25 March 2014

Miriam Lodge - Pre-Planning Application Meeting

The owners of Miriam Lodge are holding a public consultation at Miriam Lodge on Thurs 3rd April, starting at 7.00 pm.

This is the Agenda, which has been delivered to neighbouring properties:

7.00 p.m. Refreshments and registration
7.10 p.m. Presentation on the current management of Miriam Lodge
7.30 p.m. Questions and comments on the current management of Miriam Lodge
7.50 p.m. Presentation on the proposed development of the site
8.10 p.m. Questions and comments on the proposed development of the site
8.40 p.m. Closing

The purpose of this consultation is to explain their current work and future proposals for Miriam Lodge and to give local residents the opportunity to ask questions and give their feedback.

23 March 2014

Forest Hill’s Mini Film Festival

Forest Hill’s Mini Film Festival is a four day programme of film related events for the whole community. If you enjoy this programme look out for another - bigger - festival in July this year. If you are interested in becoming part of the film community come to one of the Vortex Cinema Club’s monthly events - see vortexcinemaclub.co.uk for more details. Look out for news about the Vortex Underground Cinema opening beneath DoopoDoopo soon...

Overview of events:
7pm Vortex Cinema Club Presents: Duncan Reekie from Exploding Cinema
A diverse selection of short films, videos and performance pieces by local film makers.
With live music from local artists. Suitable for audiences over 12. No booking required.
Venue: DoopoDoopo 15 Dartmouth Rd SE23

4pm Want to Work in the Film Industry? Meet the experts panel (14+)
Venue: Platform 1, 2-4 Devonshire Rd (next to the station*)
Suitable for young people aged over 14. No booking required.

6pm Film Screening of Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” (12+)
Venue: Platform 1, 2-4 Devonshire Rd (next to the station*)
Suitable for audiences aged over 12. No booking required.

All Day Film-Making Workshop (Ages 8+)
Venue: Platform 1 2-4 Devonshire Rd (next to the station) SE23
Spaces are limited. To express your interest please email: info@platform-1.org

Editor's Pick: 10am-12pm Silent Saturday Morning: Silent Movies from 1920s
For the first time since 1973 The Capitol will be showing a film. The Buster Keaton silent movies are a homage to the genre of movies shown when the cinema first opened in 1929. 
Venue: The Capitol/Wetherspoons, London Road SE23
Suitable for all ages. Families welcome. No booking required.

12-4pm Screenwriters Workshop
Venue: Upstairs at The Hob 7 Devonshire Rd SE23
Booking required.

8pm Screening of acclaimed thriller “Julia’s Eyes” PLUS Director’s Q&A
Venue: DoopoDoopo 15 Dartmouth Rd SE23 (Doors open 7pm)
Suitable for over 15s. No booking required.

2.30pm Be a Mini Film Star - Kids Film-Making Workshop (Age 7+)
Venue: Forest Hill Pools Community Room
No booking required.

2pm Documentary Film “We Ride: The Story of Snowboarding”
Venue: Finches Emporium 25-29 Perry Vale SE23
No booking required.

5pm Closing Event: Relaxed Film Industry Networking
Venue: DoopoDoopo 15 Dartmouth Rd SE23
No booking required.

Full details of all events can be found on the festival programme or from: 
* Platform 1 is accessed via a small pathway between Living Springs Church and Leaders.

20 March 2014

Response to Proposed Crofton Park and Honor Oak Neighbourhood Plan Area and Forum

Below is the text of the Forest Hill Society submission regarding the Proposed Crofton Park and Honor Oak Neighbourhood Plan Area. Further details of the proposed forum and boundaries can be viewed on Lewisham council website.

The Forest Hill Society is the local amenity society for the SE23 postcode area which is run by the community for the community and has over 400 members.  It works to make the whole of Forest Hill 'an even better place to live' in a range of ways, including through involvement in the planning system, transport issues, environmental improvements, community events and working with a range of other groups and organisations.  The SE23 postcode area includes the neighbourhood of Honor Oak Park and we have many members that live in this part of the area.

Over the past 3 years the Forest Hill Society have been involved in various workshops, discussions and ideas around neighbourhood planning in SE23 and nearby, including meeting with the Council.  Our current approach is to work positively on ideas for improving key parts of the area that need it most and to see whether a neighbourhood plan is the effective way of achieving change on a case-by-case basis.  The Forest Hill Society is positive about the potential of neighbourhood planning and would like to support and work with any group or community within or around SE23 looking to improve their area. 

