Dulwich Society Annual General Meeting - April 2013
Executive Committee Reports for 2012

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

2013 is the Society’s fiftieth anniversary. While the year’s celebratory events will be covered in more detail at the next AGM in 2014, the year started with the ‘Dulwich 63’ exhibition in the Dulwich College Library, a series of talks and walks held in conjunction with the Picture Gallery, and the first two (of twelve) World War II memorial plaque installations – these will continue through the year. These commemorate multiple deaths of civilians by enemy action in the Second World War and involved very considerable research, mainly by Brian Green, while our secretary, Patrick Spencer, negotiated permission to install them with the property owners – the next one, in Burbage Road, is on Saturday 13th April.

The Society has continued to support the Dulwich Estate in the planning applications to refurbish and extend the Crown and Greyhound as a small hotel or ‘pub with rooms’, and to redevelop the old dairy site in West Dulwich for housing and a doctors’ surgery. Unfortunately little further progress has been made and both projects are still being considered by the relevant Local Authorities.

The Society is playing an active part in the Council’s consultation to produce a flood prevention strategy for the Dulwich and Herne Hill areas and has been heavily involved with the replacement for the stolen Barbara Hepworth statue (the chairman sits on the steering group). We also took part in the discussions on the Council’s ‘south of the borough’ events series (the follow up to its original, but very unwelcome proposal, at the end of 2011). The results will be seen at the Dulwich Festival in May.

Despite strenuous efforts the Society has not been able to come to an agreement with the Council about taking over Rosebery Lodge in Dulwich Park as the ‘Dulwich Archive’. The Council seems to want to dispose of the property on a full repairing lease and the Society cannot take on that level of responsibility.

We continue to monitor the Estate’s implementation of the Scheme of Management through the Advisory group, which met three times during the year. The Society has also been actively lobbying the Estate to make sure that broken fences and posts and chains are repaired. We are pleased to say that some progress has been made particularly in College Road and along Dulwich Wood Avenue. We have now turned our attention to Dulwich Common.

The Society put in bids at the end of 2012 for Cleaner Greener Safer funding (CGS) and projects include the re-installation of a central pedestrian refuge at the end of Burbage Road. CGS works from previous years were completed in 2012, including the renovation of the white fingerposts and replacing the two in Croxted Road which had disappeared.   

A short ceremony was held on 22 September to celebrate renaming the lane between College Road and Gallery Road as ‘Lovers Walk’. We were lucky to be able to have two pupils from Alleyns School to help us recreate the well-known Edwardian picture postcard views.

With its wide range of articles on all aspects of local interest, the Society’s Journal continues to be regarded as one of the major benefits of Society membership. To assist the Dulwich Estate in their consultation over new solar panel guidance notes, the Society carried out a membership consultation through the Journal.

The demand for the Society’s annual booklet on ‘Dulwich gardens open for Charity’ continues. The current editor, John Ward, whose idea the booklet was, is retiring, and we are looking for someone to take over this important project. I would like to thank him for the considerable effort he has put in over the last five years.

Once again 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 they dedicate to the Society and its activities - continuing to do their best to maintain Dulwich’s unique ambience.  I would also include the members who deliver the Journal around Dulwich and welcome the new volunteer deliverers and co-ordinators who have joined us over the last year.

Ian McInnes, Chairman


HON. SECRETARY’S REPORT

The Executive Committee met six times during 2012 and the Advisory Group, three times. 

Following the theft of the Hepworth statue from Dulwich Park we discussed the upgrading of the security for the Edward Alleyn Statue and have put in hand a more sophisticated system for the hours of darkness. It is designed to operate a spot light and CCTV camera if anyone gets very close to the statue.  

At our instigation we are delighted that a Southwark Civic Association award was given to Stella Benwell who for many years chaired the Trees sub-committee and remains a dedicated promoter of all things arboreal and is still, literally, active in the field.

Patrick Spencer, Hon Secretary


MEMBERSHIP REPORT

Despite the economic pressures our numbers held up well in 2012. We lost 42 members but gained 40 new members. In early 2013 numbers seem to be rising well and our current total of 1082 Ordinary and 6 corporate members is very much our usual size in recent years. Our 50th Anniversary celebrations may help to increase these levels this year.

