Forest Hill: Stag Don't

There are lots of brownfield sites in Lewisham which don't adjoin beautiful woodland. The protestors objecting to the development of new housing in Forest Hill happen to think it's better to start on those areas, before bulldozing this spot, which also happens to be an important home to man's best friend, the stag beetle.

We think they have a point.

If you want to know more and join the petition, please click here.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Concrete Hill does have a certain ring to it.

Opened up that link expecting nondescript clumps of twigs and nettles and it does actually look quite nice. I don't often buy into "but will somebody please think of the trees and wildlife" but I think these guys have a case.

Headhunter said...

How ridiculous! Perhaps something should be done with the derelict acreage at Convoy's Wharf before we start thinking about bulldozing spots of parkland? Even around Brockley station for example, there is plenty of brownfield space it seems, currently occupied by shanties of temporary, portable caravan type buildings. I heard that whichever council is responsible for Crystal Palace recently controversially granted a buidlers application to build a few new blocks of flats on a corner on Crystal Palace park! Anyway, goes to show that if builders are still trying to make applications to build new developments, they're not expecting the housing slump to last that long...

lb said...

That's a real shame. As Anon. said, it's a genuinely a cut above ordinary waste ground - you can see it was a garden at one point.

It doesn't surprise me that people are thinking of developing such a site - after all, I'm sure flats in leafy Forest Hill would be more sellable than ones overlooking decaying industrial sites - but you'd think this would be an obvious candidate for refusing planning permission.

Anonymous said...

This is great! We are soon approaching 100 signatures on the online petition site. That's promising.

Anonymous said...

The council ignores petitions, but it makes the petition signers think they're doing something positive

Anonymous said...

It's a mistake if you think a petition has an inherant right to change anyone's mind - it's just an input. If petitions changed everything we'd have petitions left right and center.

Headhunter said...

The council doesn't ignore petitions, in the 60 Breakspears Rd thing recently, a petition was sent but the council were told to disregard it as it arrived an hour or so after the deadline.

If the planners were specifically told to disregard that one, then obviously, usually they do look at them

Anonymous said...

The planning department ruled that petition inadmissable (Breakspears) as a rebuke to the Broc Soc objectors and to exert their authority, they could have allowed it if they saw fit, in fact it was argued at that meeting the other week that the Planning departments guidelines for submitting petitions was not breached.

Jt said...

Who owns the land here? Why are they selling it to developers does anyone reading this know?

lb said...

This is one criticism I'd level at the petiton - neither it nor the linked Flickr site give any real idea of the development proposals, of the boundaries of the area, the stage of the development or any of the other information that I'd like to find out before chaining myself to a stag beetle and lying in front of the bulldozers.

Tressilliana said...

The Lewisham Council website shows that planning permission was granted for something on the site of 39 Honor Oak Road a year ago. If that is the site in question here, isn't this petition a bit late? It isn't clear to me from the Flickr site where the building would be. I definitely don't think it should be built over, though - it's lovely.

lb said...

"The planning department ruled that petition inadmissable (Breakspears) as a rebuke to the Broc Soc objectors:

You have any concrete evidence of this, o anonymous tipster?

Anonymous said...

no lb, not concrete proof, of course not, but if you'd have been at that meeting a couple of weeks ago (assuming you weren't at it) then I think you would have seen very clearly that the Planning Department are perfectly possible of being petty and small-minded when it comes to the concerns of the community. And if they are, I have to admit they come up against a barrage that was, at times, out of order, and which may not help the case of the Broc Soc. The planning department may entrench their position, and go by the letter of (whatever) law they have to abide by, as a result of this.

That said, I did walk up Breakspears the other day to clarify my mind, and I have to say that Breakspears certainly could tolerate, and embrace, a more radical solution for that now empty plot.

I also wondered, as a passed the end of that block of properties if the one owned by the 'artist' with the striking garden (which I have visited more than once) and pink framed windows, if this property were in breach of guidelines as well.

Headhunter said...

I doubt that Biddy thingumy's garden (I assume the one you are referring to) breaks any conservation area regs, it's just a large front garden made to look a bit like a jungle with enthusiastic planting. There are no regs against this as far as I'm aware. She hasn't tried to build a Barratt style home on the front lawn, or stick a satellite dish larger than Jodrell Bank on the front bay window....

Anonymous said...

Yes, and no, I wasn't criticising it, in fact I have admired her garden in the past, but just putting it forward as an example where creativity and quirkyness can enhance a neighborhood.

But I do wonder if pink (paint) was widely used in Victorian architecture...

Anonymous said...

To Ib in regards to the following concern:This is one criticism I'd level at the petiton - neither it nor the linked Flickr site give any real idea of the development proposals, of the boundaries of the area, the stage of the development or any of the other information that I'd like to find out before chaining myself to a stag beetle and lying in front of the bulldozers."