In relation to the current applications for the Neighbourhood Plan boundary and Neighbourhood Forum we have a number of concerns and we to object to both applications as they stand at the moment.


We are concerned that the boundary does not represent a neighbourhood as it actually functions and excludes many residents who rely on and use key parts of the planned area.  As the proposed area is currently set out, and taken together with the proposed constitution which states that the neighbourhood plan is for the benefit of the inhabitants of the area, this would mean that many people who associate with either Crofton Park or more particularly Honor Oak Park but who do not live in Crofton Park Ward would be excluded both from membership of the forum and more importantly from voting in a future referendum.

"Membership of the Forum is open to those who live or work in Crofton Park Ward and to the area's elected representatives."

In this case the proposed NP boundary reflects the Ward Boundary for Crofton Park Ward.  There is no reason for the Neighbourhood Plan to be this boundary as within Metropolitan areas there are no set rules for how a NP boundary should be set.  We can see that boundaries need to be somewhere but in order to be effective, both in their preparation and their ratification these should reflect functional neighbourhoods or communities.

Our particular concern in this case is that the NP boundary does not reflect the neighbourhood or community of Honor Oak Park as it only includes land to the east of the railway line and not the other half of this community to the west.  This is a problem because one of the key areas that could really benefit from the potential opportunities that neighbourhood planning could secure is Honor Oak Park and the important local shopping centre that is located along this road.  As it stands the boundary would mean that the many residents of Honor Oak that do not live within Crofton Park ward would not be able to influence, contribute to or vote on key changes that might be proposed through the neighbourhood plan for this area.

A key open space (Honor Oak recreation ground) that is used principally by residents of Honor Oak Park is also excluded from the NP boundary.  Other parts of Honor Oak Park e.g. One Tree Hill, are also closely associated with this area but we can see that they also have a wider significance.

There is also a concern that the southern part of the proposed Neighbourhood plan boundary may be functionally part of Forest Hill rather than Honor Oak Park.

At a recent Crofton Park Ward Assembly meeting we understand that residents who did not live within the ward (but who live very close to the boundary) were not allowed to be part of the discussion about the proposed Neighbourhood plan even though they had come along specifically to find out more about it.   It would therefore seem that the NP boundary being following Ward boundaries might actually create more problems than it solves and end up marginalizing residents who would be impacted on by the plan but who don't live within the identified area.

It is interesting to contrast this approach to the NP boundary and forum application with that for Grove Park which is also on your website and which does appear to have covered these issues in some detail.

We would suggest that as an authority it may also be worth Lewisham considering separating the approval of an NP boundary with that of the neighbourhood forum.  This is the approach being taken in at least one other London Borough (Westminster) and it allows the boundary application and debate to focus on whether it covers a functional neighbourhood, before the application is considered about whether the proposed forum membership and constitution is inclusive and appropriate in those specific circumstances and for the approved boundary.

As part of our consideration of the NP proposals for Honor Oak Park and Crofton Park we have spoken with a number of FHS members and residents who live within the proposed NP area and nearby.  It appears to us that this concern about the boundary is one shared by quite a number of local people.


We are concerned about the wording of the proposed constitution in that it only includes those that live and work in the area and does not take account of the fact that the NP boundary does not reflect a functional neighbourhood and that it is in a complex urban area of overlapping places and functions.  The Grove Park application does at least appear to have considered these issues.

It is not clear how the NP Forum intend to include, work with and take into consideration the views and contributions of people living nearby the NP area and who will rely on, use and feel part of key centres within the NP area on a day to day basis (principally Honor Oak Park local centre).  To some extent this will always be an issue in high density urban areas but is a particular problem in this case because the NP area does not accurately reflect one or more functional neighbourhoods.  

We are aware that there is a duty to consult with neighbouring groups and statutory consultees as part of the regulation 14 consultation set out in the Neighbourhood planning regulations. However, this stage of consultation is too late for any meaningful opportunity for neighbours to influence the vision and objectives of the plan as it is only undertaken once a plan is written and ready to be consulted on.  It is also unlikely that neighbouring residents would be consulted at this stage as the focus is really on neigbouring authorities and organisations.  

In parished areas outside of major cities it may well be appropriate to focus the neighbourhood forum on only those who live or work in the Parish as there is more likely to be lower density, rural or peripheral areas around key areas of focus, such as towns or villages or local centres.  However, in urban areas such as this, with a number of overlapping communities it is important to both consider and reflect how people relate to and use an area, as well as take account of this 'overlap' and propose how to address it in the constitution of the neighbourhood forum.

