Dulwich Society Annual General Meeting - 25 April 2016
Executive Committee Reports For The Year 2015
Local shop rents: The Dulwich Estate has been heavily criticized, both in the local press and on social media, for its stance on raising shop rents. A number of rent reviews are currently being negotiated and there is much concern locally that substantial increases could lead to there being less independent traders. The Estate was forced to issue a statement clarifying its position over ‘Just Williams’ in Herne Hill.
Dulwich Community Hospital site: The new Charter School East Dulwich will occupy most of the former hospital site and construction work should start in 2017 - its first students are due to start in September this year on a temporary school site in Peckham. The latest information on the proposed health facility on the south east corner is that it should be operational by 2019.
Dulwich Hamlet Football Club: Discussions over the future of the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club continue. The developer/owner still intends to build flats on the existing ground and move the stadium onto the adjacent Green Dale. This is Metropolitan Open Land and the Society’s view is that it should not be built on.
Cycle Quietways consultation: Following considerable public engagement last year, Southwark Council produced a set of proposals to encourage more cycling in the local area. These were consulted on in February/March.
Flood alleviation works: Southwark Council won two awards for the recent flood alleviation schemes in Dulwich Park, Belair Park and the Southwark Community Trust Sports Ground.
Sainsburys: Shepherds assigned their lease to Sainsburys last autumn. Subject to planning approval for the proposed new shop front and signage the new ‘Micro Store’ should open on March/April.
New Post office: This was incorporated successfully into Rumsey the chemist. The old Post office unit is closed pending re-letting.
Dulwich Estate development projects:
Herne Hill Velodrome - despite assurances from all parties that the lease has been agreed, we have yet to hear that it has been signed. We remain optimistic that work on the new grandstand building will start before the summer.
Dulwich College Science Building: The first phase has been completed and the second phase should open this summer.
Crystal Palace redevelopment: The Society obtained CGS funding for the Friends of Crystal Place Subway to assist them in making them accessible to the public. Work should be underway shortly.
New Local Ward Boundaries: The Local Government Boundary Commission published its initial proposals for consultation. Whereas previously College, East Dulwich and Village Wards all had 3 councillors, this may no longer be the case.
Village Ward is being split into two 1 member wards (Half Moon and Dulwich Village) - losing most of Vil4 electoral area near East Dulwich Grove (Alleyn’s School/Trossachs Road/Playfair Crescent area). College Ward becomes a 2 member ward (Dulwich Wood) based on largely the same boundaries, but losing the residential area north of Melford Road, while East Dulwich Ward is split in two: a 3 member ward centred on Lordship Lane (Goose Green), and a 2 member ward taking in the areas College loses (Dulwich Hill). Both new wards have been extended north to take in parts of Camberwell and Peckham.
The new boundaries and numbers of Councillors are based on the respective populations of each ward but single member wards appear to be a significant retrograde step in terms of local representation.
Journal: The Society’s Journal continues to be regarded as one of the major benefits of Society membership. Thanks to Brian Green, the editor, for his outstanding work.
Executive Committee: I also take this opportunity to thank all the members of our Executive Committee and the Chairs, and members, of our sub- committees for the time they dedicate to the Society and its activities - continuing to do their best to maintain Dulwich’s unique ambience. I also include the members who deliver the Journal around Dulwich and welcome the new volunteer deliverers and co-ordinators who have joined us over the last year.
Ian McInnes, Chairman
HON. SECRETARY’S REPORT
Scheme of Management:
The Chairman and Chair of Planning and Architecture Group, together with representatives from three rotating Dulwich residents’ associations, sit on the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management Advisory Group. This meets three times a year to discuss matters relating to the SOM, and other issues which impact on the amenity of Dulwich. The Society continues to press the Estate to be more pro-active and take enforcement action over unapproved changes to licensed schemes when under construction, and/or non-compliant works such as full width hard standings in front gardens.
Executive Committee: The executive committee met 6 times during the year. The meetings were held at Rosebery Lodge during the day time, though we have reverted to evening meetings at the St Barnabas Community Centre during the winter.
Rosebery Lodge: The U3A and the Dulwich vegetable Garden Group continue to make use of Rosebery Lodge. The Society held a party there in late September to celebrate the hard work and support of Society volunteers. It was a pleasure to see so many sub-committee members and journal deliverers join us for a glass of wine in the autumn sunshine and view an exhibition on Dulwich’s history as a farming community.
Residents Associations: A number of new RAs have been formed during the past year in response to the new traffic schemes and the proposed Quietway through Dulwich. The pool of Advisory Group RA representatives is now drawn from all parts of the Dulwich Estate.
