The relation between trees and subsidence is a very live issue in Dulwich. As we all know, Dulwich is built on heavy clay which expands in wet weather and shrinks in dry. As a result, many houses suffer subsidence to a greater or lesser extent, regardless of whether or not there are trees in the vicinity. Unfortunately, many insurance companies insist on any tree, or even bushes, anywhere near being removed. No doubt trees do, in some cases, contribute towards subsidence. But the main cause, in Dulwich, is the clay soil. Many of the older houses have shallow foundations and the remedy is often underpinning - which makes the removal of trees unnecessary.
There is a very acute example of this problem at present in Court Lane Gardens, where the loss adjusters are demanding the felling of three fine old oak trees in the little woodland in front of the houses. The Estate is in a difficult position because it can be sued if it refuses and if damage can be attributed to the trees. It is a problem, too, for the owners of the house. The Estate is as anxious as anyone to avoid felling any of the trees and so are the residents of Court Lane Gardens.
The oaks are older than the houses and appear on a Metropolitan Board of Works map dated 1885, discovered by Liz Johnson (of the Society's History Group), author of the new book on Dulwich Park. At least one of the houses there has had to be underpinned, with no trees being removed.
The Trees Committee are, of course, opposed to the felling. At our request, Southwark Council are putting Tree Preservation Orders on them. This means that the trees are protected for six months, during which the matter can be disputed, but at the end of that period, the protection orders will become permanent.
I hope that by the time this newsletter comes out, we shall know that these splendid oaks have been saved.
Stella Benwell, Chair, Trees Committee
The subject of the rapid increase in the number of hard standings came up at the December Community Council meeting, particularly over concerns that this might impact upon flooding in the area. The Society has asked the Estate to consider modifying their guidelines to either require the use of gravel or to make sure on-site drainage is installed where bricks or blocks are used.
Southwark have continued their policy of rejecting planning applications for masts in conservation areas, the latest one to be turned down was on the north eastern corner of Dulwich Common and College Road. There are, however, currently two other applications, one by Vodafone on the pavement opposite Rosebury lodge on Dulwich Common and one by Orange on the corner of Acacia Grove and Alleyn Park. This is not the first time that masts have been proposed on both these sites. T Mobile is also appealing against Lambeth's refusal for a mast at the junction of Lovelace Road and Rosendale Road.
There is still no resolution to residents' concerns over the proposed mast in the Pelo sports ground. The Society knows that other options were being considered and still awaits alternative proposals on suitable sites which do not impact on schools and homes.
The Society has not been advised of any further proposals for the Velodrome although it understands that the Estate is continuing negotiations with Citygrove Estates. One step forward is that local residents associations have finally been contacted by the Velo Club de Londrés, the current site manager, to initiate a discussion on their proposed development plan for cycling.
Among the schemes they wish to carry out over the next year are an expansion of the cyclo-cross circuit, mend the track fence, introduce cycle-polo in the centre of the track and treat the track surface to resist algae attack. Longer term thoughts include a BMX track, a cycle speedway track and track lighting - a controversial proposal bearing in mind the recent history of similar proposals by Southwark.
There have been a number of applications to install solar water heating panels although one might question their effectiveness in our climate and whether the energy saved will ever equal the amount of energy used in their manufacture. Notwithstanding this the Estate are drafting guidelines to control their locations as the panels are not particularly attractive. At the very least they should be restricted to rear elevations only, ideally at low level, so that they are not visible from other gardens or Dulwich's many sports fields.
There are rumours that the Dulwich Cricket Club is thinking of constructing covered indoor cricket nets on Metropolitan Open Land. The Southwark Unitary Development Plan has a presumption against any development in Metropolitan Open Land and the Society will look at any application very closely.
The College has submitted a revised proposal to redevelop the old swimming pool site in the centre of the College. The Society is supportive of the principle of providing additional facilities but considers that the proposed elevational treatment is not of a high enough standard for such an important and visible site.
The School appealed against the refusal of planning permission for the new theatre building against officer advice. The enquiry has taken place but the result has yet to be announced.
Kingswood School have now received planning permission for the new sports hall and music school and are currently applying to re-clad the main building. They have consulted extensively with local residents and the preferred scheme replaces the existing blue spandrel panels with polished stainless steel. Sample panels are on the building.