Unfortunately we understand that whilst the draft constitution says lots of positive things about working with local groups and being inclusive we have concerns that this may not reflect the intention of the some of those in the group when it comes to including groups who operate partially within and also outside of Crofton Park Ward (such as the Forest Hill Society).  We are concerned that any neighbourhood forum needs to be inclusive of individuals and groups who are wholly within the neighbourhood area and also those who operate partially within it too, such as the Forest Hill Society, or who live nearby. 

We would ideally like some assurances, if this application is approved, that the Forest Hill Society, as a key civic group and local stakeholder with members in a large part of the proposed NP area would be able to contribute to the plan and to work collaboratively with the forum.  We think that best way to achieve this is if the Forest Hill Society and other groups are listed in the proposed constitution of the Forum as one of a number of groups that will be consulted with and engaged with as the plan develops, and ideally be involved in Forum meetings.   We would be happy to look to identify Forest Hill Society representatives who are also residents within or nearby to the Neighbourhood Plan area.

We would welcome the opportunity to engage with this forum and have previously made some attempts to do so.  We very much want to work with any Neighbourhood Forum in the development of a Neighbourhood Plan that serves local people and seeks to improve an area.  We believe the spirit of Neighbourhood planning should be about inclusion, collaboration, and a best practice approach to working community issues. We do not believe it should be about the idea of perceived 'exclusive' control of an area by one group.

We hope that the concerns we have about the current proposals are clear to you in this letter. We would be very happy to discuss these with you further if this would be helpful.

18 March 2014

Forest Hill Free Film Festival

http://www.see3.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/filmfestposter.pdfFor the first time since 1973 The Capitol will be showing a film!*

Forest Hill mini Film Festival has screenings and events from 27th March - 30th March 2014 at The Capitol, DoopoDoopo, and Finches.

The Film Festival has been organised by SEE3 in response to a survey earlier this year that found that people wanted to see a cinema in Forest Hill.

All events are free, so please come along and show your support and maybe, one day, we might get a cinema back in Forest Hill.

* As far as we know no films have been shown since 1973. The Capitol was a cinema from 1929-1973, when it was converted to a bingo hall, and more recently to a pub. The building is listed by English Heritage.

07 March 2014

Ward Assemblies in Perry Vale and Forest Hill

There are two ward assemblies next week around SE23:
To the west of the railway is the Forest Hill Ward Assembly on Tuesday, 11 March from 7pm.
It is taking place at Sydenham School, Dartmouth Rd, London SE26 4RD.

To the east of the railway is the Perry Vale Ward Assembly on Wednesday, 12th March from 7pm at Methodist Church, Normanton Street SE23 2DS.

These are great opportunities to hear what is going on in the local area, and have your say on local issues.

24 February 2014

February Newsletter: The Montage

A new arrival at 33 Dartmouth Road, The Montage is true to its name - a hotchpotch of cafe, antiques shop and art gallery.

Heading for tea and cake one Sunday afternoon, we were greeted with a room full of enticing shelves and tables stacked with eye-catching things to see. These ranged from old Ordnance Survey maps rolled up into two umbrella stands, to some bookends constructed from vintage Kellogg's cornflake packets, and a old-fashioned blue enamel pan stand that with some love would look quite happy again. Another wall held a beautifully arranged display cabinet with second-hand hardback books and small dolls in national costume - odd but somehow entirely at home in their setting.

Once I'd been persuaded to stop looking at all these intriguing things, it was time to eat - although there were more goodies to discover, through the rooms and down the stairs - leather armchairs, formica tables, stools, wooden furniture all ready for upcycling, so we made quite slow progress to our table! The Montage, it turns out, is a small warren of different spaces. There are a couple of rooms at the back (one wallpapered with those OS maps we'd found - what a brilliant idea) where you can sit and eat.  Beyond these, if the sun's shining, there's a peaceful small garden with tables and chairs, and a dog bowl for canine companions. The garden's newly planted but looks set to become a little green haven, edged by a fence with flowers growing wild on the other side. When we were there, a couple had ensconced themselves at a table spread with books in the garden and another man was inside working on his laptop - very tranquil.

In addition, they have devoted a whole room to a children’s play area which means kids are well catered for too. It's downstairs so ideal as it's out the way and parents don't need to worry about their kids disturbing other customers. The room is filled with a variety of toys which should keep little ones occupied for a while!

