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Forest Hill Society
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Posts: 393
Joined: Dec 2002
Post: #1
14-10-2007 10:41 PM

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(Click here for the complete archive of this thread to 12 Oct 2007)
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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 02 May, 2007 - 05:06 pm:


The Forest Hill Society has a general meeting next week (10th May) with the mayor of Lewisham speaking and answering questions.

There will also be an opportunity to discuss what you think the Forest Hill Society should be doing.

Further details are available at:
http://www.foresthillsociety.com/2007/04/mayor-to- speak-to-forest-hill-society.html

I look forward to seeing you there.

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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Monday, 03 September, 2007 - 11:09 pm:


Forest Hill Society are planning our second pub crawl for Sunday 23rd September. This will start from the Capitol on London Road at 7:30pm.

For those of you on Facebook you can join the event at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=12273885645 or just come along in the evening for a few drinks with the locals.

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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 21 September, 2007 - 02:22 pm:


The Forest Hill Society AGM will be taking place on Wednesday, 3rd October at the Christian Fellowship Centre on Honor Oak Road (opposite Fairlawn School) at 7pm. Our guest speaker is Jeff Lowe from Havelock Walk who will be telling us more about the artistic side of Forest Hill. There will be an opportunity to discuss all the important issues for Forest Hill and to elect the new committee for the Forest Hill Society.

If you are interested in standing for the committee of the Forest Hill Society at the AGM and would like more information please contact me at michael@foresthillsociety.com

Members and non-members welcome.

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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 02 October, 2007 - 02:17 pm:


I just wanted to remind everybody about the AGM and I hope you will try to make it along tomorrow evening. There will be some biscuits and refreshments if that helps convince you!
This thread is where it all started so please show your support and join us tomorrow.

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Forester
Joined 04-02-2006
Posted on Thursday, 04 October, 2007 - 10:58 pm:


No comments about the AGM? I found Jeff Lowe's talk fascinating and his 'call to action' about the size of shop fascias inspirational. People like this are real gems for the community and deserve to be championed and highly respected by the council given the amount of credit they claim from his acheivements. I for one support one of his next projects to restore the original cobbling on Havelock Walk from the gross vandalism sanctioned by the council that has occured there. Everyone with an interest in SE23 should respond to Lewisham's current round of consulting. As I can't find them online can someone post the links on this string?

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Stevegrindlay
Joined 24-10-2006
Posted on Thursday, 04 October, 2007 - 11:46 pm:


I think this is what you're after: http://tinyurl.com/3cwq3l, then follow the link for "online survey". You can also download the draft strategy. Responses must be submitted by 15 October

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Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 08:12 am:


This probably merits a separate discussion thread but having had a glance at this survey ( only a glance, its still only 8am!) I am disappointed but not surprised that F Hill does not feature in the list of development opportunities, or as a specific area needing investment, and there is only brief reference elsewhere to the station being a potential catalyst for local regeneration.

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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 09:09 am:


I find this document fairly pointless coming so soon after the Local Development Framework consultation, which contained much more information. The People, Prosperity, Place: Regeneration Strategy 2007-2020 seems to be more like a marketing document on Lewisham Council services and strategy already laid out, but not yet approved, in the LDF.

The LDF makes better mention of Forest Hill but it is actually quite good that Forest Hill is not seen as a major area of redevelopment, since we have just about enough housing in the area and do not need to see massive development. The exception to this is the area around the train station in both Forest Hill and Honor Oak. For Forest Hill there is the UDF from 2003 which continues to be supported in the draft LDF.

In the last few years we have seen an expansion to the Horniman, investment in the library, redevelopment of Sainsburys and the car park to the rear, and the area around Clyde Vale. All of these fit with the development plan. However, we are yet to see any real action by the council to regenerate Forest Hill town centre and redevelop the station area.

They are spending millions to realign the south circular at Catford so that it no longer goes between the two council buildings, but they are doing nothing about the bottle neck at Catford Bridge or the problems around Forest Hill town centre on the south circular.