The Society organised two well-attended public meetings on local transport schemes and the proposed Quietway, and was also very active in the promotion of public engagement and consultation on the Quietway and other local developments & planning applications.
Glynis Williams has joined the Executive Committee as Chairman of the Trees sub-committee following the resignation of Jill Manuel at the last AGM
Constitution: The Executive has reviewed the Society mandate and constitution, and the latest version of the Society rules is now on the web site. There is a link to the Society’s annual report and accounts on the Charity Commission web site. New policies for complaint handling and declaration of interests have been published.
Sue Badman, Hon Secretary
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY’S REPORT
Membership remains at over 1100 households. Just over 10% live outside Dulwich and our membership for Dulwich represents approximately 20% of all households. A membership drive targeting certain roads in Dulwich in October 2015 resulted in 36 new members in the last three months of the year. A further membership drive will be done, on different roads, later in 2016.
For the financial year 2014-2015 we claimed £2291.48 from HMRC for gift aid.
Diana McInnes, Membership Secretary
REPORT FROM THE PLANNING & ARCHITECTURE GROUP
Dulwich Estate Applications:
The Planning and Architecture Group has continued to make monthly visits to the Scheme of Management office at Old Grammar School and to temporary offices within Dulwich Old College while the Old Grammar is renovated internally. The Group exercises the Dulwich Society’s right, as the principal local amenity group, to comment on licence applications made to the Dulwich Estate’s Scheme of Management. This year the Dulwich Estate received 218 licence applications, up from 194 in 2014. This year large rear extension, loft conversions with rear dormers and garden buildings remain popular applications. Applications for demolition and a new house on the site were a feature.
Current planning consents:
Current planning applications:
David Lloyd Roberts, Chair
REPORT FROM THE TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORT GROUP
Committee: The Committee meets every 6 weeks, with considerable activity between meetings. We have been pleased to welcome six new members during the year.
Southwark Cycling Strategy, Quietways and the ‘Southwark Spine’ Southwark Council used Sustrans to engage extensively with residents on cycle routes, including a route along Calton Avenue and Turney Road and the junction with Dulwich Village. Based on the results, the Council has formulated proposals to encourage more cycling in the local area. These were consulted on in February/March.
Controlled parking in the North Dulwich Triangle & Denmark Hill: Southwark Council has now approved the implementation of a new parking zone in the North Dulwich and Denmark Hill area, operating Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 2 pm.
Townley Road. East Dulwich Grove & Greendale Junction project: The reconfigured junction reopened for traffic just before the new school term began in September 2015. Although pedestrians have found the new layout to be a great improvement, considerable concern over safety has been expressed both by cyclists and motorists and it has been difficult to get a clear timetable from TfL and Southwark for completion of the outstanding issues.
A particular difficulty is the known conflict of large vehicles, such as coaches, turning left at Townley Road into East Dulwich Grove where, due to the extended pavement on their left, they penetrate the Advanced Cycle Lane on the east bound side of East Dulwich Grove. This was predicted and reported in the series of Safety Audit Reports and so far there is no information on when this will be remedied. The Dulwich Society has written to Councillors asking that they take action on behalf of the local community to remedy the ongoing safety issues.
GTR Railway services: A meeting took place with Govia Thameslink Railway to discuss train service improvements, station improvements, services on trains and the increasing instances of trains not stopping at local stations where they are scheduled to stop.
Bus services: From October 2016 Transport for London is proposing to extend bus route No 42 to East Dulwich Sainsbury’s. The present route runs from Casino Avenue in North Dulwich to Liverpool Street Station. The extension will also improve links to North Dulwich Station and offer direct access from Dulwich to King’s College Hospital.
Vision for Dulwich: At a well-attended meeting with Andrew Gilligan, London’s Cycling Czar, the concept of a holistic traffic plan for the Dulwich area was discussed. This could include things that would benefit the whole community as well as cyclists. The Committee has now produced a draft discussion document setting out the background, aims and means.
Safe Routes to Schools: The Safe Routes to School Group’s Cleaner, Greener, Safer bid for a zebra crossing at the junction of Half Moon Lane and Burbage Road has been approved. The Group continues to consult on cycle facilities and the Townley Road Junction. There are continued concerns over the safety for pedestrians at the junction of the South Circular and Lordship Lane, though TfL have said they are actively looking at a scheme for improvements.