We claimed £2045.67 in Charity Gift Aid for the financial year 2011-12. This is a slightly smaller figure than in recent years and represents a change in income tax rules rather than a decrease in the number of members who signed declarations. As always, we are grateful to over 80% of our members who do so.

I shall be retiring as Membership Secretary shortly and, after nearly 20 years, will miss the many pleasant conversations I have had with members via e-mail, the telephone and by letter. I wish you all well.

Wilfrid Taylor, Membership Secretary


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PLANNING & ARCHITECTURE GROUP

Dulwich Estate Licence Applications: The Planning and Architecture Group continues to make monthly visits to the Scheme of Management office at the Old Grammar School - this year 190 license applications were commented on. Loft conversions with rear dormers remain popular and garden sheds have become far more prevalent, but there are now very few applications for solar panels.

60 Dulwich Village: A further  application to extend the original Georgian semi-detached house was refused by Southwark Council after taking into account the reasons for refusal of an appeal for an earlier scheme. A new reduced scheme was submitted in December.

The Crown and Greyhound, 73 Dulwich Village: The scheme submitted in October 2011 to provide a restored public house, function rooms and 20 bedroom hotel was withdrawn by the Dulwich Estate. New plans were submitted in August 2012 with additional information in December. There is, as yet, no decision to date.

Dulwich College, Science Block: A planning application was made in November for a new science block to replace the existing two storey one with a part 2 and part 3 storey block. The new building is shown as being 10 metres closer to College Road and 2 metres higher. The new accommodation is considered to be well planned and no objection was made to the scheme in principle but the Society is very concerned about the use of grey concrete as the principle facing material towards College Road, - which would clearly detract from the setting of Barry Building. The building now has planning approval subject to detailed information on materials.

Hillside, 9 Fountain Drive: The planning application for five new dwellings was made in August 2012 and granted in December. Local residents, the Dulwich Society and College Ward councillor, Lewis Robinson, made representations against the application at a meeting of the Planning sub-committee in Tooley Street. Despite a large number of objections, including Councillor Robinson pointed out that the Council’s own Traffic Section considered parking provision inadequate, the application was granted with 21 conditions! This extraordinary number of conditions indicated serious unresolved problems within the application and a lack of resolve by the Planning sub-committee, which has no Dulwich councillors on the committee, to refuse the application.

The West Dulwich Dairy Site: The site has been semi-vacant since 2001. The Dulwich Estate’s most recent application was made in November and included a mixture of retail units, a doctor’s surgery and nine residential flats. The doctor’s surgery would provide replacement accommodation for the Rosendale surgery, which has to relocate in 21 months. Lambeth Council has yet to make a decision.

The Concrete House, 549 Lordship Lane: Restoration work to the Grade II listed building is well under way to provide five 1 bedroom and two 2-bedroom flats. Completion is due later this year. 

Dulwich Mill Pond: Work commenced in December in line with the Dulwich Estate’s programme. The cleaning out and improvement scheme is to be completed in April with new planting and installation of a filter unit.

St Peter’s/Deeper Life Bible Church – Boundary wall Restoration: Southwark’s Project team have taken the CGS scheme forward by appointing conservation Architects for the proposed restoration works. However, there is now a stand-off between the church and the Council’s planning department who want to restrict the number of car spaces on the site to five. This is not acceptable to the church (whose members are generally not local) and up to thirty cars can be parked there on Sundays. The Church has appointed its own conservation Architect and proposed seventeen cars paces but there is a risk that Council intransigence will mean that the scheme fail to go forward.

Architectural Poster: The brief for the poster is to be re-written along the   lines of providing a Heritage map to have a wider appeal by including local notable non-domestic buildings.

David Lloyd Roberts, Chair


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORT COMMITTEE

Consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise: The Herne Hill Society, Southwark Council and the Dulwich Society all campaigned strongly for the continuation of direct trains from Herne Hill Station to St Pancras International.  Everyone is now delighted that the Department for Transport has agreed that the proposed alteration will not now take place. This would have required passengers to change trains and platforms at Blackfriars.

Herne Hill Velodrome: Following the resurfacing of the track and the signing of a 15 year lease by British Cycling, lighting is being installed to enable the track to be used for longer hours and more weeks in the year. A junior track is also being built, which will provide training for young cyclists and space for cyclists with disabilities. These improvements are being funded by the Southwark Olympic Legacy Fund. 