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Councillorsusanwise
Joined 20-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 12:23 pm:


The South Circular is the responsibility of TfL and therefore the Mayor of London. At Lewisham Council, we do all possible to bring these traffic issues to his, and his officers', attention. However, it does unfortunately, take time.I would welcome any constructive comments on how to widen the road at Catford Bridge, or to cut down the volume of traffic in Forest Hill.

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Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 12:34 pm:


You've been too long with Lewisham Susan, the lack of imagination and vision is starting to rub off on you.
1. Demolish railway bridge and replace with one whose abutments are further apart. Widen the road. Da-da!
2a. Ensure South London gets as much invested in its public spending as North London - i.e. that the railways get proportionately as much as the Tube. Improve links across South London by an intelligent review of the network and some judicious construction works so that it is possible to travel across the city without going via London Bridge, thereby reducing need to drive.
2b. Realign the South Circular so that it goes straight under the station, removing the hairpin.

Da-da! They should pay me for this.

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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 01:53 pm:


There are clearly only two options for more cars through Catford Bridge, either rebuild to whole area as suggested by HTG or allow secondary lanes through what is current Majestic Wine and a secondary bridge going alongside the existing bridge. Also remove the bus stops from on the bridge, this is not helpful.

In Forest Hill it is difficult to make a significant difference without removing the station but this is in the UDF developed by Lewisham. What I would like to see is some progress on this and whilst it is easy to say that it is TfL or Network Rail's responsibility, it has to be championed by the local council and councillors.

With regard to the station rebuild, I attended a meeting in March where Len Duvall and I made it clear that Lewisham council needed to facilitate a meeting of all stakeholders/property owners ASAP, to best benefit from the potential changes linked to the ELL extension. When I enquired about this in June the response I got from Lewisham Council was:
"I can advise you that there is no Council budget for design work for the station redevelopment, which is more a matter for Network Rail and the train operator, who are regularly updated about the Councils aspirations and opportunities for the station and surrounding area."

There was loads of money for Catford, Lewisham, and Deptford but Forest Hill has been in the plans for years and nothing has happened. How long should we expect to wait?

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Blushingsnail
Joined 21-12-2005
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 02:27 pm:


Further to some of the comments at the AGM about refuge bins and the possibility of a mural on the wall of WH Smith, I was flicking through a copy of Lewisham Life later that night and came across a small article about Artmongers, the creators of the ?cow bins? at New Cross and who have recently been working on a mural at Telegraph Hill. Their website http://www.artmongers.com shows a lot of their work, particularly outdoor murals http://www.artmongers.com/events.html; a bling bin http://www.artmongers.com/bin00.html, and decorated wheelie bins http://www.artmongers.com/bin07.html.

Something to bear in mind for FH town centre?

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 02:54 pm:


It seems that they are taking their time implementing the smaller changes already included in the UDF that would have such a visual impact on the Forest Hill town centre. And they dismiss any responsibility on the train station redesign, rightly saying it is for Network rail or whichever service operator to decide on expenditure. If I remember well we were promised around ? 800.000 to improve access to the station but this I am told will barely be enough for disabled lift and a lick of paint for re-branding. Without starting my usual whinging and moaning at the fact that Forest Hill is at the bottom of the list in this borough priorities despite its great potential, what can we do as a community to move things forward? There a huge amount of success stories out there about local groups "helping" their local government with outstanding issues. They require commitment and perseverance, I know but it would be worth it. Personally I would be happy with the following to start with:

- Shop frontage design control, implemented and not just nicely wrote on a piece of paper
- Street furnishing clean up (see pedestrian railing matching and painted, road and tourist signs tidied, council bins, etc)
- Commercial waste bins removed from main arteries in town (London road, Dartmouth road, Waldram Park, etc)
- A change in planning consent for strategic town centre locations ( so no more Morleys' chicken, non more betting shops, no more estate agents- I ve counted ten !!!- no more pound shops)
- Some sort of decorative planting in front of the station and on the railings at main traffic lights in front of WHS- see what they have done for years now in Upper Norwood, Peckham , Penge, etc..)

When I look at the new stations for some of the ELL stops north for the River I get really annoyed that we have to put up with our Portakabin. At least Sydenham and Penge West have period stations, if I remember well. They may not be the most functional designs but they look better than what we have. Forest Hill station constitute such a focal point for us, one can?t conceive how the town centre can develop harmoniously around such a monstrosity.

