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Forest Hill Regeneration

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Posted on Saturday, 24 July, 2004 - 12:37 am:   

Here is a quote from a local newspaper: "Lewisham Council has been urged to hurry up proposals to carry out environmental improvements in Forest Hill to show local people that something is being done to improve the area".

It continued: "Councillors told the planning committee that the improvements - the installation of benches and planned areas on the forecourt of the post office in Dartmouth-rd. ... should go ahead as soon as possible before people living in the area become convinced that the ... study is an expensive waste of time."

Well, we have a nice paved area in front of the post office, and some new benches. But the quote is from the South London Press of 24 June 1977.

In 1930 the closure of Mayo's (Forest Hill's answer to Cobb's) was thought to bring to an end "any hope that had existed" of Forest Hill becoming a thriving shopping centre. One could quote newspaper articles from the before WW1 expressing similar concerns. Forest Hill has been in decline for a century or more.

Since October 1996, when the draft Forest Hill Regeneration Strategy was published (unfortunately, it is so vague that I can't find any pithy quotes from it) the second attempt to improve the area in front of the post office is one of the few tangible results of the present strategy. I'm fairly certain that the development of the Horniman Museum, the Capitol and other enterprises, even the houses behind the post office (which involved the destruction of Forest Hill's first cinema), would have happened despite the strategy.

Although I applaud the attempts of those who attempt to "regenerate" Forest Hill, I do find it hard to restrain my cynicism, and the feeling that I have seen it all before. Anyway, I rather like Forest Hill and its seedy charms.
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Posted on Sunday, 25 July, 2004 - 12:14 pm:   

After 5 years waiting for the area to improve I have abandoned hope. Everyone who might have moved into Forest Hill with money went to East Dulwich instead. You only have to drive down Lordship lane and feel the buzz to understand that. Businesses in F'Hill don't stand a chance, people simply don't spend and it is a daily fight against nutters and addicts.
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Posted on Sunday, 25 July, 2004 - 10:21 pm:   

Ahem - I think that is a very negative take on Forest Hill. It's got loads going for it, including a bunch of very friendly and down-to-earth locals.

There are several developments that are very promising, the East London Line for example. The changes at various FH pubs, new restos, etc, etc, all are promising. The revamp of Sainsbury's appears to be just round the corner - that will make a massive difference to the feel of the place.

I agree that it isn't Clapham, thank goodness.

I like popping out to East Dulwich, but I'm also glad that I didn't pay £280k for a terrace there...

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Posted on Monday, 26 July, 2004 - 07:50 am:   

Hi Parthian
You seem very keen that only people with lots of money live in Forest Hill . I would say is what we want is responsible citizens , whether wealthy or not.I share your objection to the great unwashed but money is not the factor it is good manners and respect for others
I know or a number of people in Devonshire who got out of Dulwich and got better value.
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Posted on Monday, 26 July, 2004 - 09:46 am:   

Spent a bit of time out and about in Forest Hill and surrounds this weekend (well the sun was shining for a change) and I have to say that after moving here over 3 years ago, I am glad I did. Yes there is a bit of crime but then I used to live in Harrow and Kennington and they make Forest Hill look utopian in comparison. Yes it is taking ages to get Sainsbury's sorted out, but at least there is a start to it and then look at places like the Dartmouth Arms (have you seen who the backers are). So come on folks, stop slagging the place off and put in a positive contribution and enjoy what you have!!
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Posted on Monday, 26 July, 2004 - 10:09 am:   

I agree, occassionally the posts can fall slightly short of constructive critisim but, only by having a moan do we get to the nitty-gritty of what needs changing. We'd achieve a lot less if we harped on about great FH is :-)
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Posted on Monday, 26 July, 2004 - 10:13 am:   

Have to agree with John2. I moved here 2 years ago (almost to the day!) after having lived in Brixton and before that, Mile End. I don't know what high street Parthian walks along but if he thinks that FH is overrun with junkies and alcoholics then he's led an extraordinarily sheltered life.

