The recent saga over the new pedestrian crossing in the south of Dulwich village just before the Burbage Road roundabout brings to mind the old paradox of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

You couldn’t make it up! Despite having been given a detailed schedule that spells out exactly who owns which manor wastes in the Village (those areas of grass that the sheep used to graze on in the C18 on their way to Dulwich Common), and which posts and chains, Southwark Council officers assured their councillors that yes the Council did own the grass area outside no. 113 Dulwich Village. They installed the raised crossing on the assumption that they could alter the posts and chains, and cut a path through the grass, and then they discovered that, no they did not own the land, it belonged to the Dulwich Estate.

So off they go to see the Estate, mindful presumably that this is the second time recently they have had to go to them cap in hand – two years ago there was several months delay to the construction of the new store/public changing room building in Belair Park while some land ownership issues were sorted out.

The Estate, not unreasonably, were not particularly happy and discussions over the length of a lease for the land and its cost soon stalled.  However, although the Council was at fault initially, this crossing is undoubtedly a benefit to Village residents and the grassed area is not actually used for anything, it just looks good and enhances Dulwich’s ‘rural village’ ambience. Could one not expect a little compromise?

But it seems that is not possible; the Estate will not grant the length of lease that the Council feel they should have and the Council will not pay the fee that the Estate think the land is worth – so stalemate. Village ward councillors and the Society have tried to broker a deal but have had no luck.

The position at the end of April was that the pedestrian crossing had to go and the lowered disabled paving areas removed – more Council money spent for less result.

Hopefully the raised table will be left alone as it clearly works well in slowing traffic down before the roundabout and one bright side, the spring flowers in the central island there looked great.