The good news for many residents is that the Dulwich Village Conservation Area is to be extended. The bad news is that a whole area of North Dulwich is not included in the scheme and there are no definite plans to create one. The area is the North Dulwich Triangle, a neighbourhood of attractive Edwardian houses, built by the trustees of the Lett Estate to high specifications. This area, together with the adjoining Casino estate, a 'Garden Suburb' development by Camberwell Council after World War 1 and designated as an 'Area of Special Character' in 1982 has as its hub attractive Sunray Gardens, the remnant of Repton's garden design for Casino House, and the area also includes St Faith's church. The exclusion from protection of this part of Dulwich is particularly unfortunate in view of the Mayor of London's plans to extend the designated urban boundary.
Southwark Council is fighting the proposal from the Mayor of London to designate parts of Herne Hill, north and east Dulwich urban rather than suburban land in the Unitary Development Plan. Ken Livingstone is understood to have requested that London's urban area be extended as far south as Half Moon Lane. At present the southerly extent of urban land ends at the railway line at Denmark Hill. Such an extension would permit a much greater density of housing to be built. Interestingly, in mid- Victorian times, the railway, which is the present boundary, was also accepted as the extent of London's sprawl and nearby De Crespigny Park was expected to act as a bulwark against further encroachment. It was soon out-flanked by creeping development and property prices fell substantially in consequence. Without the safeguards that being within a Conservation Area brings, it may lead to history repeating itself.
The AGM of the Dulwich Society produced some interesting discussion on how members see the future of the area in which they live. Not all aspirations expressed are likely to be met and some may need to be scaled down to accommodate those with less firm views on matters like traffic and the environment. However it is clear that the Society does have considerable influence in decision making which affects all those who live in Dulwich. It is therefore essential that the views of what might rightly be termed 'the silent majority' are heard before decisions are made. As much information as possible (bearing in mind the time of going to press) is given in this Newsletter. The correct action for members, or indeed other residents, is to convey their views to the sub-committee chairmen.
It was also apparent at the meeting that some of those present were not familiar with the powers and constitution of the Dulwich Estate. Accordingly, we asked the Estate to provide us with this information and this is printed on page 31.
The vexed question of telephone masts has raised its (70 feet high) ugly head once again. The difference this time is that application has been made with the approval of the Dulwich Estate. The Estate indicated some months ago it was to take a pro-active stance over sites in Dulwich for telephone masts after fears that telephone companies would gain sites in public roads which would be of greater inconvenience to residents than those it might be able to offer sites for itself.
However, the first site the Dulwich Estate has proposed is in the playing fields in Gallery Road. Not only does the site lie within the existing Dulwich Village Conservation Area but the proposal is for two masts, some 40 metres apart. The masts, although disguised as fir trees, will impair the rural view from the Picture Gallery garden and surrounding fields.
Nevertheless there remains a problem if planning permission for the masts is refused. The telephone signal required for the new generation of mobile phones is not sufficiently strong in the Dulwich area and apparently fades altogether when used on Eurostar and Victoria line trains. This, for fellow passengers might be considered a benefit.
There seems to be a general objection to this site, and yet another petition has been delivered to the Estate's Office. The problem is where to place the masts. If any reader can offer an acceptable alternative site it will certainly be printed. As the Editor is one of the few people in Dulwich without a mobile phone he has already considered the more obvious solution!
Few visitors to Dulwich Park can have failed to have noticed the obtrusive outline of new housing looming over the tranquil rivulet near the College Road entrance (see picture below). We are assured, no less than by our own Planning Committee that the new building sits squarely on the foundations of its more modest predecessor and that its height is no loftier than what stood before. It seems as if these constraints were also sufficient to persuade the Dulwich Estate, the Dulwich Society and Southwark Council to approve the application. However to the man on the Dulwich Village omnibus such interpretation makes little sense. To him (or her) the roof across the hypotenuse is greater than the space on the previous two sides.
When the idea of introducing a CPZ (Controlled Parking Zone) in Dulwich was first mooted in the Herne Hill area several years ago in an attempt to alleviate parking in streets in proximity to Herne Hill Station by commuters, many people, understandably, turned a deaf ear to the implications. The effect of the CPZ at Herne Hill has been to displace the commuters' parking to vacant parking places beyond the boundaries of the Zone. This in turn has frustrated residents in neighbouring streets to such an extent that they too wish to consider applying for a CPZ.
