Chairman and sub-committeee reports for the Annual General Meeting to be held on 2nd April 2009...

Chairman's Report 2008

The Society has had another successful year. Membership numbers remain at around 1,100 households and our Sub-committees have organised meetings, guided walks, lectures and excursions which are well attended and popular. Our newsletter, published four times a year, continues to receive excellent reviews.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of our Executive Committee and the Chairs, and members, of our Sub-committees for the time and hard work they dedicate to the Society and its activities. I would also wish to include the dedicated members who deliver the newsletter around Dulwich - without their help on saving postage our financial position would be very different.

Dulwich Post Office Cart: November 1st saw the installation of the historic Dulwich Post office Cart in the Post Office. We took the opportunity to make a day of it and were joined by a large number of members and Southwark’s Mayor.

My thanks to Kenneth Woolfe for finding it, to Willis Walker and Graham Nash for refurbishing it, and last but not least, Mr Patel, for allowing us to put it in his shop.

Edward Alleyn Statue: Earlier in the year the statue of the small boy was vandalized and broken off from the plinth. Luckily it was found in nearby bushes but it took some time to have it re-fixed - mainly because we had to enhance the fixing detail without substantially altering the statue’s character. The return of the boy was also celebrated at the November 1st event and the Society is currently discussing with the Dulwich Estate ways of improving security in the immediate area.

Licensing: Many of our members were very concerned over the Beauberry House (formerly Belair House) Restaurant’s intention to extend their licensing hours. The Society co-ordinated a large number of strong representations from other road based residents’ associations and, together, we were successful in making the restaurant withdraw its proposals.

The Society has also assisted in preparing a guide for local residents so that they know who to complain to when local restaurants or pubs give rise to noise or anti-social behaviour. People must complain to the authorities for action to be taken.

Website: The Society’s website was re-launched in November. It is now dulwichsociety.com.

Scheme of Management Advisory Committee: This Committee met three times last year and gives the Society a regular opportunity to raise questions and bring pressure on the Dulwich Estate, as the Managers of the Scheme of Management. At each meeting we raise many topical issues and the Estate is, under the terms of the protocol governing the Committee, obliged to give a reasoned response, which for the most part they do.

Finger Posts and benches the Society was successful on two schemes under Southwarks’ ‘Cleaner Greener Safer’ funding scheme - the provision of benches in Cox’s Walk and new finger post signs in the Village. The benches are now installed and work is about to start on the signs - the first should have been on the roundabout by the end of February.

Dulwich Park: The Society’s involvement with Dulwich Park has been reduced following the completion of the Heritage Lottery Fund works but we have continued to press Southwark Council on providing new uses for the College Gate and Rosebery Lodges. We attended the interview process for potential tenants in the former but have yet to hear if anything is going ahead.

Crystal Palace Park: We have retained an interest in the ongoing planning application for the restoration of this Grade II* park on the borders of Dulwich.

Bromley gave planning consent late last year but the application has now been called in by the Secretary of State.

Herne Hill Velodrome: The Society continues to press the Dulwich Estate to come to an agreement with British Cycling and Velo Club de Londres so that some investment can take place on the site. It also regularly reminds the Estate that local residents will object to any commercial proposals on the site.

Marlborough Cricket Ground: This cricket ground is on the South Circular, at the edge of the Estate and is in very poor condition. We have pressed the Estate to take action but have also acted as an intermediary between Southwark and the Club to try and facilitate funding for them so that they can clean up the site.

West Dulwich Shops: The Society was consulted by the Estate on their proposed redevelopment of the old dairy site in West Dulwich. We were encouraged by the designs but, unfortunately, the credit crunch has meant its cancellation. The Society is continuing to press the Estate to come up with a viable short -term use for the site.

Dulwich Gardens: The Society’s garden Group has prepared a directory showing all the Dulwich gardens that will be open for charity during 2009. It will be sent out as part of the next Newsletter mailing.

Southwark in Bloom: Dulwich won a silver medal last year and the Society and the Friends of Dulwich Park are collaborating on trying to achieve a better result this year.

Green Homes Concierge Service: Seven member’s houses were selected to be surveyed under a Southwark funded initiative to improve the environmental performance of the existing housing stock in the Borough.

Constitution - The Society is reviewing its constitution with regard to the length of tenure of the Chairman and Executive Committee officers. A proposal will be brought to the Annual General meeting in 2010.

Stella Benwell: Stella has been chair of our trees committee for many years and an active campaigner on behalf of the trees in Dulwich. She has decided to retire from the chair, but not the committee, and I wish her well in her ‘retirement’.

