The Dulwich Society has played a part in number significant local issues which are explained in detail in other pages of this issue. The first to be highlighted is the concern that the Trees and the Wildlife Committees expressed over what appeared to be the felling of a large number of trees in the course of the re-ordering of Dulwich Park. The Society arranged a Public Meeting when this concern were addressed and a satisfactory course agreed with Land Use Consultants who are handling the project.
The same two sub-committees also registered their concern over the proposed felling of the splendid Zelcova tree at the junction of College Road and Dulwich Common which was thought to be leaning at a precarious angle over the busy road junction. The Dulwich Society's action of engaging their own tree expert contributed to the final outcome of a reprieve for this handsome and historic tree from the expert representing the Deputy Prime Minister's Office to whom the matter had been referred.
The announcement that the connecting ancient pathway from Greendale to Dog Kennel Hill is to be re-opened and re-ordered by Groundwork Southwark is most welcome news, especially to the residents of the Sunray Estate who now have an easy access to Sainsbury's. This newsletter can take a modest credit for highlighting this issue.
Although the Dulwich Society has taken a neutral stance on the proposed redevelopment of the Velodrome (Herne Hill Stadium), it has helped to fund the Burbage Road Residents' Association costs of a traffic survey. The latest news on this project is that the Dulwich Estate has agreed to a three month extension to the original one year extension granted to Southwark Council in order that the trustees of the proposed Velodrome could formulate an acceptable business plan. The proposers of the redevelopment should be aware that other uses for the ground could be found; great interest is being shown in acquiring leases of grounds in Dulwich by football training clubs. Both Dulwich Hamlet FC and Pelo Football are running football training on local sports grounds which are well-run and well-supported. If a conclusion is not reached after this fifteen month lease extension on the Stadium the Estate may be unwilling to extend it further. In the meantime, it is understood, that Southwark Council, which incidentally supports the football initiatives, has pumped a further £100,000 into keeping the original Velodrome proposal alive.
The Public Meeting held by the Dulwich Society on the 14 October and attended by the Friends of Dulwich Park and other interested groups and members of the public were told the detailed plans on the future redevelopment of the park by Land Use Consultants and Southwark Council.
Dulwich Park which opened in 1890 had been an English Heritage Grade II (starred) listed park but because of under-funding by Southwark Council after they acquired it following the demise of the Greater London Council who in turn succeeded the London County Council, the park has lost its starred status although it remains listed.
A £3.9 million grant from the National Lottery has been awarded to Dulwich Park to restore it to its Victorian glory as well as to incorporate ecological features and provide an outdoor classroom for local schools. Land Use Consultants, the company retained to bring the renovation to fruition have wide experience on dealing with park restoration being the involved in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Southwark Park, the Royal Parks and the re-ordering of Russell Square.
The process of applying for the Heritage Lottery Grant began in 1998 and led to the formation of the Friends of Dulwich Park which now has over 200 members. Wide consultation was held with the Friends, with the Dulwich Society Trees and Wildlife Committees and other interested users and groups. Most of the 'want list' of these parties seems to have been satisfactorily accommodated in the final scheme presented at the Public Meeting by the consultants. Dog walkers still have their circuit, there is a jogging route, some of the tennis courts are to be re-sited and transformed into multi-activity areas, the main sports field (named the West Lawn) is to be installed with land drains and the surface re-laid, the first such treatment in over a century of hard usage. The ad-hoc games field (named the East Lawn) which includes the bowling green and playground will be left largely untouched.
The ornamental bridge will be the axis for aesthetic treatment of the overall design. To provide a vista over the lake to the lawns beyond, the tennis courts presently beside it will be re-sited. The lake will continue to form the focal point for the park. It will be dredged of silt and one end planted with reed beds. A wooden board walk will cross the lake to a viewing platform near the reed beds offering opportunities for ecological study and pond dipping. Boating will continue to be enjoyed on the remainder of the lake. Storm water will drain into the lake which will be re-circulated by a pump from the bottom of the cascade. A fine mesh and inconspicuous fence will control the Canada Geese but will have apertures to allow smaller wading birds to enter the water. A Nature
Conservation area with a squirrel enclosure will be sited in the vacant space where the aviary once stood.
