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Environment, urban design, regenerat...

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Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Friday, 21 April, 2006 - 02:07 pm:   

I have lived in Forest Hill for more than 4 years. I am still very perplexed when I research information or and explanation regarding for instance the sight of a badly decapitated tree in a "residential area" or the general state of dilapidation of retail premises. But I search more and read about general responsibilities within the local government. It is all quite bland. There is a mention of a Town centre manager. There is even a picture, a confident good looking lady, but what does she do ? Is there anybody at all here that can help by actually implementing a realistic strategy to give Forest Hill the face lift it deserve? Why I wonder do we have to put up with more nasty looking shop signs ? Never seen a measure to moderate or restric size, colour and form to ensure a minimum of aesthetics ? Why do we witness a systematic elimintation of trees in those "quiet tree lined streets" ? Why they are cut, the spot cemented and no replacement organised? On my 7 mins walk home from the train station, I can count half a dozen problem areas, they are quite simple things, certainly not requiring 25 million pounds worth of investment. Just to list a few, to see if I am the only one who can t stand their sight anylonger. The state of the "back" entrance to the train station is appalling. The surface is terrible, with small ponds forming as soon as it rains a few drops. The stairs are neglected, there is a mounting pile of rubbish to one side. As you walk towards Waldram Park Road there is no pedestrian crossing, the area where I normally attempt to croos is shabby and could do with a small exercise of landscaping, not too much, just resurfacing, a few shrubs or someting green would do. Then the terrible state of the sinking "island", made of very run down period houses and their shabby shops. Again this could be a lovely street with nice and tidy local facilities. Waldram Park Road, the amazing BT building, with that forecourt. I thought that councils could push businesses to keep their premises in order ? And what about the millions of Satellite dishes? They furnish almost every single house on the road. You can find any model manifactured in the last twenty years on those walls. Again it is such an eye sore and yet nobody can take care of restricting them ? Where Waldram Park Road meets Sunderland Road I normally stop and cry when I look at the ground, the cracked tarmac poorly layered, other objects left there by accident and neglect and that tree. I feel sorry. The sore continues along Sunderland Road where trees are progressivily cut to the ground, the front gardens are getting shabbier by the day and nobody cares. I thought it was meant to be a nice road. I could reverse and continue walking on WP road, following the road round the bend. I look at those period properties all the time. If they were in Notting Hill, Richmond or Blackheath they would be looking smart, no sign of satellite dishes on their repointed bricks, they would hosts lovely shops, and a coffee shop with some tables and chairs on the large pavement. I shall stop here, at least in gratitude of those who are still reading. I have toned it down. This all makes me mad. Anybody knows who should I pursue with my really serious lists of environment, urban design and regeneration problems ? Why should we become as ugly as Catford yet not have its amenities? Why can t we look a little bit more pleasant ? I have a friend who is involved in the management of Peckham town centre. The work they do is so good. The amount of clever finds and resources they use to help current small business owners to refurbish/upgrade their shop is amazing. And it is Peckham. Is there a chance for a resident pressure group to form and lead the development of Forest Hill?
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 21 April, 2006 - 04:43 pm:   

Welcome to the board, Millesens! I am so pleased to read your post as these are my thoughts exactly.
You may not believe it, but there is a Forest Hill Steering Group but the meetings are considerably erratic, and there are never any minutes issued until a day before the next one, hence people lose interest and the momentum just slips. There is also the Sydenham Society which I believe aims to represent Forest Hill also, however this is not that overt in respect of Forest Hill and perhaps could do with renaming.
It would be an idea for someone to found a real resident led pressure group for this area if they had the time and committment. I would be happy to join and support, but unfortunately not able to instigate due to other committments. Best of luck,

Joined 04-05-2005
Posted on Friday, 21 April, 2006 - 08:27 pm:   

To set the record right.

The Forest Hill Forum died many years ago and on request of some local residents Sydenham Society extended its boundary to London Road and Perry Vale/Rise.

We would welcome a local community society for Forest Hill and would be pleased to work with such an organisation. We would extend a helping hand in trying to set up such a society.