Secretary's Report 2008

The Executive Committee met 11 times.

A notable event was held on Saturday, 1st November when the repaired boy of the Edward Alleyn statue was officially reinstated on a base that strengthens the figure; the ceremony was carried out by the Mayor of Southwark and witnessed by many members of the Society. This was followed by the restored Dulwich Village Post Cart being pushed to the Post Office where it was officially installed. We are grateful to Mr Patel for allowing it to be displayed, Willis Walker and Graham Nash for its meticulous restoration, and to Frank Ralfe who set the scene in Victorian postal uniform. We then adjourned to the Greyhound to celebrate.

2 benches have been installed in Cox's Walk for weary walkers at the joint expense of Southwark Council and the Society. We had suggested benches also for Low Wood Cross Lane and Rock Hill but the police opposed this (as did some local residents) as it was felt it might encourage anti-social behaviour which has occurred in these footpaths.

On the suggestion of Rosemary Dawson we have pressed Southwark to start on the renovation of the fingerposts, and work has included replacing a number of missing fingers and installing stronger brackets. Further work is in progress.

Patrick Spencer

Membership Report 2008

Our membership numbers fell during 2008 to below the 1100 we achieved at the end of 2007, partly because the Committee decided to cancel the membership of those who had not raised their subscription from £7.50 to £10.00, a change made in 2005. However, new members are continuing to join and we are now just below the 1100 figure which we should exceed in 2009. In the near future, we propose to run a membership drive in some limited areas of Dulwich where membership is not as high as we might expect, and to extend this if it is successful. As always, I encourage our current members to recruit new members themselves. I will be happy to supply copies of our newly-updated membership brochure for this purpose.

Charity Gift Aid:

We received a payment of £2653 from HM Revenue & Customs for our claim for Gift Aid for the financial year 2007-08, as always a valuable addition to our income thanks to over 84 % of our members who have signed Gift Aid declarations. If you are part of the 16% who have not signed declarations but would now be prepared to do so, I will gladly supply declaration forms. There is no charge to you and the only requirement is that you pay at least £2.82 in tax each year.

Membership Secretary - Wilfrid Taylor

Planning and Architecture Group Report 2008

The Planning and Architecture Group continues to make monthly visits to the Old Grammar School on the corner of Burbage Road. The Group exercises the Dulwich Society’s right to comment on licence applications made to the Dulwich Estate’s Scheme of Management. This year has seen a peak in March of 22 license applications followed by a trough of 9 applications in November reflecting the dramatic downturn in the economy and in construction work.

The Group continues to review planning applications to Local Authorities and to give written comments to Planning Departments. This year objections have been lodged with Southwark for what are considered excessive extensions and alterations or new buildings which would be inappropriate in their setting and have an adverse affect on neighbours’ amenity as at, for example, 6 and 11A Fountain Drive, 112 and 120 Court Lane.

HOUSE EXTENSION GUIDELINES: Seeking to avoid applications for aggressive extensions the Group are proposing a re-phrasing of the Estate’s Guideline for extensions. The current Guideline mentions considerations like appropriate size and neighbours’ amenity. We are requesting that it warns that if applications do not give regard to the stated considerations then they are unlikely to be approved.

On the other hand, the Group supported the Planning Appeal for an appropriate single storey full width rear extension at 21 Frank Dixon Way with a letter to the Planning Inspectorate. This and adjoining houses, originally one room deep, have very wide and long plots. The Appeal against Southwark Council was successful.

9 DULWICH VILLAGE: Member of the Group, Julie Greer has raised the significance of the refused appeal to develop the rear garden at 9 Dulwich Village. The Planning Inspector had placed great importance on Southwark Council’s Conservation Area Appraisal stating, “As the Conservation Area Appraisal makes clear, an important aspect of Dulwich Village is its open character and well treed gardens ”. The Planning Inspector valued the borrowing of views from neighbouring properties, saying that, “the scheme would compromise the openness of this area and deprive it of its semi rural character”. The Inspectorate’s decision is a strong deterrent for general backland development. This decision will impede any further proposal to develop the land behind the listed wall on Red Post Hill next to Lyndenhurst, 19 Village Way.

LISTED WALL ON RED POST HILL: Southwark Council’s Planning Conservation Department finally served a Section 215 notice on Hausman Hughes Ltd, the company owning the listed wall on Red Post Hill and the land behind it. This legal notice requires them to re-build and re-instate the wall on a new structural foundation to secure the long term future of the wall. The notice has until the end of May in 2009 to run. If no action is undertaken by the owners the Council will be in a position to undertake the re-instatement itself and fully recover the costs from the owners.

