Order a tree, support a school

Horniman Primary School have arranged for a supply of Christams trees which will help raise money for the school.

This year they are offering Nordmann Fir Christmas Trees for sale which are a popular, high quality tree, often described as non-drop; this is not strictly true but the Nordmann Fir does retain its needles better than many varieties and has a very pleasant soft, deep green foliage, smooth grey bark and a good triangular shape.

To order a tree please contact Tom Dunn on 07932 354 476 by Friday 28th November.

Trees can be ordered in the following sizes / prices (same as last year) and will be available to collect from Horniman Primary School, Horniman Drive, SE23 3BP from 9 am on Saturday, 11 December 2010:

5 ft£35
6-7 ft£40
7-8 ft£45
The 6/7 ft and 7/8ft trees could be anywhere within those ranges.

02 November 2010

A penny for the Guy?

picture by drm91

It's that time of year again and this year marks the 405th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, so where should we go to celebrate and enjoy the displays? There are displays on both Friday and Saturday nights, and if you are keen, you might be able to visit four displays due to our excellent transport connections.

Southwark Park

When: Friday 5th November 2010 Gates Open: 18:00
Display: 19:00
Admission: Free
Getting There: Overground to Canada Water

The Southwark fireworks display is nicely traditional as it actually takes place on Bonfire Night itself, November the 5th. In addition to the host of roman candles, waterfalls, comets and mortars, the Southwark fireworks display will have family friendly atmosphere sure to keep the kids well entertained. So dig out those hats and gloves, wrap up warm and head to a great fireworks display knowing full well you won’t be charged on the door. The event starts at 6pm, but the fireworks don’t start until 7pm so make sure you’ve picked yourself a prime spot by then – you won’t want to miss any of the great show.

Further details

Crystal Palace Park

When: Friday 5th November 2010. Gates open 18:00
Display: Children’s display 19:00, main display 20:30
Admission: £5.00 for adults, £3.00 for kids aged 5 – 13. Kids under 5 go free.
Getting There: By train to Crystal Palace or Penge West or by Bus routes 176 and 197

As well as the two fireworks displays, Crystal Palace Park is also playing host to a family funfair where kids can try out a variety of exciting rides. Traditional food and drink is also available at the Crystal Palace fireworks display, including autumnal treats such as a hog roast.

Further Details

Blackheath Fireworks

When: Saturday 6th November 2010
Display: 20:00
Admission: Free. Donations welcome on the night.
Getting There: 185 or 122 to Lewisham or alternatively, avoid the crowds and watch the display from Blythe Hill.

Lewisham's official display, paid for by the council. This event grows in popularity every year and attracts very large crowds. Refreshments and food stalls will be available throughout the evening and you can make the most of a complete night out with family and friends. Kids can also have a go on the rides at the family friendly funfair.

Please remember that it is illegal to bring fireworks (including sparklers) onto the heath, so leave your own fireworks and sparklers at home and enjoy the spectacular display safely.

Further Details


When: Saturday 6th November 2010. Gates Open: 18:00
Display: 20:00
Admission: Adults £5.00, children under 16 £3.00. Kids under 5 go free
Getting There: Bus route 194 from Sydenham or 354 from Penge West. SatNav:BR3 3PW.

Beckenham's Bonfire Night (organised by the Beckenham Round Table) returns to the Croydon Road Recreation Ground and will includes a funfair, complete with fairground rides for the little ones.

Further details

Brockwell Park

There will be no formal fireworks displays in Brockwell Park this year as Lambeth Council have decided to save money and concentrate on Clapham Common instead.

Further details

Lord Mayor's Fireworks

When: Saturday 13th November 2010
Where: River Thames, between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge
Display: 17:00
Admission: Free
Getting There:Train to London Blackfriars

If you miss all the events this weekend (or have not had your fill of fireworks), fear not! The Lord Mayor's inaugral parade takes place the next weekend and finishes spectacularly with a gigantic fireworks display launched from a barge located between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge on the River Thames. The fireworks display, which starts at 5pm, marks the end of the show and the beginning of a new mayoral year. It is widely expected to be one of the most stunning fireworks displays of 2010.

Further details

27 October 2010

Save Sydenham Library

The Mayor of Lewisham is considering closing five of Lewisham's libraries; Blackheath, Crofton Park, Grove Park, New Cross and Sydenham.

Friends of Sydenham Library believe that this is short-sighted and that the social cost of closing the libraries will be greater than the savings.