Is there anyone in Forest Hill prepared to have a give it a try?
Joined 15-02-2006
Posted on Friday, 21 April, 2006 - 10:21 pm:   

Dear Millesens and Roz - Like Pat, I have great sympathy with your views and frustrations regarding the state of Forest Hill. As another denizen of the Sydenham Society (and as I have posted elsewhere on this Forum) the only course of action for you to take is to form a civic society, one of whose remits must be urban design and the monitoring of development. All the most 'villagey' areas in London have such societies - south of the river, these include Blackheath, Dulwich, Camberwell, Peckham etc. It is surely no accident that these are the areas where design, conservation and, ultimately, regeneration are uppermost! Lewisham has excellent policies, but you need a civic society (or something similar) to make sure they are implemented. The Sydenham Society has been active in Forest Hill and, as a result of our pressure, the Forest Hill strategy was written and ideas put forward for the redevelopment of the station. However, masses more needs to be done - it just needs a few people willing to volunteer some time to get the ball rolling...
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Sunday, 23 April, 2006 - 10:47 am:   

Thank you Roz, Pattrembath and Mrsmarcos. I don t feel so sad and lonley anymore. It is time to get started then ? See other forum discussion
"Forest Hill Civic Society".
Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Sunday, 23 April, 2006 - 02:58 pm:   

I am also a member of the Syd Society in Forest Hill and would welcome a FH Society. I feel though you are fighting a loosing battle but why should that stop us trying
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Sunday, 23 April, 2006 - 03:21 pm:   

Hello Brian, why do you think we are fighting a loosing battle ? Do you refer to our situation in Forest Hill only or is yours a general view on the civic societies' role and success ? I have just briefly reviewed some Civic Societies web sites ( mainly in the London area). Some seem quite effective in achieving the residents wishes concerning the built environment, conservation and regeneration. Others seem mainly concerned in organising summer fetes in their local commons.Of course they have on average 30 years exeprience and surely many members who dedicate a slice of their time to the society. I would be interested in hearing your point of view.
Joined 28-01-2004
Posted on Sunday, 23 April, 2006 - 08:23 pm:   

Millesens I share your sense of frustration - these minor issues should be the responsibility of the borough, its councillors and town centre manager - these have been pretty ineffective since I have been here in my opinion.

The FH forum, Syd society etc are OK, but only really lobbying groups, which shouldn't be needed if the statutory bodies were doing their jobs effectively.

I know the borough has a lot on its plate, and the look and feel of FH isn't the highest priority, but more needs to be done.

On a political point, I think new councillors would help!

Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Sunday, 23 April, 2006 - 09:32 pm:   

Hello Les.I agree with you but don t wish to wait and see whether new councillors and new local government would finally do something about these "minor" but persistent and annoying issues. After all the council should be listening to the residents and their needs and not dictate how they should live. I believe that health care, social housing, education, employment and policing are important areas of our local communities and the borough should take care of them. If this means there is no time or no ressources for our minor issues then I am very happy to form a pressure/lobbying group to steer the local government in the right direction or actually do some of the work. In the long term, why should we invest millions in refurbishing council estates, funding schools and learning centres if then some of our streets look like some Los Angeles 1990 ghettos ( withouth the fun !!); we have to travel to have a decent cup of coffee with a friend, a nice dinner (and I mean not at the same restaurant every week), enjoy some live music ( again, I do like what is on offer but there is no much choice) or simply feel good about a walk around a pleasant town centre. Talking of which, yesterday I noticed that in Upper Norwood or Crystal Palace or whatever is the name, at the infamous main junction some lovely planters have been placed on the pedrestrian crossing rails. There, in the middle of the junction. It looked very fine. I thought, ok this is silly and a very small thing but, why can t we have that ? For instance they would enhance the junction between the London road and the Dartmouth road, which is quite a focal point in our town centre as very near the train station and "shopping area". In East Dulwich they are consulting residents and planting trees in streets deprived of any vegetation. And my list goes on of course. And that is why it is worth taking things into our own hands. Of course I have realistic expectations but any change would be an improvement. Forest Hill has already some great "assetts" for its residents but many problems in the way it is developing. There is an evident lack of interest and planning. Possibly a degree of incompetence and surely poor expertise in the area of urban design. In this context, see the fairly recent opening of the bookmaker on Dartmouth Road. I find it an appalling planning decision. Not only it is a social risk to place such a business in a semi-deprived area but it also looks terrible. Recently a group of residents in Sydenham have stopped an application for a similar shop on their high street ( yet the shop front looked fantastic compared to the one in Forest Hill). You can briefly read about it here.

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