31 March 2023

Spring Planting - April 22nd

Saturday April 22nd

Forest Hill Society volunteers will be planting in Forest Hill station forecourt, and the platform and other planters we care for in the town centre, on Saturday April 22nd, meeting by the main station entrance at 2.30pm. No experience is necessary and we welcome all comers, but please bring protective gloves and, if possible, a trowel - although we do have some spares. As we work in close proximity to busy roads this will not be suitable for children.

If you would like to find out more, please email email@foresthillsociety.com

Tell your friends, and come to lend a hand.


Planning Application: Bell Green Gas Works Development

Development of three buildings ranging in height between 5 and 15 storeys with 261 residential units at Land at the Former Bell Green Gas Works, London, SE26

Application DC/23/129814



We are writing to object to the above application on the basis of the following points:

1. The level of affordable housing proposed is wholly inadequate, as currently only 4% is proposed. A development of this size should not be approved without getting closer to or higher than the council target of 35%.

2. The development does not comply with Lewisham’s target housing mixes, with too few family dwellings and a disproportionate number of one bedroom dwellings.

3. The location of the proposed residential buildings are so close to the Livesey Memorial Hall that they threaten the viability of the Hall and sports grounds. The existing use of the rear space as a smokers bar area will conflict with the residential bedrooms which overlook the rear of the Hall, creating friction between new residents and the established community use of the hall resulting in complaints. The Livesey is protected under the Agent of Change principle in the revised National Planning Policy Framework of 2018. The Lewisham Plan quotes it, saying “New noise-sensitive development is situated away from existing noise generating uses and activities, or, where this is not possible, providing adequate separation and acoustic design measures.”

While the Applicant intends to address the Livesey’s potential for noise nuisance issues by making windows facing the Livesey non-opening, the ventilation system does not provide adequate cooling and in combination with a poorly modelled fa├žade providing little shading, overheating in the new apartments is a real risk. We would recommend that consideration is given to planning conditions that would prevent complaints of noise nuisance directed at Livesey Memorial Building caused by poorly situated new housing.

4. The public spaces in the proposals are problematic, with large areas including play areas, overshadowed, poor relationships to buildings and inappropriate planting and cycle parking.

5. There is no improvements proposed to the surrounding pavements, highways or wider public realm which is currently poor and will be vital if it is expected that new residents will make their way to the closest station at Lower Sydenham. Improvements that join up pedestrian access around the site are vital to make this development work well and should be considered as part of any approval process.

6. The application does not contain proposals for contributing to the local infrastructure that their development’s new residents will rely on. In particular we are concerned about the stress that this development (and future neighbouring developments) will place on health services in the area.

7. The Livesey consists of 3 nationally Listed Structures. The Livesey Memorial Hall, its Front Wall, and the Livesey Hall War Memorial are each separately listed Grade II by Historic England. The draft Lewisham Local Plan I c. states that: “Important views, both of and from the listed building are protected”, in developments involving listed buildings, and Application site adjoins the Hall’s curtilage at their western boundary. The views shown indicate that the proposals will adversely affect the Listed Building and Structures.

8. The heights of the buildings have not been adequately justified either by reference to existing buildings in the locality or the Bell Green Vision. Although the Bell Green Vision is not an approved planning document, it gave an indication of potential and acceptable heights for the Bell Green development area, based on criteria. Key to the criteria was the location of a new station on an extended Bakerloo Line, providing the justification for greater densities and more height. Even though this criteria is not met, and will not be for at least the foreseeable future, the Applicant considers that this is justification for the proposals to rise to 15 storeys. This has not been justified in relation to the rest of the Vision’s masterplan area nor in relation to the current townscape. The height of the tower should therefore be reconsidered.

We therefore ask that unless these issues are fully addressed, that the application be refused.

07 March 2023

Planning Application: 57 Willow Way

An application for a new mixed-used commercial and residential development on Willow Way has been recieved by Lewisham Council. Below is the objection sent on behalf of the Forest Hill Society.


I am writing on behalf of the Forest Hill Society, regarding the proposed development at 21-57 Willow Way,SE26 4AR, planning application reference DC/22/129789.  This relates to the demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment of the site with a block of 5-6 storeys, providing employment use (Use Class E(g)) at ground floor and 60 residential units above, with associated landscaping, car parking and amenity areas. 

While we are generally supportive of the provision of employment use and residential units, especially affordable units, in this location, we have the concerns and comments noted below.

