31 March 2012

Vote for Forest Hill

Show your support by 'liking' our Portas Pilot video on YouTube.

The Forest Hill Society has been working with our bid partners to secure £100,000 funding for the Sydenham, Forest Hill and Kirkdale Town Team. This will help pull together the various traders' groups, civic societies, landlords and organisations in the area to drive improvement in our Town Centres.

The aim of the Portas Pilot is not to pay for all the improvements that we would like to see - it is much more about effecting change which will lead to those improvements through dynamic leadership.

We would love to get the street clutter removed, install better signage, let people know where the car parks are, link the Horniman Museum with Forest Hill, and fill our empty shops with quality independant offerings, but this is not going to happen unless we make it happen. We cannot just sit back and wait for TfL, the council or whoever to do it for us.

The Town Centre Team will work together to promote Forest Hill, Sydenham and Kirkdale, address the issues and effect change. It will benefit by sharing the many talents and enthusiasm that we have in the area and, by sharing the workload, will result in more changes for the better.

We look forwards to being active participants.

(The Forest Hill Society's bid partners include Lewisham Council, Sydenham Society, Kirkdale Village Traders, Sydenham Town Centre Steering Group and many other individuals.)

28 March 2012

Pools Update - July Opening?

At a recent meeting of the Stakeholders' group, presentations were made by Fusion Lifestyle and Willmott Dixon. The facility will be open 7am-10pm on weekdays and 7am-6pm at weekends and will include:

  • a 25m length swimming pool
  • a 16.7m length learner pool
  • a 54 piece, state-of-the-art fitness suite with 20% of the equipment being IFI accredited. The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) is a programme supporting the fitness industry to become more inclusive - catering for the needs of disabled and non-disabled people, as well as raising physical activity participation levels.
  • two studios
  • a café area. Fusion are currently tendering for the café operator. They have advertised through local and national press and received 14 expressions of interest, of those 8 have submitted pre-qualification questionnaires (the first phase of selection) and will be invited to submit a full tender brief on how they will manage the café. Fusion stated their desire to work with a partner who will actively engage with the local community.
  • a community room for hire
  • spectator viewing and
  • an exhibition area

Fusion's presentation included provisional schedules for the pools. These can be viewed on our Flickr account - Blogger refuses to display them correctly. Please feedback any comments to email@foresthillsociety.com.

The timetable for the main pool can be found here. One lane will usually available at all times during a general swim session for lane swimming.

The timetable for the Learner Pool can be found here. The community sessions are a new addition for Forest Hill Pools which have been created to allow community groups such as disabled groups a slot on the timetable to use their local leisure centre. These sessions will be open to the community and Fusion Lifestyle would like groups to come forward who are interested in using them. If you email us, we will forward your email to Fusion.

Fusion Lifestyle also asked for any opinions on how the studios should be used to be fedback

Two other items were also discussed. A specialist design company called Atelier has been commissioned by Lewisham to design a permanent exhibition or artwork reflecting the history of the old Forest Hill Pools which will be displayed in the new building. Stakeholders were encouraged to bring forward any old pictures/ photographs or information they may have of the building or the area that could be contributed to this work. Contact Tim Andrew for further details.

Finally, the Council wish to go out to tender for an organisation to take on Louise House. They are open to innovative ideas on how to feasibly develop the site whilst retaining a community focus to the site.

The Council are hoping to open the building by July 2012, with an official opening ceremony on 22nd September 2012. Photos of the current progress can be found on Lewisham's, Willmott Dixon's and Forest Hill Society's Flickr accounts.

27 March 2012

Planning Application - 49 Houston Road - DC/12/79665

There has been another planning application for 49 Houston Road following the rejection of the previous application.
The new planning application can be viewed on the Lewisham Council website. The Forest Hill Society have written to object to this application on the basis that the application includes poor internal layout, poor outlook and daylight, and will increase overlooking of neighbouring properties.

Horniman Licensing Application

Horniman Museum and Gardens have recently applied for a licence for entertainment and serving alcohol for up to 15,000 people. We contacted the Horniman to ask for more details about this application. Here's what they said:

The Horniman currently has a licence to provide what is termed “regulated entertainment” this means that we can show plays, films, have live music, dance and things of a similar description. The licence allows for “the provision of entertainment facilities” for making music, dancing, and entertainment of a similar description. Our current licence also allows for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises at certain times and we are applying to change these times to enable us to sell alcohol through the shop, cafe and at some events.

Our current licence is complex in terms of the different hours for which different activities are licensed, and we now need to update it to include our new ‘Gardens Pavilion’ which will sometimes be used for the licensable activities referred to above.

We plan to base our programme around the traditional size of event we have been running for many years. Typically over the last decade our larger events have attracted 5,000-10,000 people over the course of the day. This year we have World City Music Village planned for June (5-10,000 people), the Big Dance Picnic planned for 8 July (2-5,000 people) and a community launch for the Gardens planned for 31 May (approximately 2,000

We have had experience of one very large scale event in the summer of 2009 (attended by
approximately 20,000 people) which we believe was too large for our site and facilities. We have no intention of staging such very large scale events in the future.

We are not planning events attracting over 10,000 in the course of the day, but we have applied for up to 14,999 on site ( licence bands go up in units of 5,000) to ensure that just a few people over this target do not put us in breach of our licence.

We very much hope that local people will enjoy and participate in our summer programme this year.

22 March 2012

Be a star!

We want you to make a 20-30 second video for our Portas Pilot bid.

Each bid needs to include a video which shows how much the local community cares about their Town Centre and how they would improve it. We would like to include locals' views about the area in a way that will make our bid unique and personal. Your video should therefore include a high and low about either Sydenham, Forest Hill or Kirkdale shopping areas. It can be as simple or complicated as you like, with or without commentary - use your imagination! But it needs to be done quickly. We must have your video by 6pm on Sunday (March 25).

