16 December 2010

Forest Hill Walking Group

The Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies are planning to start a walking group next year. 

Each walk will consist of a four to six mile walk from points accessible from our railway stations and will be held on the first Saturday of each month.

If you’re interested, please contact quetta@ForestHillSociety.com or call her on 020 8699 2115.  Further details will follow nearer the time, but the proposed walks are:-

5 February 2011: London Bridge- Canary Wharf - option to Island Gardens.  Leaders: Andrea, Pat and Steve.
5 March 2011: Thames Path West - Richmond to Putney.  Leader: TBA
2 April 2011: Rainham to Purfleet LOOP. Leader: Quetta.
7 May 2011: Coulsdon South (Spring flowers) Leader:  Bev.
4 June 2011:  Otford.  Leader:  Bev/Annabel.
2 July 2011:  TBA
6 August 2011:  Waterway link.  Leader: Steve.
3 September 2011: Edenbridge.  Leader: Pat. 

Forest Hill Pools move into Final Stages

First Class Victorian Pool in Forest Hill

Lewisham Council has now appointed the principal building contractor for the new Swimming Pools. Construction firm, Wilmot Dixon, will take over the site early in the new year. This is very exciting news at a difficult financial time for the Council  and confirms the final go-ahead.

Hilary Renwick, Lewisham’s Head of Cultural Services, has confirmed that construction will start towards the end of January. The current timetable sees the main bulk of the building completed in May 2012, with completion and testing of the services from June to August.  The Council is hopeful that the new facility will open to the community in September 2012. This is a complex site and there are a number of areas which could delay completion, but it is still exciting stuff and fits in very well with the end of the Olympics.

A further piece of good news is that the Council has invited all those on the stakeholder group to an initial meeting with Wilmott Dixon so that they can meet the Contractor's team and enjoy a celebratory drink.  Those of us on the Stakeholder Group very much look forward to continuing to work with the Council and its design team during the construction phase and hope to be able to influence the way that the building will be run and managed.

We will provide regular updates on progress from the New Year.  We are planning a series of interviews with different people involved during the project - from the architect to the site manager - so do let us know if there is a particular member of the team you are interested in hearing from.

Louise House

The other good news is that the contractors have requested to use Louise House, the former Girls’ Industrial Home, as their site office during the build. It may not be the most glamorous of uses for Louise House but it may have some long term benefit. The company says the parts of the building they use would be returned “in the same or better condition”. Importantly it would keep it in use and heated over two winters while the community continues to work with the Council to find a financially viable use for the building.

On further questioning, Wilmott Dixon confirmed that its tender includes redecoration of the areas occupied, services testing and enhancement, with Fire Certification and an allowance for building rates, service connections and consumption costs.

The old laundry block at the back will not be used.

A magical PopUp Night

Jazz at From the Forest Coffee Shop

Tibetan Monks trudging through the snow. Carols wafting out of the shoe shop. Drummers making Robert Stanford’s estate agents rock. Something very special happened to Forest Hill on Thursday, 2 December.
Our town centre was taken over by a ‘community happening’ that saw local businesses become mini performance spaces, local people transform empty shops into Christmas pop-ups, and local pubs and restaurants turn into community networking venues.
We had people sipping cocktails at the old Post Office, becoming rock and roll stars with full band and recording kit at the Hob and then relaxing with a massage at Carers Lewisham.
It all started when Hugh Dames mentioned the idea at our AGM in October. We thought it sounded exciting and ambitious so the Society got on board and worked hard with him to turn this idea into reality.
The snow, ice and cancelled trains forced us to make last minute changes to the schedule. But it all came together and there was a real buzz that night.
Hugh hopes the event “inspired the people of Forest Hill to see themselves as members of a vibrant and dynamic local community with great skills, shared interests, groups and associations, businesses and facilities that benefit us all.”
Richard Hibbert said “This is the largest event the Society has helped organise. The response was fantastic and people are already asking us when the next pop-up is happening!. A lot of people worked very hard in freezing conditions to make this event a success. We are very grateful to them and immensely proud that our community can do this.“

Find out more at popupforesthill.wordpress.com
Christmas Decorations at Stag&Bow

Sydenham Garden's new Resource Centre

Steve Bullock opens Sydenham Garden resource centre alongside Jennie Graham, Chief Executive, Jim Sikorski, Chair of Trustees; Christine Dow, co-worker; Paul Shoebridge, volunteer; Katie Hooper, staff

On the last weekend of November, hundreds of residents braved the cold to watch the Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, open Sydenham Garden’s brand new resource centre.