They know that the Council is facing tough decisions as a result of the Government's funding cuts, but strongly feel that closing the libraries is a knee-jerk decision that is wrong-headed and short-sighted. Many people support the campaign - nearly 20,000 people have signed the petition opposing the closure, which is roughly one tenth of the electorate in Lewisham.

They believe that the social and financial cost of closing the libraries will be far greater than keeping them open and that more and more people will come to rely on the libraries in the difficult times ahead.

Friends of Sydenham Library want to see the libraries remain open with similar or longer opening hours and continue to be run by professional staff; innovative, creative and original use of library buildings and resources should be able to improve the service, adding to their usage and income and involving the communities that depend on them.

They will be marching from Crofton Park Library to Lewisham Town Hall (in Catford) on Saturday, 30th October. The plan is that it will be a light-hearted event with everyone wearing brightly coloured clothes; anyone wishing to dress up as a book character will be most welcome. Bring whistles, drums or anything that will make a noise.

If you can attend, meet at 12:15pm outside Crofton Park Library and be ready to set off at 12:30. The aim is to arrive at Lewisham Town Hall by 1:30pm for a rally and speeches. Crofton Park library is at the junction of Brockley Road and Darfield Road, right next to Crofton Park rail station. The library is also served by bus routes 122, 171, 172 and P4.

If you cannot make the march, but want to register your protest, please write to Sir Steve Bullock, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford. SE6 4RU or by email to steve.bullock@lewisham.gov.uk

26 October 2010

Chair's Report 2010

It has been a busy year for the Society with active campaigns being run for the pools, trains and Tyson Road. Some of these have been more successful than others, but my thanks goes to all those who have volunteered their time, expertise and support.

This year has seen various improvements to the Town Centres, with a new footbridge and lifts at the station, four new coffee shops, repairs to the pavements, removal of some railings and the introduction of two hours' free parking in the Pearcefield Avenue car park as well as the extension of the Conservation Area (with stronger enforcement powers) and the arrival of the new London Overground service, which seems to have improved capacity and many people's commute.

After eight months of correspondence, we finally managed to arrange a meeting with TfL London Streets – the agency responsible for the South Circular – to discuss improvements that could be made in both the short and long term. This meeting was also attended by Jim Dowd MP, Deputy Mayor Allan Smith, local councillors and Peter Kalton from LOROL. We will be following up on this to make sure that changes are implemented.

We also managed to persuade TfL to allow the planting of the planters outside the station. Our thanks must go to Shannon's Garden Centre who have generously donated their time, expertise and plants. The Environment Committee also supported FHTA in the removal of many wheelie and commercial bins from the pavements which has generally improved the ambience.

Many successful events have been organised by the various committees, including those run by the 23 Club (especially the Burns Night supper), a trip to Brogdale to see the apple blossom, the May Day celebration on Albion Millenium Green, a picnic on the South Circular, Open House at Louise House as well as our first stall at the Forest Hill Day. My thanks to all those who baked cakes and staffed the stalls at Forest Hill Day and Blythe Hill Fields.

Looking forwards to the next year, our priorities will be the pools development, effecting change in Forest Hill Town Centre, revitalising the underpass and improving the environment. I am excited to welcome some of the new members who have expressed a desire to join the Executive.

We also need to do a better job at promoting ourselves and increasing our membership numbers. If we are not responding to your needs, we need to know. It is up to all of us to encourage our friends and neighbours to join so that we can more fairly represent the views of our community.

The Executive Committee has met formally on seven occasions this year, although there has been extensive communication and correspondence between meetings.

25 October 2010

Planning and Development Report 2010

The role of the development committee covers two main areas; the first is to review and comment on planning applications in the area and the second is to keep up with other local issues or initiatives, related to proposals that affect the physical environment of Forest Hill and Honor Oak.

The list of planning applications that we have commented on over the past year is covered below. We try to comment (for clarification, in support or objecting) on schemes that we think are important for the area as a whole and as such we don’t generally comment on smaller householder applications for extensions or smaller works. We are interested in trying to encourage good proposals that reinforce the strong character of Forest Hill and that help keep the town centre and other high street areas busy and vibrant. With the extended Conservation Area we are also interested in trying to make sure that this helps form a framework for high quality proposals within this central area, and is not ignored.

Other local issues and initiatives over the past year include:

  • Forest Hill Pools

    The main issue for the year has continued to be the Swimming pools. Things have moved forward considerably over the past year and we have continued to take part in the Councils Stakeholder Group Meetings.