This site is an important element of the Willow Way Employment Location, as identified in the emerging Local Plan, and it is unfortunate that there is currently no detailed or agreed masterplan for the wider site, against which these current proposals can be appraised.  The indicative masterplan provided with the Application is not clear on when the works to the public realm, including shared surface and the widening of Willow Way, will take place and how this will be achieved without the loss of area to the sites opposite to the Application Site. A detailed and agreed masterplan would clarify issues such as access and servicing, which are important considerations in the mixing of employment use and residential accommodation on the site. 

The Transport Assessment identifies one loading bay for the use of all three employment uses.  This bay will therefore be used regularly by goods vehicles and we have safety concerns that the location shown, outside of a main residential entrance, may not be suitable and that further thought should be given to the servicing strategy.

Regarding parking related to the development, it is noted that only disabled parking is provided. The Application documents suggest that there will be little demand for parking from new residents, but we still have concerns that without parking controls along Willow Way, car parking, access and pedestrian safety may become an issue. The road is currently consistently parked up with cars encroaching on the footpath, providing poor pedestrian access. This would be exacerbated if residents increase parking demand.

Regarding the massing, we remain concerned regarding the overall height of the proposed buildings which is excessive when compared with the 3 storey buildings in the adjacent Sydenham Park Conservation Area and the recently built 4 storey buildings at each end of Willow Way.  The mezzanine level in the employment use results in a height closer to 6 storeys overall.  We would recommend that the overall height is reduced by at least one storey.

We would ask that the above concerns be considered carefully before the proposals are determined.

06 March 2023

Honor Oak and Crofton Park CPZ Consultation

Lewisham Council have been asking residents for their views on their proposals for street enhancements and CPZ across Crofton Park ward.

Details of the consultation can be viewed at https://pclengagement-hub.co.uk/en-GB/projects/stapi , although the consultation has now closed.

The Forest Hill Society wrote outlining some of the concerns we have heard from local residents and members:


We acknowledge that the London Borough of Lewisham has declared a Climate Emergency and is keen to implement changes that will help to deliver on the commitments that were made to reduce the dependence on cars, and their toxic effects, in our area of London.

With this in mind, we would like to raise some points in response to the ongoing consultation that is currently underway mainly in the Crofton Park ward around Honor Oak Park, which is therefore relevant to the members of the wider Forest Hill Society. We are writing to you directly as the format of the consultation does not adequately take note of responses from those who are not directly resident in that area, but we feel that this is very relevant to the work of the Society.

1. We are concerned that the current structure of the consultation could create more problems for the wider area. The selection of a single, limited area between two train stations, but only covering some of the surrounding streets, risks displacing cars onto other local streets and not fixing the issue. In particular, Devonshire Road already has a traffic and a parking issue, and it is on the boundary of the area proposed for the CPZ, and so this is highly likely to be exacerbated. This may also be true on other boundary roads such as Westbourne Drive and Church Rise. We believe it would be unfair to implement any CPZ intervention without completing the consultation in the surrounding areas as well, and to implement all areas at once, if this is to go ahead.

2. We are also concerned that the goals of the Sustainable Streets initiative are incomplete. While we welcome the improvements that might arise from a reduction in cars parking on our streets, this needs to be accompanied by investments in active travel and making streets safer for walking and cycling if residents are to switch away from cars.

We recognise the benefit of better cycle parking provision, more car club bays, clear sight lines at corners and tree cover, but these cannot be done without considering the wider implications of safe cycle routes, traffic calming, reduction of rat-runs, and other interventions to increase green spaces and rain water absorption. We understand that Lewisham is considering these separately under the terms of "Healthy Neighbourhoods" but they are not included in the current consultation. This is likely to cause confusion and duplication if the investments from both programmes are not coordinated. We believe that the two programmes need to be implemented together so that residents get the benefit of better, safer and less congested streets, not simply the disincentive of parking permits and charges.

3. In practical terms, we would like to request that any contracts that are signed with third parties for parking enforcement are made fully transparent. Just like with private parking enforcement, there is the potential for a conflict of interest for a business that is rewarded for issuing fines instead of for achieving the Sustainable Streets goals, and could result in low levels of trust and satisfaction, undermining the Council's goals. It is important that the incentives of all parties are aligned, and transparent, and the revenues raised are similarly reported in a transparent way so that residents can see a direct link between this additional revenue source and the benefits in their own streets.

The Forest Hill Society will, of course, continue to engage with the consultation processes in the rest of Forest Hill in Stage 2, and may expand on these points in that process, but we hope that the above issues will be taken into account in the review of Stage 1.