For over eight years, the award-winning local charity has supported people in Lewisham and Bromley experiencing mental and physical ill health without having its own building from which to operate.

The charity has been fundraising to build the resource centre since 2005 and thanks to numerous grants and donations construction finally began in March 2010. The centre will provide much needed indoor space for therapeutic gardening and art sessions in the coming Winter months.

Chief Executive Jennie Graham says, “the building means we can expand the range of opportunities we provide for our service users.”

The building, which sits beside the garden and nature reserve, was designed by Architype to blend with the surrounding environment with sustainable features including a solar panel, thick insulation and a heat recovery system to reduce dramatically the heating requirements. It also has a bio-diverse roof to provide new habitats for wildlife.

Entrance to the garden is via a wooden access gate on Holland Drive, off Queenswood Road.  For more information about the charity, visit http://www.sydenhamgarden.org.uk/, contact it via email on info@sydenhamgarden.org.uk, or telephone on 020 8291 1650.

15 December 2010

Dates for Your Diary

Thursday, 16th December 11-2pm - Horniman Triangle hedge-planting. If you’d like to help restore the ancient hawthorn hedge, you are asked to pre-book by emailing Jessica.Kyle@lewisham.gov.uk.

Saturday, 15th January 11am-1pm – Crofton Park Assembly. St Hilda's Church Hall, Courtrai Road, SE23 1PL
Sunday, 16th January - 11– 3pm – Bring and Take at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. See article for further details.
Sunday, 16th January 3pm – Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Planning meeting for London in Bloom entry. See article for further details.
Monday, 17th January – 7.30-9.30 — Forest Hill Assembly. Sydenham Girls’ School, Dartmouth Road, SE26 4RD
Tuesday, 25th January – Burns Night. All Inn One, Please book directly 020 8699 3311.

Thursday, 17th February – Time and venue TBC. Perry Vale Assembly.

Forest Hill will Bloom in 2011

The Forest Hill Society plans to enter the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ section of London in Bloom 2011. With a February deadline for submission, the inaugural ideas and volunteers planning meeting will be held on Sunday, January 16th 2011 at 3pm at the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve.

The geographical limit – what “our neighbourhood” will cover – will have to be defined, but we will probably start modestly in our first year, perhaps limited to a small central patch to see how things develop. We might just start with the green area in front of Forest Hill station. But all decisions have yet to be made on what and where to plant; what sponsorship or funding we might attract and generally how we are going to proceed with this new enterprise. So input from the wider community is essential: this is YOUR Forest Hill so we need to know what you think about sprucing it up with flowers.

If you have ideas, this is your chance to be involved in beautifying Forest Hill and greening up our town centre. If you have green fingers and would like to get dug in, would like to learn, or just have some thoughts about what you would like to see, please contact quetta@foresthillsociety.com. Better still, come along on the 16th to help shape our entry.

With a little bit of work, Forest Hill will bloom in 2011.

Bring and Take Event - 16 January

This is a fun event to promote recycling, reuse and reduction of waste. Simply bring along any items you no longer need between 11.00 and 15.00 on Sunday 16 January 2011 and swap them for things you do - completely free! Articles should preferably be easily portable and in good condition. Items such as books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, plants, lamps, kitchenware, bikes and other unwanted goods can find a happy home.

Reaching New Heights

Some of you may have noticed the Christmas Tree in Forest Hill this year.

