There are a number of views expressed in this Newsletter concerning home insurers attitude to trees near property. As any reader will know; an enquiry to an insurance company for a quotation for home insurance will lead to two important questions being asked.

Are there any trees over 5 metres in height and within 25 metres of the property?

Is there any evidence of subsidence in the area?

There can be few residents who can claim their house is more than 25 metres from a tree of over 5 metres, and even less who claim ignorance of knowledge of subsidence within a quarter of a mile. Five metres to the top of a small fruit tree or decorative Acer giving patio shade is not great. And twenty-five metres, a little over the length of a cricket pitch, must surely bring trees planted on the edge of the pavement within this distance of most houses.

Many people, in seeking a new insurance quotation are put off by attempting honestly to answer these questions, and usually end off paying the increased premium inevitably demanded, year on year, by their existing company.

To complicate matters further; Dulwich, following the trend elsewhere, is in the midst of a "green revolution" with the 'Dulwich Growing Greener' campaign appearing to be gathering pace. On other pages in this newsletter David Nicholson-Lord emphasises the importance of trees as part of this issue. Stella Benwell, in her role as chairman of the Tree Committee writes what seems to be a desperate appeal to defend the trees under threat in College Road. John Major, Chief Executive of the Dulwich Estate replies in detail to the problems over the demands of insurance companies to remove trees on its property.

Can all these conflicting demands be reconciled, and can we still get insurance on our houses if (a) there is a tree within 25 metres and (b) there is a case of subsidence nearby? If we are sincerely want a greener sustainable environment which will improve the long term quality of life then they should be.

What is needed is some creative thinking on overcoming the hurdles raised by insurance companies on the question of trees near property. All the commercial properties on the Dulwich Estate as well as its leasehold properties, are covered by a blanket insurance policy issued by the Norwich Union. Each leaseholder is then billed by the Estate annually, to which is added a 15% management charge.

Would it not be possible for properties subject to the Scheme of Management charge to be included in a similar such scheme? It could be made a requirement of the insurance company that the presence of existing trees be acknowledged, and that in the event of a subsidence claim, full root surveys be carried out to determine if a particular tree is causing the problem, before a demand to remove the tree is made.

Insurance after all, all comes down to risk. Three thousand plus freeholders under the Scheme of Management at say £1000 each per annum is an annual premium of at least £3million. Certainly a substantial sum to any insurance company, and potentially a business proposition. Worth a try? Desperate times requite desperate measures!

The Dulwich Society would welcome your views on this subject.

Scheme of Management Consultative Committee

The Dulwich Society has four representatives appointed to this committee and is able to ask representatives from the Trustees of the Dulwich Estate for information on matters affecting those freeholders within the Scheme. The following is a shortened account of the summer meeting. 

28 Pickwick Road - statement

As reported at the last meeting of the Committee, the Managers had exercised their rights under the Scheme to carry out works directly to the property in order to put this in a satisfactory state of repair, following the owner's failure to do so. In order to recover the costs incurred, the Estate applied to the court for an order for possession. A possession order was granted and in due course the property will be sold and the debt to the Scheme of Management discharged. The owner of the property will receive the balance of the sale proceeds. 

Lyndenhurst - question to the Estate

The Estate has been provided with a copy of Counsel's Advice to the Dulwich Society on the possible course of action for Southwark Council to restore the derelict wall on Red Post Hill owned by Hausman Hughes. What are the Estate's views on the alternatives outlined? What proposals does the Estate have to pursue the owner as to the loss of amenity?

The Estate thanks the Dulwich Society for providing a copy of Counsel's Advice. This advice confirms that the Council cannot take any action against the company under the Listed Buildings regulations since the removal of the wall could be considered as emergency works under the London Building Regulations.

The way forward suggested by Counsel - that Southwark issue a repairs Notice, specifying the works reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of a listed building, appears to offer a solution; if the owner does not act, the Council may after a period of at least two months, exercise its power to compulsorily purchase the property.

The Management continues to pursue the owner of the wall to undertake its reinstatement - a breach notice has been issued and the Administrator is in communication with Mr Hughes. Although the Managers have power to enter the property and undertake reconstruction of the wall, they are reluctant to do so since the actual recovery of the costs from the owner is doubtful. The full costs of the repair would then have to be charged by the Scheme of Management and borne by those who pay the Service Charge. 

Flooding in Turney Road

Has the Estate pursued or received information concerning Thames Water's investigation of this problem and the general provision and state of drainage within the Dulwich estate area?

The Estate has, as yet, received no report from Thames Water regarding drainage within the boundaries of the Dulwich Estate. 

Beauberry House (formerly Belair House)

The recent planning application for two conservatories by the current sub-tenant has been rejected by Southwark Council. What are the views of the Estate to this proposal for a license as regards both design and the provision of additional facilities?

Neither the sub-tenant nor the tenant (Southwark Council) made a formal application to the Estate for its consent for the conservatories. The Estate will not consent to any alterations to the property which are considered out of keeping with the age and character of the property. 