The latest news is that a CPZ may be introduced around North Dulwich Station, thus affecting the whole of the North Dulwich Triangle. Watch this space (or park in it!).
The planning brief for the new Dulwich Community Hospital has been approved by Southwark Council. It outlines the parameters for any potential future use in the development of the site. The Dulwich Society's Local History Group has called for the listing of the central 'chateau' block as representing a significant example of Poor Law architecture and application for such listing has been formally made by the Dulwich Society to English Heritage.
Mr Patel of the Post Office mentioned to one of the Society's committee members some months ago that the Estates Trustees were asking him for an increased rent, which was more than double the amount he had been paying previously. He felt he would not be able to afford to pay this and would have to close the Post Office. At one of their regular meetings with the Estate Trustees, the Society's representative raised the matter and stressed that the Post Office provided an essential service for all members of the community, including the shops and other businesses. Concern was raised that this should be taken into account when setting the rent which, it was felt, should be based on an ability to pay rather than the Trustees seeking the maximum commercial rent that might be obtained for the property.
A local paper, The Southwark News, heard of the situation and published an article. They then telephoned Adrian Hill, Chairman of the Dulwich Society, to say that they wished to follow this up with a photograph to be taken outside the Post Office, with some residents demonstrating their support for its continued existence. One of the Society's committee members was asked to get a group together for a photograph with the result that at 10am one Tuesday morning in March more than a hundred local people demonstrated their support for the continuance of the Post Office. At the same time a Petition was started and ultimately handed in to the Estates Trustees when over a 1000 signatures had been obtained.
The Society has been instrumental in persuading Mr Patel to be professionally represented in his discussions with the Estates Trustees. As the Newsletter goes to press at the beginning of May these negotiations are continuing with both parties saying that there is a good chance that post office services will continue to be provided within the Village. We very much hope that this will be the case.
The Dulwich Estate took the unusual step of issuing a Statement in March in response to concerns over the future of the Post Office in the Village. It explained that the lease on 84 Dulwich Village expired in March and the Estate was in negotiation with Mr Patel. ' To allow additional time for these negotiations to be concluded it is proposed a short extension of two months.
On the expiry of the lease the Estate's professional advisors have been seeking to agree with the tenant's solicitors the current market value for the premises and it has indicated that it would be willing to continue to grant a concession against this for the operation of a post office. The Dulwich Estate has not asked the tenant to pay an increase of £13,000 p.a. but the rent initially offered by the tenant for the renewal of the lease is unacceptable since this would further increase the percentage discount against the market rent of the premises.
The Dulwich Estate as a charity, whose principal beneficiaries are schools in Dulwich, has a duty which prevents it from heavily subsidising the activities of its tenants.
The Estate does wish to see post office services continue in Dulwich Village. It will fully consider any proposals to combine additional commercial activity with the limited post office services on offer at 84 Dulwich Village (or an extension of the hours of operation) in order to ensure the financial viability of the business. It is hoped that the local community would then demonstrate its full support by patronising such a business.'
The Estate added to this Statement with a further comment at the end of April. 'For the avoidance of doubt (and to put the record straight) Mr Patel does not currently pay £10,000 p.a. in rent and the Estate is not seeking him to pay double his current rent.
The Dulwich Estate confirmed at the end of April that it was close to signing an agreement with a new tenant and that it hoped to complete within a matter of weeks and that it understood that it is the intention of the new tenant to grant a license to the London Velodrome Trust so that the cycle track may then be re-opened in the interim.
Planning permission was tardily but finally granted by Southwark Council at the close of 2004. As soon as 2005 began I was installed at the foundry, under the experienced wing of Jerry Hughes, its general manager. We started with great urgency as AB Fine Art's chief 'scaler-upper', Mark Jones was due to leave for another commission in Ibiza in mid-January.
Before Mark could begin it was crucial to ensure that the pose I had given Alleyn was physically possible. Roger Woodward, another craftsman at the foundry, who is nearly as tall as Alleyn is believed to have been, assumed the position - pretty difficult, as I wanted a pose as close as possible to the maquette; a pose that assumes movement. By photographing Roger aka Alleyn in the pose I could feel confident that the scaling up had the best chance of being completely plausible. With the maquette of Alleyn, and all the small waxes I have made, such initial accuracy is not so important because the internal wire structures are completely soft and pliable. Such is not the case where steel bars are cut, bent and welded to allow no movement and more importantly, no collapse under the considerable weight of the ensuing heavy wet clay.