After last year's miserable effort (despite being very generously sponsored both financially and in goodwill by the local Winkworth office), we were determined that the tree should be one to be proud of and worked with Lewisham Council's Town Management Team and FHTA to ensure a great finished product this time.

Last Thursday a number of Forest Hill Society members met the Lewisham Lighting team and their cherry picker and proceeded to add baubles, tinsel and extra lights to the tree.

From this

To This

Our thanks to Winkworth for sponsoring last year's tree and buying lights for it, FHTA for the extra lights to replace those which were stolen, Liz Bannister and the Town Centre Management Team and Alan Agent and the Lighting Department for making this possible.

14 December 2010

Fuller Oyster Facilities available at local stations

After a year of lobbying, we have just been informed by TfL that passengers can now purchase a Monthly ticket on Oyster directly from the ticket office or Ticket Vending Machines at the London Overground stations on the Sydenham line. No longer will you have to go to London Bridge or a station north of New Cross Gate.

If a passenger requires an Annual season ticket on Oyster however, they can request it from the station but it would have to be collected the following day (or later). TfL apologised if staff have been advising passengers to travel to another station as this is not the case and LOROL has confirmed that the staff have been re-briefed them so this should not happen again.

While not ideal, this is at least progress.

10 December 2010

Pools Update from the Stakeholders Group

Last night (09/12/10), we had our first meeting with the team from Willmott Dixon, the construction firm selected to build the new Forest Hill Pools. Penelope Jarrett reports.

The team of four senior managers gave us a presentation starting with the 148 year history of the firm, pictures of pools they have built previously and other Lewisham buildings they have worked on: Hither Green Primary School, Crossways Academy and Goldsmith’s College.

In addition to the normal project team, they have a leisure sector specialist and they assured us they will be working closely with the architects, Roberts Limbrick. Lewisham Council
will also be retaining independent experts to monitor the building services.

The team presented diagrams showing how the phases of the build will progress. The enabling works will involve moving office workers into the first floor of Louise House, which they will refurbish to make it usable (roof and window repairs, making the electrics safe). There will still need to be temporary structures in front of Louise House to hold the toilets, showers, drying area and canteen for the operatives. These are too specialised to fit into Louise House, and it was also thought inappropriate to have muddy boots going in and out of the building all day.

Willmott Dixon told us they pride themselves on the good quality of the welfare provision
they make for their staff, a good health and safety record, their sustainable construction methods and engagement with the local community.

Sustainable construction includes working to an Energy Performance Certificate rating of B or above, using recycled materials in the building itself and diverting 85% of the waste from landfill (aim is for 100% in 2012). Some months after handover, they do a post-occupancy evaluation, which includes ensuring the occupants know how to get the best out of the building in the most efficient way.

Engagement with the local community includes communicating with local residents (e.g. Derby Hill Crescent, Salcombe House) over when work will be taking place and who to contact if there are problems, providing work experience for local schools, offering to support an associated community project (they will be looking for ideas here) and willingness to attend Forest Hill Society meetings if invited.

Expected Timetable
Commence 4/1/11, complete 23/4/12 i.e. 68 weeks.

This will be broken down into:
4 weeks - Enabling work
24 weeks - Demolitions and alterations to existing building
18 weeks - Substructure works
18 weeks - Superstructure and envelope works
25 weeks - Pool plant installation
36 weeks - Finishes
42 weeks - Swimming pool fitting out and testing
30 weeks - External works and landscaping

Mathematicians amongst you will have noticed that this adds up to considerably more than 68 weeks so I assume some of these activities will be taking place alongside each other!

After this date, Lewisham will supervise fit-out and commissioning in partnership with whomever has won the tender to run the new pools. They have already begun the tendering process and have a shortlist of interested parties who will be invited to submit business plans next year. They are optimistic about the quality of the tenders, and an opening date in the summer of 2012.

Meanwhile, they are thinking of placing information displays in the library and arranging further meetings and site visits for stakeholders if interested.

Penelope Jarrett
Forest Hill Society representative on the stakeholder group