In the main café area there was a very inviting selection of homemade cakes and biscuits on the counter. We sampled a fresh scone with a generous dollop of cream and jam in the middle, and a delicious square of summer berry cake (though the lemon drizzle did also look very tempting). They have proper coffee and tea including ten different kinds of herbal tea, which the lady behind the counter patiently listed for me! Plus the tea comes in individual teapots.

After tea, it was time to investigate the art gallery upstairs. There's a good selection of art scattered about the rooms, but in the gallery space there's a bigger exhibition of work by a single artist which tends to change every month.

If you're wandering along Dartmouth Road in search of somewhere new to explore - and if you love St David's, Canvas and Cream, Doopo Doopo and Aga's Deli - then this is definitely a place to add to your list. There's a lovely unhurried atmosphere for reading, working, and meeting with friends, in between poking around for treasures. I'll be going back for some of those maps…

Review provided by Catherine Wood

February Newsletter: A new Artistic Hub for Forest Hill

V22 is Coming to Louise House in 2014. Annabel Fenwick spoke to  Reshma, V22 Programme Director about their plans...
Q. What is V22?
We are an art institution (set up in 2006) that supports art, artists and the development of both and promotes the value and positive impact of art on communities. We specialise in the collection of contemporary art, the production of exhibitions, events and educational initiatives, and provide artists’ studios and artisans' workshops.

Q. Who are you funded by?
V22 is based upon a unique shared ownership model, which aims to be sustainable, self-sufficient, and therefore independent. V22 has a diverse range of income: from its collection being listed on the ISDX-ICAP market, income generated from studios, and the support received from grant bodies including Arts Council England.

Q. I see you have three other studios in London including Dalston, Haggerston and Bermondsey - all known as creative hubs. Did you recognise something similar in SE23? Why did you decide to open in Forest Hill?

Traditionally, studio providers have been part of the archetypal regeneration cycle: studio providers by nature generate low income and are then consequentially priced out as they help to make areas more creative and attractive. This is a cycle we have been working incredibly hard to break free from by acquiring long-term leases and permanent buildings.

In this particular instance, we were lucky enough to be recommended Louise House by Arts Council England, who told us it was being put up for tender. We applied and won, and were so (and still are!) delighted, not only to have the opportunity of having a long term lease, but to have the guardianship of a very special building located in an incredibly active and creative community. These factors we believe will really help to build a strong community and cultural centre. We want to provide affordable long-term studios and encourage the creation of new relationships and networks amongst artists and creative organisations locally and nationally. Forest Hill is a great place to do this.

Q. When will you officially open at Louise House?
We hope to open the studios during early spring, although there is still some building work that needs to be done before that can happen. The public space at the back of the property we will be working hard on to get the first tentative things happening there in time for the summer. Then there is work needed on the gardens as we have some great plans for them. So I suppose the grand opening will be something we work toward, hopefully in partnership with many local people.

Q. What exhibitions are you currently planning for Louise House?
We are in the research and development stages of planning our summer programme, presenting a series of events in collaboration with artists and local groups and communities. We also we hope to launch a new educational initiative called Studio+ which will support young and emerging artists.

Q. What is planned for the community space?
 Firstly there will be a dedicated exhibitions and events space integrated into our educational initiatives; secondly a 'Community Studio' which can be used for a variety of activities ranging from art lessons, to workshops, to rehearsal space; and thirdly, a community garden which we would like to build in partnership with people from SE23 and which can be used for summer events and activities.

We are yet to gain access to the lower ground area, but we hope this will make an excellent screening room (everyone in Forest Hill wants a cinema!) and hopefully a space which can also be used for theatre and possibly live music.

Q. What do you like about the area?
An abundance of creative independent initiatives; engaged communities and active local groups; great transport links; gorgeous architecture; fabulous cafes; and the very real sense of welcome we have been given.

The Forest Hill Society could not ask for better outcome for Louise House (located between Forest Hill Library and Forest Hill Pools). The building itself will not only be reinvigorated but crucially, by having a long term lease, the organisation can offer long term support to new and emerging artists in the area.

The exhibitions and events that V22 are planning will no doubt have a positive impact on both the community and the local cultural landscape. The Society welcomes V22 wholeheartedly.

Find out more about V22 at www.v22collection.com

February Newsletter: Four Cheers for Four Years with Richard Hibbert

Richard Hibbert stepped down from chairing the Forest Hill Society at our AGM in December 2013 after four years in office. Richard brought a huge amount of energy and dedication to the role, inspiring all of those around him; from committee members to market traders and even some who didn't realise they were shop owners until he persuaded them to open shops!