28 February 2023

Spring Events around Forest Hill

Ward Assemblies

Ward Assemblies are being held across SE23 over the next month giving you an opportunity to discuss local issues with neighbours and councillors.

Crofton Park
Tuesday, 28th February, 7.00 pm
Ackroyd Community Centre
More details here 

Perry Vale
Thursday, 2nd March, 6.00 pm
Online
More details here 

Forest Hill
Thursday, 23rd March, 7.30 pm
Online
More details here



Controlled Parking Coming to Your Area Soon?
 

Lewisham Council are currently consulting on a CPZ for the whole of Crofton Park ward and this is expected to be followed by similar consulations for Perry Vale and, eventually for Forest Hill ward.

The Forest Hill Society is encouraging residents who live, work, learn or shop in or around Honor Oak Park and Crofton Park to comment on these proposals by completing the survey at https://pclengagement-hub.co.uk/en-GB/projects/stapi
Please bear in mind you will be asked different questions depending on whether you live on a road directly impacted or on roads outside the area (which may also be indirectly impacted).

Friends of Honor Oak have shared some useful thoughts on the consultation and the impact of the CPZ.
http://honoroak.org/news/lewisham-cpz/



Bell Green Neighbourhood Forum
 

The Bell Green Neighbour Forum is still in its initial set up phase and will be meeting next on Saturday 25th March at Sydenham Library from 11am.

Bell Green is likely to see much change over the next few years, not least a planning application that has been submitted for 261 new residential units on the site of the old gas holders,including blocks up to 15 storeys high. You can view and comment on this application at https://planning.lewisham.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_LEWIS_DCAPR_117736

Further applications are expected in the near future for more residential development around Bell Green.



Friends of Baxter Field Planting Day
Sunday 5th March - 11am

Friends of Baxter Field have 50 new saplings to plant, thanks to the Mayor's Trees for London programme. They'll be filling in the gaps in the hedgerow round the playground, as well as planting in the woods. Plus giving the park a tidy up in preparation for Spring.

Come along, bring your wellies, gardening gear and willingness to help!

More information here.




Nature Reserve Open Days

As we move into spring it is great to be reminded that we can spend time in nature close to home:

  •     Sydenham Woods
  •     Horniman Nature Trail
  •     Dacres Wood Nature Reserve is open on the last Saturday of every month.
  •     Devonshire Road Nature Reserve is open on the last Sunday of every month.
  •     Garthorne Road Nature Reserve is open on the third Saturday of every month.

26 November 2022

Christmas Tree Lighting for Forest Hill 2022

The Forest Hill Christmas Tree will be switched on Saturday 10th December shortly after 3:45pm at Forest Hill station with carol singing led by Churches Together for Forest Hill and Sydenham. We hope you can join us.


2020 Christmas Tree at Forest Hill Station and carol singing from 2018.


This year we will be planting a sustainable Christmas tree at the station. This does mean that this year's tree will be smaller than usual, but it will grow!

25 November 2022

Forest Hill Society Christmas Quiz

 

The Forest Hill Society invites you to The 2022 CHRISTMAS QUIZ


Tuesday 20 December, 7.30pm at All Inn One pub, 53 Perry Vale, London SE23 2NE

Maximum 6 people per team. Register at Eventbrite

Entry is free, but donations to Lewisham Foodbank welcome via our fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/page/foresthillsocietyxmas2022


22 November 2022

Planning Application: Miriam Lodge, Dartmouth Road

Thee is a proposed development at Miriam Lodge, 185 Dartmouth Road, London SE26 4RQ  application DC/21/123657: Demolition of existing annex building ancillary to the hostel at Miriam Lodge 185 Dartmouth Road SE26 and construction of 9 three storey 4 bedroomed dwelling houses together with the provision of cycling spaces at the rear and refuse/recycling storage.

The Forest Hill Society has written to object to this application on the grounds that at least one of the proposed dwellings does not meet adequate standards for the size of unit.

  1. The unit in question is the westernmost of the proposed development on the Long terrace, adjacent to the existing substation.
  1. Although the Daylight Report by BDLA generally considers that the scheme meets adequate standards, the Report specifically identifies that this unit is deficient in meeting almost all of the daylight standards for most of the habitable rooms.  
  1. With its position backing on to the electricity substation, we consider the garden is not of an adequate size for a 4-bedroom house, particularly where it is anticipated that young children/adults will be living there.

We therefore request the application is refused by the council.

