It was unfortunate that The Dulwich Estate was not consulted prior to the meeting, since it has a dual interest as a property owner and, perhaps more importantly as Managers of the Scheme of Management (established in 1974).

The rights and powers of the Managers under the Scheme are conferred for the purposes of enabling them to preserve the amenities of the Estate for the common benefit. The Managers therefore welcome any measures by the Council which will assist in meeting this. In addition, designating parts of the Estate as Conservation Areas reduces the likelihood of applications for building works, which may have received planning permission from the Council, being rejected under the Scheme of Management. Recently the Managers have been pleased to encourage and approve new buildings of architectural merit, for which Southwark Council has granted planning permission. Extending the boundaries of the Conservation Area

The Dulwich Estate covers some 1500 acres of land, situated in three boroughs, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham. Although it is unlikely that the Councils would consider all properties within the Estate's boundaries to be of such architectural and historic merit as to warrant conservation status, the Scheme of Management already applies to the whole of this area. Thus, the Managers are obliged to preserve, for the Estate as a whole, the amenity for the common benefit by seeking to maintain the character and appearance of individual properties, streets of properties, monuments, open space and woodland

The Dulwich Estate as landowner

The distinction must be made between the Estate in its role as Managers of the Scheme and its primary function, as a Charity endowed with property. As a Charity it is the duty of the Trustees to manage the assets in the best interest of the Beneficiaries.

Occasionally, there may be instances whereby this duty appears to conflict with the Scheme of Management and the situation apparently cited by Cllr. Pearce, regarding the Woodyard is such a case. The Estate was not the developer, it sold the site and it was the developer who originally wanted to build a number of small houses but the Council refused planning permission.

The Estate is not usually a developer and when sites are sold for development, these are of course subject to planning permission and generally, the Scheme of Management. In addition, although the Estate's own properties fall outside the Scheme, when carrying out works to these which may have an impact on the amenity of neighbours, the Estate goes through a similar consultation process of informing the relevant freeholders of its proposals (see below).

Consultation under the Scheme of Management

As regards the apparent lack of consultation and transparency under the Scheme of Management, this is an accusation often made and based, we believe, on ignorance of the operation of the Scheme:

When an application under the Scheme would have an impact on the common amenity or amenities of the immediate neighbours, the Managers write to those residents, advising them of the proposals and inviting comment (within 21 days).

If the proposals comply with the Policy Guidelines (as issued from time to time by the Managers) and barring adverse comments from third parties, the works will be licensed without further reference.

Works, which do not comply with the Guidelines and those proposals to which objections have been received, are put to the Scheme of Management, which meets monthly. The Committee will have regard to representations received from neighbouring properties, the Dulwich Society and other third parties, in considering the application. If the Committee approves the proposals, a licence is then issued.

If an application is refused, the applicant is always informed of the reason in writing. Generally, wherever possible, applicants will be invited to submit revised proposals after consultation with the Scheme's consultant architect or tree consultant. Where an applicant wishes to challenge the decision of the Scheme, there is an arbitration process.

The Managers do not automatically inform objectors of the decision of the Committee but it does encourage such individuals to telephone the office for information should they wish to know the outcome. The reason that the Scheme Managers do not advise the objectors of this in writing is cost.

It is also worth noting that under the provision of the Scheme there is an Advisory Committee. This body (which comprises an equal number of Trustees from The Dulwich Estate and representatives of the amenity societies) meets three times a year, in addition to receiving details of all applications made for works to properties. Residents of Dulwich are encouraged to join the amenity societies since one of the benefits is to be able to make collective representation to the Estate over any issues of concern.

John Major
Chief Executive, The Dulwich Estate

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