Tower Blocks Are Coming

There are three pending planning applications for high blocks of flats on Sydenham Hill and Fountain Drive. The Corporation of the City of London is proposing to redevelop the now empty Mais House, adjacent to its Lammas Green Estate, with a series of blocks of flats, one up to a maximum of 7 stories - though the height has been reduced from 9 after a series of public consultations, but there is still considerable local concern. There are also plans to redevelop the former Astra hotel, on the corner of Sydenham Hill and Westwood Hill with a 4/5 storey block and there is a new application for a block of a similar height on the site of a 1950s bungalow on Fountain Drive - the latter scheme was rejected by Southwark Council earlier last year and the new scheme seems much the same. Adjacent residents are up in arms not only over the actual proposal but also the Council Planning Department’s failure to inform them about it at the proper time.

Meanwhile, in East Dulwich, it appears that the London Mayor has changed his mind over the proposed redevelopment of the Dulwich Hamlet Football Ground and has said that Southwark should approve the latest revised scheme which provides more social housing. This will mean a series of blocks of flats being built on the existing stadium site while the stadium itself is moved to the adjacent Metropolitan Open Land - even though the Mayor acknowledges that the proposed enclosed stadium does not comply with MoL policy. The Society and many local amenity groups objected because of the loss of MoL but it is clear that the Mayor considers the provision of new housing more important than the preservation of public open space.

New Shops

A men’s barbers called ‘Mem’s’ opened in the former Phase 8 unit in Park Hall Road a few of weeks before Christmas and Plinthe, the former kitchen shop on the corner of Park Hall Road and Alleyn Road, is likely to be used temporarily by Roger Pope, the Village opticians, relocating to allow his current unit to be extended. There is currently no further information on plans to relocate the Alleyn Park Garden Centre.

The planning application for the Yoga studio in the former Park Garage has yet to be decided and there is still no news on the likely tenant for the former S G Smith showroom unit (though the Estate say they have agreed heads of terms with a restaurant). There is also no progress on the S G Smith workshop site as the revised planning application has yet to be decided.

Crime and Policing

Car crime remains a problem, both theft of catalytic converters and of cars themselves and, while there has been a reduction in burglary, there have been several worrying youth-on-youth robberies on school children. There were also reports in January of aggressive door stepping by jobbing builders and an increase in attempted bank card fraud - a number of residents have been contacted by callers purporting to be from the local police station.

Dulwich Society Newsletter & Journal archive

Dulwich Society member Pamela Le Gassick has created an index for issues of the Society’s Newsletter and Journal. Sorted into two files, one covering 1964-1989 and the other 1989-2014, each article is identified by its newsletter number followed by its page number. The files have now been put on the Society’s website (on the Newsletters Archive page with a couple of explanatory sentences) in order that anyone can access them.

Pamela’s use of subject headings and linking articles makes it easy to find recurring events, for example AGMs. We can also see how perennial issues, such as parking, turn up year in, year out. Browsing the index reveals other titbits: recycling has been an issue since the 1970s while surprisingly, the hot contemporary topic of cycling has only really been discussed since the 2000s, despite the presence of the Velodrome. We hope members will find Pamela’s indexes useful and informative

Listening Post

When Beth Taylor of the Herne Hill Society spoke to the Local History group about their oral history project, what caught our attention, apart from the actual project, was what she told us about ‘audio posts’. These are small oak posts that hold the electronics required to play six short messages of a couple of minutes each. They are solar powered, so can be installed anywhere, and can store enough energy for up to 16 minutes of playback each day.

The height of the post means everyone can access it, including children and wheelchair users. We immediately saw the potential for communicating some of Dulwich’s rich history through sound. Beth has plans to install one in Brockwell Park and there is one already in the Horniman Gardens, handily placed next to an existing bench so that people can sit to listen. Dulwich has so much history that it will be difficult to decide where to place a post or choose what to include, but that is a nice problem to have and we will enjoy debating the various possibilities. Audio benches, with the technology built in, also exist so when one of the Society’s benches wears out, we could consider replacing it with an audio bench.

The posts are sturdy and simple to operate, with two buttons: one to start the audio, the other to scroll through the messages. Robustness and simplicity come at a price however: one post costs £1,000 while a bench is around £2,000. The generous bequest to the Local History group made by the late Mary Boast could provide funding for Dulwich’s first post: we just need to decide where to put it and what content to include.