25 October 2022

Planning Application: Thorpewood Avenue

I am writing on behalf of the Forest Hill Society regarding the proposed development at 88 Thorpewood Avenue, SE26 4BY, application DC/22/128192: The construction of a part one/part two storey rear extension, roof extension to the rear roof slope and installation of rooflights in the front roof slope at 88 Thorpewood Avenue SE26 in connection with the alteration and conversion to provide 3 self-contained flats, together with the construction an outbuilding in the rear garden.

We are writing to object to the above application by virtue of the unsuitable accommodation proposed and the detrimental impact on the Forest Hill Conservation Area.


The proposals do not satisfy the requirements within “Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard” (Department for Communities and Local Government, March 2015) or the London Plan (March 2021). The proposed Flat B does not fit the requirement within the above documents that "a dwelling with two or more bedspaces has at least one double (or twin) bedroom" (Para 10b, Nationally Described Space Standards). Furthermore, even if a double bed was incorporated into the layout, the size of the flat would still not meet the requirements.

Moreover, the Development Management Local Plan (2014) Policy 3 resists the conversion of a single family house to two or more dwellings unless they meet certain critera. The document states that:

"2.13 Family housing (single family houses with three or more bedrooms) is seen as a valuable resource which should be retained in order to meet identified housing need and provide housing choice. Single family houses with fewer than three bedrooms should also be retained in order to provide housing choice."


It should be noted that the dwelling as existing is/does not:

a. adjacent to noise generating or other environmentally unfriendly uses
b. lack of external amenity space suitable for family use.

Therefore, the site is contrary to Policy 3a within the DMLP (2014). It is also contrary to point c within the same policy with reference to the Forest Hill Conservation Area, as per below.

The Forest Hill Conservation Area is characterised by its commercial and retail centre around the railway station and surrounding suburban residential streets and green spaces. The application site forms part of a terrace of houses designed and built by prominent local developer E.C. Christmas. The buildings are representative of developments by Christmas and the period in which they were built and thus make a positive contribution to the character and appearnace of the Conservation Area. At present, there are no rear extensions projections on any of the terraced buildings, thereby allowing the original form and pattern of the buildings to be understood. The submitted Heritage Statement has not assessed the significance of the Conservation Area and how the application site contributes to that significance in line with the requirement set out in Paragraph 194 of the NPPF, although the statement does acknowledge that the terraced buildings have “survived nearly unaltered with the original doors, clay tile roofs and fine leaded windows still in place.”

The proposals include a rear extension which will remove the articulation of the original rear elevation, which has a small projection and catslide roof, thus breaking up the rhythm of the host terrace. The Heritage Statement concludes that the proposals would not have any negative impacts, but this does not address the incorporation of the extension on what they have themselves stated is an otherwise unaltered terrace. The extension would ultimately detract from the character of the host property, terrace and Conservation Area as a whole and result in harm to its significance. The application has not provided any public benefits to outweigh the heritage harm caused, as per Paragraph 202 of the NPPF.

We therefore request the application is refused

02 October 2022

Forest Hill Society AGM 2022

 

All members and non-members are welcome to attend our AGM, which will take place at 7:30pm, Tuesday 11th October at the All Inn One pub on Perry Vale, just opposite Forest Hill Station.

The AGM is an opportunity to find out more about what is happening in Forest Hill, to share your concerns and to shape the future of the Society.


At the AGM in October we elect the new committee for the Forest Hill Society. We are always keen to have new members on the committee, as well as existing members who wish to continue.

We are fortunate to have a committee consisting of many people who are passionate about Forest Hill and making a difference to benefit the area. The most visible way this can be seen is the planting and maintenance of plants around the town centre. This year the Forest Hill Society has again been awarded “Outstanding” for the In Bloom competition organised by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Having more members on the committee means we get a better idea of what is important to you and the everybody in the community. And it also means more people to help at events and in campaigns.

We are particularly looking for people with an interest in the following areas:
 

Environment - including planting and gardening around the town centre and looking at ways to improve air quality in the local area

 

Transport - including improving roads for pedestrians and cyclists, ensuring Forest Hill is well served by public transport, and considering flight paths over Forest Hill
 

Planning and Development - including developing long-term plans for the town centre, and also reviewing planning applications in the area
 

Communications and Events - including contributing to our newsletter and arranging events for the community (e.g. book sales, gin tasting, history talks, pub quizzes, Christmas tree lighting and carols).

We are particular interested in anybody who would like to assist with the editing of our paper newsletter.

You can put your name forward for the committee in one of two ways:
1. Email email@foresthillsociety.com to let us know you wish to stand
2. Join us at the AGM and raise your hand when we ask for nominations
and you can become part of the team that has been making Forest Hill even better for 16 years.