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Councillorsusanwise
Joined 20-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 02:57 pm:


with many thanks for the unsolicited personal comments from Hilltopgeneral-whoever you are-your proposals have already been suggested, as well as other rather more constructive ones, which is why I don't think anyone will pay you for yours.
As always it comes down to costs and who is going to fund them.

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 03:05 pm:


Should one be allowed to post on this site if their written english language contains so many syntax, orthography and typing mistakes ? My apologies, hopefully the Forest Hill English Language Society won't ban me from posting in the future.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 04:46 pm:


I agree with Millsens that there are so many things that could be done in the centre with relatively little money. The Council's framework document from 2003 mentioned improved signage, recalibrating the pedestrian crossing at the station, decluttering re: street signage, bollards etc. And those bins - I agree - let's use the redevelopment of the pizza hut/oxfam site to find a way of hiding the dreadful things so it's not the first thing people see when they come out of the station. I think it's going to take the takeover of the running of the train station by TfL before anything's done about it, but that shouldn't be used as an excuse for other things that could be resolved relatively cheaply.

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 05:29 pm:


In an ideal world WH Smith would be demolished alongside the other shops on the left side of the station; of course the beloved portakabin would be the first to go. Then a station for rail, tube and bus services would be designed, the land reclaimed on the other side of the tracks, where the garage and MOT shop is, would be perfect to provide enough space for all the services to coexist and serve our masses of commuters. The new central station would include retail units and everybody would be so content, they could buy newspapers and skinny tall soy lattes before boarding their preferred means of transport. We wouldn?t need any of those inconveniently located bus shelters currently destroying the flow on the London Road. By then we would have finally found a solution for those refuse bins, the Pizza scooters parked on the pavements, etc. Now Councillorsusanwise will write that it has all been said before and that there is no money. Actually our money is going somewhere else. So I would settle for an Artmongers mural on WH Smith wall but really, where can we get the money? What about those entrepreneurs who wanted to build a hotel above/ around the station? Or anybody else who could make some money whilst partly fund our regeneration?

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 05:57 pm:


Was at Dog Kennel Hill School for Open House day - they built an entire new assembly hall and artblock funded largely by selling the space above the building to a social housing company. Couldn't something similar partly fund the station development?

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Baggydave
Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 06:46 pm:


Some points:
1. When I used to come from the Garden of England on an old Midland Red coach to visit family in Cricklewood we always knew that we had arrived in London as the street scene was so grotty. So things haven't changed much in 40 years!

2. No matter how bad Catford bridge is for traffic, it was far worse before they changed the traffic management system (lights before St Dunstans). And that was pre-TFL days, so well done Lewisham.

3. At the end of the day we can talk for ever about what we like and want, but it will be mostly delivered through market forces. Unless we want to live in Pleasantville (it was called Bourneville in my day, where you weren't allowed any free thought). And we put our money where our mouth is and open a new business.

And no matter how bad the traffic is, at least we don't live in Bromley.

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 07:09 pm:


..and that was the end of the thread, thank you for reading and posting. For those of you who wish to continue planning with me the Forest Hill Utopian Village, please don't give up,open a coffee shop, move to Catford to show you enjoy the decresed traffic or do something....we really don't want to upset Baggydave, his special powers can kill a thread within seconds...

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 07:18 pm:


It's nonsense to suggest a forest hill revamp will be delivered through market forces.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 07:20 pm:


..the station, that is.

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Forester
Joined 04-02-2006
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 08:04 pm:


I think the small, cheap improvements as suggested by Millesens can do a lot more good than they may seem at first glance relative to grand redevelopment schemes. The shop fascias, bins, scooters, etc, deteriorate the area's appearance significantly. As Jeff Lowe rightly said if you are a budding, ambitious entrepreneur are you really going to want to open shop in an area that is cluttered with these ugly things and appears to have an idle council planning department? I think not.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 08:30 pm:


I agree. A couple of weeks ago, a saxophonist was playing outside sainsbury's, and (and I know it wouldn't be to everyone's taste) but it really lifted the mood. The small things do add up.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Friday, 05 October, 2007 - 08:32 pm:


And why haven't these things been delivered if they've been in the plan adopted by the council since 2003? It's not a question of money - these things are not hugely expensive.