With the steel skeleton rigidly in place, Mark then laid chicken wire around the body and partially around the limbs. Chicken wire provides sound purchase for the clay which is at the next stage pressed deeply through the mesh. The use of the mesh also reduces the weight, and therefore the strain on the skeleton. With clay crushed through the mesh, more and more clay was added, cut from its bag in thick slabs, which Mark expertly slapped onto the emerging Edward Alleyn.
With Mark now departed for the Ibiza commission I was free to work on the basic human form that he had left me. During this first foray into life-size sculpture it became abundantly clear that some form of internal road map was hard wired in me. The road map was the maquette, the greatly increased size far less of an issue than I had imagined. I was able to work through and beyond what Mark had left me with and begin to intensify his somewhat soft angles and to recreate the feeling of the maquette.
When it came to working on the boy, I found the chicken wire far to unyielding and after a couple of weeks tussling with it, which included a double amputation and the welding on of new and longer legs, it became necessary to abandon Boy One and start with another skeleton. Boy Two was built with virtually no chicken wire and has been far easier to work with.
Once the two figures had assumed approximations of their final appearance I began to 'dress' them. I hired a fine pair of breaches from Angell's, the theatrical costumier in Shaftesbury Avenue. Quite by chance they had Gwynneth Paltrow's gorgeous boy's costume from Shakespeare in Love on display. Even though I had a video of the film it is quite another matter seeing the rich textures of the materials used in real life. The contrast of textures and the bold juxtaposition of different materials is very much a feature of the period I had chosen for this sculpture - when Alleyn was still at the height of his acting career. I have dated his costume to circa 1597. In hiring the costume I was able to examine the construction of the trunk hose and apply this to the sculpture. The obliging Roger was once more co-opted to pose, this time in the trunk hose, so I could see how they worked in situ. I set out to achieve an equivalent strength of contrast in clay as is clear in the real padded breeches, (literally padded with bombast) and the vertical panes that lie over them.
I arrived quite by accident with the textured breeches, and soon after with the idea that the children from my daughter's school, coming to the foundry adding to this design with their own finger prints, prints that they may now enjoy finding for years to come in the finished bronze.
Quick on the heels of the children's imprints came the idea for Edward Alleyn's actual ring to seal the sculpted ring on Alleyn's hand. I mentioned the idea to Jan Piggott, Dulwich College's archivist, and he was immediately enthusiastic. He suggested that Graham Able, Master of the College might like to do this. With equal enthusiasm, despite jet lag from a trip to China, Graham Able came to the foundry and has now placed a fine impression of the ring in the wet clay which had been covered in oil so it would act as sealing wax. As an insurance policy we also took an impression of the ring in some very fine silicone.
The final touch has been the re-working of the cornflower design on Alleyn's collar. While I will be on hand for the coming months it is now the time for AB Fine Art to take the reins. I will now be watching the dismemberment of the two clay figures into as many as twenty six pieces and their reconstitution into a 600kg. life-size figure.
Towards the end of April, two parties of Patrons of the Edward Alleyn Statue Appeal visited the foundry of AB Fine Art at Limehouse to see the life-size statue, scaled up in clay from the maquette. As can be seen from the photographs, there is a great deal more detail on the clothes worn by the young Alleyn, and the faces of the Founder and the poor boy are finely detailed, features which could not be adequately expressed on the maquette. Louise Simson, the artist explained that she referred to the Alleyn portrait for the personal likeness, and in deference to expressing him as a younger man, omitted his beard.
The life-size clay model is now being cut up into sections, from which moulds will be made and then each will be individually cast in bronze, and the whole reassembled and welded together.
It was right that the ring worn by the figure of Edward Alleyn should be as accurate as possible and to achieve this, the Master of Dulwich College, Graham Able who is custodian of Alleyn's signet ring (and wears it to Chapel Services), went to the foundry to press the ring into the clay. The breeches depicted on the figure were given added texture by a class of James Allen's Girls' School pupils pressing their fingers into clay! It was therefore appropriate that the remaining Dulwich Foundation School - Alleyn's should also have a role in the making of the statue and this was filled by Alleyn's School's Chairman of Governors, Raymond Cousins who made a close inspection of the work in progress (see photograph) as well as assessing the foundations required for the statue and plinth in his professional capacity as a structural engineer.
In the Spring Term, pupils from year 6 of Alleyn's Junior School gave an entertaining and accurate performance of the life of Edward Alleyn, from a script written by a parent, with each pupil getting the chance to play Alleyn! Further interest in Edward Alleyn among children was aroused by a clever game devised by Janet Whittaker as part of the Dulwich Festival which covered 400 years of Dulwich history from the time of his purchase of the Manor of Dulwich.
