In response to the many points raised at the Public Meeting last September, the Dulwich Estate has produced an explanatory leaflet which sets out their remit, and the range of their activities, in some detail. This will be sent out with the next annual bill later in the year, though some residents, particularly leaseholders of flats, will see copies earlier. It would be very interesting to know their views.
The Dulwich Estate also confirmed at the March Advisory Group meeting (the thrice yearly formal meeting between the Estate and the Society) that a list of the householder planning and alteration applications, and the Estate’s decisions, would be published on the Estate’s website during April, and regularly thereafter.
In addition, and after much discussion, the Trustees have also been persuaded that the minutes of the Advisory Group Meetings should appear in the public domain on the Society’s website. The Society has had to accept that the content of these minutes will be kept strictly to Scheme of Management matters but it has taken the view that, to have the Society’s questions and the Estate’s answers published, something we have been pressing for quite some time, is a significant move forward.
The Society welcomes the three steps outlined above as they show that the Dulwich Estate Trustees have listened to the mood of the meeting and taken steps to respond – these steps will not be enough for some, and others may not have a view one way or the other, but for those long term residents who remember the Estate’s attitudes in the past, this must be an improvement.
The Estate’s charitable function is to raise money for its beneficiaries - in Dulwich these are essentially the three main schools, Dulwich College, Alleyns and JAGS. Their websites describe their contribution to the local community and society at large – two of them open their sports facilities to local authority schools, and local residents as sports clubs. They allow local societies and community group to use their buildings for events, and many of their pupils participate in local community projects.
All these are to be welcomed but it seems to the Society that the beneficiaries need to take a more proactive role in setting Estate policy. One particular area where that would be welcomed is the Herne Hill Velodrome. The ongoing problems over leases are well known and the Estate’s perennial excuse is, like their policy on shop letting, that their charitable status means that they need to maximise income for the beneficiaries. Perhaps this is one instance where the beneficiaries need to say to the Estate that the long term future of this facility is more important than the income from it.