NORTH DULWICH STATION ROAD BRIDGE: Rebuilding works have been completed to provide a stronger road bridge including the listed brick parapet with decorative panels opposite the station. Don Adie drew up proposals for the infill brick panels on the parapet wall to be recessed as they had been originally. He also prepared a scheme for the concrete central reservation to have an evergreen strip of low vegetation. Unfortunately these ideas were not put into practice, in part due to the limited notice about the bridge works preventing an early adoption of what would have been enhancing features. An alternative for hardwood planters with box trees underplanted with lavender is under consideration for the central reservation.

BELAIR CHANGING ROOMS: Southwark Council’s scheme for the new changing rooms was appraised by the Group at one of its meetings and while supporting the proposal a number of comments were made. Some of these have been included in the conditions attached to the Planning Permission and others have been noted by the architects. We wait to see the finished building in 2009.

WARD PLANS: Southwark Council consulted over various options for the Dulwich area relating to traffic management particularly with a view to extend the 20 mph zones to cover the whole area, to distribute humps as a physical means of controlling speed and to alter traffic junctions. The results of this exercise are not known.

EDWARD ALLEYN: The solitary statue of Edward Alleyn has been joined by that of the boy’s statue with a new baseplate securely fixed to the stone plinth. While the new baseplate is intended to increase the security of the statue, following its removal in December of last year, many have commented that there is a visual benefit too. The un-veiling took place on the 1st of November in the presence of the Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Eliza Mann.

DULWICH POND: The Dulwich Estate have had an assessment made of the pond of which about 1/3 is now silt. There has been some contamination found in water samples. Removing the silt from site will be an expensive exercise. The Dulwich Society is seeking a second opinion as to how the pond can be managed in the long term.

DULWICH GOING GREENER: A liaison has been started to benefit both DGG and the Dulwich Society. A direct result of this has been some seed money for tools and plants for the DGG’s Food Group who have started a practical and educational allotment behind the Methodist Church Hall on Red Post Hill.

Chair - David Lloyd Roberts

Traffic and Transport Committee Report 2008

The year 2008-2009 has proved to be as interesting and challenging as 2007-2008 and the Traffic and Transport Committee has continued to deal with matters relating to road safety, reduction of traffic congestion, improvement of conditions for walking, cycling and better public transport.

Local Plan for Dulwich - Following an invitation from the Dulwich Community Council we set out proposals for a Local Plan for Dulwich. In this connection a paper was prepared jointly with the new local charity Dulwich Going Greener setting out objectives for Village Ward. These objectives are:

  • to make it pleasanter and safer to walk rather than to drive
  • to make it pleasanter and safer to cycle
  • to make the area more permeable for walking and cycling
  • to make it safe to walk and cycle to school
  • to make public transport better
  • to reduce the need to own one or more cars
  • to make the street environment more inviting
  • to promote walking, cycling and public transport
  • to make better use of the Velodrome site
  • to improve the design of College Road and improve car parking for the Gallery and slow traffic on this road

These objectives also apply to College and East Dulwich Wards. As reported at the last AGM the aim of the plan is to make Dulwich public space quieter, cleaner, greener, safer and healthier for leisure, shopping, play and non-motorised as well as motorised travel.

20 mph traffic calming proposals for Dulwich Village - Proposals have been prepared by traffic planning consultants Mouchell and consulted on by Ward Councillors. These proposals include changes at the southern end of Court Lane, at the junction of Court Lane and Eynella Road, at the junction in the centre of Dulwich Village and humps and other speed reducing measures elsewhere. The results of the consultation on these proposals are expected to be known before the Society’s AGM.

Controlled Parking Zones - Village Ward Councillors are currently carrying out a survey and informal consultation on controlled parking zones.

North Dulwich Railway Bridge - The year has seen the completion of extensive strengthening work on the railway bridge on Red Post Hill. A wider central reservation and the retention of the 7.5 ton weight restriction have ensured (a) the slowing down of traffic and (b) prevention of very large and heavy vehicles using this route from Denmark Hill through Dulwich Village to the South Circular. The work has been done to the highest standards and the end result is a great success.

Herne Hill Junction - Early in the year Lambeth granted Planning Permission for work to begin on reconfiguring the Herne Hill Junction and construction has started.

Cleaner Greener Safer Bids - A bid made for a safer crossing of Half Moon Lane at Stradella Road was not successful but will be pursued through the normal channels for street changes. A bid for tree planting in the central strip near the northern entrance to Charter School was agreed but could not be carried out because of underground electric cables. Other means of reducing traffic speeds at this location are under consideration along with the proposals for Dulwich Village referred to above.