Yes, there is much improvement needed, nobody's denying that, but in the 2 years I've been here I have seen visible improvements to the area and with the Sainsbury's development almost in the offing things will only get better, especially if the ELL gets moving too. Improving an area takes time, it is not a question of snapping your fingers and as if by magic it all transforms. There is huge potential in Forest Hill. We have the Horniman Gardens and Dulwich and Sydenham Woods on our doorstep, 2 real jewels, not just in FH's crown, but in London's.
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Posted on Monday, 26 July, 2004 - 08:58 pm:   

John2- who are the backers for the Dartmouth Arms?
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Posted on Tuesday, 27 July, 2004 - 07:53 am:   

Go to and have a look. They backed Livebait etc. My wife works in the food "trade" and has a great deal of respect for them so I am very keen to see how their own personal project goes.
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Posted on Wednesday, 28 July, 2004 - 01:25 pm:   

I have lived in Forest Hill for most of my 30 years and it is still a very pleasant area to live, but not perfect.
To regenerate Forest Hill we should:
1) Straighten the south circular to go where the station currently sits - reducing congestion, noise, pollution.
2) Move the station into the Perry Rise car park, with access from both sides of the railway.
3) Widen the bottom of Dartmouth Road to allow for easier turning, parking and access to the new station entrance.
4) Create simple access to the Sainsbury's car park from the south circular for cars and pedestrians.
5) Build a road crossing over the railway where the pedestrian footbridge is between Forest Hill and Sydenham, so that Forest Hill is no longer so divided by the railway and centred on the South circular.

With these changes everything else would fall into place with more businesses and more money coming into the area.

With the developments at Sainsbury's and the East London Line, some of these would be easy to deliver and Lewisham council has the opportunity to make significant improvements to Forest Hill over the next few years just like they have done for Lewisham, Catford and other town centres in the borough.
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Posted on Wednesday, 28 July, 2004 - 01:51 pm:   

Hello M
I have lived in SE 23 or 26 for all by 55 years and you have some interesting points.
I recall about 1988 or so there was a major proposal to tunnel the south circular from roughly the Grove to the railway telegraph in Stanstead road. Fortunately or un as the case may be the expense alone stopped it dead in its tracks.
A major problem in south london is the lack of crossings under or over railway lines. There is only one vehicle crossing on Waldron Crescent. I know there is pedestrian access at the German Bridge but the railway effectively divides FH into two.
When you say move the South Cirular to where the station is not sure of the route you mean. Do you intend to demolish all London Road on Sainsbury side south of Sainsbury ?
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Posted on Wednesday, 28 July, 2004 - 06:45 pm:   

I'm interested in the comment that walking around Forest Hill is "a daily fight against nutters and addicts." I moved here three years ago from Hackney, and believe me, the Forest Hill population of "nutters and addicts" is extremly low. I hope Forest Hill gets a few more nice stores and pubs, but this is not a seedy neighborhood.
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Posted on Monday, 02 August, 2004 - 11:57 pm:   

I am very interested in the regeneration of Forest Hill. I was looking around Catford recently and the Council have been helping the residents to put back the lovely wrought iron and brickwork garden fences for the terraced houses - they look a treat. Why not something similar in Forest Hill. Also the shopkeepers could be given a hand to make their shopfronts look more appealing - where are our Councillors and what are they doing for our regeneration.....answers on a postcard please...especially from our Councillor
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Posted on Tuesday, 03 August, 2004 - 09:27 am:   

Suzi - Forest Hill Town Centre Management have been upgrading shopfronts for the past few years. I think European funding recently ran out but I know a lot of shops benefited from the match fund regeneration scheme. Quite a few shops in the centre have benefited from the initiative, but others were reluctant as they still had to stump up approx 50% of the cash.
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Posted on Tuesday, 03 August, 2004 - 09:33 am:   

Pete - here are the details you're referring to. SRB funding has recently finished but would definitely welcome a similar initiative to help more businessses in FH. Apparently about 90 shops benefited from the previous scheme.

"The Sydenham and Forest Hill TCM initiative was launched in September 2000. The aim is to increase the vitality and viability of Forest Hill and Sydenham town centres. It’s a partnership between local businesses, the traders associations, Metropolitan police, residents and the Council. The programme is funded by the Crystal Palace Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) and Lewisham Council.