Paxton Green Gyratory: This roundabout is on the border between Southwark and Lambeth and Southwark Council has responsibility for the roads there. The roundabout is frightening for cyclists and, despite Boris Johnson’s desire that roads should be made as safe as possible for cycling, Southwark Council has funds for only limited changes to the road layout. Following a consultation event held in January 2013 the Dulwich Society has stressed the need for a drop-off/collection point for patients visiting the health centre which fronts on to the gyratory.  Changes to the traffic lanes might free up space for a small number of restricted short term parking bays.

Access to West Dulwich and North Dulwich Railway Stations: Following consultation with a representative of Network Rail it has been accepted that lifts at North Dulwich would involve major and extremely expensive structural changes, so their installation at the present time is not practicable. However, it would appear that the installation of ramps to give improved access to the platforms at West Dulwich might be possible. Network Rail and Southwark Council are considering a feasibility study and means of funding, with local support from the Society.

Safe Routes to School: The Traffic and Transport Committee believes that safety on Dulwich roads is of major importance and has pledged to support the Safe Routes to School Group in any way it can. There are approximately 5,000 children attending many schools, both state and independent, in this very small but heavily trafficked area.  The physical layout of road junctions, zebra crossings, green man lights and the length of their pedestrian phase, the sequence of traffic lights, the provision of lollipop personnel and 20 mph speed limits are all vitally important in making Dulwich safer. The Society is collaborating with the Safe Routes to School Group in order  to optimize the benefits of changes being planned at the junction of East Dulwich Grove and Greendale, and to  developing a network of safe routes for pupils to get to and from school by cycle or by walking.

Road Safety: A few months ago a local resident and a member of the Society was hit by a speeding motor cyclist at about 7am on a weekday on Gallery Road, near Lovers Lane, suffering a broken leg. We are now seeking support for the installation of a raised zebra crossing linking the new pedestrian entrance to Belair Park with Lovers Lane.

Traffic Speeds: The Traffic and Transport Committee has also summarized information on vehicle speeds measured by Council speed monitors, and this information shows speeds at danger levels on some roads,  in spite of slower speeds observed by police enforcement teams.  Consultation with the police continues.

Gallery Road Roundabout: A 20 mph speed limit is to be imposed on Gallery Road. Southwark Council is seeking approval from the Department for Transport to install a ‘Stop’ sign at the northern end of Gallery Road, although the Council warns that such approval is rarely given.

Pigeon droppings beneath the railway bridge at Herne Hill: There is a high footfall under this bridge and, when it rains, pigeon droppings cause problems for pedestrians as the pavements become very slippery.  Responsibility for this bridge lies with Lambeth Council but contact is proving to be very difficult.  We have asked ward councilors in both Lambeth and Southwark to intervene. We are also seeking action from the Chair of Health and Well Being at Lambeth, as from the beginning of April health issues will become the responsibility of the local authority. 

Alastair Hanton, Chair


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE LOCAL HISTORY GROUP

2012 has been a very active year for the Local History Committee. In the spring, two walks during the Dulwich Festival, led by Brian Green and Ian McInnes, proved so popular that it was difficult to control the numbers. In November, Nicholas Reed gave a fascinating talk on his father’s MI5 activities during the last war - the family lived for over 30 years in Dulwich.

Spies on Dulwich Common also featured in an article in the Society’s Journal. Articles on famous past residents and the lost houses of Dulwich have ‘On the Street where you live’, have continued. All issues have included the results of new research into local history. Articles on Dulwich in World War II have been especially prominent because of the project to commemorate multiple civilian casualties in the area with a series of plaques. The first two were erected in January 2013.

Much planning has also gone into other events in 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Society. In particular, the exhibition at Dulwich College and the series of three talks at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The Post Office cart is still in temporary storage awaiting the location of a suitable place to display it; as is a group of First World War memorials from Christchurch, Barry Road found in Wellingborough prison.

Bernard Nurse, Chair


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE GARDEN GROUP

Our year got off to a splendid start with a talk by Gordon Lucas, Head Gardener of the Horniman Museum Gardens. He gave a detailed description of the major, partly lottery funded, re-development of the Gardens that was currently taking place.  This was our first meeting in the excellent, new, Belair Recreation Centre.
 