Car Clubs - Southwark Council is presently in the process of selecting a club to run the scheme in parts of the Borough and we hope that Dulwich will be one of the first to benefit.

Junction of Gallery Road and Alleyn Park - This has been reconfigured and is considered by local residents to be an improvement.

Parking of trade vehicles in residential roads in Dulwich - The parking of school buses, coaches, traders’ cars and vans in residential roads is becoming unacceptable. Measures to prevent this nuisance are under consideration.

Cycling - Improvements for the safety and encouragement of cycling are currently being consulted on, including the two pinch points on Huntslip Road; the Gipsy Hill roundabout and Alleyn Park North.

School Travel - The Society is represented on a group from several local schools encouraging travel to school by means other than car chauffeuring. The Committee is developing proposals for a network of safer routes to school, using the many green spaces in Dulwich.

Membership - As always, we welcome new members on to our Committee.

Chair - Alastair Hanton

Local History Report 2008

The main event of the year was the installation of the old Dulwich Village Post Office cart. The cart, which is thought to date from the end of the nineteenth century and be the only one of its type still in existence, was purchased three years ago by the Dulwich Society and painstakingly restored by two of its members. The postmaster, Mr Patel, has kindly allowed it to be displayed with a notice in the Post Office. The ceremony on 1 November at which the restored statue of Edward Alleyn was also unveiled, was attended by the Mayor of Southwark.

The Society’s Newsletter has continued to publish articles of original research and reminiscences on local history, notably the series of ‘Tales from the Village’ and ‘On the street where you live’. Also published were more lives of distinguished local residents and local architects as well as the background to the newly restored First World War memorial on Dulwich Common dedicated to the Dulwich Volunteers. Articles have generated several enquiries and information from members of the Society. An increasing number of email enquiries from members of the public via the Society’s website have also been answered; some of these have come from countries abroad.

The summer walk, starting at Cox’s Walk, was held on a Sunday afternoon instead of the usual evening and was well supported. In 2009, the walk will take place on May 17 during the Dulwich Festival. The autumn lecture held last November featured a very informative and well illustrated talk on cinemas of South London.

Members of the Society with an interest in the history of the area are very welcome to join the sub-committee, which meets three times a year.

Chairman - Bernard Nurse

Garden Group Report 2008

This has been a year of transition for the Garden Group. When it was first set up in May 1979, the Group’s main activity was to arrange garden openings so that keen gardeners could share their gardens with other enthusiasts and our members could visit, learn and enjoy. For many years we were the only organisation in Dulwich arranging garden openings. However, over the last few years, garden openings, particularly those to raise money for charity, have become very much more widespread.

To adapt to this new situation, we have decided that it is not necessary for us to arrange garden openings in future. Instead, we will publish a small directory each year, listing almost all gardens in the Dulwich area that open for charity - copies of the first edition were distributed with the March issue of the Dulwich Society Magazine. It is hoped that the new ‘directory’ will help to further increase pubic interest in gardens and garden visits.

We would very much like to thank all the garden owners who have opened their gardens for us over the years - we have all learned a lot from you and you have given a great deal of pleasure. Our thanks are also due to those who regularly distributed the garden visit ‘invitations’ to our 270 members twice every year - we are most grateful to you.

Our year started on a high note with a very good lecture by Tony Pizzoferro of the Lambeth Horticultural Society on Plants and Planting for small Gardens. In July we had a very successful coach trip to Lullingstone Castle where we received a warm welcome from the Hart Dyke family. After a tour of the Castle, Tom Hart Dyke took us on a most enjoyable tour of the ‘World Garden’. Our annual competition - for any plant grown from seed in a pot, was won by Ina Pulleine with an Echanasia. Mr G Gent received second prize for a Bonsai Accacia.

During the summer we visited a number of gardens that had been opened especially for us. These visits were truly enjoyable and we are most grateful to the householders for their hospitality and for all the work they put in, in preparing their gardens for our visit.

We are also most grateful to the members of our group for their continued support. Thanks are also due to our committee members, without whose hard work these activities could not take place.

Chair - John Ward

Trees Committee Report 2008

This year’s Tree Walk was in Dulwich Woods. It was led by Letta Jones and attended by over 50 people.

We have offered up to ten trees to Lewisham for planting on the Horniman Triangle, which is on the Dulwich Estate. Lewisham is installing new playground equipment and a café, and we have proposed a group of trees in the centre of the open space. We have given two Wellintonias to Dulwich Park to screen the view of the new house, on the right of the College Gate.

Members of the Committee are contributing profiles of interesting Dulwich trees in the Newsletter and we continue to sell the Tree Map, attend the Estate Governors’ tree surveys, and monitor the ongoing subsidence issues.