Considerable money will be spent on resurfacing the carriage drive and giving a clean edge to the accompanying horse-ride and it is hoped to encourage more equestrians to use to use this rare facility (Dulwich is one of only two parks in London to retain a horse ride). Other roads and paths will also be re-surfaced. The herbaceous borders of the main walk (Snakes Lane) are to be restored and there will be considerable replanting of shrubberies throughout the park, including softening the edges of the West Lawn where they border the carriage drive.
The present cricket pavilion will be transformed into a community space allowing it to be used as a classroom. The present rangers' building will become a sports changing room with improved facilities. A CCTV system will be installed to cover the Pavilion Café and the nearby toilet block which will be re-furbished. The two lakeside shelters will have their roofs restored to their original thatched appearance. The railings and gateposts will be restored and 'period' benches will be installed throughout the park. A new boathouse will be erected.
Considerable concern had been expressed about the proposed tree-thinning programme, not least by the Dulwich Society. These concerns also appear to have been met and the present tree population of 2145 trees will be supplemented by the planting of 600 whips (small saplings) around the park and especially on the Dulwich Common side. A total of 52 trees will be felled and removed, 9 will be felled and replaced and 77 new trees planted. Old boundaries will be re-established.
Work is expected to start in the spring of 2005 and take ten months to complete. The draining of the lake, removal of accumulated silt and the planting of aquatic plants is expected to take 4-5 months and will be tailored to fit into the bird nesting season.
On completion the park will be handed over to Southwark Parks Department who are required by English Heritage to initiate a Management Plan to ensure its proper maintenance. Mr John Sheaf, the Southwark Parks Manager announced that this will include establishing a dedicated team of four Park Wardens within the park, of which two will be on duty at any one time, although it is possible these wardens will also have duties elsewhere in Dulwich, in Belair Park for example. It will be their duty to enforce the byelaws of the Park, summon the police if required, issue fixed penalty notices and if necessary give evidence in Court. The Parks Department will staff Dulwich Park with an Ecology Officer and an Education and Access Officer to encourage greater use by school groups visiting the Dulwich Picture Gallery when it will be anticipated that the morning will be spent at the Gallery and the afternoon in the Park.
(source - LAND USE CONSULTANTS)
Robin (Rosamond) Taylor, she disliked her given name and adopted the nickname Robin which she was given during her college years, died in October following a lengthy illness. Born in Bridlington, where her father taught languages she entered Reading University in 1941 to read French and German. In 1943 she was recruited by the Royal Navy as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park where she operated code-breaking machines known as 'bombes'. With other WRNS she found herself billeted in the unexpected grandeur of Woburn Abbey. Although her future husband Wilf was also working at Bletchley as a naval officer they did not actually meet there. After the end of the war Robin was recruited by the Foreign Office to join its newly formed code centre at Ruislip (later to become GCHQ Cheltenham). She enjoyed this work before returning to naval service in the WRNS in 1949 where she passed an officer training course and was posted as a Third Officer in charge of a WRNS detachment at the Naval-Air station in Cornwall.
It was there she met Wilf, who was then a naval education officer on the base. They married in 1951 and Robin resigned her commission. They moved to Dulwich in 1954 where their first child was born. Wilf's postings in the Navy required frequent moves and Robin soon began to look beyond being a housewife and one job was chauffeuring wealthy American tourists off their ships at Southampton or from airports at Heathrow or Prestwick. Wilf and Robin returned to live in Dulwich in 1965.
In 1971 she returned to the Intelligence Services, being recruited by MI5 where she would remain for the next ten years until her retirement. Although she kept her work secret even from Wilf (who was teaching at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich), she was initially involved with refugees fleeing from the regime in Chile. It was from these contacts she developed a love of Chilean music.
Robin became secretary of the Dulwich Society in 1983 and remained so until the early 1990's when she and Wilf took on the office of Membership Secretary (which Wilf still continues to do). This new role required the speedy learning of computer skills which was taken as always, in her stride. In addition to being an active Dulwich Society member she was also involved with the Dulwich Players and with NADFAS. Her skills as a photographer were of great use to NADFAS where Robin was a member of the Church Recorder Team. We extend our deep sympathy to Wilf and his family on their sad loss.
