15 February 2017

Planning Application: 62 Sunderland Road

This letter is an objection to the proposal at 62 Sunderland Road - planning application reference DC/16/099620

The Forest Hill Society object to this proposal because it involves the demolition and replacement of an important building within the group of Christmas houses on Gaynesford Road, Sunderland Road and Perry Vale in Forest Hill.  In its own right this house an important non-designated heritage asset.  It is also a key building within the wider group of Christmas Houses on the corner of Sunderland Road and Gaynesford Road. 

The Christmas houses were built by E.C. Christmas (Ted) who was a Forest Hill carpenter, sanitary engineer and builder, who in 1901 started building houses in the Arts and Crafts style between Perry Vale and South Road.  These houses have largely been well maintained and retained their exterior appearance.  They form a notable group of local historical significance.

There have been previous discussions with the Local Planning Authority about designating the Christmas Houses as a Conservation Area.  We believe the group of buildings would justify this status because of its special architectural and heritage interest.   The group of Christmas houses is currently remarkably consistent and complete.  The demolition of this house and its replacement as proposed would not only be the loss of a heritage asset in itself it would also negatively impact on the character and appearance of the wider group of Christmas Houses.

62 Sunderland Road is an intrinsic member of the group of Christmas houses with a character and design entirely in keeping with the surrounding houses.  It was built with an unusual triangular footprint in order to maintain the building lines along Sunderland Road and Gaynesford Road and to relate carefully to the surrounding houses. 

Further to our objection to the loss of the house we also object to the replacement building and the way that it is inappropriate to the site in both scale, design, building lines and built form.  The proposed units also have poor access arrangements with convoluted routes to front doors.

This proposal is contrary to the paragraph 58 of the NPPF in terms of its negative impact on local character and history.  The proposal is contrary to Lewisham’s DM Policy 38 which directs that proposals for demolition of heritage assets will be refused unless it can be demonstrated that these are necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm or loss.  No case for any public benefit of this proposal is put forward in this application.

09 February 2017

Horniman announces new Butterfly House attraction

The Horniman Museum and Gardens will open a Butterfly House in summer 2017, it announced today, following a successful planning application to Lewisham Council.

The new attraction will offer visitors an immersive experience, in a specially-planted indoor garden that will be home to a colourful range of free-flying, exotic butterfly species. The Butterfly House complements the Horniman’s current Living Collections, including alpacas, jellyfish and bees in its Animal Walk, Aquarium and Nature Base.

Victoria Pinnington, Director of Communications and Income Generation at the Horniman, says: ‘We’re thrilled to receive planning permission to create this wonderful new experience for our visitors. Butterflies are beautiful and fascinating creatures which play an important role in ecosystems around the world, and we can’t wait for our visitors to enjoy and learn about them close up. The Butterfly House will be an additional attraction in an underused part of the Gardens, making a day at the Horniman even more memorable.’

Work will begin with the demolition of an existing, unused building to make way for the glasshouse and surrounding landscaping. Tickets to the Butterfly House will go on sale later in the year, in advance of the summer opening. Horniman Members will enjoy free, unlimited visits.

See www.horniman.ac.uk for more information.

04 January 2017

Burns Night 2017

One of the most fun events in the Forest Hill Society calendar is our annual Robert Burns Night Supper where we combine Scottish food, Scottish poetry, and a wee dram of Scottish whisky in a great evening.

This year, once again, the Forest Hill Society in conjunction with All Inn One, on Perry Vale, will be hosting a Burns Supper on Saturday 28th January.

There will be the traditional Address to the Haggis and the opportunity to listen to or to read from the works of Robert Burns. We will also have some local musicians to round off the evening.
The meal is from 7.30pm, and if you'd like to join us you must book in advance, please call the pub on
020 8699 3311 or email info@allinnone.org.uk to book. The cost is £19.95 per person for 3 courses and a very enjoyable evening. (Please let them know if you would prefer the veggy haggis to the meaty version).

Everybody is welcome; members, non-members, Scots, Sassenachs, and all friends of Scotland.

Early booking is recommended. Last year not everybody who left it until the last minute was able to get a seat.

28 November 2016

Christmas Tree Lighting and Carols

Join the Forest Hill Society and Churches Together in Sydenham and Forest Hill, for tree lighting and carols on Saturday 3rd December 2016 at 3:30pm

We will be officially switching on the tree lights outside Forest Hill station.

Followed by the official switching on of the tree lights in Kirkdale at 4:45pm.

23 November 2016

Christmas 2016 in Forest Hill, Sydenham, and Kirkdale

Your guide to all the events this December across SE23 and SE26.