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Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Saturday, 06 October, 2007 - 09:34 am:


We have had grand ideas before but no action. Yes little things can help but it will only be tinkering around the edges unless there is a concerted approach to change which gets all the key players on board. People will put up grotty signs because they do not largely have a feel for design, simply don't care or perhaps because they have no idea how to go about getting anything better. They will do what they need to maintain their business.
We must not condemn them for this but rather seek to promote the benefits to them of improving the entire area and give them an easier path to improvement. Many years ago I worked for Wandsworth Council where I visited businesses promoting grants for shop fronts and fascias etc. Do Lewisham not have the same?

We need active Town Centre Management who are available to and accountable to the public. We therefore need to actually see more of Julie Sutch, find out what she does and get her/her department to report and engage more with the community. The sad thing is that we have been saying and asking for stakeholder engagement for years and nothing happens. We continue to have erratic consultation about this and that but no continuity.

A Forest Hill revamp will certainly only be delivered via market forces however a suitable and receptive environment needs to be in place to encourage this. Hanging baskets and nice shop fronts may help encourage greater foot traffic for shopping but only a realistic and deliverable economic strategy will work. The question still arises as to whether the community can actually support so many retail businesses in Forest Hill; Dave Whiting has pointed out that there may be an oversupply in which case we need some lateral thinking as to how to replace vacant shops.

The local councillors have asked for ideas for the community chest of ?10k- I think we should spend this on a commissioned report by consultants on an economic development and regeneration strategy/ feasibility study for Forest Hill. Anyone in agreement with this?

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Saturday, 06 October, 2007 - 10:28 am:


I don't agree with closing down shops because they're vacant. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy where shops close, they're converted for residential use, less people visit the area because the retail area is smaller, and when/if the upturn comes, there's no retail space for businessmen to rent/buy. This is an area where market forces should be left to itelf. However, footfall can be increased by promoting other aspects of forest hill, and the 2003 design framework does good work in this area, with a processional route up to the horniman, and parking/tree planting along dartmouth road with the refurbished pools as a destination point. I do agree with you, though, Roz, that there's a distinct lack of management re: forest hill centre in general. The same (good) ideas come up on this forum all the time, and there's never a word from councillors explaining why there seems to be such inaction. Whether or not they're doing their jobs, they're not explaining themselves very well at all.

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Baggydave
Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Saturday, 06 October, 2007 - 07:32 pm:


Back to my comment on market forces (from a realist, not someone who actually believes wholeheartedly in the Capitalist system)
There is only a certain amount that town planning can achieve. At the end of the day there has to be the demand (whether that be informed, or distorted as per the large supermarkets etc). Hence, whilst I am not the world's biggest fan of the YOHO (the pub on Brockley Rise) I have to give credit to the James's for studying their market and the demographics, doing an impressive promotion including use of this site, and putting on an eclectic mix of activities (still waiting for the morris dancing and trad pub games though). And of course being prepared to take a large financial risk.

BD spent time at Iceland (the company not the country unfortunately) and they were very business savvie, despite my preconceptions. They knew every high street in the UK and when I asked about Sydenham, where I lived at the present, they said 'not that race track' (well not exactly a 'race' is it), preferring Penge high street where people actually shop. I doubt if they would have thought much of Forest Hill.

I'd love a more attractive and exciting FH, just that sometimes we need a bit of a reality check. Anyway, once we have the ELL and become the New Hoxton no doubt this will be a well trendy place to live.

