Not at Your Service

Numerous complaints have been made at the monopolising of public road space around the S.G. Smith Motors Group's showroom and garage in Dulwich Village. Not only can customers using Village shops not find a parking space, but residents in Gilkes Crescent are facing a similar problem caused by the parking of cars awaiting servicing, in front of their houses. Further concern over the appearance of the garage is also being voiced - weeds are growing in profusion and the entire service complex is unsatisfactory in a Conservation Area. While it begs the question whether businesses of this type should be located in a Conservation Area, it has to be accepted that the garage is a long established feature of the area. Paradoxically, many residents like the 1930's style filling station and some would like to seek a building listing from English Heritage.

So, what to do? Parking restrictions around the Village centre are a long overdue. Treated sympathetically, as has been carried out in Lordship Lane, some restriction would seem to offer the best solution. There, 30 minute waiting is permitted in marked bays. One thing is certain; the situation cannot be allowed to drift on. The general public should not be inconvenienced by the cavalier treatment of a commercial company and a half-dismantled petrol station at one end of the complex is hardly a good advertisement for either SG Smith or Dulwich. 

Finding a safe spot

Two recent news reports, one good and one bad, might influence those of nervous disposition. In the first report, in the aftermath of the New Orleans flooding, fears were expressed concerning global warming and the possible rise in sea levels. The report said that in the event of the Thames Barrier failing to control exceptionally high tides, parts of Lambeth would be inundated. History also reminds us that Peckham flooded in the middle ages. Not good news for residents in the Effra or Peck river flood plains. Out of sight, the rivers might be, being now converted to sewers, but not apparently out of mind.

So what about the good news? Well, at the same time as this bad news was released, came the announcement that among the national monuments that have been provisionally listed for international protection in case of war under The Hague Convention of 1954, is the Horniman Museum. It thus joins a list which includes13 other national museums (but not the Dulwich Picture Gallery), 23 world heritage sites and Britain's seven legal deposit libraries.

Thus the nervous resident is advised to move to the high ground close to the Horniman Museum and thus avoid being both flooded and bombed!

Oil in Dulwich?

You may have seen what you thought was an oil drilling rig in Calton Avenue recently. We have to report that it was not drilling for oil but it is an exploratory part of the scheme for a 50 mile Ring Main to transfer water supplies around London. Thames Water is proposing a 3 mile extension tunnel between Peckham and Brixton, hence the investigation in Calton Avenue. The average depth of the Ring Main will be 40 metres and the giant pipe will be large enough to drive a car through. As with the original Ring Main, work will be completed by underground boring machines to minimise disruption at ground level. The main ring will be well below the level of the oyster beds along Dulwich Village which have been revealed by other local digging operations. 

Hotline - Southwark

Dulwich Society member, Barrie Warrener, who lives at Woodsyre, Sydenham Hill was irked by an outburst of graffiti in that area and found the service offered by Southwark Council which arranges for it to be removed free of charge (even on private property) quite excellent. Barrie says the department is prompt and polite. If you have problems with graffiti they can be contacted on 020 7525 2000 or by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Barrie says it's usually dealt with in 24-48 hours.

Potholes in Roads

The Dulwich Society Traffic and Transport Committee has received an increasing number of reports of potholes appearing in local roads. These potholes are a particular danger to cyclists, especially in wet weather. The hotline for reporting this hazard is the same as quoted above. In addition, identification of the location of the potholes can be reported to the same email address. Faults in TfL roads can be reported by ringing 0845 305 1234. 

Redundant Road Signs

Southwark Council is systemically visiting every road in the Borough and removing all redundant road signage and repositioning signs which remain relevant but whose fixing location could be improved by utilising an alternative location and removing its post. In conjunction with this Southwark is also formalising a policy of streetscape design, part of which will reduce the numbers of unnecessary items being installed. An example of this is within 20 mile per hour speed zones where signs formerly gave warning of humps. Such signs within the zones are to be removed. A change in traffic regulations also means that where double yellow lines exist there is no longer a requirement to display an enforcement sign plate. These are being removed, together with the posts.