Alastair Hanton, Chair
REPORT FROM THE LOCAL HISTORY GROUP
Most of the back issues of the Society’s Newsletter, which preceded the Journal, have now been digitised and placed on the Society’s website. The new additions cover the thirty year period from April 1974 to Autumn 2003, after which the online archive is complete up to the end of 2015. These earlier issues can be searched individually by date on the website, and the contents as a group by using Google. They provide an invaluable record of members’ concerns over the past forty years, many of which, like traffic problems, occur frequently. Local history notes include a list of firemarks in the April 1974 issue and an account of a day trip in 1827 to ‘rustic’ Dulwich in the Winter 1997 issue. We are grateful to Alleyn’s School for making the digitisation possible, and the committee’s secretary, Sharon O’Connor, for undertaking the work.
The Society has been donated and had refurbished an unusual chair, which was patented in 1922 by Heber Edwards, bootmaker of Lordship Lane. The special features that Edwards registered were that the height of the seat could be adjusted quite simply by sliding it into different grooves and the seat could also be turned over to form a small table. It could therefore be used as a child’s chair, a typist’s or music stool as well as a side table. Edwards took out another six patents for adjustable chairs, but it is not known how many other examples survive.
Further details of the chair are given in the Society’s Journal, in which many other articles on a variety of local history topics have been published during the past year, such as local roads and buildings, health services, elections and past residents. We are fortunate in having the resources of Dulwich College Archives to draw upon especially as those in Southwark Local History Library have been severely affected by the fire three years ago in the Cuming Museum. A letter was sent to Southwark Council expressing concern that the reserve stock and many of the archives, formerly stored next door at Newington Library, are unlikely to become available until 2019 at the earliest, and several staff have been made redundant.
The Society has collaborated with the Herne Hill Society in researching a book on the public houses of Dulwich and Herne Hill, due to be available in the summer of 2016.
Over 300 people visited the Burial Ground during the Dulwich Festival, and the cemetery will be opened again this year at London Open House in September, the 400th anniversary of its consecration. A leaflet on its monuments and history will be issued to mark the occasion.
The Society receives on average ten family history and heritage enquiries a month from UK and overseas. Some enquirers have made a point of visiting Dulwich from far afield specifically to see the bomb plaques.
All of the WW2 air raid trails have now been distributed. Offered initially to schools in Sept 2014, there was a disappointing take up and the remaining 4800 copies were taken by members of the public from either Dulwich Library or (mainly) from the Dulwich Park cafe'.
Bernard Nurse, Chair
REPORT FROM THE GARDEN GROUP
In March we produced our annual brochure “Dulwich Gardens open for charity”, compiled by Ann Rutherford, distributing copies to all members of the Society and an additional 4,000 copies to relevant local outlets. The brochure gives details of some 40 local garden that raise considerable sums for the National Gardens Scheme (supporting cancer, caring and gardening charities), St Christopher’s Hospice, Dulwich Helpline and others.
Dulwich punches above its weight in London for the number of gardens that open for charity, a tribute to some of the generous garden owners in the area.
In March we also enjoyed a talk by Fergus Garrett, the hugely energetic head gardener at Great Dixter, on “Designing with plants the Great Dixter Way”. Some 90 members of the Society attended. We made a charge for the talk which allowed us to have such an inspirational speaker.
This was followed in June by a most enjoyable coach visit to Great Dixter, and then on to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens for some 50 members of the Society, the talk and the visits being ably organised by Will Anderson.
Our events, which are publicised in the Journal and eNewsletter, are open to all members of the Dulwich Society. This year we are focusing on front gardens, with a competition - with prizes.
Jeremy Prescott, Chair
REPORT FROM THE TREES SUB-COMMITTEE
I took over from Jill Manuel as chair of the Trees Committee at last year's AGM. After having been a committee member for many years, I can now appreciate how much work Jill, and Stella before her, carried out quietly behind the scenes.
The Dulwich Estate received 275 applications for tree works last year.
We don't have the resources on our committee to review all the tree-related applications to the Estate and to the council, so rely on the Planning sub-committee and Society members to refer the most significant ones to us, a recent example being an old boundary oak tree in Eastlands Crescent. This tree is believed to be 250 years old and the application to Southwark council to fell it was referred to us by a member. We viewed the tree and made strong objections to Southwark council, who thankfully made a decision to refuse permission for it to be felled.
When the Dulwich Estate make a tree works decision which is challenged, they send a team to visit the site to resolve the issue. A member of our tree committee accompanies them on these site inspections and gives a recommendation, although we take no part in actually making the final decision.
