Honouring Two Veteran Members
John Ward and Bill Higman have been made honorary members of the Dulwich Society in recognition of their work and long service both on the executive committee and as members of several of the Society’s sub-committees .
John Ward, a member since the 1960’s and a keen gardener, has for many years been a member of the Garden Group, becoming chair in 1994. At that time the main activity of the Garden Group was to persuade local garden owners to open their gardens for a visit by members. This was initially very successful, but as the National Garden Scheme became more popular it became increasingly difficult to persuade garden owners to open specifically for the members. The National Garden Scheme helped owners to promote their event, and appealed not just to members of the Group, but to everyone in the locality who had an interest in gardens. More visitors raised more money for the charities which the garden owners supported.
John had the idea of starting an annual publication to encourage and promote all local garden openings. First published in 2009 under the title ‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity’, it has become a widely distributed and popular outreach of the Dulwich Society. Additionally, John headed the initiative to provide two coach outings to more distant gardens each year which are always fully subscribed
Bill Higman was Chairman of the Society from 1995 until 2000. He remained on the Executive Committee as Vice-Chairman until 2004 and subsequently as a member of the Committee until 2014. He played a major role in seeking to preserve the Scheme of Management when the Estates Governors’ announced in May 1990 that they intended to withdraw from the Scheme because it no longer served their interests. Consequently Bill became Secretary of a Joint Residents’ Committee set up to represent the three Dulwich organizations at that time; the Dulwich Society, the Dulwich Residents’ Association and the Dulwich Village Preservation Society, who were concerned with meeting different aspects of residents’ amenity interests. This joint committee progressed much of the way towards establishing a new Dulwich Conservation Trust which would, among its other amenity responsibilities, administer the Scheme of Management entirely by residents and on their behalf.
At that stage the Estates Governors decided that they could, after all, continue to run the Scheme of Management themselves. Although they had been keen to divest themselves of administrative responsibility for doing so, it appeared that they were less willing altogether to lose control. The matter was then brought to the Leasehold Tribunal in 1997 for the Scheme to be amended, to make its Managers more accountable to residents for its policies and decisions.
Subsequently, the two other Dulwich organisations, acting on behalf of residents, both transferred their responsibilities to the Dulwich Society, which consequently remains the principal body representing the interests of Dulwich residents to other authorities including the Estates Governors (now the Dulwich Estate), the local authorities and other public sector institutions.
400th Anniversary of the College of God’s Gift
Although the 400th anniversary of the consecration of Christ’s Chapel, Edward Alleyn House (Dulwich Almshouse Charity) and the Burial Ground have all been fully commemorated, the anniversary year of the receiving of the Crown’s official blessing through the issuing of Letters Patent in 1619 will of course occur in 2019. Both Dulwich College and Alleyn’s School will no doubt celebrate this important date from which their twin foundation can be traced.
In 2005 the Dulwich Society marked the quater-centenary of the purchase of the Manor of Dulwich by Edward Alleyn by inviting bodies involved in the Foundation as well as interested individuals to raise a statue to Alleyn and this was enthusiastically subscribed towards and the bronze statue by Louise Simson placed in the grounds of the Old College.
The Dulwich Society believes it right to further mark the 1619 anniversary. It has been suggested that an added amenity to Dulwich Park, the land for which was donated by the Foundation in 1885 would be appropriate and that some form of performance space be the object in view both of the amenity it would bring and the resonance with Alleyn’s career as an actor.
There is also precedence for this as readers will remember. A grass- tiered performance space designed by artist Ryan Gander was short- listed in the competition to replace the stolen Barbara Hepworth statue and was popular with the public. Furthermore, dramatic and musical performances already take place during the year in Dulwich Park and such a space would lend great benefit to these and to the comfort of spectators. Indeed, during the National Lottery bid for the restoration of the Park in 2005, the Friends of Dulwich Park highlighted the provision of a bandstand as part of the overall plan. The current preference is for the concept to be a performance space.