"I wont believe it"

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Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Sunday, 07 October, 2007 - 06:13 pm:


Nevermodern, I do nevertheless there is a serious issue of oversupply of retail outlets in Forest Hill which will result in vacant properties or businesses which will come and go overnight and will not provide either a meaningful consumer environment nor do much for the local economy. We still need a full and realistic assessment of the future of our town centre. It may be that as a retail centre it simply does not have a future and could well do with a lot of consolidation. The centre has lost its way for a number of reasons and its identity and hence needs a rethink. I do not think its as simple as improving the environment so that more shops locate here - there is not that much money in the pockets of local people. We are always comparing ourselves to East Dulwich however the type of small business that is successful there are usually fairly exclusive and needs a certain type of populace with appropriate spending power to survive.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 10:43 am:


I think it's a question of not over-panicking about the empty shops, Roz. Roughly how many shops are there in FH? 50? 60? And there are about 5 empty shops. That's not serious oversupply. And when you say 'it's not as simple as improving the environment', that's exactly what turning empty shops into residential properties is - making the shopping street look tidier by removing a messy empty shop. And which shops do you get rid of? Many of the empty units are too small to convert effectively into flats or innapropriate for other reasons like the empty sainsbury's unit. And what mechanism do you use to force converstions anyway? There are enough innapropriate tax incentives to keep retail units empty as it is (which is one of the reasons why we have so many empty units). I just don't agree - the idea of 'consolidation' as you put it is just mega-micro management of a commercial space and wouldn't, in my opinion, work.

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 02:15 pm:


I remember someone on this forum providing statistics and ratios between residents and shops units available in Forest Hill. It was interesting reading material but I was left unconvinced. I do not think converting old shop units into residential accommodation is a valid option for us. I don?t like what has been done in Honour Oak and I think the result would be detrimental to Forest Hill. Another reason why we can t have a successful commercial development was apparently the A205 and the rail almost splitting our town centre. One can?t deny their existence but I am not convinced about these theories. We have witnessed incredibly successful stories of town centre/village developments for many places around us. East Dulwich is only one of them (if you wish to have an entertaining read just see what Janice Turner thinks http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment...599506.ece). What about Crystal Palace/Upper Norwood? There are so many other places where congestion and car traffic is rather awful on the main roads and yet it did not stop businesses setting up there. I also debate the fact that people in Forest Hill may not have the disposable income to generate a development of our town centre. Those who wish to spend their cash at the moment have to go elsewhere. Without being critical of our council, the only difference I found between all these improved high streets and our town centre is the fact that they are located in a different borough. We should embrace new and modern development on the first part of the London Road as at present there is an array of architectural styles and uniformity is almost impossible. We should really pay attention not to waste our chances by opposing systematically those developers who wish to invest on this stretch of road as there are only some many appeals they will spend their money and time on. As for the Dartmouth Road and Waldram Crescent, their architecture may not be of the best Victorian example but it could provide the backdrop for a quirky and lively high street. The work of the Town Centre Manager is quite important in this respect. If funding is the reason why some of the minor but more achievable improvements included in the UDF in 2003 were not implemented then the ?10k fund should be used straightway to move things along. If I have to wait for the market forces to drive a substantial development of our town centre I d rather do it without big waste bins and motorbikes on my way but with more trees, more hanging baskets, etc, generally a more pleasant environment.

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Davidwhiting
Joined 07-12-2003
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 03:41 pm:


If there were only 50 retail premises in Forest Hill, there wouldn't be a problem, and we would probably already have a thriving centre. There are, however, nearer 150, plus the shops in Kirkdale.

In this quarter of Lewisham (Forest Hill, Sydenham, Perry Vale), there is about one retail unit to every 80-90 people, ie 500 shops and around 45,000 people. Given the constrained catchment area for Forest Hill, I suspect the real ratio between people who might shop here and shops is much worse.

The people who have to be convinced about the value of opening up here aren't readers of this forum, but those with the commercial skills and capital to make a go of retailing.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 08:51 pm:


I think Millesens is spot on. And anyway, I don't subscribe to the idea that you can split London up into units with 'so many people' living there, therefore it can only support 'so many shops'. It's an extreme example, but who the hell lives anywhere near Oxford Street? And if there are 150 shops in FH, less than ten empty ones is even less reason to panic. btw. renovation activity in the old pizza pianeta shop today...and the renovations of the old organic republic shop are continuing.

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Davidwhiting
Joined 07-12-2003
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 11:13 pm:


Nevermodern, you say you cannot split London up into units, but any competent retailer will do just that - he or she will look at catchment area to see how much business is available for particular types of shops in particular areas. Of course, Nevermodern is right that different types of retailing, and different shopping areas have different catchments, and hence Oxford Street which is not dependent on local residents (heavily dependent on tourism - I wonder how many hotel bedspaces are within 20 minutes of Oxford Street?)