    After a good level of local debate and a public meeting in June the detailed proposals received planning permission in July of this year. Whilst we have some relatively minor concerns about the bulk and design of the building we are generally happy that this will be a very positive addition to Forest Hill and provide a much needed boost to Dartmouth Road.

    The old pools were demolished over the summer, leaving only the retained superintendent’s block and a large pile of rubble on the site. The Council is currently identifying a contractor to build the scheme and intend to start work on site early in the New Year. The Council are working towards opening the pool before the Olympics in August 2012.

  • Louise House

    Alongside the progress that has been made on the pools project the Council and a number of stakeholders have been trying to secure a future for Louise House, the listed building next door to it. In March the Council invited Expressions of Interest from Groups who felt they could take on the building. Two groups came forward, proposing to use the building an arts centre or community run serviced offices and nursery. The office and nursery scheme has been further developed by the Crystal Palace Community Development Trust (CPCDT), who is working with Lewisham Council to seek funding which will enable the project to move forward. In the current economic climate and against a background of public sector cuts this will be challenging. But there are hopes that the autumn round of Lottery funding will provide some support.

    In September the Forest Hill Society was instrumental in arranging for Louise House to be open for Open House London. This London wide weekend event sees a broad range of buildings open to the public and attracts a very wide audience. In collaboration with the Sydenham Society, the Friends of Louise House and Lewisham Council we showed over 100 people around the building, had an exhibition about the building’s history and also hosted an exhibition about Janusz Korczak.

  • Town Centre

    The other ongoing issue for the Society is the town centre. There have been a number of new shop and café openings, which we are really pleased to see, and we understand there are more in the pipeline.

    Over the year the Street Clutter report prepared for the Ward Assembly has been taken to the Council with a recommendation that something needs to be done to see this implemented.

Next Year...

Over the next year we are planning to focus more on the town centre and to keep a close eye on progress on the pools. We are also looking for suggestions of other buildings that we might be able to help get opened up as part of Open House 2011.

We would love to hear from you if you would like to get involved in the work of the Development Committee


This has been another busy year for planning issues, particularly with the Tyson Road planning appeal.

Back in October last year the council rejected the latest plans for the Tyson Road development. However, the developer appealed against this decision and in February 2010 there was a week long appeal hearing. The Forest Hill Society acted as a 'rule 6' party, allowing us to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses from the developer. With the assistance of local residents, Councillor John Russell, and John Hutchinson from the Sydenham Society, we presented a well constructed objection to this development. However we were up against a team of well paid professionals including the leading planning barrister in the country.
Unfortunately the inspector allowed the latest scheme, although the previous, larger scheme was rejected. The fact that one scheme was rejected and another was allowed shows how close this decision was. Following the general election one of the first acts of the new government was to strengthen protection for backland sites and it is possible that, had these rules been in force at the time of the inquiry, we would have had a different outcome. Hopefully future developments of this nature will be prevented by this change to planning guidance.

On the more positive side Forest Hill swimming pool was approved for partial demolition and redevelopment. Work on the new building should be starting this year and we can look forward to swimming in Forest Hill once more in 2012.

Other planning applications which the Society commented on:

SiteFHSoc submissionResult
109-111 Kirkdale (DC/09/72209/X)Objected (overdevelopment)Rejected
29 Ewelme Road (DC/10/74149)Objected (overdevelopment)Rejected
81-83 Dartmouth Road
(Latest: DC/10/75146)
Objected (loss of retail space)Rejected twice and approved third application with modifications
Horniman GardensApproved with reservations (too many trees in bandstand area and lines of sight round the new building)Approved and some of our concerns have been addressed (no trees in the bandstand area)
Phoenix Works
Objected (overdevelopment)
Approved on appeal
35 Sunderland RoadObjected (church in a residential area with noise issues)Gone to appeal
Hoarding on London RoadObjected (out of character with conservation area)Rejected
Former Post OfficeApprovedWaiting for decision
Flats above former post officeObjectedWaiting for decision
27 Shipman RoadObjectedWaiting for decision
74 Canonbie RoadRequested further informationWaiting for decision
Church on Manor Mount/David's Road/ Devonshire RoadWill be objecting
6 Church RiseWill be objecting

This record shows that the Forest Hill Society's concerns are often upheld by Lewisham planning department. We try hard to object on solid planning grounds and this approach gives us credibility when discussing planning issues.