The Edward Alleyn Statue will be unveiled by Tessa Jowell on Saturday 8 October. There will be a tribute paid to Alleyn and his legacy by the National Theatre actor Julian Glover who is a former pupil of Alleyn's School. Full details of this event will appear in the autumn issue of the Newsletter.
The Society is sometimes perceived as being less concerned over the planning problems of our members who live in the boroughs of Lambeth or indeed Lewisham rather then Southwark. This is not the case of course, but the area of the Estate actually in each of these two boroughs is relatively small and this is reflected in the number of planning applications that we see.
The most recent major application on the Lambeth part of the Estate was the extension to Oakfield School to which we objected because of the size of the building relative to neighbouring houses. We have also requested the Estate to monitor the condition of the service road behind the new Tesco shop in Croxted Road, (Tesco itself did not need planning consent as there was already a food shop there previously) and we are expecting the Estate to make a planning application for the redevelopment of the former United Dairies site in Croxted Road later this year.
In the mean time there is a current application in Bullfinch Court, the area of garages behind the council flats on Croxted Road, just north of the West Dulwich shopping centre. The site backs on to the Carson Road Conservation Area and the southern boundary of Lings Coppice.
The proposal is for 17 social housing units of various sizes, planned around a central parking court, with each house having its own private garden.
The Society does not object to some development in the area, as the garages are clearly largely redundant, but considers that the scheme is too dense. The number of units means that several of them are located on the boundary with the Carson Road gardens and will seriously compromise their amenity. The design is contemporary and, while flat roofs (like Lings Coppice) are not unknown in the area, the proposal to build in white brick is out of keeping. There are also concerns over access for refuse vehicles - the access road is very narrow. We have asked Lambeth to turn the application down pending discussions on a more acceptable scheme.
The long awaited extension to the Dulwich Village Conservation Area was finally approved at the Southwark Council's Planning Committee Meeting on 15thMarch. Some of our more cynical members may note that it was approved at the end of the agenda where the Council granted outline planning consent for the proposed Velodrome development (before it was designated into the new conservation area). Taking a more positive view, however, the extension is clearly very welcome. The Committee, at the suggestion of Cllr. David Bradbury, also strengthened a clause regarding infilling and the planning guidance for Dulwich Conservation Area now reads "There will be a presumption against permitting any infill schemes which detract from this open character"
The boundary has been extended from the draft proposal taking on board many of the Society's comments. The line now runs up Court Lane (including Court Lane Gardens) to Lordship Lane. It then follows north along Lordship Lane to the Library where it turns in slightly to run along the backs of the gardens in Beauval Road down to Townley Road. It includes the original main school building of Alleyn's, the 1960s Great Spilmans development, and JAGS. The boundary then follows the North Dulwich railway line south west till it meets the West Dulwich -Victoria line where it turns south to Alleyn Park and Huntslip Road.
As far as residents are concerned, there should be little change over the current situation regarding the Dulwich Estate. They will still have to apply to them for any external alterations to houses and gardens but, if the proposal is of such a size that planning consent is needed from Southwark, they will also need conservation area consent. Buildings cannot be demolished in conservation areas without the Council's approval and the criteria for assessing the design of developments are stricter - any building or extension has to positively enhance the setting of the conservation area. This should mean that mobile telephone masts will be easier to object to on the basis that their appearance does not enhance the conservation area.
The proposed mobile phone mast on the Pelo sports ground is covered elsewhere in the magazine. We are still awaiting the results of the application opposite the Park entrance on the South Circular and the Society knows of at lease three other potential applications in the pipeline. The Society's current policy is to object to all applications within the conservation area and particularly anywhere near the schools.
The applicant for the additional house in the rear garden of this property has gone to appeal over Southwark's rejection of the original application - it was overruled by councillors against officer recommendation.
The applicant here has also gone to appeal over the rejection of his application to make this site a commuter car park.
With the granting of planning permission for one year the scheme of the Crystal Palace Foundation to raise a replica corner of Paxton's great structure comes to fruition in June. Columns for the 'corner' will be brought down the Grand Union Canal by barge to London thus following the mode of transport used in 1852. They will then be transported from their original site in Hyde Park to Sydenham.
The 'corner' will then be assembled at the site near the museum as an educational exhibit.