Chair - Stella Benwell

Wildlife Committee Report 2008

The committee have, with the aid of Dulwich Community Council funding through their Cleaner, Greener, Safer initiative, plus significant contributions from the Society, been able to purchase the following since our last AGM:-

  • 15 new bat boxes for Belair Park. Made of woodcrete (a hard-wearing mix of wood chip and concrete), they include one large maternity roost for colonies of mothers and babies to live in during the summer months. Nursing female bats often leave their young at home, hanging upside-down hooked onto vertical surfaces when they go outside to feed - not surprising, really, when newborn bats are a quarter of their mum’s weight at birth.
    Echo-location monitoring during recent bat walks has proved the presence of numerous species of bats in Belair (Daubenton’s, two kinds of pipistrelle and Noctule) who use the “dark corridors” on the park’s perimeters, as well as the lake and the railway line, to navigate during their nightly hunting expeditions. It can take up to 2,000 small flying insects to provide one meal for one individual bat over a single evening.
    The boxes, which will be sited in sheltered, secure positions high up on the most mature trees away from public access - in particular, trees with tall, open canopies giving easy, uncluttered flight-path entry for bats - are to be fixed in place by a local tree surgeon. The Society is meeting the cost of installation (£250). Once in place, they aim to help boost the local bat population because, when weather conditions are harsh, these small flying insectivorous mammals really need to keep out of the elements. Bats are unable to generate body heat themselves, or cool down in hot weather, but must automatically adjust to the ambient air temperature at all times of year. Bats, including one type hitherto unrecorded in Southwark, are known to be hibernating successfully in nearby Sydenham Hill and Dulwich woods but should benefit from this Society-led initiative to increase and enhance their habitat throughout the natural year.
  • New signage in Belair Park - this will draw attention to the special plant, animal and bird species that are to be found in the Woodland Walk (the recipient of a previous year’s CGS community council grant of £8,000 to the Dulwich Society and Friends of Belair). It comprises a large information board, with lockable panels, as well as a new wooden, illustrated educational structure featuring a model bat box (with occupants inside) and highlighting six iconic species to be seen on the site: dunnocks, chiff chaffs, Holly Blue butterflies, burdock, hawthorn - and bats.
  • New kingfisher bank in Dulwich Park. This was built over the winter. It is cunningly constructed to look like a small, steep stretch of natural, sandy riverbank of the kind that birds would normally choose to dig a nest tunnel inside. Kingfishers have been spotted “sussing out” nesting sites in the immediate area and it is hoped that - with the addition of a handily placed perching pole in the water nearby and a recently sown grassy topknot on the bank - they will be encouraged to build their families in Dulwich. Again, the work (carried out by Mr Lloyd Turner, a specialist who has constructed many artificial nesting sites throughout the country for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust founded by the late Sir Peter Scott) was made possible by a Cleaner, Greener, Safer grant (£5,000) via Dulwich Community Council.

Visits/Events: A visit to Barnes Wetland Centre, SW London, was arranged last year. There was also a well-attended summer evening bat-walk in Belair, jointly arranged with the Friends of Belair and London Wildlife Trust, which attracted budding young bat detectives, society members of all ages, as well as experts from the London Bat Group, who were delighted to record a noctule bat in the area for the first time.

Birds: Our valuable bird population data-gathering goes from strength to strength. Our committee members are now regularly recording species and monitoring populations in several venues throughout the area, including Dulwich, Peckham Rye and Belair Parks, as well as Sydenham and Dulwich Woods, leading informative and enjoyable walks and giving advice to those spotting an unusual visitor on their lawn or feeder. Local information is being fed into the new British Trust for Ornithology UK Bird Atlas and our recorders are taking part in the forthcoming sparrow surveys in the area.

Committee: Committee members have contributed Newsletter articles on local sightings, given advice on wildlife “problems” and casualties. Among the thought-provoking items submitted are those on house sparrows, bats, swifts and martins, kingfishers, little grebes, parakeets and the question of whether Dulwich is, in fact, really going greener.

Wildlife Rescue, a hands-on rescue, rehabilitation and conservation manual written by the Committee chair, Angela Wilkes, was published by Broadcast Books last year, see website: www.broadcastbooks.co.uk.

Looking ahead: the Committee aim to improve bird-nesting opportunities locally. Enhancing natural sites will feature alongside the addition of new artificial ones. A Butterfly walk will be held in South Norwood Country Park later this year (date to be confirmed) and there will be a Bat and Moth night in Belair in June.

Chair - Angela Wilkes

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