In recent weeks there have been a series of small triumphs for local democracy. Of course it took some time and considerable effort to achieve them. Probably Southwark Council can be mildly excused from assuming that Dulwich residents have little interest on anything beyond their front doors considering the minimal response to invitations to comment on other issues. However, when the full implications of various proposals did sink in, then Dulwich residents were swift to man barricades, form committees and get highly indignant.
There was of a slew of proposals in recent weeks as chairman Ian McInnes explains in his Comment Column, and it was when these came to the boil at the Dulwich Community Council meeting on Wednesday 27 January that there was a very large attendance of anxious, articulate and disgruntled people.
The chairman, Councillor Andy Simmons did well to keep a light but firm hand on what turned out to be a polite and calm meeting. Various delegations representing local residents, Safer Routes to Schools, Friends of Dulwich Park and others concisely stated their differing objections or support of the traffic schemes and cycle way routes being proposed. The Council’s traffic officer’s consultation was judged to be inadequate and many residents attending the meeting considered that the proposals for cycle ways were being railroaded through without the full details being released and the officer promised to go away and return with fresh proposals for a wider consultation in March.
The welcome news of the evening was the announcement concerning the Dulwich Hospital site, a topic which has turned up (and turned many off) regularly at Dulwich Community Council. It was in 2004 that the partial closure of the hospital was announced and later that year the demolition of about a third of the buildings took place. A group of activists, hoping to secure a new community hospital on the site, then formed, and numerous campaigns and feasibility studies followed on this concept. At the same time Kings College Hospital continued to run a number of clinical functions in the remaining old buildings and erected some temporary accommodation for others.
More recently, the case for using the site as a benefit for the local community rather than allowing it to be sold off and developed for private housing, was taken up by several local councillors. In 2013 NHS Southwark agreed plans for a new health centre in the south of the borough, serving Dulwich and the surrounding areas, with the preferred location being the Dulwich Hospital site.
An extensive consultation with local people and clinicians was carried out with a view of providing a base for a wide range of health services in the community, especially for people with long term conditions. Studies were conducted to determine how big the centre needed to be and how large an area would be required. Assessments of likely future activity and population changes were also considered. As a result of these and other studies, NHS Southwark has decided on a new build on the Dulwich Hospital site. It will invite architects to tender for the project in coming months. In the meantime, those services being provided in temporary accommodation on the proposed space (in the south-east corner of the cleared area between Melbourne Grove and Jarvis Road) will be housed in the existing main building.
It was also announced that there are on-going discussions between NHS Property Services (who own the site) and the Education Funding Agency about education facilities being located on the remainder of the site. If the outcome is the provision of a new secondary school this news will be gladly received as a further much needed local facility. As far as The Dulwich Society is concerned, it would welcome such a step and also see it as a means of retaining the attractive ‘chateau’ style main building and the Military Hospital WW1 Memorial, both of which would lend considerable architectural gravitas to a new school.
As reported previously, there are two potential bidders to run a secondary school on the site, Haberdasher Aske and the Charter School. They have submitted proposals to the Department of Education - and both were called to interview in February.
The early part of this year was taken up with consultation over council initiatives on traffic management, cycling and planning.
The year started positively with the Council responding rapidly to the large number of objections from local residents to the proposed banning of the right turn from Townley Road into East Dulwich Grove. The contentious scheme was withdrawn and council officers instructed to come up with an alternative solution.
On the draft Southwark cycling spine scheme, initial details showed a cycling route going through Dulwich Park – the Dulwich Park Friends were quick to point out the likely conflict between park users like joggers and dog walkers, and commuter cyclists. The park is also closed at night, and closes earlier in the winter – is the Council’s intention to keep it open and put street lights in?
The Council also appears keen to install a series of ‘Quietways’ - networks of bike routes for less confident cyclists using low-traffic back streets (the routes are apparently not just for current cyclists, but are for people who have always been put off cycling by the thought of sharing the road with high volumes of cars, vans, buses and lorries). Several local residential roads are included eg Turney Road & Eynella Road. You have to ask whether the officers coming up with these schemes have any idea of the amount of on-road parking in Dulwich, where are residents supposed to park if they cannot, or don’t want to park, on their front gardens?
A more positive consultation was the one on amending free parking in Dulwich Village to a one hour limit to improve accessibility for shoppers and stop commuter parking. Based on the beneficial impact to both shoppers and traders of the 30 min parking limit in Herne Hill, this plan should improve the availability of parking for short visits but may possibly push commuter parking onto surrounding roads.
The Council are also consulting on the new draft Southwark Plan. A serious lack of promotion (even local councillors were unaware of it) meant that the initial consultation meeting on 19 January was attended by only 8 people – hardly representative. We were told that a further, more detailed draft plan, will be consulted on in September and the aim is for the new development plan to come into effect in 2017. The initial consultation period runs to the 6 March and there is an interactive consultation map for interested parties to comment on proposed site allocations and even suggest any new sites – this will be operational till the early summer. See: www.southwark.gov.uk/newsouthwarkplan
Notice is hereby given that the 52nd Annual General Meeting of The Dulwich Society will be held at 8.00pm on Monday 27th April 2015 at St Barnabas Church Community Suite, Calton Avenue, SE21 7DG.
1. Minutes of the 51st Annual General Meeting held on 28th April 2014 to be approved.
2. Chairman’s Report
3. Secretary’s Report.
4. Treasurer’s Report and presentation of accounts for 2014.
5. Appointment of Honorary Auditor.
6. Reports from Sub-Committee Chairmen.
7. Elections for 2015-2016. President, Vice-Presidents, Officers, Executive Committee.
8. Any Other Business.
Note: Nominations for election as an Officer or Member of the Executive Committee must be submitted in writing to the Secretary by two members not later than fourteen days before 27th April 2015 and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9).
Patrick Spencer Hon. Secretary
7 Pond Cottages SE21 7LE
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2014, the Chairman’s report and reports of the Sub-Committee Chairmen for 2014 may be seen on the Dulwich Society Website www.dulwichsociety.com A hard copy may be obtained by application to the Secretary. After the meeting there will be a showing of some of the original Gaumont ‘shorts’ which were filmed at their studios in Dulwich between 1900-10. Wine will also be served.
The Dulwich Society was successful in bidding for forthcoming grants from Southwark Council under its Cleaner, Greener, Safer scheme. The most significant was the acceptance of the Society’s suggestion for the conversion of a building adjacent to Dulwich Library as a police base and contact point. At present the nearest police contact is Camberwell police station. The amount of the grant is £30,000.
Other grants proposed by the Society and agreed by Dulwich Community Council are:
New notice boards outside St Barnabas Parish Hall, Dulwich Village £800
Greening of verges in Dulwich Village £4100
Restrictor post in Hunts Slip Road £1900
New bench in Half Moon Lane £1500 (at the request of Abbeyfield)