The top priorities of the Sydenham and Forest Hill TCM Programme:
• Raising the profile of Sydenham & Forest Hill town centres
• Reducing vacant storefronts, attracting new & retaining existing businesses
• Increasing customer footfall within the town centres
• Improving the appearance & overall tidiness of the town centres
• Identifying strategic development opportunities for the town centres.
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Posted on Wednesday, 04 August, 2004 - 05:39 pm:   

Why has the site on Perry Vale between Finches sports Shop and "The Cabin" remained derelict for so long? Who is responsible for it?
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Posted on Wednesday, 04 August, 2004 - 07:27 pm:   

Looking at the top priorites of the Sydenham and Forest Hill TCM Programme listed in Iains message above,it would appear that none of the five points have been achieved in the four years that the council has paid to employ a Town Centre Manager
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Posted on Thursday, 05 August, 2004 - 11:08 am:   

Would Honor Oak be classed as Forest Hill ? not sure of the area.

The shops in Honor Oak (around the station) seem to be improving however the shops at the bottom just over Brockley rise seem to be run down. Has any body heard of any news regarding these shops as I think they let the area down.
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Posted on Thursday, 05 August, 2004 - 12:27 pm:   

I suspect the reason for the area around Finches remaining derelict is that it is earmarked in the Forest Hill development plan as turning that area into some sort of cafe corner of FH - while the development plan is not a fixed and binding thing, it does serve to guide how development may or will happen in the area.

This pretty much means that the land may/will be subject to a compulsory purchase order at some point in the future - purchasers at this stage would be put off because what's the point in buying if in 2/3 years time the council tells you you have to sell it back to them. Or perhaps the people who currently own the land are holding out for a decent price from the council if and when the CPO happens...
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Posted on Thursday, 05 August, 2004 - 05:05 pm:   

Thanks "Bosco" do you know where I can get a copy of the Forest Hill development plan ?
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Posted on Thursday, 05 August, 2004 - 05:14 pm:   

Just realised Bosco was answering a question above, thats what you get for not knowing the area. My question is still the same if anyone can help.
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Posted on Thursday, 05 August, 2004 - 05:50 pm:   

I think it's on the Lewisham website somewhere - although as far as I rememebr, it doesn't cover Honor Oak Park.
elizabeth- the original one
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Posted on Thursday, 05 August, 2004 - 09:34 pm:   

I believe the site between Finches and the Cabin was owned by the owner of the removal firm of the same name and there were a few legal issues which I cant put on this website. Ithought it had been zoned for housing association development, according to the planners when I spoke to them a few years ago. It also for some time housed asylum seekers in that little hut- don't know if they are still there.
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Posted on Friday, 06 August, 2004 - 09:35 am:   

Here's the url for the Forest Hill Urban Design Strategy - think it's section 5 or 6 that mentions the Station/Perry Vale area
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Posted on Sunday, 08 August, 2004 - 06:55 pm:   

I really don t understand, why providing guidelines for new shops facades and sings where aestethical limits are not stipulated. You can fund or help shop owners to refurbish their shop fronts but if you don t supply clear do's and don ts ' you end up having just brand new cheap fluorescent orange, blue and green signs of no particular taste that read "kebabs" "fried chicken" and so on...look at Blackheath, there are greasy cafes and take aways but they mostly have decent shops fronts and it really that difficult to incorporate taste in what we do here in Forest Hill ????
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Posted on Tuesday, 10 August, 2004 - 10:30 am:   

Agreed, are there any councillors out there willing to comment?
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Posted on Tuesday, 10 August, 2004 - 10:51 am:   

Agreed re shop frontage but I'm not sure you can lay the blame entirely at the door of the council (unless the council is the landlord). More often than not a tenant must seek permission from the landlord for alterations or new signage and it will depend on the terms of the lease as to how stringent the landlord can be in witholding consent if he thinks the proposed signage/frontage is unacceptable.
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Posted on Thursday, 09 December, 2004 - 06:14 pm:   

How about closing Perry Vale off to traffic every Sunday and encouraging a market? Transport-wise there's a large car park nearby or folk could just step out of the station and into it. So it should draw the crowds. Spin offs in terms of raised profile and new shops/cafes to tempt stray punters could be significant.
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Posted on Thursday, 09 December, 2004 - 07:53 pm:   

I don't understand why none of this work has started? Looks like the requirements are quite clear, when was it scheduled to begin?
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Posted on Friday, 10 December, 2004 - 10:20 am:   

A decent station and access to Platform Two that doesn't involve either a) a seedy tunnel with stairs or b)a bridge? Not very pram or wheelchair friendly. Not much to ask, surely?
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Posted on Friday, 10 December, 2004 - 10:15 pm:   

You would think so...

where's the real information? Let's see what's actually going to happen...

Councillors any word?

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