Dulwich has also lost two other distinguished residents with the deaths of Sir Arthur Hockaday KCB.,CMG., and Sir John Moberley KBE.,CMG
Arthur Hockaday was born in 1926 and after leaving school did a period of wartime service as a 'Bevin Boy', a conscript in the coalmines. After leaving Oxford he became a career civil servant firstly in the Admiralty and then with NATO where he was assistant secretary general for defence planning and policy. In 1976 he was promoted Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and 1982 he was appointed Director-General of the War Graves Commission, a post he held until his retirement in1989. Following retirement he was active in analysis, discussion and writing on the ethical aspects of defence affairs. These include issues raised by the deterrent role of nuclear weapons in preventing war, by arms sales and the concept of a just war. In this last topic, he led a discussion in Dulwich on the question of Iraq as a just war shortly before his death. For ten years he was chairman of the British Group of the Council on Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament. He had a fund of good stories and entertained Dulwich audiences with them on at least two occasions on stage. He did not drive and was a familiar figure striding purposefully about the Village, good training for his favourite pastime of hill walking. He was aged 78.
John Moberley was a familiar face on television, firstly during the Gulf War and later the invasion of Iraq when he was widely consulted by the media. As a former Ambassador to Jordan in the late 1970's and Iraq in the early 1980's and one who had spent most of his career in the Arab world he understood and respected its subtleties. In World War II he served in the Royal Navy, seeing action off the Normandy beaches and in the Adriatic, being mentioned in despatches for his service. He was a man of strict Christian principles (like Arthur Hockaday, he also attended St Barnabas Church) and according to the Times obituary maintained them untarnished in the murky world of Middle-East politics. He concerned himself in retirement with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. He was aged 79.
The magnificent Caucasian elm tree at the junction of College Road and the South Circular has been saved from the axe. The Dulwich estate wanted to fell it because of worries that it was leaning too far and was a potential danger to traffic. The Trees Committee was opposed to the felling, arguing that the danger was unproven and pointing out that three separate reports on the tree, one commissioned by the Dulwich Society, had found the elm - Zelkova carpinifolia - was in good health.
Southwark Council deserves credit for resisting the proposal to fell the tree, which is covered by a tree preservation order. The council said the tree had an outstanding amenity value. The council's position was backed on appeal by a Government inspector, who said the lean of the tree was irrelevant, since gravity is the weakest of the natural forces trees have to face. He said the elm was in good order and vigorous and there was no reason it should fail even during the severest storms. He is also critical of the three tree surveyors for "[ignoring] their professional appraisal of the current good health of the tree - by, for instance, suggesting removal. The elm had an important rarity value, he added.
The decision is refreshing and, for many people, unexpected. Given potential litigation and compensation claims, too few landowners are these days prepared to risk keeping a tree once doubts have been cast on it, and arboriculturalists called in for advice are loath to "guarantee" its future. In this case, unusually, sanity prevailed.
The Dulwich Estate writes that in their view the tree presented an unacceptable risk to the public, due to the fact that it is leaning across a busy road junction and the only solution to remove the danger was to fell the tree. Although the Secretary of State refused consent both to the felling of the tree and the lifting of Article 5 Certificate some comfort was drawn by the Inspecting Officer's conclusions:
Thus the tree remains as a Dulwich landmark. However the Estate points out that it is in the unenviable position of having responsibility for the tree but cannot undertake any work whatsoever without the prior permission of Southwark Council and the Council has absolved itself of any liability by issuing the Article 5 Certificate.
The various sports grounds within the Dulwich Estate, which form a valuable part of the amenity of the area, are leased to individual sports clubs or to the local councils. As such, these properties are private and freeholders whose boundaries adjoin these grounds have no right of access through their gardens or to use the fields (even if they are members of the club concerned). The Dulwich Estate has been asked by its tenants to bring this to the attention of residents living on the Estate.
The path in Dulwich Woods leading from the footbridge downhill to London Road, opposite Horniman's Gardens has been widened and lighted. When the path continues, unfenced, through the lawns of the housing estate, it has been improved by the addition of a short flight of steps to connect with Lapsewood Walk. Other improvements are the new gate at the foot of Cox's Walk, on Dulwich Common and the repairs to the surface of the pathway. More frequent inspection of the upper end of Cox's Walk is however needed. There the lighting is almost non-existent, and where it is installed, it is insufficiently maintained. The surface needs the application of more gravel to replace that washed downhill by heavy rains.
