Often what motivates people to object to a development taking place near their homes is the potential upheaval it will cause to them; months (or longer) of a procession of noisy skips, inconsiderate parking by building contractors, noise and unsightliness. Of course this is nothing new. However, it is invariably thought that there was some golden age, whether in Dulwich or elsewhere, when there was no building works going on to upset the locality and streets were pristine.

Jerry White’s book London in the 19th Century demonstrates this was profoundly untrue in that period. Not only was the disturbance visible and unpleasant but it went on for years with railways, sewers and housing redistributing population, tearing up fields and snarling up traffic. He notes, and this especially was true of parts of East Dulwich, that a road might not be fully completed for 40 years.

Since then, London, and Dulwich in particular, has come under increased pressure to be built upon with massive council estates created to tackle post WW2 housing shortage and built on former beautiful open land. This was followed by a government requirement to increase the density of housing. This led to the expansion of the post-war private roads and estates on the former sites of large houses.

Now there is further pressure as old and new residents seek to expand their homes and schools add on new buildings to cope with increased roles or curriculum demands. Not unexpectedly there are frequently objections to what is proposed. Most objections are reasonable but sometimes objections reach unacceptable levels. It is disturbing for instance, that Marion Gibbs, the retiring headmistress of JAGS received hate mail over the school’s application to build a new music centre. Invariably, the level of complaint about a proposal diminishes the further one gets from it.

Ludicrously, the Dulwich Society has sometimes been accused of being in cahoots with, say the Dulwich Estate over development issues and sometimes of its members having vested interest. On the contrary, the Society is fiercely independent in its reviews of planning proposals and its representatives are not only democratically elected at each AGM but are required to declare any interest on issues they might be involved in. They therefore have every right to exercise their judgement on behalf of the Society.

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The Journal (formerly the Newsletter) in its current format has now reached 50 issues since the present editor was appointed in 2003. He says that he only agreed to do it for a couple of years! The first of these issues raised the matter of the poor state of those posts and chains in the Village which are the responsibility of Southwark Council (the ones maintained by The Dulwich Estate through the Scheme of Management, are now, as then, in good order) Over the years, often through the efforts of our Chairman, the appearance of the council maintained posts did improve. Now they are back to the 2003 level of broken chains and fallen and dirty posts. At least some of the money raised locally through the Community Infrastructure Levy should be allocated to rectify this. Dulwich Village is a conservation area and it has large numbers of visitors to its picture gallery and park. Neglect like this, not only looks dreadful but it encourages vandalism and graffiti.

The Journal is a considerable team effort. In addition to the regular contributors there are a number of other members involved in the distribution of the quarterly publication of 1200 copies. Particularly important to the smooth running of the operation are Barbara Kley who corrects the proofs of each issue and Jean Howell who co-ordinates the distribution. More distributors are always welcome to replace those who retire through age or infirmity. There is a steady stream of occasional contributors to the Journal and we would like to encourage more, particularly in the areas of sport, literature poetry and music - and not necessarily in that order! The criterion is that articles have a local interest.

By the time this is published the work on the Townley Road junction should be almost complete and we will soon know what its impact will be on local traffic.

The Dulwich Estate and S G Smith were granted planning permission and listed building consent for the proposed redevelopment of the S G Smith garage workshop site on 14 July. The Council agreed to allow a total of 12 units, 4 of them ‘affordable’, and agreed a substantial Community Infrastructure Levy payment of around £800,000 - which should be spent on improvements in Dulwich. There were a considerable number of objectors; many residents who live nearby are very concerned over the impact of the actual construction work on the surrounding roads.

This is but one of the developments that will be happening in Dulwich over the next few years. Work on the West Dulwich dairy site is still expected to start in the autumn. This will provide a new GP surgery as well as a number of flats and additional shops.

The refurbishment of the Crown and Greyhound continues but there is now considerable doubt as to whether it will be open for trading by Christmas. Work on the new hotel unit at the rear has been delayed following a partial collapse of part of the old skittle alley. This has been compounded by Southwark Council’s conservation officers’ failure to deal with the problem in an appropriately timely manner. The Society has lobbied councillors to see if they can move things forward. The pub is a major Village attraction which brings visitors, and business, to the other shops and restaurants nearby.

On the Half Moon Pub, the Estate has confirmed that they have agreed heads of terms with a pub operator who will run it as a pub with rooms. Meanwhile on the former Grove Tavern site, which has been closed since 2012, it is working up a scheme for a large number of flats above one or more retail units. The Society understands that it will comply with Southwark’s current policy on social housing which requires a mix of 65% private ownership and 35% affordable.

It is now confirmed that the Village Post office will be moving into Rumseys Chemist at No 47. The existing shop will need to be refurbished so the transfer is unlikely to happen much before the end of the year. This will of course mean that the Estate will be looking for a new tenant in the existing Post Office - another coffee shop perhaps, or can we hope for something more useful?