All the land you see on the flickr-photos will be built upon if their planning application succeed.
I live in the area and I can it is as beautiful as the pictures shows.
A problem has been the way the developer has tried to give the impression to the council that it is a brown, derelict land just because of some garages that are sandwiched in-between all this marvelous green land.
For this reason, a lot of local people have begged Lewisham council to come and see for themselves as you wouldn't recognize the area in the way the developers present it.
Another important notice to make is that the developer, apart from only being concerned with profit-making, has no attachment to Lewisham whatsoever. They are called Loromah estates and are based in Islington.
It will deeply affect Forest Hill area in a very destructive and negative way, as well as being yet another piece of exceptional London wildlife land vanishing for the sake of rubbish property development.
It serves no one else, and represents only a great loss to everyone apart from the few who bucks the money. And who knows, they might not even buck the money if they can't sell their 'luxury' flats in an already troubled market. You should think the zeitgeist would be for the environment, trees, stag beetles, bats, birds against speculative developments.

lb said...

I think this may be the development in question, no?

If so, it hasn't been approived yet, there's still time.

Jt said...

If you want full support you need to offer a more coherent picture of this whole situation. When opposing a development it's essentially a PR battle and to get the public on side they (we) need clear, information, this is not forthcoming.

lb said...

I know I've often argued against various anti-development lobbies on this site, but from the information I can see this seems like it might be worth preserving.

As I said, all the relevant planning documents seem to be at this page (a link well worth adding to the petition). Some of them are very extensive, 80 pages or more. This should give everyone the background they need.

If people in Brockley can get hugely worked up about something as innocuous as the house on Breakspears Road, I'm sure they can be mobilised for this, which looks a more worthy cause.

Jt said...

Well from what I have seen from the linked documents it seems like an extremely crude development, which crams over 80 dwellings and 74 parking spaces into a lush but cut off piece of green space.

The land doesn't appear to be publicly accessible, it might be an idea to speak to the owner of the land (whomever that is) to secure some form of public access as this can help protect this area from future amended developments.

Anonymous said...

JT,

I have only received massive support from people, both locally and from rest of London when I tell them that private property developers wants to build 76 flats with accompanying car park spaces on a woodland, green wildlife area in Forest Hill, London
and then showed the picture from flickr so they can see what will be destroyed. I think that paints a rather nasty picture for most Londoners who happen to love the city's remarkable green sites.
And like someone else on this blog mentioned, there are plenty of industrial sites in Lewisham they could easily have built on instead.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to Ib for providing the link to the planning application in question, and yes it is pending. The deadline for objecting to the plans are 23rd of December.

lb said...

It's also worth noting that much of the planning report (written for the developers by a private consultancy, presumably) is based on an earlier (1992 / 1995) planning appeal by the same developers on a related site (39 Honor Oak Road, I think - documents also on acolnet).

It's probably worth pointing out that things have changed substantially since the 1990s and that the principle set out by the approval of one of these developments doesn't necessarily apply to this site.

lb said...

In particular, look at section 3.3. This shows that Lewisham planners have been, in general, unhappy with Loromah's proposals, which were already refused in 2006. This gives you lots of potential hooks on which to hang a detailed argument.

You may wish to argue that Loromah's "changes" have failed to address the proposals, for example.

Anonymous said...

I have had a thorough look at the building plan, it is so dodgy.
They are only keeping two of the trees on the land. That is actually worse than their former application which was rejected by Lewisham council. And the rest of the application is all a typical example of 'green-washing', i.e. demolish everything and then 'rebuild' it into a 'lovely' eco-friendly' place stag beetles, bats and birds alike will 'love.'
In the proposed plans, they will install a Bat tower, they will plant some new trees, instead of the trees that have been there for at least a century. Oh, and yes, they are going make a rain garden, and some timber and boulder playscapes, some 'orchard' planting, this they are really writing in brackets and some central glade with perimeter planting 'to enhance its woodland character.
A PR-team is involved in this, as you may hear from the way they are trying to sex it up for the 'eco-friendly, knowing very well that all the wildlife will certainly go.

Michael Abrahams said...

Links to the planning application and to the response from the Forest Hill Society can be read here

Those residents around the site would certainly welcome the support of the good people of Brockley and I would urge you to sign the petition at tysonroad.notlong.com

For developments of this size it makes a difference to councillors to know that we are concerned about the decisions they make. Sometimes they have to make tough choices, in this case the developer has talked a lot of fake green nonsense about meadows on roofs, bat boxes next to windows, and only removing 40 of the 120 trees on the site!

The last planning application for this site was rejected by the council. the developer has put a bit of lipstick on their pig and are hoping that Lewisham will not notice that it is still a pig.