Conservation Area

This year the Forest Hill Conservation area has been extended to include the swimming pool and half of Thorpewood Avenue as well as Benson Road. We had recommended that the conservation area should also include Round Hill, Tyson Road, and the Waldram Park triangle, but these recommendations were not accepted by the council. However, we were able to itemise a number of buildings that were worthy of local listing that have been accepted by Lewisham council.

Death on a Building Site

Although not a planning issue, we were shocked at the development of 14 Waldram Park and the tragic death of a person on the site in September. Whilst it is too early to be sure of the exact circumstances, we will be following the inquiry into this death and any contributing factors. We will also be paying close attention to 6 Church Rise which has a new application from the same developer.

Future Developments

Next year we can expect that plans will be submitted to redevelop Featherstone Lodge, the former drugs rehabilitation centre at the top of Eliot Bank. This is a fine building with large space to the rear. It was marketed as having 'potential for development' but, as a backland site, we will be interested to see any proposals for this site.

Environment Report 2010

Over the course of the last year the Committee has been working to try to support issues in SE23, by looking at:

  • Green spaces,
  • Conservation & streetscape
  • Leisure
  • Local history
We have been trying to raise awareness of green spaces through arranging events and support, where we can, for those many smaller “neighbourhood” green spaces which are run by volunteers.

FH Soc volunteers worked with Lewisham’s Nature’s Gym to prepare Albion Millennium Green (AMG) for the May Day planting of 13 fruit trees, with money obtained from the Ward Localities Fund. AMG is now thriving, with an increase in species diversity noted, including sightings of the rare Jersey Tiger Moth. The interactive Google map has now received 1500 hits. A “Friends of AMG” meeting is planned to discuss further work: clearing more undergrowth, the creation of a dew pond water feature, the need to renew the collapsed boundary wall with fence/tree planting and possibly organise a fundraising event. Anyone interested would be welcome to come to the meeting at the All in One Pub (along from the Perry Rise station exit) at 7.30 on Friday 29th October.

The E & L Committee has also been supporting the work of the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Their programme of events includes a gardening group which meets every Friday morning and a Muddy Boots toddlers group every second Saturday morning. There was an Apple Day 3rd October 1-5.00pm, and a Hallowe’en (lamps and lanterns) event will be held in the afternoon on Sunday, 31st October.

Other activities have included an outing with Sydenham Society in April to Brogdale, the home of the National Fruit Tree Collection, and a guided walk around Sydenham Hill Woods with historian Steve Grindlay and Ashley from the Wildlife Trust.

We have also been highlighting the presence of the highly invasive Japanese Knotweed to the appropriate authorities when this has been reported to us. Please keep reporting this.

We have joined Lewisham’s Services Manager and the Forest Hill Traders’ Association in town centre walkabouts, identifying (as ex-Cllr Russell’s Street Clutter report had done) areas where improvements could be made, e.g. removal of the industrial rubbish bins which constantly line the main streets of the centre. It was agreed pressure should be kept on improving the town centre and that we should continue with the walkabouts, with another requested for this autumn.

A successful link was established between FH Station’s Manager and Shannon’s Garden Centre with Shannon’s generously donating and planting up the flower tubs at the main entrance to the Station, but no progress had been made with the acquisition of planters for the station platforms.

Regarding lack of flower baskets on lampposts in the town centre, and the question of flower troughs on street railings, as the FH Society has decided to enter “London in Bloom 2011”, we will be concentrating on this in the Spring. The Horniman Museum has agreed to be involved as have the residents’ association of the Eliot Bank estate. A small sub-committee will probably be needed to concentrate on this project.

Future activities:
Future events will include organising a Community Open Day at Dacres Wood in March.

There is an opportunity to be involved in the restoration of the ancient hawthorn hedge at the Horniman Triangle, working with Nature’s Gym, on Thursday, 6th December 11.00-2.00pm. There will also be the installation of a stag beetle loggery with interpretation board, which should help promote and enhance Biodiversity in Lewisham.

Following a lead from “Dulwich going greener” we are looking at the possibility of holding a “give and take” day where unwanted items could be deposited and swapped, free of charge, for something which is needed.

We have discussed re-cycling generally, but have specifically suggested an electrical goods re-cycling point should be established at a convenient local point, possibly at Sainsbury’s car park and will continue for work towards this. We are also planning an Executive Committee visit to Lewisham’s recycling plant to see how the work is organised.

The Environment and Leisure Committee would welcome new members and their ideas for future activity. Our next meeting will be towards the end of November.