The Dulwich Village junction works are now complete, or should be. There were serious concerns in early January over some of its safety aspects - the change in traffic priority between Calton Avenue and Court Lane was unclear, but the Council installed some temporary signs very quickly. The impact of the construction works on the shop trading in the Village was reported in our last issue - hopefully things are now improving, and work is ongoing in the former Shepherds and McColls units. We are told that the Estate hopes to secure a convenience store very soon - maybe this is the year we will be back to buying bread, milk and a newspaper in the Village.
Problems over pedestrian footfall are not unique to Dulwich Village, the West Dulwich shopping centre is also suffering. The closure of Lloyds bank has certainly not helped, and Phase Eight is taking advantage of a break clause in its lease to close. The Estate’s priority should be to persuade one of the current shopkeepers to install a cash machine - Tesco perhaps? Whether the new GP surgery (which should have opened last month), and its adjacent new chemist shop, will help, we will see. There are also three other new shop units which have yet to be let but the flats above them will stay in the Estate’s ownership, as they intend to let them out.
A very well attended public meeting on the 18th January discussed Lambeth Council’s plans to hold two huge music festivals in Brockwell Park. There had been no previous discussion with Southwark residents - who would be seriously impacted by the noise and the numbers of people, and the general tenor of the meeting was against the plans. This reflects two things: one, the current need for councils to make parks revenue generators - to pay for their upkeep, and secondly the different perceptions of people who see parks as places for the quiet enjoyment of nature and others who see them as spaces for public events and entertainment. At the time of writing we don’t know which way it will go - and Lambeth is not the only Council planning major events in its parks, Southwark is organising a similar festival in Peckham Rye Park at the end of May, and there are worries there that the public consultation has also not been as wide ranging as it should be. For example, neither the Society nor the London Wildlife Trust were told about the plans.
There is a new CEO at the Dulwich Estate and the Society welcomes the appointment of Simone Crofton who started work on 15th January. We are looking forward to a positive and fruitful working relationship. We hope she will seek a more pro-active and conciliatory tone into the Estate’s dealings with local residents, and respond to the long-standing concerns over its shop letting policy. A serious effort to improve relations with Southwark council officers, particularly the planning department, would also be a positive, so that we can finally see some progress on the Grove Tavern.