From October 2009 to December 2013, Forest Hill has changed significantly. Not all of this was down to Richard or to the Forest Hill Society but he ensured that our contribution made a decisive difference to the area. Richard formed a great relationship with local traders and shop landlords which enabled new shops to open and created an environment where the Traders' Association could be re-formed. Indeed, were it not for a bit of gentle arm-twisting by Richard some the new shops may never have opened.

One of the great initiatives of the Society in 2012 was the introduction of a monthly ‘Food Fair’ in the Forest Hill station car park. The market was designed to bring people back to the town centre and to encourage traders to set up a permanent business in the empty shops that were still prevalent at the time. We also had the aim of providing good food to local residents. Over the next 18 months, the ‘Food Fair’ grew in size and achieved all its aims. Eventually in December 2013, we ran our last ‘Food Fair’ and handed the baton to Lee Griffin with the current ‘Horniman Farmers' Market’.

Richard generated enormous commitment in Society members and over the last four years we have all worked together to get new swings in the Horniman Triangle, run a local market and plant flowers around the town centre. We also participated in the Chelsea Fringe’s city-wide ‘Edible High Road’ project which saw seventy trees across the high streets of SE23 and for which the area won an outstanding award.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the vital role Richard has played in the SEE3 initiative, (the government funded national high street regeneration scheme). This started with finding people to put the bid together for the ‘Portas Pilot’ and then later becoming a director of the SEE3 group (not to mention getting his screwdriver out to unlock shutters so that new shops could open!)

Richard's work commitments have now increased to the extent that he doesn't have the same time to dedicate to the Society as previously, but we are delighted that he remains on the Executive Committee.

When Richard took over the Society in 2009 some questioned its ongoing role. The battle for the pools had been won and the East London Line was due to open - what more could be achieved by a civic society? After four years led by Richard, there can be no doubting the value of the Society in shaping the future of Forest Hill and Honor Oak.

21 February 2014

February Newsletter: Making Forest Hill more fun!

‘Jack in the Box’ is a community led initiative funded by SEE3 (the Portas Pilot high street re-generation scheme) that over the next three months aims to put on a diverse and interesting programme of events to encourage more people to visit Forest Hill.

SEE3 set the ‘Jack in the Box’ team a number of key themes to work to including Valentines Day, Fashion Week, Easter & Film but crucially the events are being planned around the results of an on-line survey that ran throughout the month of January. The survey was designed to uncover the reasons people visit Forest Hill, what aspects of Forest Hill are popular (and which are not); and, most importantly, what activities/events people would like to see more. The survey went out to schools, community groups, businesses and residents and the results can be seen on the SEE3 website.

The ‘Jack in the Box’ team made up of two women have successfully delivered a number of events across London via their Shared City enterprise. Together they run imaginative inter-cultural experiences, consultation projects and community events across London.

Deborah, one part of duo (that has lived locally for ten years) says: “Forest Hill is an incredible place with a rich history, great shops and leisure offer, wonderful transport and a diverse, dynamic population. We are big fans of all the ‘local gems’ that Totally Locally have identified”.

“Through this project, we’re sure we can attract more people to the area to appreciate all that Forest Hill has to offer. Though this project, we would like to ensure that the events we run leave a legacy, encourage further collaborations between businesses and residents and continue to bring more Londoners from an increased catchment to enjoy the area”.

“The events are all different but one lesson we’ve learnt is that they work best when the community comes together and gets involved. We also want to attract those Forest Hill residents who might feel marginalised and through the events make Forest Hill a place of which everyone is proud”.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events via www.see3.co.uk or the Forest Hill Society website.

February Newsletter: East London Line News

Transport for London have announced plans to extend the lengths of platforms at some of the stations in the core section of the East London Line. This includes Shoreditch, Shadwell, Wapping, Canada Water and Surrey Quays all of which currently only have platform lengths for four carriages (Rotherhithe is not on the list). With the extension of trains to five carriages in December 2014 these platform extensions will avoid selective door opening at these stations.

The Forest Hill Society is continuing to campaign for extra Crystal Palace trains on the East London Line. There is space in the timetable for two additional trains per hour and although these trains were not included in the announcement from the Comprehensive Spending Review, we hope that at some point these additional trains will be commissioned by TfL.

Additional trains to Crystal Palace would improve frequency and further increase capacity on the East London Line. This would be particularly useful while London Bridge is being rebuilt, and would provide more capacity as the East London Line continues to gain in popularity, especially with the Crossrail interchange at Whitechapel.