Southwark Civic Awards 2022

Southwark Civic Awards, which ‘recognise excellence in active citizenship and exceptional achievement’, are the most prestigious the council can make and were presented to two Dulwich Society members at a ceremony held at Southwark Cathedral. The Freedom of the Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell was bestowed upon Ian McInnes, former chairman of the Dulwich Society, and Brian Green, editor of this Journal, by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Sandra Rhule. A local body also receiving an award at the ceremony was the Paxton Green Time Bank which received the new ‘Southwark Together Award’ for its work in brokering reciprocity and enabling practical help and support. 

Traffic and Environment

The recent T&E meeting featured a large number of topics including the question of Vision Zero (working towards no traffic fatalities or injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all) and it was agreed the sub-committee would look into it further. Disability access to trains and frequency of services was also discussed, as were ways of improving uneven pavements. Further discussion took place about plans for e-scooters (potentially coming soon to Dulwich, albeit with a question mark over suitable locations) and Santander cycles (likely over time to extend south to Dulwich but needing to cover Camberwell first). Finally, the co-design process which will take place later this year for Dulwich Square was discussed. The Society was informed this would not involve the principles of mobility through it but rather focus on how to make it a safe and attractive public space. Since the T&E meeting there have been developments regarding bus services which the sub-committee is monitoring.

Planning and Architecture

In the past few months 39 licence applications to the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management were inspected and commented upon. Of these, there were 14 which were objected to, largely due to the applicants failing to observe the issued guidance or failing to provide sufficient information.

There was an objection to a large development in Fountain Drive of a new build 4 & 5 storey apartment building with roof terrace, comprising 9 x 2 bed flats with terraces, due to failure to adhere to both Southwark planning policy (notably exceeding the density of development for Suburban Density Zone South) and the majority of the Estate’s Development Guidelines for new-build properties. Particular concerns include excessive height and massing, out of character with the estate and immediate setting, loss of amenity to neighbouring residents (overbearing impact, sunlight, loss of privacy) and poor design quality. There was also Objection to front landscaping, including front parking area, due to failure to achieve 50% soft landscaping (and confusion about which parking layout applies) and Objection to rear landscaping, which is not proportionate to the size of the development.

The Dulwich Society also objected to the proposal to construct two new houses in the rear garden of a house in Wood Vale as being contrary to the Southwark Plan and the Dulwich SPD. The scheme is contrary to NSP Policy AV 07 (Dulwich Area Vision) in that it does not preserve and enhance the character of Dulwich. The SPD notes that Dulwich is not considered to be a suitable area for backland development due to the character of the area and large plot sizes. There would be a detrimental effect on residential amenity (privacy) of adjoining owners due to the raised floor level, proximity of the houses to site boundaries and overall height of the houses. There would be substantial loss of tree canopy from the scheme, and the access to the new houses takes up almost one third of the plot.

The Dulwich Society took a neutral stance on the part retrospective application for an outdoor nursery and holiday club at the Herne Hill Velodrome. It was noted that any planning permission should be subject to the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Code of Conduct. It was also noted that further information was required on the potential conflict between the existing ‘off-road’ mountain bike / cyclo cross trails and the nursery / holiday club, to ensure that there is no loss of cycling facilities (and cycling-related holiday clubs). This should also include an assessment of health and safety and safeguarding issues for children attending both activities. Although the determination deadline was 19th January 2022, the application is still listed as under consideration / assessment.

Licensing - Patsy Bramble comments

One of the attractions of living in Dulwich is that residents are able to enjoy the green open spaces of our nearby parks. In recent years however, the parks have also become attractive venues during the summer months for promoters of festivals, including large music festivals with daily attendance figures between 10,000 (Peckham Rye Park) and 35,000 (Crystal Palace Park). The fees (amount undisclosed) paid to local councils provide them with a welcome, additional, source of income.

The work of the small Dulwich Society Licensing Sub- Committee ( all 2 of us!) is taken up with monitoring and making representations on premises licence applications for such events (some one- off, others time limited or permanent), as well as premises licence applications for restaurants, bars, cafes and sports clubs in Dulwich Village Ward and surrounding Wards. 