Another potential development site is the land in front of the new Judith Kerr School which fronts onto Half Moon lane. While the school’s parents are looking to use it for a playground, it appears in Southwark’s plan as a development site. The Estate has prepared an initial residential proposal which was discussed at a pre-application meeting with the Council in July.

 Recently the Council fitted chains to the final set of posts between the Picture Gallery and the South Circular. Budget constraints meant that they had to be plastic but they still looked the part. Regrettably there are a number of local residents who don’t seem to value this contribution to Dulwich’s historic character as most of them were broken within a week. Members of the Society refixed them but they were broken again within a few days.

Last but not least, Lightbox, the developer of No 1 Fountain Drive, at the southernmost tip of the Estate, has won an appeal against Southwark’s refusal to allow the demolition of the old house and its replacement with 5 new townhouses.

Patrick died in May after a short illness soon after celebrating his 80th birthday. He had been secretary of the Dulwich Society since 1994, and secretary of the local history group since 1990. He was efficient and thorough in these offices, dealing with the vast amount of correspondence and officialdom required for a number of the Society’s projects such as the raising of the Edward Alleyn statue, the restoration of the post cart and the placing of the twelve memorials to WW2 air raid victims in 2013. Unknown to most members, he took it upon himself to regularly paint and varnish the numerous seats the Society has placed for use of the public around Dulwich.

Patrick lived in Dulwich all his life, attending Miss Hoe’s kindergarten in Croxted Road, going on to Dulwich Prep and then to Dulwich College. He was very proud of his family’s long Dulwich connection and was particularly delighted to find that when he and Merrill moved into 7 Pond Cottages in 1969, it was once the butcher’s shop owned by his great great grandfather James Haydon, an enumerator for the first Dulwich Census of 1841. After leaving school he followed his father, who had been decorated with the Military Cross and Bar in WW1, into the profession of a chartered surveyor, and studied at the College of Estate Management. After qualifying and gaining experience he joined the firm of Spencer & Kent which had been founded by his father. Later Patrick would expand the firm to take in the estate agency of Kennedy’s. He disposed of the company in 1994 when he retired. By coincidence the last office, in Calton Avenue was sold around the time of his death and so the name of Spencer has disappeared from the list of Dulwich estate agencies.

It was through his mother’s side of the family that Patrick inherited his talent for amateur dramatics, a field in which his uncle, Richard Lydall had also excelled. Patrick performed in many stage roles with the Dulwich Players and was one of its vice presidents and he also performed with the St Stephen’s Players. Retirement created the opportunity for him and Merrill to indulge their love of travel and he also became a keen watercolour painter.

Planning and Architecture Group

Representatives from the Group made visits in May and June to the Dulwich Estate’s Scheme of Management Office to review 50 licence applications

There were objections to the following :

Turney Road - side dormer due to non-compliance with the guidelines for dormers.

 Woodwarde Road - side two storey extension with two side roof dormers due to loss of amenity by overlooking to neighbours and detrimental loss of architectural form to the rear of the houses in the road. To replacement larger shed due to excessive size of the proposal relative to the size of the garden.

 Woodhall Drive - two storey side and rear extension, and to front alterations including doors and windows due to loss of architectural character and loss of amenity to neighbours by overlooking from first floor level.

Turney Road - rear and side single storey extension due to excessive height and loss of amenity to the neighbours.

East Dulwich Grove - to replacement boundary walls with railings and gates due to excessive height and loss of architectural character.

Woodwarde Road - single storey side and rear extension due to excessive height of 3475 mm and loss of amenity to neighbours.

Jasper Road - to two storey infill due to loss of amenity to neighbour's habitable rooms.

 Calton Avenue - to extension of the rear addition at first and second floor levels including raising the ridge and eaves due to loss of amenity to neighbours by overlooking and loss of architectural cohesion along the rear of this group of houses.

Planning applications approved by Southwark Council:

Gilkes Crescent, Audi Workshop site development - Planning application, 14/AP/3104 - The application was approved.

Stock stone memorial plaque - Planning application ref. 15/AP/1772 - The application was approved.

Beltwood House, 41 Sydenham Hill SE26 6TH : Planning applications, 13/AP/3341 and 3342 -Appeal against non-determination for the conversion of Beltwood House to 10 self contained apartments including external works, demolition of ancillary buildings and the construction of 6 x five bedroom three storey houses with 9 lower ground floor parking spaces and 15 surface level parking spaces.

St Peter’s church, Lordship Lane, SE22 : Restoration work to the stone wall has finished. The next phase yet to be fully funded in the restoration of the cast iron railings.

David Lloyd Roberts Chair, Planning & Architecture Group

Trees Group


Wednesday 23rd September 2015

 The Trees Committee has arranged a coach trip to Cambridge University Botanic Gardens on Wednesday 23 September.