The Society has commented on the draft Supplementary Planning Guidance which is an adjunct to the new 2004 Southwark Unitary Development Plan, currently on its second draft and soon to go to public enquiry. Originally Southwark said that no special treatment was required in Dulwich but the Society and local councillors persuaded them to change their minds.
The document itself is fairly anodyne starting with 'The protection of Dulwich is important in maintaining the area's unique character. Careful application of planning policies is essential to ensure that the future development is appropriate to the area'. Its vision for Dulwich notes that it is important that the historic urban character of Dulwich area is maintained and enhanced to ensure Dulwich remains a pleasant place to live, work and visit. It goes on to say that the area should remain predominantly residential and also a focus for recreation.
It confirms that Dulwich is not an appropriate location for tall buildings and that there is little scope for large-scale development in Dulwich because of the Conservation Areas and the large areas of Metropolitan Open Land. It also acknowledges the potential contribution of the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management.
One interesting point it introduces is a requirement for design statements for major extensions to existing buildings and all new buildings- this is a welcome move. Commercial developments will also require an access statement. It sets out criteria for new development on open spaces, particularly relevant after the debacle over Southwark's own planning application on the Herne Hill Cycle Track.
Overall the Society had little to say other than correct the many spelling mistakes and it looks forward to seeing the final draft.
Nearly all the Dulwich Schools have either just finished or are just about to start major building works. The Charter School refurbishment was completed a year ago and the major extension to Kingswood School earlier this year. Next door the Dulwich College Preparatory School is about to extend their swimming pool and some accommodation to the music centre and build a large new sports hall. The Society has no problem with the scheme in principle but is very concerned over the industrial appearance of the proposed sports hall. It has sent a written objection to Southwark council requesting that the design be improved.
The Prep School is also about to start work on the new kindergarten on Gallery Road. Again no objection in principle but the Society is concerned that no effort seems to have been made to rationalise the dangerous parking situation on Gallery Road at the beginning and the end of the day. While the work is ongoing the kindergarten will relocate temporarily across to the sports field opposite.
Not to be outdone Dulwich College has submitted a proposal for a major redevelopment on the site of their old swimming pool. The Society welcomes the scheme in principle but has some detail concerns over the design of the elevations and what impact there might be on the Christison Hall, art and workshop block, an important 1960s building that remains substantially in original condition.
Alleyn's School is also proposing to build a new theatre and performing arts block as part of a long-term master plan prepared by architects, Van Heyningen and Hayward, a firm well known for sensitive developments such as the Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre in Suffolk and the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building in Oxford. The Society considers the design to be of high quality.
Last but not least the former S G Smith garage in Alleyn Park is to become a nursery school. Although the Estate had consent for a residential scheme, the nursery is taking the whole site.
The draft document on the extension of the Dulwich Village Conservation Area was due out for public consultation at the end of October. The Society has seen a draft; the proposal follows that outlined at the public meeting held last year. The new boundary follows the railway line from North Dulwich Station down to Burbage and Turney Roads. There is some talk of extending it along East Dulwich Grove but it is unlikely to go beyond JAGS.
Fairfield, 9 Dulwich Village The original planning application for the proposed house in the garden at the rear of Fairfield was withdrawn earlier this year. A new application has now been submitted for a slightly smaller house with a grass roof to minimise its impact on views over the site from the surrounding houses in Gilkes Crescent. The Society is ambivalent. Some members directly affected by the development are unhappy but, on the other hand, with very few sites available in Dulwich, we must look to imaginative schemes to provide additional housing. We cannot stand still.
Streatham & Marlborough Cricket Club - The Dulwich Society has objected to the Club's planning application to put up a large free-standing internally illuminated advertising sign facing the South Circular on the car park opposite the Harvester.
Dulwich Village Post office - It has come to the Dulwich Society's notice that the lease on the Post Office in the Village is due for renewal. The Post Office is an important amenity in the Village, especially with closure of the Post Office in Herne Hill. The Society has therefore asked the Estate to confirm that their negotiations with the existing occupier on a new lease will reflect the desirability of retaining Post Office as an essential part of the Village.
Former Unigate Dairy in South Croxted Road - This is a large site which is currently unused. The Society is aware that the Estate is preparing plans for a redevelopment and is hopeful that it might be used for a mix of accommodation including sheltered housing for older residents.
Ian McInnes, Chairman
Planning and Architecture Committee