Many people are aware that mobile telephone reception in the Dulwich area is poor and that the mobile telephone companies are actively seeking sites in which to install masts to improve reception. The cheapest option for such companies is to install masts on pavements. Such installations can however, have a detrimental effect on the appearance of a road. A great deal of anxiety has thus been caused to the residents of Court Lane and Court Lane Gardens over the proposed locating of a G3 mobile telephone mast by T Mobile outside their homes and which they appear powerless to stop. As the mast is less than 15m high it does not require planning permission, merely the approval of the local authority, in this case Southwark Council. The application to install the mast on a Dulwich pavement is all the more frustrating because the last issue of the Newsletter carried details of a new policy by the Dulwich Estate for the locating of such masts on land over which has control. This policy acknowledges the need for masts and proposes to identify sites which would not be in close proximity to residents' homes. It noted that the Estate has no control over roadways or other land in close proximity. Either this announcement has come too late to stop the present proposal, or, the Council is ignoring what seems a sensible way forward.
In the case of Court Lane, the application would automatically have been turned down if, as is hoped, the Dulwich Conservation Area were to be extended next year. However, this would not help residents in other roads faced with the same threat; it is noted that the Estate received an application from a mobile telephone company to erect a mast in Woodwarde Road. The policy of both the Dulwich Society and the Dulwich Estate is to resist the location of such masts where they would impair the streetscape. Both bodies are prepared to support residents' objections to the local authority over such applications.
This year the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Over these fifty years they have done an enormous amount in raising money for the Gallery, and equally importantly, raising public awareness to this unique institution. During this half-century other groups of 'Friends' have also sprung up to support institutions like Dulwich Hospital, (see page 17) and Kings College Hospital. Not only have amenities such as the curtaining of wards been supplied, but the day to day benefits of a trolley shop, tea room and florists' shop have been run and staffed by the Friends. In recent years other 'Friends' have come forward to fill the gaps created by the decline of local council maintenance in parks and open spaces and while this policy now appears to be changing, it can be argued that this is partly because of the pressure that the 'Friends' of this or that park or open space have been able to exert.
This Newsletter is always ready to support such initiatives in its columns.