However, Forest Hill is not Oxford Street. It is a local shopping centre. Though it has several businesses which trade nationally and internationally, fundamentally it is dependent on local trade, which is insufficient to justify the existing number of retail premises. To achieve an attractive small centre, we need less retail premises, and more decent shops.

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Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 11:27 pm:


Team award for Nonsense of the Day goes to Millesens and Nevermodern.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 11:33 pm:


care to qualify that, hilltop? As usual, i wait with anticipation for your contribution.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Monday, 08 October, 2007 - 11:37 pm:


i still say it's nonsense, david.... i shop in forest hill, east dulwich, central london, spitalfields, camden... you can't draw circles round areas in london. everyone shops everywhere. Anyway, clearly at some point the units in forest hill were all commercially viable. And i imagine when they were, there were less people living in your designated and cirlced se23 zone.

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Davidwhiting
Joined 07-12-2003
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 01:03 am:


At the end of the 19th century, Forest Hill apparently had 400 or so shops. I doubt whether many were ever very viable, or we would not have lost over 60% of them (mostly not to the Luftwaffe). Forest Hill is not a 'natural' market town like Stamford or Peterborough. It is the result of Victorian speculative building. You can't assume that the Victorian builders instinctively got their marketing right. (Incidentally, some of the old photographs assembled by Steve Grindley and others indicate quite a bit of retail dereliction, at least on the edges of the centre.)

As far as I can see, population numbers in those days were probably not much different from now (I'm sure Steve G or one or other of the local historians would be able to let us know). Households were larger, food was relatively more expensive, retail margins for basic essentials were higher, and traditional food distribution networks supporting small shopkeepers were intact. There were also people called housewives who went out shopping every day. If you would be happy to spend over a third of your income on food, and return women to the domestic sphere, we could probably quite easily recreate those conditions. I suspect there might not be too many votes for this.

I am not postulating any magic 'circle' around Forest Hill within which people are 'assigned' to this catchment area. That people are mobile and have a choice is a key factor which any plan for an area like Forest Hill has to consider, bearing in mind the actual potential of the location, but it can't be considered to lead to automatic opportunities to run a thriving centre at the current size.

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Michael
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 09:14 am:


I believe the figure of 150 shops includes Brockley Rise, Stansted Road (top and bottom), Perry Vale parade of shops at Perry Rise end, Wood Vale, Kirkdale end of Dartmouth Road, as well as the main town centres of Forest Hill and Honor Oak.

Whilst it would be nice to think that 150 shops could survive (and far more seem to thrive in East Dulwich) it makes sense for some consolidation to take place. If most of the shops in the area were in London Road, Dartmouth Road, and Honor Oak Park then there would be more good reasons for going there to shop. What has happened over the years is that we have been left with isolated parades of shops with no real focus to Forest Hill.

The new homes in the heart of Forest Hill (Clyde Vale, Finches, Print Works, top of Taymount Rise) bring in considerably more customers to the town centre and the East London Line Extension and reopening of the library and pools will bring far greater footfall to the town centre. There is every reason to believe that, with nurturing, Forest Hill town centre can thrive in the way that East Dulwich or Downham have been able to. what this does require is coordinated town centre management, and different groups of consumers, traders, property owners, and the local council working together.

Lewisham council must take control of the situation and help businesses to thrive in Forest Hill - there is little evidence of this happening at present, and the continuing closure of the pool, commercial bins blocking the high street, no control of signage in a conservation area, and the difficulty of getting a pay and display ticket at Sainsburys make the situation worse.

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Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 09:53 am:


We all really want the same thing here; none of us are particular experts in economic /retail development hence we do need an independent analysis of the current situation and what the current/future markets will support, taking into account the increased residential stock,change in shopping habits, etc. and a feasibility study as to future scenarios for FH centre, taking into account various degrees of intervention by the Council,etc. The direction that needs to be taken will become much clearer. I suggest that the ?10 community fund is better spent on considering the long term future of FH rather than short term decorative measures.
Can the Councillors please say something, as we never seem to hear from them on this matter despite countless community meetings?