Cash Point at Barclays Bank, Dulwich Village

Would there be any objection, in principle, from the Estate for an external Cash Point on the Bank?

The Estate would consider any application made by the tenant to install an external Cash Point (installed within the Bank) provided this could be accommodated without unduly altering the appearance of the building.

37 College Road

Concern has been raised about the late advice as to the number and size of trees whose removal has been applied for in connection with the development of the new house. It now appears that some 20 trees, including some over 40 feet high, are to be felled, although some new planting is proposed. Does the Estate have proposals to require the extent of tree works to be specifically stated in applications for future similar developments and to make the Estate's license conditional on specified tree works, or is this already in place? Can the Estate withhold its consent to the extent of proposed tree works at 37 College Road?

The Property at 37 College Road is unique: it is rare that such a plot of land large enough to accommodate a new house is available in relative close proximity to Dulwich Village. The new house has been carefully designed to take account of the mature garden and the environment. The details of the application for tree works were circulated to Mrs Benwell, the Dulwich Society's Tree Representative in advance (although unfortunately the two appendices referred to were not included). It is worth noting that only 5 trees are required to be removed in order build the new house and that these are not trees of particularly great amenity value.

The Managers conducted a visit to the site (with Mrs Benwell in attendance) to discuss the proposals directly with the owners and their garden designer. Whilst the proposal is to remove 20 trees, some 50 new trees are to be planted, the Managers carefully considered the proposal to remove the trees, in particular two poplar trees in excess of 40 feet in height. An expert from the Forestry Commission has confirmed that one of these is diseased and could become a danger. The other is blocking light to an adjacent cedar and is likely to continue to grow. The remaining trees considered for removal are not considered to be of significant amenity value.

The Managers' decision was that in the long term, the proposal would enhance the amenity: the Cedar of Lebanon tree would be afforded the space and prominence it deserves. The new trees have been carefully selected and will be planted in location most suitable for them to grow unimpeded.

Felling of Estate trees at the behest of Insurance Companies

The view of the Dulwich Society is that the Estate should continue to oppose the felling of the magnificent plane tree on the manor wastes outside 41 College Road whose removal has been demanded on flimsy evidence by an insurance company. We remain of the view that most payers of the Scheme of Management Charge would readily pay any additional charges arising from the Estate making a stand on this case. (The Dulwich Society also raised questions about other trees in College Road threatened with removal at the demand of insurance companies).

The Estate has a duty to act responsibly and to mitigate the risk of financial loss; securing adequate insurance cover and observing terms of the policy are part of this. The Estate does take a robust attitude with insurers who ask for trees to be removed, particularly where the tree in question is of significant amenity value. However, where an insurer can demonstrate that the tree has damaged and presents an ongoing threat to property, there is little choice but to comply with the insurers' request. Failure to do so may result in the withdrawal of cover (for the Estate's own property, including Amenity Areas) or being sued in the case where Scheme of Management consent to tree works is refused.

In response to the suggestion that the costs of taking action to prevent trees from being removed could be added to the Scheme of Management Charge the cost may not seem unreasonable for saving the occasional tree (but) we could be faced with a situation whereby we have many uninsured risks which could result in having to underpin several properties during a particular financial year and this would have a serious impact on the level of the Scheme of Management Charge. Turning to the other trees in College Road, there are three trees and the insurers have suggested the ash and the tulip tree be removed. The ash tree is diseased and there the Estate would consent to its removal but a replacement would be planted. The tulip tree is a fine specimen of great amenity value and the Estate will do everything it can to keep this tree - a root barrier is a possibility.

Autumn Events Organised by the Dulwich Society

Local History

Private Visit to The Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Academy Friday 12th October

This year is the 300th anniversary of the Society of Antiquaries and the chairman of the Dulwich Society's Local History Group, Bernard Nurse MA, is also Archivist to the Society of Antiquaries. He has arranged a Private Visit to Burlington House, Piccadilly and will be our guide of the meeting rooms and library and will give a short talk about the exhibition in the Royal Academy next door entitled Making History :Antiquaries in Britain 1707-2007 which celebrates the Society's anniversary with rarely seen treasures from its own collection and other institutions. There will then be time to see this exhibition. There will be a coach from Dulwich Picture Gallery at 6.30pm, returning after the visit. Numbers for this event are limited to 50, any bookings will be on a first come, first served basis. The cost of coach and visit is £17. Friends of the Royal Academy £10. Please complete the form enclosed in this Newsletter

Dulwich In Literature - : readings about Dulwich from historical sources, diaries, poetry and fiction. An Entertainment devised by the Local History Group on Thursday 15th November at 8pm at the Old Library, Dulwich College. Free to Members and their friends. Refreshments.

Trees Committee - Visit to Wakehurst Place - 'Kew in the Country'.