The Society, in conjunction with the Friends of Dulwich Park is exploring the best way forward to achieve this aim, possibly with an architectural competition sponsored by the Society.
Members will be aware that earlier in the year the East Dulwich Society was subsumed into the Dulwich Society. Their remaining funds of just over £1100 also came over to us and those have now been used towards a Society donation of £3000 for the installation of a ‘green screen’ at the Goose Green Primary School. Part of the school’s playground fronts the heavily trafficked Grove Vale and the parents’ association is keen to reduce the amount of pollution coming on to their site. They have already raised a considerable sum, and, along with assistance from the Council’s CGS scheme, this donation should enable them to reach their target.
The Society has also given £1500 to the Horniman Museum to go towards its ‘Wall of Voices’ installation. The museum does a lot of work with local Dulwich schools and this is a very exciting project.
Dulwich Picture Gallery Pavilion
In response to the large number of Society members who applied to attend the event in the Dulwich Picture Gallery pavilion in June, the Society hosted an additional one in September. A slightly different format included music from local a capella group ‘The Cake Appreciation Society’ and a talk on Dulwich’s old farms, as well as an exterior tour of the building.
The pavilion was a temporary installation and it was removed as agreed early in October. The good news is that it is to be re-used by the Goose Green Primary School in Grove Vale in East Dulwich. It was always designed to be demountable and reusable so as to provide a sustainable legacy. The pavilion will be moved to storage until next summer when it will be rebuilt as a permanent outdoor play space. The architects IF_DO. will also be involved, and both children and parents will also be encouraged to have their say on how they would like the pavilion to be repurposed. While the timber roof is fixed, the flexible nature of the pavilion and its moveable panels means that the school should be able to create a bespoke space.
Dulwich Hospital War Memorial Awarded Grade 2 Status
Dulwich Hospital, the future site for the new Charter School has a war memorial commemorating the names of the 119 soldiers who died there, out of a total of 12,522 patients of many nationalities during WW1. The memorial has been scheduled by English Heritage as a listed building Grade 2 which will help to secure its future. The Dulwich Society paid for the landscaping and memorial garden around the cross which is in Carrara marble. The remarkable story of what for a time was named Southwark Military Hospital, can be found online or by consulting the Summer edition 2010 in the Journal Archive.
Dulwich Hamlet FC Planning Refusal
Following the refusal of Southwark council to allow the football club to renew its lease on its ground on Greendale, the developer Meadow Residential withdrew its appeal against the Council’s refusal to allow a housing development on the site of the club’s current football ground. This involved building a new pitch on Greendale which is designated as Metropolitan Open land (MOL). The Dulwich Society is one of several local amenity groups which were against the plans and this is a very welcome result. Dulwich Hamlet is a well-supported and popular part of the local community and everyone now needs to work together to make sure the club has a sustainable long-term future.
Planning rejection for proposed new Almshouse
After several months of deliberation, Southwark Council have finally rejected the Dulwich Estate’s proposed almshouse development on the open ground next to the Judith Kerr Primary School in Half Moon Lane. The main reason given was that, even with the limited supply of land for housing in the borough, the Council considered that safeguarding the open space in connection with the school was a more sustainable use of the site. They also quoted various London Plan and Southwark policies to back up their view that there was no evidence that the benefits of the scheme (new almshouses) would outweigh the perceived harmful aspects of the development (loss of play space), and that there appeared to be no other realistic opportunities for the equivalent re-provision of open space within the site.
Their second reason related to the provision of affordable housing - some might think that this was a slightly spurious point given that the development was for old people’s housing for rent, which would effectively provide social housing for poorer members of the local community. The existing almshouses have quite specific criteria regarding assets and income, and many of the current residents are living on housing benefit.
It is an unfortunate situation when we have to balance children’s play space against affordable accommodation for older people but that is the case we have here and, perhaps, in these circumstance, Southwark has to prioritise the school’s requirements. There are no other nearby locations for playgrounds for the school but, arguably, there are other sites for the almshouses.