The Kingswood Nursery School in Lyall Avenue originally built in 1954 is to be replaced. The new design is much larger and two stories high.
Majestic Wine has submitted a planning application for this site. There will be only minor changes to the main building and on site car parking will be provided so as not to impact upon the surrounding roads.
A planning application to demolish this still functioning pub on the Kingswood Estate and replace it with a block of flats was rejected by Southwark Councillors who overruled the planning officer's recommendation for approval. A revised application for a smaller number of flats has now been made and the Society will seek the views of local residents who previously objected both to the loss of the pub and the size of the new development.
There is still no progress on the falling boundary wall of the Grade II listed house, Lyndenhurst, at the corner of Red Post Hill and Village Way. Both Southwark Council and the Estate have turned down a proposal to form a much larger opening in the wall and the Society remains concerned whether a satisfactory solution will be found in the short term. The Dulwich Estate has already served a Breach Notice to the owner of the land requiring action be taken to repair the wall. Southwark Council also served notice to rebuild the wall and a Dangerous Structure Notice was served. As no action was taken Southwark Council authorised a contractor to take down a dangerous section of the wall.
The Estate have confirmed that they have instructed the house behind the Grade II listed mile stone in Red Post Hill to rebuild the part of the garden wall that was recently demolished without Estate consent.
The Dulwich Society asked the Dulwich Estate for its view on the situation in Croxted Road where flower and fish stalls use the area in front of The Dulwich Trader as a sales pitch on a Sunday. The Estate replied that it had approached the flower seller with a request that he formalise his use of the site and this he has agreed to do. There has been no contact with the fishmonger. In view of the fact that no complaints have been received from either the Estate's commercial tenants or members of the public, the Estate is not averse to this kind of activity but it welcomes the views of The Dulwich Society.
The Dulwich Society asked the Dulwich Estate to clarify its arrangements for maintenance, management and monitoring of Dulwich Woods as fallen trees were not being cut and removed even when they appear to be a significant hazard to walkers. The Estate replied that the Woods are inspected on a regular basis by the contractors (Emery Facilities & Property Maintenance Contractors Ltd). The policy is to maintain the woods in their natural state and to allow fallen trees to rot down. Footpaths are kept clear of fallen trees and branches but there will inevitably be times between visits by contractors when there might be trip hazards to walkers.
In January the Dulwich Community Council heard submissions from residents regarding the existing Controlled Parking Zone operating in the Herne Hill Area. It was recommended that the Zone be extended to include Carver Road, Ruskin Walk, Warmington Road and Hollingbourne Road for a six month trial period and to operate between the hours of 12 noon - 2pm.
The residents of Ruskin Walk submitted a second request to the January Dulwich Community Council meeting that the road should be one-way only because of its narrow width, the damage to cars experienced by residents from passing traffic and the impossibility of converting front gardens to hard standing because of the narrow frontages and short front gardens. This request was rejected in view of including the road in the proposed CPZ extension trial period. On the face of it, making Ruskin Walk a one-way road seems a sensible idea. There are also arguments for making similar arrangements for neighbouring Hollingbourne Road but one way in the other direction.
Similar congestion problems are faced by a number of other narrow Dulwich and East Dulwich Roads and a one-way system would ease the problem. Particularly difficult passing places occur in Aysgarth Road, Pickwick Road and Boxall Road which could be solved by such an arrangement. Similarly Dekker, Druce and Desenfans Roads might be considered. One of the most difficult roads to negotiate, and one which receives considerable traffic is Dovercourt Road. A one-way scheme in conjunction with Beauval Road might be the solution.
The new government licensing laws, allowing sports clubs as well as public houses, bars and other licensed premises to remain open for longer hours has caused an unexpected problem in opposing such application. The new regulations require the applicant to display a notice of intention to extend opening hours and it is the public's responsibility to see such applications and respond to them within a very limited period. When such applications are made by sports clubs for extensions in their bar opening times until 1pm, such notices are not easily spotted. Such extensions might cause considerable inconvenience because of noise, to those residents who back on to sports club premises. The Dulwich Society is drawing up a Code of Practice for such applications for submission to the Community Council.