Thursday 1st November - Guided tree walk in the woodland to see the spectacular autumn colour and time to explore the winter garden and Millennium Seed Bank. Please complete the form enclosed in this Newsletter. 

Traffic & transport - Community Travel Plan

Many of us are concerned about the congestion and pollution on our local streets and the broader effects of travel habits on the climate and health.

So, the Traffic and Transport Committee is taking an initiative to promote greener travel choices for Dulwich.

To kick this off we are organising, with the new local charity, Dulwich Going Greener, an evening talk by a well respected expert, Lynn Sloman at 7 pm on Wednesday, October 3rd at the Crown and Greyhound, Dulwich Village. Admission free.

Lynn is the author of the book "Car sick - Solutions for our Car-addicted Culture". She runs a sustainable transport consultancy, Transport for Quality of Life, helping the government, local councils and voluntary groups find ways to cut traffic. She is an advisor to the board of Transport for London, a board member of the Commission for Integrated Transport and a board member of Cycling England. She has lived for many years in London and now lives in rural mid-Wales - without a car.

Herne Hill Junction

The junction at Herne Hill, on the borders of Dulwich, is a nightmare for drivers, pedestrians and everyone else who uses it. Six major roads meet there, buses have to make convoluted turns and walking to Brockwell Park is hazardous in the extreme. To cap it all, local retail trade suffers from the unpleasant environment, danger and pollution.

Herne Hill is also on the boundary between Southwark and Lambeth boroughs, so tackling the issues has needed good collaboration between these boroughs, Transport for London and the local community. As a result of such collaboration a comprehensive scheme has been developed. This is based on proposals made by the community group, the Herne Hill Forum, of which the Dulwich Society is an active member.

The key elements in the scheme are;

  • Pedestrianisation of the southern end of Railton Road.
  • A large pedestrian island offering a high community space and a link between Brockwell Park and the centre of Herne Hill.
  • Demolition of the disused toilet block and a new entrance to Brockwell Park with an attractive 180° view into the park.
  • Improved bus flow and more convenient bus stops.
  • Better provision for other vehicles and for cyclists.

Here is an artist's impression of the scheme, which, we hope will be started later this year.

Alastair Hanton - Traffic and Transport Committee

Sydenham Hill Rail Station

What's in a name? Many of us who have lived in Dulwich for a long time have grown accustomed to the local anomaly of the naming of this station. But, for visitors it is misleading. The station isn't in Sydenham and is a long way, up a steep hill to Sydenham Hill. Quite often travellers get on a wrong train or alight at a wrong station.

Would it not be better named "South Dulwich"? That would place it more accurately. It would give us all four points of the compass, complementing the existing North, East and West Dulwich stations.

The Society proposes to ask the railway authorities to consider renaming the station. This would correct a misleading naming by a long-dead Victorian railway official.

Out of the Blue - A Celebration of Brockwell Park Lido 1937-2007

By Peter Bradley

This new book, published to coincide with the re-opening of the refurbished Lido tells the interesting story of the popularity of swimming and the long fight local enthusiasts have fought to persuade various public authorities to keep the Lido open.

Actually, swimming started at Brockwell Park long before the Lido was built in 1937, and Peter Bradley's book tells the story of these early days of the use made of the largest of the three lakes in the Park. This was used separately by males and females and by local schools, from virtually the opening of the Park up until it was declared in an insanitary condition in 1937 and was closed. The London County Council, which administered the Park was keen on the idea of swimming from the beginning and provided changing rooms around the lake and even allowed swimmers to ride their bicycles through the park on their way to swim in the lake. In addition to keeping swimming separate for the sexes, it was also strict on the type of swimming costume worn and it was not until the 1930's that what was known as the 'slip' was allowed.

In 1935, after years of campaigning by swimmers - the first proposals were delivered in 1923, the LCC announced a 3 year building programme and the new Lido was opened in July 1937. During World War 11, the Lido remained open as part of the LCC's policy of maintaining normality during wartime. Open all summer, it also opened party in winter and galas were held in 1942, 1943 and 1945, the 'Flying bombs' as the V1 rockets were called led to the cancellation of the 1944 gala.

With the amalgamation of the London boroughs and the demise of the LCC, Brockwell passed in 1971 to the control of Lambeth Council. In 1972 the beginning of a rundown of the Lido was noticeable with the removal of the high diving and spring boards. In 1984 it was closed for repairs and the discovery of asbestos leading to costs of £1/4 million. In 1990-93 Lambeth again closed the Lido and it was used for art displays and performances and also taken over by squatters.

In 1994 Lambeth Council offered the Lido on a seven year lease to two local enthusiasts, Paddy Castledine and Casey McGlue, and with a succession of hot summers the Lido became an established asset in South London. Lambeth Council began at last to show interest and ultimately appointed an operator - Fusion to run the refurbished and extended Lido.

Peter Bradley's book has been carefully researched and tells the fascinating story of this excellent local facility. It also contains many local users' reminiscences of the Lido and is profusely illustrated in colour. Price £6.99

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