Highlights in Forest Hill include:
  • Havelock Walk Winter Weekend - Sat 26th & Sun 27th Nov, 12-6pm 
  • Horniman Christmas Fair - Sat 3rd & Sun 4th, 10.30am-5pm 
  • Forest Hill Christmas Tree switch on and carol singing - Sat 3rd December, 3.30-5pm 
  • Kirkdale Christmas Tree Lights switch on - Sat 3rd December, 5pm 
With lots of other events throughout December.

18 November 2016

Havelock Walk Open Studios

Open Studios - 26th-27th November 2016 at Havelock Walk, off London Road SE23
More details at www.havelockwalk.com

10 November 2016

Proposal for a One-Way Scheme on Perry Vale

The Forest Hill Society has drafted a proposal for a one-way scheme for a small section of the Perry Vale road.

The premise of this proposal is that with some limited changes to the road/walkway layout, this area could set the basis for a more attractive location: for commuters, residents and businesses. While an outline scheme has been proposed, we would expect that a more detailed review (including a possible temporary trial) would be carried out by the appropriate planning and transport authorities prior to full implementation.

We invite you to consider the proposal (shared below), and to let us know your thoughts via the survey link.

We plan to then include all responses in a report, and possible Petition, to Lewisham council, as your views will bring some local context to the proposal in terms of local support, perceived benefits of the scheme and any potential issues.

Opportunity Statement
Perry Vale is the road adjacent to Forest Hill Station.
While in recent years the suburb of Forest Hill has undergone healthy regeneration (in part due to the improved connectivity of its rail station), it cannot be said that both entry points to local infrastructure hub have thrived to the same extent.

Perry Vale businesses naturally report high passing footfall, but note that the area does not yet represent a destination for retail or leisure.

We propose that there exists an opportunity to foster the kind of organic improvements in area that have so far eluded it: principally through reconfiguration of road usage.

There are already commercial developments underway which can contribute to the regeneration of this de-facto hub entry point, and we feel that the proposed changes presented here would impact positively on the character and utility of the area concerned, and reflect many principles of key London and Lewisham policies.

After much consideration, and discussions with businesses and residents, we invite Lewisham council to consider this proposal in its planning cycle.

Add caption


Please complete our survey to let us know your views.

Horniman Butterfly House

Horniman Museum and Gardens have submitted an exciting planning application to build a Butterfly House in the gardens, replacing the park keeper's house at the top of the animal enclosure.

You can view the planning application on Lewisham's website and comment on the application.

We hope to bring you more information on this great new attraction in the new year.

08 November 2016

Southern Rail - Consultation on Cuts to Services

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has launched an extensive consultation which sets out proposed changes to the timetable which will be operated by GTR in 2018 following completion of the Thameslink Programme.

These proposals include:
a) Diverting all our East Croydon services to West Croydon - making it take longer to get to Gatwick and other destinations in Sussex.
b) Reducing our peak services to London Bridge to four trains an hour (the same capacity as the rest of the day). These services would be replaced by five carriage Overground trains to Dalston Junction.
c) Increasing services via Crofton Park to four trains per hour

The Forest Hill Society opposes the first two of these changes and supports the third. But it is important that local residents respond to this survey to show the strength of feeling.

Survey responses should be completed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2018timetableconsultation
To help you respond to the large number of questions across all the Southern, Thameslink, and Great Northern Services, we have compiled a list of the nine questions we believe you should answer, with some explanation of each.

Q No.
Our View
We recommend you respond to this based on your circumstances, but in favour of later running services on Friday and Saturday
We support the introduction of late night services from London Bridge or Canada Water. However, early morning services may be important to you.
Please mention late night services on Friday and Saturday in the comments section of this question.
We recommend you select Yes
This supports services through Crofton Park
We recommend you support this
This supports services through Crofton Park
We recommend you support this
This supports services through Crofton Park
We recommend you select No
These services would replace Forest Hill services to East Croydon
We recommend you select No
This makes more services fast on our line rather than stopping at Forest Hill
We recommend you select No
Unnecessary duplication of London Overground services to West Croydon.
Enforced interchange at Norwood Junction, a station that has no step free access for interchange (on the way to Gatwick Airport).
We recommend you select No
These services world replaces Forest Hill services to East Croydon
We recommend you support SN3.1 and reject SN3.8. We also recommend you reject the reduction in peak hour services to London Bridge

05 November 2016

Forest Hill Society AGM Minutes

Held in Louise House on 20 October 2016

The Chairman, Michael Abrahams, welcomed everyone to the Society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).  Michael began by inviting Tara Cranswick, CEO of V22 to brief the meeting on Louise House developments.

Louise House
Tara described the many improvements during the past year including the new landscape at the front connecting Louise House to the library, and planting in the garden to the rear.  Feedback from the public was important in guiding this work e.g. the need for wider pavements.  A grant had been obtained for the next big project, which is renovating the basement, and the improvements to Dartmouth Road scheduled to commence in 2017 would link Louise House, the library and Forest Hill Pools.  A highlight had been the Holiday Summer Club and this would continue next year.  The Society newsletter will keep everyone up to date on what’s happening in Louise House.