 Set in 40 acres near the centre of Cambridge, the gardens have inspired generations of gardeners and tree lovers since opening in 1846. The plant collection of over 8000 species is displayed in an attractive patchwork of gardens and plantings within a Grade 2 heritage landscape. The gardens are used for the university's research and teaching and include National Plant Collections, research collections, chronological and systematic beds, laboratories and an arboretum. The tree collection is of national importance and includes some heritage trees and trees that have acquired 'champion' status. We can expect to see some wonderful autumn colours.

 Our visit will start with a guided tour, after which there will be plenty of time to view the rest of the garden and glasshouses. There is a new garden café with light lunches available.

 The visit is open to both members and non-members of the Dulwich Society.

(see page 37 for application form)


Dulwich Gardens open for charity

A busy and successful summer of garden openings draws to a close with Clive Pankhurst’s exotic garden at 24 Grove Park (Sunday 6 September, 2-5.30pm) and Crawford & Rosemary Lindsay’s stunning garden at 5 Burbage Road (Sunday 27 September, 2-5pm).

Great Dixter and Sissinghurst

Some 50 members of the Society enjoyed our June coach outing to Great Dixter and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, smoothly organised by Will Anderson who also arranged some fine weather for us. Our events are open to all members of the Society.

A Loose Cannon

Despite the fact that the land Dulwich Park occupies has been tilled for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, it is all the more surprising that nothing of archaeological value turned up during the months of excavation and earth moving to carry out the recent flood alleviation scheme. In the interests of the Dulwich Society, the Notebook compiler cross-examined the contractors but was rewarded with only a negative response. No Roman villa had come to light, no post holes of a medieval dwelling, no evidence of past agriculture, no artefacts of any kind as the great project came to a close. Well not quite. As the last days of the project approached, Jeremy Prescott was also having a final look of the many he had taken over the months, of the mounds of turned earth, when he spotted something.

It was a musket ball, lying on the top of the soil. He found it by the entrance on Court Lane, next to the path. Unless someone was taking a stroll in the park with an old musket ball in his or her pocket, the only explanation would appear to be that it was a stray shot, fired by a careless or inaccurate soldier a couple of hundred years ago; for that is when the musket ball appears to date. Jeremy thinks it is the same size as ball from a Brown Bess musket which had an effective range of 175 yards, but which could clearly travel further.

 It is known that the volunteers, raised during the Napoleonic wars had carried out manoeuvres on Dulwich Common. Notices had been posted up in the village to form an ‘Army of Defence’. A company numbering 90 was formed and existed from 1804-1814 when it was disbanded, the threat of invasion and civil unrest having passed. The map shown was made on the orders General The Earl of Harrington for the purpose of manoeuvring a body of the Volunteer Force. At the time, the Secretary of War, Charles Yorke had said, “I say that in these days, it is better to run the hazard even of people making bad use of their arms, than they should be actually in a state of the use of them. I can safely aver that I cannot see any real danger which is likely to accrue to the internal peace of the country when I consider the present dispositions of the people”.

Dulwich Hamlet Junior School launches an Academy

Dulwich Hamlet Educational Trust (Dulwich Hamlet Juniors) in Dulwich Village is launching a new academy status school in September on the borders of East Dulwich and Peckham named Belham Primary School. The school, which is located in the former Victorian school building at the corner of Bellenden Road and Maxted Road will initially offer places to 90 children. The current head of Dulwich Hamlet, Mrs Sonia Case will be chief executive of both schools. The school will offer working parents and carers extended care for children from 7.45am (including a breakfast club) until 5.45pm with a range or clubs available before and after school.

2016 Calendars of Dulwich Scenes

Possibly for the first time, a monthly calendar of Dulwich scenes has been produced and is on sale at The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village. Available in A4 and A3 spiral format and in full colour and with spaces for notes, it has twelve of Dulwich’s iconic scenes. The photography is by Brian Green. The price of the A4 calendar is £8.95 and the A3 is £14.95

Neighbourhood Forum

Several of the Residents’ Associations in Dulwich Village have been discussing the possibility of setting up a neighbourhood forum in the Dulwich Area. At least two other areas in the north of Southwark are in the preliminary stages and the Herne Hill Forum is also actively looking at the possibility. A meeting will be held in September to assess the amount of interest locally and , more importantly, the level of commitment in taking it forward.

SUSTRANS Quietways Dulwich Cycle Routes discussion forums

Walkabouts: Meet Calton Ave/Townley Road Junction

Thursday 17th September, 8:00-9:30 / 15:00-16:30 / 17:30-19:00


First Workshops: Dulwich Village Hall / St Barnabas Church TBC

Wednesday 23rd September, 18:00 - 21:00

Saturday 26th September, 10:30 - 13:30


Concept Design Workshop: Dulwich Village Hall / St Barnabas Church TBC

Saturday 3rd October, 12:30 - 15:30

Sustrans makes smarter travel choices possible, desirable and inevitable. It is a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys they make every day.

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