We need the actual file for editing purposes, so please use www.sendspace.com to email your video to myfilm@foresthillsociety.com. If you post your video to YouTube as well, please add the tags se23, se26, forest hill, sydenham and portas.

The legal bit.
You will keep the copyright to your video in its raw format. By sending the video to us using sendspace.com, you will grant Forest Hill Society full rights to include the video in our Portas Pilot bid. Forest Hill Society and its bid partners will have full copyright of the bid video.

19 March 2012

St George's Food Fair

On Sunday 22 April,10 until 4, we are holding a Food Fair in the forecourt of Forest Hill Station.
We are busy putting together a group of the finest local food producers and retailers to bring real quality food right into the heart of Forest Hill.
Alongside On THe Hoof's coffee stall, we'll have hot food and great drinks from Fleisch, Forest Hill's newest caterers.

Honor Oak's recent newcomer Hills & Parkes will be selling their delicious home baked pies and a range of superb English cheeses. Their new chef is cooking tartlets filled with lemon/rhubarb and custard/choc/strawberry and savoury flavours too.

Mridula Baljekar's Kitchen will be selling their Pure & Fresh range of spiced fruit chutneys. Using no artificial additives or colours they have an unmistakably delicious Eastern quality.

The fruit and vegetables are supplied by Perry Court Farm in Kent and the recipes are then developed and cooked by Jacqueline Evans & Mridula Baljekar in Mridula Baljekar's Kitchen. Sean 'Egg Boss' Lawson will be selling his six flavours of Scotch Egg, to eat on the day or to take home for a delicious lunchtime treat and Pimento Hill will be bringing the Caribbean to Forest Hill with their sauces, seasonings and jellies. Let's hope they bring the sunshine too!

Local Dulwich favourites Franklins will be offering wonderful deli produce, both local and from around the world and there will also be stalls from artisan bakers BreadBread and the Forest Hill Cake Company to round off our list of quality food merchants.

There will be music and entertainment throughout the day, so mark the date in your diary and come and experience 'all the fun of the fair!'
With thanks to the Station Operators LOROL.

12 March 2012



Join us on our Woodland Walk. Starting from London Road, Horniman Gardens lower entrance, bottom of Sydenham Hill (not Sydenham Rise). A guided walk will take us through Sydenham Woods looking at the disused railway line and spring flowers. 'Pissarro's bridge' is shown to the right.

Join us for Forest Hill in Bloom 2012!
Meet at 2.30pm, Sat 28 April, at the station forecourt. Bring gardening gloves, trowel and a plastic bag.
We will be holding a similar event in Honor Oak Park (timing to be confirmed)

Development News

Recently there have been several planning applications for high street developments to which the Society has objected. This may seem at odds with our intention of championing the local shopping areas, so we thought we should explain why we have taken this position.
In Dartmouth Road there were applications to change the use of three separate retail units into a financial service, an office, and a bar. Although they have been empty for years and it is great news that new businesses want to open here, we were concerned about the loss of units for retail. Lewisham has guidelines about maintaining a mix of uses in town centres to encourage shopping. We expect that the new swimming pools will increase passing trade and help to revitalise Dartmouth Road, so we don't want too many retail units to disappear.

In Honor Oak Park we objected to two applications on the shopping parade. The first was Domino's Pizza wanting to open a pizza delivery outlet in the former Old Bank restaurant. There was a lot of local opposition and we took the view that it was poor use of a prime location, and there were concerns about parking and noise from the delivery bikes. Lewisham refused the application on those grounds. The applicant appealed against the decision. This was dismissed on the basis of unsatisfactory parking for the delivery bikes.

The second application on the HOP parade was for three units to be combined into one unit for a supermarket (thought to be a chain) with flats above. Local opinion was divided: some feared a supermarket would be detrimental to existing shops, while others thought it would benefit the parade by encouraging more people to shop there. We came to the conclusion that the new unit would probably be good for the area, but some of the flats above had poor layouts and we therefore submitted an objection setting out our concerns about that. Lewisham are yet to decide whether to grant the application.

Contact planning@foresthillsociety.com.
See www.foresthillsociety.com/search/label/Planning for all applications in which we have been involved.

Neighbourhood Planning

Over the past few months things have been moving forward on the proposals for the SE23 and SE26 Neighbourhood Plan. Now that the Localism Act has become law (November 2011), we have a better view of what is required and the regulations that will control the process of creating a Neighbourhood Plan.
The exciting thing about Neighbourhood Planning is that it has the potential to give real control to communities in helping shape their area. It also places a responsibility on Local Authorities to support communities in producing neighbourhood plans.

We have been meeting with Lewisham Planning Officers to discuss ideas for the area the plan will cover and how we can work closer in the future on this and other planning policy documents.

Our next steps include presenting our ideas to each Ward Assemblies in SE23 and SE26; identifying areas of funding to support our work with the wider community on the plan; and building up our database of people who are keen to help. We are keen to progress work on Forest Hill town centre, to gain a better understanding of what gives the area its special character, and how we can try and make sure that future development proposals support and reinforce what makes the area special.

If you can offer your time or skills to the Neighbourhood Planning process we'd love to hear from you. We will continue to keep you informed as work progresses over the coming months. Please email your details to Hilary@foresthillsociety.com with details of your interests, how you are able to help, or the issues we should be covering.


St Augustine's church in Honor Oak urgently needs £300,000 for essential repairs, or we may face losing this landmark building. Please go to www.augustineonetreehill.org.uk/donations.htm
The deadline for donations is March, so please act fast!