Forest Hill Library
The new Library Manager, Simon Higgs briefed the AGM on our community library which re-opens on 24 October run by a consortium comprising V22, the Forest Hill Society and the Trader’s Association.  The consortium really cares about the future of the library and literacy in Forest Hill.  There had been a fantastic response from the community.  A crowd funder target of £6000 had been reached in just two weeks.  Already 110 volunteers had signed up.  100% of the studios for rent had been let on day one.  A Friends Membership scheme was up and running and a web site, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  But more volunteers are needed. 

A Management Board is in place and Advisory Boards will be formed including one for young people.  Feedback from the public is critical if the community library is to be success.  Donations of books are welcome.  If they are not quite right for the library, books can be sold to raise funds. 

Forest Hill Society DevelopmentsMichael Abrahams summed up the year (a copy of his report was shared at the meeting). The library had been the focus – first the fight to keep it under council control and then working to make sure the library had the best possible future. 

The two big events had been a great success – the Burn’s Night supper, which would be repeated and the Society’s 10th anniversary celebration when Shakespeare “visited” Forest Hill in the shape of Teatro Vivo theatre group. 

Work on Dartmouth Road was set to begin in 2017 and now the Society had plans to improve Perry Vale for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The improvements at London Bridge station were now having a positive effect on train services but the latest consultation with Southern Rail indicated a reduction in peak hour services and no trains to East Croydon in 2018.  While Overground plan to run extra services these should not be seen as an offset for reduced Southern services, which have longer trains. The Society will submit a response to the consultation and individuals are encouraged to do so too.

The most visible part of the Forest Hill Society’s work in 2015-16 was its planting at the station and in the town centre; for the fourth year running Forest Hill was judged to be “outstanding” in the RHS awards. The new ‘Tyre Towers’ in Perry Vale were innovative and the Edible High Road tubs had been revived.  More volunteers are needed to help with planting.  Another session is planned for 29 October and there is a litter pick up on 12 November.  A workshop supported by local architects and planners had produced a design for a new building for the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Quetta Kaye’s Environment Committee Report was shared at the meeting.

In discussion, the following main points were made:
•    Trains – would direct services run again to Charing Cross?  Probably not, though the Society is keen to see late running services; a 24 hour Thameslink Service was relevant in this respect. 
•    The Tewkesbury Lodge Resident’s Association is concerned that tarmac laid up to trees leads to roots breaking up pavements.  This is unnecessary.  There are good examples elsewhere e.g. Court Lane where drainage is better and this should be the approach adopted elsewhere.
•    Cycling – a strategy being developed with the Sydenham Society will describe improvements for cyclists and pedestrians in the Forest Hill – Sydenham – Perry Vale area.  The strategy is to be discussed with local councillors. 

Perry Vale Proposed Improvements
Rob Owen described a proposal to make the north end of Perry Vale one way as a means to re-generate the area to the east of the station (a draft opportunity statement was shared at the meeting showing the proposed new configuration).
There was lots of support for the proposals at the meeting.  The area for development could be extended to the car park.  One way north was probably the best direction of travel.  The proposals might include improvements to shop fronts too.  Could the bus stop be nearer the station?
Councillor John Paschoud supported the proposals.  He was happy to discuss them with fellow ward councillors and with the Lewisham Highways Department.  This work was probably suitable for the “Minor Works” Programme, which made it a realistic proposition. 

Treasurer’s ReportMichael Abrahams presented the report.  Accounts were shared at the meeting.  While spending had exceeded income during the past year the Society had a healthy bank balance.  Income from membership fees was constant.  Significant items of expenditure were on the Shakespeare on the High Street (also supported by a Ward Assembly grant) and a financial contribution to Forest Hill Fashion Week.

ElectionsThe following were re-elected:
•    Michael Abrahams as Chair
•    Alisa Owens as Treasurer
•    John Firmin as Secretary
•    Belinda Evans as Membership Officer

An additional 14 members were elected as ordinary members of the executive committee.

Other Business
Street Lighting – To save £165,000 Lewisham is to reduce street lighting in residential areas it seems without consultation (councillors have not been consulted either).  Apparently, there was a pilot in 2015 when three streets in each ward were chosen.  The lack of consultation is regrettable given the concern about the risk of rising crime and road accidents resulting from less street lighting overnight.  Will this be extended to walkways like the one beside the railway?  Might businesses be persuaded to sponsor lighting in certain roads?  Maybe they would consider reducing the lighting for fewer hours?  If the system is such that individual lights can be controlled this may provide scope for a compromise.

Do we have an update on the plans for the old police station?  An application to convert the site into housing including social housing has been accepted.