This leaves the Estate with two options, it can appeal to the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate will then make the final decision. Alternatively, it can accept it, but it then has a further problem about the lease. At the moment the school has taken a lease assignment from Kings College London which was agreed in the early 1960s and is due to run out in roughly 40 years, around 2058. Part of the agreement over the assignment allowed the Estate to apply for planning consent to redevelop the open site and, if they had obtained permission, they would have had to agree a 125-year lease for the school site. In the case of the Estate failing to obtain planning consent the existing lease would continue as it is, ie the school would potentially have to leave the site in 40 years time. This makes the amount of money that the school has received from the Education Funding Authority questionable as it was agreed on the basis of the much longer lease.
From a commercial point of view the Estate may be reluctant to extend the lease into the 22nd century but if they don’t they will undoubtedly be criticised - as a charity whose aims and objectives are solely to secure income for private fee-paying schools, it is effectively compromising the future of a state school. A dilemma - and it still has to find a location for the new almshouses.
Dulwich Estate Enforcement Action
Para 18 of the General Guidelines on the Dulwich Estate website says that, when an application is approved, this is in the form of a Licence which sets out ‘the works which have been approved’ and notes that ‘These must be completed within one year from the date of issue of the Licence, whereafter the Licence will lapse’. It then goes on to say ‘If previous, unlicensed works have been carried out to the property, as a condition for the approval of the current application, the Managers may require these to be modified’.
The Scheme of Management Office now has additional staff and they are focusing more on rectifying unlicensed work - something Society members, and many other residents, have been seeking for some time. While the principle of rectification of unlicensed works as a condition for receiving consent for new works is reasonable on the face of it, it will need some occasional discretion to be exercised. Some of these unlicensed works are long standing and many will date from a time when the SoM was not carrying out the level of enforcement action that it should have been. Will it mean, for example, that approval of an application for a new loft extension is conditional on a full width front drive (installed in the 1970 or 80s perhaps) being altered to meet the current guidelines - which require 50% of front gardens to be planted?
Looking long term, more diligent enforcement action must be a good thing; there are several current cases where rear extensions have been built contrary to the approved drawings and these should be dealt with as they clearly impact on neighbour amenity. But there is a downside to this policy. Will owners be more likely to carry out works without SoM approval? Only time will tell.
Future of the Grove tavern
The Grove Tavern, the pub on the corner of Lordship Lane and the South Circular, has been derelict for nearly five years following a kitchen fire. The site, which includes a car park, is quite large and lies at a prominent location by an entrance into Dulwich. Much recent effort t has been put into enhancing the surrounding area. The historic ‘Concrete House’ is now back in use as social housing, the visual appearance of the Cricket Club has been much improved, and the St Peter’s Church boundary wall is also slowly being upgraded. The pub building, on the other hand, is looking more and more run down.
The tenant, Stonegate, has eight years left on its lease but is unwilling to refurbish the building and re-open it saying there is no demand. When they purchased it, they had to remove its former ‘Harvester’ branding and local gossip is that the pub’s trade fell off a cliff as a result. There is relatively little passing trade and, with the drink drive laws, fewer people drive to a pub for a drink.
The Dulwich Estate, the freeholder, did make some attempts to redevelop the site in 2013-14, even having a limited architectural competition to select a scheme. Unfortunately, preliminary discussions with the Council’s planners were inconclusive and it was soon clear that the Estate’s aspirations for redevelopment conflicted with the Council’s views. The Council is now saying that the existing building (built in 1923) has to be retained in any development, while the Estate has confirmed that it will only redevelop the site if it can be removed.
To try and break the deadlock, the Society facilitated a public meeting in November at the nearby Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club pavilion which was attended by forty local residents. There was a high level of concern over the deteriorating condition of the building and agreement that either the tenant or the Dulwich Estate should, at the very least, maintain the site properly.. As to what should happen in the future, there was no consensus. The draft Southwark Plan’s current proposal to build over 60 flats was viewed with suspicion, both in terms of the potential end users and the impact of a large new building on the local environment. There was also some doubt that adding retail units or a small pub to the scheme would be commercially viable.