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Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 09:54 am:


Of course I meant to say ?10k!

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Councillorsusanwise
Joined 20-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 10:21 am:


A reminder that I have already started another thread for a Perry Vale Councillors' ward meeting to discuss how residents would wish the next round of their ?10K locality fund spent.
Perry Vale is also SE23, and the meeting will be held on Monday, 29th October 2007, at 7.30pm, at St. George's Church, at the junction of Vancouver and Woolstone Roads SE23

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Davidwhiting
Joined 07-12-2003
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 10:37 am:


The figure of 150 refers just to the retail premises (not shops incidentally) in Forest Hill cenre. It doesn't include the Kirkdale cluster, Honor Oak Park, the cluster at the junction of Perry Rise and Woolstone Rd, nor Brockley Rise, nor Wood Vale. How do I know? I walked round and counted them.

A couple of hundred more residents will be a significant help to small shops, but will not be transformative. Re-opening the Library and Pools will help significantly.

I think Roz is right about the need for a study, but it should be, as she says, a cool dispassionate look at what can be achieved on the basis of the resources realistically likely to be available to support the development of the centre.

Incidentally, do people really believe that the commercial success of Northcote Road, East Dulwich and similar has very much to do with town centre management as opposed to market forces?

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 11:19 am:


Still not entirely sure what shops you'd close for good, DW. And most shopping areas that draw people from outside their immediate population started off as 'local shopping centres'. I think, from your figures, a consolidation of 400 shops down to 150 is sufficient, especially considering that fact that there are, in reality, relatively few empty ones out of that 150 and population is the same as it was when there were 400. Conversion of shops to residential is also never an easy process, and the end result usually looks like exactly what it is - an unnatractive old shop that someone's converted...unnatractively. And If it were as easy as shrinking down london and dartmouth road at its ends and 'consolidating' around the station, then all well and good (except for businesses that exist at the ends of those roads who would be forced to close or relocate, of course). The new developments and the ELX will refocus FH towards Canary Wharf and will probably bring about quite considerable demographic change. It would be foolish to shrink FH at this time. Let's stop spending money on surveys - we have the adopted design framework - and start spending money on implementing it and making FH a nice place to live and work.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 11:22 am:

I too wish that councillors would use forums such as this to engage with their electorate. It would save us a lot of wasted breath discussing ideas that may have been discussed and decided against by the council for probably very good reasons.

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Loca
Joined 20-09-2007
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 01:04 pm:


They do! "Councillorsusanwise" and others post on this site.

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Vipes
Joined 10-10-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 02:41 pm:


David Whiting for example. Unless I'm very much mistaken.

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Nevermodern
Joined 09-02-2007
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 03:16 pm:


My apologies.

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 03:21 pm:


I agree with Michael. As I said before I think our town centre retail review should be looking at London Road (from station way to Sainsbury?s), Dartmouth Road (from station to pools) and Waldram Crescent (from new Forest Hill Central development to Westbourne cafe/Chinese fish and chips). It would not be aimed at se23 but at the Forest Hill town centre. Of course I don?t mean to discard the importance of our smaller shopping arteries or parades like Honour Oak Park, Perry Vale, Kirkdale, etc but they are already in a better position and condition. So if Roz and David think this could be part of a consolidation (my rather simplistic way to see it, I am afraid) then of course it makes sense. However if consolidating means also converting some of the ground floor commercial units into residential spaces on these particular roads I would definitely disagree. Most of us would welcome a consultation for our town centre?s long term development potential. However I think that where the council is concerned they would gladly take on board the outcome and when the time is due for them to do their part, they would probably tell us that a lack of funding prevents them to make any progress. If even those small but yet important improvements included in the UDF 2003 still haven t been made, it could well be that the relevant council departments are truly understaffed and under funded. So I can t see how after spending our only ?10k on a consulting firm we could expect the council to do even more upon completion of an external review.

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Millesens
Joined 21-04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 09 October, 2007 - 03:27 pm:


HTG thank you for the Award, I am somewhat touched. And by the way thank God Iceland did not chose Forest Hill and opened in Penge instead. So it is not at all that bad here, is it ?

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