There has apparently been a failure of negotiations between the Dulwich Estate and a company named Citygrove Estates over the future of the Herne Hill Velodrome (see page 3). This may in the end be seen to be fortuitous. When negotiations, which descended into wrangling, between the original parties connected with the Velodrome; Southwark Council, the London Velodrome Trust, British Cycling, Burbage Road Residents Association and the Dulwich Estate were going on, there seemed little chance that the 2012 Olympic Games would be held in London.
All has now changed. If we are to give substance to the London Olympic bid team's claim in Singapore, that the Games should inspire Britain's youth involvement in sport, then the Herne Hill Velodrome, should and must, have a role in supporting this vision. The Olympic velodrome on the East London site which will be used in the Games will not be ready for some years, meanwhile, Herne Hill; the venue of the 1948 London Olympic Games is ready and waiting for the intensive training necessary and is the only such facility in London and the south of England, the nearest being in Manchester. It can also become a focal point again, in encouraging young people to take up the sport.
The stadium was underused; there was a failure of Southwark Council and many schools to use the facilities including the running track, the mountain-bike circuit or the expensively improved surface of the cycle track itself. The three year lease now granted to a cycling consortium by the Dulwich Estate gives a valuable breathing space. At the end of this lease, and four years before the Games open, the velodrome is likely be regarded as a national facility until the new London track is ready. The costs of such a facility are unlikely to be able to be borne by the consortium and it would be essential for the Greater London Authority to become directly involved as they have done over the Crystal Palace National Recreation Centre.
Commendable flexibility has been shown on the future for cycling at Herne Hill by the Dulwich Estate, much as their predecessors did when the track was first laid out by a small private consortium in 1892. To assuage the concern of local residents, covenants need to be included which would minimise disturbance, such as an agreed limit on major events, control of public address systems, the banning of motor-cycle paced events and a requirement no to let the stadium out to third parties. On the other hand, residents might have to accept the need for the track and some other areas to be floodlit.
As the Newsletter was about to go to print we heard the sad news of the death of our Vice-President Reg Collins. Reg was Chairman of the Dulwich Society from 1991-1995 and had been its vice-chairman from 1989. He had also been chairman of transport and planning committees in the 1980's. We extend our sincere sympathy to Sigrid.
On October 8 the Dulwich Society will host an historic event; the unveiling of the Edward Alleyn statue by the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Member of Parliament for Dulwich. It is one of the most ambitious projects the Society has undertaken. The life-size bronze statue of Edward Alleyn, sculpted by Louise Simson and raised on a York stone plinth is the culmination of a three year project by the Dulwich Society to mark what was felt to be a long overdue tribute to the Founder and benefactor of so many institutions, the benefits of which its members continue to enjoy. The occasion of the 400th anniversary of Alleyn's purchase of the Manor of Dulwich, from which financial base he was later able to launch his enduring legacy provides the people of Dulwich today with the opportunity of appropriately commemorating his act.
It is pleasing that the entire Foundation has associated itself with the project and that on October 8 the stewarding will be carried out by senior pupils of Alleyn's School and music will played by those from Dulwich College and James Allen's Girls' School. A Tribute to the memory of Edward Alleyn will be read by Julian Glover, a National Theatre Player and old boy of Alleyn's School. Dulwich Society members are cordially invited to attend the unveiling from 10.30am-12noon.
There has been a concerted campaign by local residents, concerned by the decision of the Dulwich Estate to offer the boundary of a sports field in Gallery Road as a site for the installation of two 60' high mobile telephone masts. They argue that this will not only spoil the rural appearance of Gallery Road for residents and visitors to the Picture Gallery alike, but the proposed masts will be in a Conservation Area. They also stress that these masts are of the powerful type which emit a beam of maximum intensity over a 200 metre radius. They point out that the field proposed is used by Pelo Football as a playing field used daily by youngsters for football training and that the pavilion in the neighbouring field will be used for at least a year by the children at Dulwich College Preparatory School Nursery during rebuilding of their main school.
The proposal has naturally alarmed the Prep school parents who claim that the Stewart Report, which prompted recent government health warnings about the danger to children by their using mobile telephones, "even in an emergency", also advises against positioning of masts near schools. In addition to the Prep Nursery, the radius of the 200 metre beam from the masts will also encompass the Dulwich Picture Gallery's education facility and classroom as well as local houses.
The Society's policy is to object to all applications within the Conservation Area and particularly near schools. Southwark Council planners recently refused an application for a shorter mast on the corner of Allison Grove and Dulwich Common and hopefully they will do the same for the one in Alleyn Park by the railway bridge.
A press release issued just before the Newsletter's copy date confirmed that the Velodrome would open for cycling on August 5. An agreement has been reached between the Dulwich Estate and the British Cycling Federation on a three year lease. It appears that both the London Velodrome Trust and the Velo Club de Londres are also involved. The Society further understands that Southwark Council has agreed to provide some additional financial backing but at this stage it is not clear if this has been taken up.
At the same time the Dulwich Estate is continuing negotiations with Citygrove Estates to look at various options for a more secure future for the track. Both the Society and the local residents' associations have made their views clear to the Estate on the sustainable nature of any proposed development.
In the last Newsletter we reported on a proposed redevelopment at Bullfinch Court, just north of the Croxted Road shops. The scheme was for 17 social housing units of various sizes, each with its own private garden, planned around a central parking court in an area at present occupied by garages. The Society objected to the density, layout and design of the scheme and we were pleased to note that the application was subsequently withdrawn. A revised and much improved scheme by a different architect was shown to local residents at a public exhibition at the end of June.
Ujima is a housing association which has several projects proceeding in the area. There has been some concern over one named Surrey Mews, located adjacent to the Estate behind the Sir Joseph Paxton PH. It appears that the new houses were built much closer to the site boundary than had been shown on the original drawings and that neighbour aspect was severely compromised. Lambeth Council subsequently refused a retrospective planning application for the houses and the case has gone to appeal. Some local residents feel that Ujima has been less than sympathetic to their concerns and the errors should have been dealt with much earlier.
S.G. Smith & Company is applying for consent to remove the former filling station at the Gilkes Crescent end of their property and also to demolish the canopy over the present filling station at the Calton Avenue end and turn both spaces into car parks, presumably for car sales vehicles. The removal of the 1930's filling station will mean the loss of the only attractive building on the site while the other will be the loss of a major Village amenity. It will also mean that the nearest petrol stations will be Croxted Road or London Road.
Two recent cases where councillors of Southwark Council Planning Committee refused applications against their officers' advice have been upheld. These are for an additional house in the rear garden of 9 Dulwich Village and for the demolition of the Sir Ernest Shackleton PH and its replacement by flats on the Kingswood Estate.