Now that a decision has been made on making the junction of Calton Avenue and Dulwich Village a permanent closure and discussion of the naming of the space ‘Dulwich Square’ ceased to become a taboo subject, residents will no doubt be interested in what happens next. A public consultation will be held on its design, the date of which is at present unknown. No doubt old wounds, recently concealed, if not healed, will re-open. As it stands, the space at present can only be described as a pig’s ear of a design, with redundant traffic lights hooded as if awaiting execution, ugly and makeshift planter boxes, hazardous tripping points for pedestrians, appealing slopes for ‘wannabe’ skateboarders, unclear paths for super-charged cyclists (not to mention future e-scooterists).
The last time such a ‘consultation’ was held was for the ill-fated, ridiculously expensive scheme to give cyclists (presumed) greater safety in their (assumed) west to east route. As a consequence, pedestrians found crossing Calton Avenue both circuitous and hazardous, cyclists ignored their new pathways and took the shortest route, motorists, frustrated at delays accelerated around the corners at alarming speed. Things can only improve.
What is needed is an aesthetically pleasing design, drawn up by an architect who has specialised in street landscaping who will take into account the list of preferences distilled from the consultation.
Of course, the matter of the design of the ‘Dulwich Square, will undoubtedly become the next battle-ground for local armchair street planners, let alone lexicographers seeking a more appropriate name for the newly-created space.
And what about the cost? Actually, that is the easiest of the problems to be solved. Either the Dulwich Estate should pay the bill in reparations for the appropriation of the original village green by Edward Alleyn in 1613 on which to build his foundation, or it should come from the £?m plus fines imposed by Southwark Council for infringement of the LTN. Either way, both are a form of highway robbery!
Your editor was asked recently if, in his 40 years of commenting upon local issues, he had ever come across anything as contentious as the Battle of the LTNs. Time, if not the great healer certainly has a capacity for diminishing ill feeling. Here is a list, which is not claimed to be a complete one, of past issues which have divided our lovely village.
Speeding traffic, culminating in a dreadful accident in Court Lane in which two schoolboys were seriously injured led to installation of the first speed humps in Dulwich. The speed humps were expensive and too high and had to be replaced. In the meantime, traffic diverted to Woodwarde Road to avoid them, leading to speed humps needing to be installed in that road.
Threat of the imposition of a permanent gypsy/travellers’ campsite on Dulwich Common by Southwark Council led to widespread alarm and protest.
The sale of ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ by Domenichino by Dulwich College Picture Gallery in contravention of its benefactor’s express wishes in order to save the Gallery from closure due to unsustainable running expenses. It led to widespread condemnation throughout the art world which pleaded for better funding for such institutions.
Perceived failure by the Dulwich Society in not taking stronger action against the Dulwich Estate over a proposal to turn the Crown & Greyhound’s pub garden into a car park. This led to the creation of the Dulwich Preservation Society, largely made up of dissatisfied residents immediately affected by the potential disruption.
Huge dissatisfaction with the Dulwich Estate including its ignoring of residents’ reasonable complaints over issues like arrogance, maintenance, and response times to problems. It led to a campaign by residents (headed by the Dulwich Society) and culminating in two public meetings chaired by the constituency MP. The governors, in retaliation, considered ‘walking away’ from the Scheme of Management.
Refusal of the Dulwich Estate to grant permission for building design changes to a house in West Dulwich to accommodate the needs of a disabled child.
New ‘real books’ reading scheme introduced in local infant schools to replace traditional ‘see-say’ method. Vigorously criticised by parents, leading to numerous public protest meetings and complaints.
Failure of William Penn School, despite its rebranding as Dulwich High School, led to public campaign to improve local state secondary schools. Culminates with the closure of the school and its rebuilding and reopening as the Charter School.
Disagreement among local residents over the proposed design of the new St Barnabas Church to replace the Victorian church destroyed by fire, descended into acrimony and was used by some as a coded criticism of the sexuality of the then vicar.
Mass protest over the threatened closure of the Dulwich Village Post Office.
Vociferous disagreement over the felling of the ancient tree at the corner of College Road and Dulwich Common - Zelcova Carpinifolia. Tree preservation order placed on the tree which was subsequently pruned.