In March, our annual publication – ‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity’ was published. In it over 40 local gardens were illustrated and described.  Between them, they raise substantial funds for a range of charities including the National Gardens Scheme (which raises money for cancer, caring and gardening charities), St. Christopher’s Hospice, Dulwich Helpline and many others.  Although 5000 copies were distributed, demand for the booklet was stronger than ever.

In June, 53 of us packed a coach for a visit to the Savill Garden in Windsor.  It was a fine day and the garden was at its best. We spent two very enjoyable hours there. After lunch we went to Runnymede to board a boat on the Thames to Windsor and back - one of our most successful outings ever.

John Ward, Chair


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE TREES COMMITTEE

The Dulwich Festival Tree Walk in May was again led by Letta Jones and sponsored by the Society.  On a sunny Saturday afternoon well over 100 people, including families and children, joined the group walking up and down College Road from the Park Gate to the traffic lights, carefully inspecting the long line of trees.   Letta’s descriptions were as interesting as ever, helped by the use of the megaphone.

The Tree map continues to sell well – over 120 copies this year, mostly through the Gallery and the Pavilion Café.   The Committee has been undertaking a full review of trees that have been lost in the last several years and new ones planted, noticeably the Silk Tree outside the Crown and Greyhound.  A new up to date edition is being planned.   The design and drawings by Rosemary Lindsay make the map particularly attractive.

Members of the Committee continue to contribute profiles of Interesting Trees in Dulwich to the Journal, usually calling on Brian Green for excellent photos.   These included the Silk Tree, the Bhutan Pine, the Monkey Puzzle and Ashes.

The autumn outing took us to Audley End House and Garden where there are some very tall Cedars and an oak specimen unique to that area.

A number of Black Poplars were planted in Long Meadow, and we joined the Wildlife Group in planting whips along Gallery Road. In recognition of the Queen’s Jubilee the Society has provided £800 for the planting and subsequent care of two trees in Dulwich Park, beside the Lake and near the Café. These will be a Sweet Chestnut and a disease resistant Huntingdon Elm.

Jill Manuel, Chair


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE WILDLIFE COMMITTEE

We have made the protection and enhancement of the natural habitats for wildlife our priority and we are therefore coordinating our activities with other environmental groups in the area in order to make a bigger and more long-term impact.  Some of our work has been hands-on and on site, the rest has been behind the scenes, lobbying and raising awareness and enlisting the expertise of professional environmentalists.  During the last year we have concerned ourselves with creating specific areas for bumblebees and other wild bees, as well as butterflies, in both Dulwich and Belair Parks.   This work is ongoing.  We are also taking a particular interest in the water bodies in the area to increase their value for fish, amphibians, water birds – and bats.  In Dulwich Park, beefing up the reed beds has brought a result: last year for the first time a reed warbler, which is a rarity, was seen on site. 

2012 was not generally a good year for wildlife – and London was no exception.   Prolonged wet weather and lack of sun for weeks on end, for example, meant that there was a significant fall in numbers of bats recorded locally. This was a bad sign.   Dulwich, with its enhanced and monitored hibernaculum in the Woods, and its good lake feeding areas in Dulwich and Belair parks, its wealth of green spaces, trees, hedgerows and “meadows”, has hitherto attracted several bat species, including both types of Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s .  But last year there was a dramatic drop in activity – up to 75% down for one common species.  But Dulwich does provide good habitat, so even when Nature has temporarily withheld its larder, all is not lost. 

This is why our Committee will continue to focus on increasing good natural habitats for bats along with good quality hedgerows, with meadows alongside, to boost insect breeding and feeding, and reductions in artificial light nearby, as this prevents foraging - because what works for bats will also benefit all other species, including our own.  Increasing natural homes and feeding areas for all kinds of wildlife are we believe the optimum conservation tool. Research by bodies, such as the British Trust for Ornithology and the Wildlife Trusts, has shown that this is more effective in the long term than introducing artificial nest/roost boxes, etc.

We will continue to work closely alongside Park Friends’ groups, the London Wildlife Trust and Southwark Council’s ecology and parks staff, to enhance our local environment and to introduce, or reintroduce, new habitats.

Angela Wilkes, Chair.

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