If members wish to notify Southwark Council of any redundant item of street signage, the same Hotline number above may be used or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Building the past into our future - exhibition at Dulwich Community Hospital

Over 200 local people attended an open day at Dulwich Community Hospital in July to open a new exhibition called Building the past into our future and learn about the many varied local health and social care services provided in Dulwich. The permanent exhibition celebrates both the history of Dulwich Hospital and shares Southwark Health and Social Care's exciting plans to develop the new community hospital.

The plans for the new building show a three to four-storey building on the east of the site. The compact design of the building makes it easy for patients to receive treatment at different points when they visit and combine appointments with access to a wide range of health and social care professionals. The community hospital will include services such as:

  • A primary care centre staffed by GPs, social workers, health visitors and district nurses
  • A dental practice
  • Community chronic disease centre, supporting patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes or coronary heart disease.
  • There are also plans in the pipeline for a wellbeing centre and café.

There will be a strong emphasis on rehabilitation services designed to get patients back on their feet and into their own homes.

A programme to move services into temporary accommodation on the site and undertake other preparatory works will begin in the New Year.

For further information, please contact Wendy Foreman on 020 7525 2245 or visit

The London Borough of Southwark has developed a Planning Brief for the site which was adopted on July 5, 2005. For further information please contact Sarah Beuden on 020 7 525 5418 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Grade II Application Fails

The Dulwich Society's application to English Heritage to preserve the 'chateau' style main block of Dulwich Hospital has been rejected. The building was assessed in 1994 and again in 2002. On both occasions it was considered that the building was too altered and not of high enough architectural quality to recommend listing. The main arguments for its rejection were that the former St Saviour's Workhouse Infirmary which opened in 1887 was not innovative for its date in terms of plan form, which by then was a fairly orthodox pavilion plan. English Heritage concede that there is 'some fine detailing, particularly the impressive central range (the chateau element) has been systematically altered and extended so that on balance, it is not of sufficient interest, in the national context to merit listing."

The Dulwich Society however thinks that English Heritage have considered the Hospital in toto for listing, not the chateau block alone, and a re-application is to be made.

A recent visit to the Hospital by a member of the Society led him to express great concern over the deterioration of the fabric "It has clearly had no external decoration for many years; window cills were rotting and vegetation was growing out of the gutters and parapets. There is also evidence serious damp penetration internally. While we know that the medium term plan is to demolish parts of the hospital to build a new community hospital, that is no reason to let buildings that will be remaining go into decline".

When is a Park not a Park?

The area around the lake in Belair is fast becoming a battlefield between the Friends of Belair Park and Southwark Council. The cause of conflict is over the appropriate use of this part of the park ; wildlife conservationists, no doubt encouraged by the return of flora and fauna to the lakeside when it was left to go wild following the dredging of the lake itself, are now pressing for a wildlife walk along the banks. Other lovers of Belair Park are keen it is returned to its original state as an ornamental lake, with neat lawns sweeping down from the mansion and regard the obstruction to the view caused by long grass and foliage as an irritation. The idea of siting an ecology area in that corner of Belair where the spill from the lake was dumped is surely the most satisfactory conclusion.

On a more encouraging note; the refurbishment of Belair's tennis courts is a splendid improvement. The 'free-play' on the courts at present being offered is also to be welcomed and the temporary skate-board ramp sited next to the courts appears to be a great success.

Confessions of a Bad Mother - Stephanie Calman

Review by Hazel Broadfoot

Are you a super-duper, totally fulfilled mother twenty-four hours a day? Do you give your children home-made risotto, help them with their homework, read a fairy story and sing them to sleep? Or do you give them chicken nuggets in front of the telly, herd them to bed and slump down exhausted with a large glass of wine?

Local author Stephanie Calman, founder of tells it as it really is in her brilliantly funny new book Confessions of a Bad Mother - read it, and know - at last - that you are Normal!

On the Street Where You Live - Ian McInnes continues his series on Dulwich's development

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