In the Autumn 2010 Journal I reported on the increasing pressure on Dulwich’s unique semi rural character from changes in residents’ aspirations - how what was previously considered to be an acceptable size for a family house seemed to be no longer the case. The growth of applications for retro-fitted basements appears unstoppable even when, as noted previously, the houses are located in designated flood risk areas (Dulwich has several). As demand expands, and they are increasingly dug below terraced and semi-detached houses, there is potential for serious impact on neighbours. The Turney Road Residents Association is so concerned that it sent a deputation to the April Dulwich Community Council to lobby Southwark to introduce more controls on basement construction. Camden Council has recently produced a good ‘basement impact assessment’ document and the Society has suggested that the Council use this as a model. A positive meeting has been held with Council officers and we are hopeful that it will move forward very soon.
Regrettably, the Dulwich Estate appears unwilling to assist, saying that their remit is only concerned with the amenity impact of alterations made above ground. This may be how the Scheme of Management is worded, but times have changed since 1974, and it is time for a more up-to-date interpretation. A resident’s amenity could be very seriously affected if basement construction next door caused structural damage to his or her house. The Party Wall Act can deal with the immediate position but it does not cover longer term problems.
While on the subject of the Dulwich Estate, they apparently remain unwilling to compromise with Southwark over the pedestrian crossing in Dulwich Village and they are having considerable problems in securing planning permission for a new refuse store which would allow the former wine shop in the Village to be let as a bakery.
Unfortunately there also seems to be little progress on the conversion of the Crown and Greyhound to a hotel and, in West Dulwich, the Estate’s proposal for the redevelopment of the old dairy site has been turned down a second time by Lambeth - on somewhat spurious grounds in the Society’s view. This site has been vacant for approaching 10 years and something really needs to be done.
Finally there is the recent change to the road layout at the Tollgate where the barriers were regularly broken off by errant cyclists and motor cyclists. The Estate decided to provide more room for them to by pass the barrier, but, in doing so, it appears to have narrowed down the gap for vehicles. The new barriers had been in operation less than a week before both outer supports were damaged. I have been assured that the gap is the same as before, but the broken posts suggest otherwise.