Over the last few years the pressure on Dulwich’s unique semi rural character has continued to grow. Residents’ aspirations have changed and what was previously considered to be an acceptable size of house to bring up a family seems to be no longer the case. There is a continuing demand for extensions, playrooms, cinemas and mini-gymnasiums, often in the basement. Indeed, several basements have been dug in roads which have a well documented history of flooding - an unwise move perhaps, and one can only hope that the owners have told their insurers.
The Society keeps a watchful eye on the situation through the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management and Southwark Council, but it does seem that some new residents, and some older ones as well, do not seem to fully appreciate the benefits of living in Dulwich - it is not just the schools, the Park and the proximity to Central London, it is the whole atmosphere - the trees, the open spaces and the architecture.
Frank Dixon Way is a case in point - historically it had medium sized house on large plots - so the character of the area was as much the gaps between the houses as the houses themselves. Some residents have extended their houses on both sides to their boundaries - can’t they see that before long, the road will just be a wall of building and the character will be lost?
But it is not just about architecture it is also about neighbourliness. The number of applications where house owners don’t even have the courtesy to tell their neighbours in advance is surprising - but it is also the lack of thought on how extensions might impact upon neighbours - not just on views that they may have enjoyed for many years, but also the impact of the actual work - the inconvenience and the disturbance.
A recent incident illustrates the point. A resident decided to install a ground water source heat pump (on the face of it an environmentally positive move) - but it required drilling two large boreholes on his property. All of a sudden several neighbours and those living opposite were faced with considerable noise and vibration for a week, large plant parked on the pavements and, to cap it all, the contractor managed to drill through the sewer in the front garden which meant that several neighbours’ drains backed up - not very thoughtful.
Nobody is forced to live in Dulwich, if you want a huge house it may be that this is the wrong place to come. Please think about why you like Dulwich and what the impact of your proposals might be, and particularly think about your neighbours.