Probably the biggest threats to trees in Dulwich are development in gardens and insurance companies dealing with claims for cracks in properties. The arboriculture reports which accompany these planning applications are evaluated critically by the committee, bearing in mind that the reports are commissioned by the developer or insurance company and therefore may be inclined towards pleasing their employer with their recommendations. We have to view developers and insurance companies as being more concerned with making or saving money than with maintaining the leafiness of Dulwich, so we feel we all need to be vigilant and challenging to protect our trees and keep Dulwich green.
Very unfortunately, the horse-chestnut trees in Dulwich have been turning Dulwich brown, as they have been badly affected by pests and diseases. Not all of these are fatal to the tree, but, as we have so many horse-chestnut trees in Dulwich, it has become very noticeable and is having a significant effect on the appearance of the area. As decisions are made to fell them, we are losing many of our landmark old horse chestnut trees, but they will be replaced with other large, long-lived species. The two huge old horse-chestnuts in Dulwich Village will be replaced with beech and copper beech and the avenue at Dulwich College will be replaced with the small-leaved lime clone 'Greenspire', which is particularly suitable for growing in avenues.
For Society members, we organised a guided tree walk locally and a coach trip. Our coach trip to Cambridge Botanic Garden was excellent in every way, apart from the fact that we didn't have sufficient take-up to cover the expenses. But for those of us who did go, it was an easy journey, in a new and comfortable coach on a warm and sunny day in September. The facilities at the Botanic garden were of a very good standard, and we were given a guided tour of their wonderful range of trees and other plants. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day which we would have liked to have shared with more people.
The guided walk in Dulwich was led by Alan Harrington, a retired professor from the Natural History Museum. With him we looked at the trees in the Picture Gallery and in Dulwich Park. He is very appreciative of the excellent range of trees we have in the park, so was particularly keen to point out to us the rare and special specimens to ensure that we are not only aware of them, but that we appreciate and value them. One of the trees, the Chinese cork oak, is, as far as he is aware, the only specimen in London.
We are working on updating our old tree maps, so will ensure all these important trees are noted on the new map of Dulwich Park which we're hoping to produce. We have continued to produce an article profiling a local tree for each issue of the Journal. The most recent one being Jill's excellent article on the elms in Dulwich.
On the Trees committee, we enjoy a close relationship with both the wildlife and gardens sub-committees and this year strengthened our link with the planning sub-committee with one of our members joining it. We had one resignation from the committee, Angela, but, we're keeping in touch with her on the wildlife committee. We have been pleased to welcome four new committee members during the year and it has been most beneficial to have their perspectives, skills and experiences.
Glynis Williams, Chair
REPORT FROM THE WILDLIFE SUB COMMITTEE
In spite of increased pressure on London’s open green spaces, wildlife in Dulwich is thriving. And, in the coming months, we hope to make many areas even more valuable to wildlife - in particular, pollinating, flying insects - when we link forces with our friends in the London Wildlife Trust in their Beeline for London project.
This scheme aims to connect all kinds of green spaces where wildflowers and shrubs may grow, food for pollinators, so that they can travel and take nectar in a linked-up wildlife corridor across the capital. More than 200 species of bees, butterflies, moths and beetles feed on pollen.
Already, last season’s stunning Wildflower Meadow in Dulwich Park, which bloomed far into the autumn, has been a head-turner and has started the ball rolling. Thanks to park manager Paul Highman and Southwark’s Ecology Officer, Jon Best for their vision. We hope to boost hedgerow along the perimeter fencing, recently denuded when rotten wood was replaced.
Bats, too, are getting a good deal locally as a result of raised awareness and increased desire to avoid damaging or destroying their roosting sites - activities which are against the law. Dulwich continues to be a safe haven for many species which are not just “hanging on in there” in an urban environment - they are doing well. Bird, bat and tree walks have drawn in bigger-than-ever crowds of all ages. The increased interest is reflected in a rise in volunteering.
Hedgehogs, whose numbers have been decimated - partly because of shrinking feeding ranges - are breeding in Sydenham Hill Woods. Red kites have been seen in the area - another sign that the ecological system down in our parks is in good health.
In conjunction with Dulwich Park Friends, we are helping with the recording of bird species - from the noisy newcomer parakeets to the ducking and diving residents of the park Lake - with the aid of our knowledgeable ornithologist members. As part of an enhanced education project, we are backing the installation of a new bird feeding station in the Park. We hope, once the introductory first year has ended, to find a new local Bird Champion who will take over the supervision, feed stocking and cleaning of the equipment and help enthuse nature lovers of all ages - maybe we have a next generation Chris Packham in our midst in this hall tonight.
Angela Wilkes, Chair