Is the recession actually over? Have the money difficulties gone away? Will there no longer be the promise of financial pain? Well they must have, because Southwark Council and Transport for London have been spending money like water on dubious ‘road improvements’ in Dulwich recent months. Nowhere has more been squandered than on the protracted works at the roundabout in the Village. Here traffic has been delayed, tempers frayed, business impaired and an unlawful incursion made into the manor wastes (green verges) for the dubious provision of a pedestrian crossing. Not that pedestrian safety has actually improved; the island refuge which once protected the public crossing Burbage Road has actually been removed. What is the most ridiculous aspect of all, is that Gallery Road, Dulwich’s most dangerous road, has been largely ignored by this scheme and traffic can still emerge at speed to hit unwary cyclists other cars turning from College Road into Burbage Road.The much advertised traffic consultation of 2009 and the public meeting that followed did not include details of what was planned at the roundabout, if it had, then probably there would have been a larger response than the 10% of those who replied to the questionnaire. Critics of the resultant road layout point out that if humps had been installed where the four interconnecting roads meet the cost would have been in the order of £450 per hump and these would have been more effective than the six (or is it seven) figure sum spent on the new layout.
While it is right to castigate some departments of the Council, it is only fair to congratulate others. For example, the continued improvements in Dulwich Park have resulted in huge numbers of people enjoying its beauty and amenities. Dulwich Park is now so popular that It may be necessary to have some police presence on a regular basis, not because of any evidence of anti-social behaviour, but by the frequent appearances of what appear to be aggressive dogs, usually off the lead and invariably owned by young men. The whole issue of dogs in Dulwich (and other parks) needs to be examined as children are often threatened and frightened by them. An accident involving a dog might happen in Dulwich Park as has happened elsewhere and it might prove to be necessary to invoke or amend park use byelaws to reduce this potential danger.
Another Council department that deserves some credit is the one dealing with Listed Building status. This has proved to be very thorough in seeking closure on an infringement by a developer who owns a site in Red Post Hill on which planning consent has been repeatedly refused. The case is discussed in Dulwich Society News in this issue. However, as we have said previously in these columns, the issue of the council requiring owners of listed buildings to observe the covenants attached to listed status needs sorting out. Often there is no one responsible this supervisory role and buildings which should be protected and preserved are allowed to fall into decay or be changed out of all recognition. No where is this more blatant , or gone on for so long, as the council’s ignored orders concerning St Peter’s Church Hall and wall at the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common. What has been lacking until now is the will to see the matter to conclusion. which it has demonstrated it can do by the case at Red Post Hill.