Under the Licensing Act 2003 an applicant for a premises’ licence must demonstrate how they will satisfy the four licensing objectives, namely: prevention of crime and disorder; ensure public safety; prevention of public nuisance (including noise and light pollution) and protection of children from harm. Quite often the applicants address the objectives only in minimum terms 

Southwark Council runs an excellent scheme in notifying amenity groups and residents’ associations of premises licence applications. In contrast, it seems that Bromley and Lambeth councils do not, so we are dependent on local intelligence to learn of applications which could adversely affect the amenity of local residents. 

Typically, the Licensing Sub-Committee considers two or three applications each month. We review these to see if, in our opinion, the applicant has satisfactorily addressed the licensing objectives and recommend to the Society’s Executive Committee whether a representation opposing the application should be made to the relevant Council’s Licensing Sub- Committee. To alert residents to applications, such details we receive go into the Society’s monthly e-newsletter and we also notify relevant local residents’ associations so they too can take a view as to whether the amenity of their members will be affected. 

If the Executive Committee agrees that a representation should be made, one of us attends the Council’s Licensing Committee Hearing of the application. These now tend to be virtual hearings - via Teams. Five days before the hearing date, the Council publishes papers for the hearing, including representations by the Responsible Authorities (including Police, Environmental Health, Licensing) and all representations (anonymised) received from local residents. These hearings frequently take several hours, (not just because of IT glitches!) and are occasionally adjourned to a second day. A decision is usually given on the day of the hearing, but a detailed written decision must be handed down within 5 days of the hearing. In the case of festival applications, (which local councils rarely if ever refuse), we attend regular stakeholders’ meetings, - monthly, in the case of large festivals, to discuss matters such as traffic management plans, noise nuisance etc - and also post event debriefing meetings to ensure “lessons will be learned”, and damage to the parks’ infrastructure repaired. 

Gardens Group

London Wildlife Trust/Sydenham Hill Wood appeal

The Dulwich Society contributed £5,000 of matched funding with a similar amount from the BigGive for LWT's "Green Match Fund" appeal for paths improvement following heavy footfall in Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods during the Covid emergency. A total of £23,000 was raised during the actual appeal week and to date LWT has raised around £35,000 towards its £50,000 target. They will be able to carry out work on the path improvements, but will need to fund raise again to complete the project.

Court Lane raised beds

It is hoped that a project to improve the planting and maintenance of these beds will be realised, as well as seeing what local support there is to help maintain them in association with Southwark Council, which is responsible for the beds. Discussions are taking place with local councillors. The project stalled over two years ago partly because Council staff suggested that costly repairs were required to the beds for which funds were not available (an award of £300 was made). Any CGS funding for the current scheme, which is still being developed, will be applied for by the Court Lane Residents' Association which is promoting the project.

Clarke’s Green double benches

Estimates are being invited to repair/repave the plinths on which the two sets of double benches stand in the ‘green’ island at the corner of Village Way and Dulwich Village, historically known as Clarke’s Green. 

Village roundabout

The Society is pressing for a planting plan for this important feature (and possibly refurbishment of the light) as a 2023-24 CGS project. Hopefully agreement for a maintenance programme with Southwark Council can be reached at the same time. 

Local History Talks on Zoom

The Dulwich Society local history talks start up again this autumn. As usual they will be on the first Tuesday of the month at 8pm, on Zoom. Tickets are £5 with all proceeds to charity. The talks (to year end) are:

8pm, Tuesday 4 Oct: Dulwich Greatest Hits: a musical tour of Dulwich’s pop past with Patrick Humphries

8pm, Tuesday 1 Nov: The Decline of Farming and the Rise of the Sports Clubs with Brian Green

8pm, Tuesday 6 Dec: Georgian Dulwich: houses and histories with Ian McInnes

Tickets are available on Eventbrite which can be accessed through Bell House Events.