A good response on the petition would also help us to persuade the council to recognise that this is a site worthy of protection. Something the council failed to do in the draft Local Development Framework (page 239 if you are interested).

Many thanks for your support.

drakefell debaser said...

There is a dangerous ideal being employed here - destroy the habitat, then replace it with what we think bats will like and if they don't like it. Tough.

It's almost as though Sarah Palin has been moonlighting in the PR team.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a treehugger, but I do live near this site, and it is of astonishing beauty. Increasingly rare in London.

It wouldn't be allowed to demolish a site like this in Hampstead, so why is Lewisham council so rubbish? Are they so desperate to revive this area? Why don't they concentrate on the derelict buildings and sites before they move onto creating this kind of shit housing? You can bet that it's going to be ugly, cheaply built and within fifty years, a site for crime because it's so run-down. It's a testament to developer's greed.

Jt said...

This piece of land has been subject to repeated building proposals. Whilst the pictures show an area that has remarkable beauty, each proposal seems to be more refined, antipicating the opposing view and this suggests that it may only be a matter of time, before that land gets built upon.

Developers have set their sights on this land. It is a highly attractive green space, near a future East London line, you can almost hear their lipsmacking and salivation.

The campaign to save this land is going to have to be a lot more stragetic and organised to withstand the desire to build,
otherwise we'll find ourselves in this situation again in a few years time.
The best form of defence is attack, so turning that space into a publicly accesible nature reserve or something preempts arguments that it is derelict land.

Anonymous said...

JT,

"The campaign to save this land is going to have to be a lot more strategic and organized to withstand the desire to build,
otherwise we'll find ourselves in this situation again in a few years time.
The best form of defense is attack, so turning that space into a publicly accessible nature reserve or something preempts arguments that it is derelict land."

The campaign opposing these plans do have a very good strategy and we are also discussing how to make a case for open this land to public use. However, we first need to make sure that their second planning application will be rejected by Lewisham Council by looking into every detail of how it is interfering with neighboring surroundings and the negative impact on wildlife, the demolishing of listed trees, the increase in traffic the destruction of the lands unique character and so forth.
If you go to the web-site of Forest Hill Society, you can download their detailed objection against the plans.
The problems we are facing this time around, is not so much the lack of arguments as the fight against complacency and resignation amongst locals.
As you can see from the online petition, in a weeks time more than 100 people has signed and a lot of the people has also written comments to why they object. However, only 15 people have so far e-mailed Lewisham planning to object against the plans. Last time 193 local residents complained.
People are still very much against it, but as everybody knows, who have campaigned against similar projects, keeping up the fight is a question of stamina and never to give in as long as you have a case going.
If anyone has a good suggestion to how we can get kick-start people to send in their objection to planning office at the council, I would be very happy.

nobbly brick said...

anon 13:26, you can put a link on your website so that people can download a purpose written objection as a Word document for example. Or you can also provide a link that will open up an email application with the objection, recipient, title etc also in place. All these things count and they may help.

Complacency is also a problem. If, for instance, the car lot on the junction of Malpas and Geoffrey road were suddenly sold to a developer who proposed putting (what would be expected to be) an ugly building there (they generally are ugly), then I'm sure lots of people on this blog would be throwing their mung beans out of the pram and objecting, but those same people are less likely to object to something which is not so obviously impinging on them, or if they do object it's short-lived and token. It's shortsighted and arrogant.

Go and see the councillors who sit on the Planning committee, make sure they are fully aware of the issues involved. Don't just use emotive arguments but trawl through the Planning documents and find faults with it - documented faults that are either misleading or untrue.

Good luck

fred vest said...

also worth pointing out that the affordable housing provision for this development doesn't meet lewisham's own policy (but then again it never did/does)

Jt said...

"If anyone has a good suggestion to how we can get kick-start people to send in their objection to planning office at the council, I would be very happy."

Knock on doors, in the locale explain the situation to people face to face, have pictures ready, have photocopies of a form letter so people can sign and post. Create posters put them in the Honor Oak Station noticeboard. Get a campaign name, at the moment it's just an anonymous but pretty piece of land, does it have a name, what is it's history, even if it doesn't have a name call it "Stag Beatle Wood" "Tyson Road Wood" or something. So it has some external personality.

I don't want to put the boot in because I'm sure you're doing the best you can, but with only 16 letters, that land is in problems from the council's perspective it's a bit of land the locals don't care about, so it makes it easier to go with the plans.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your advice.
Jt, we have set up a system for knocking on doors and I have already planned to make 100 copies of a standard objection letter that I will ask people to sign. I will hand out some of these objection letters to the other people who have volunteered to knock on doors.
I was also thinking of standing outside Forest Hill Station and ask people waiting for the train to sign the petition or even better, an objection letter.
Really cool flyers has been made.
I have an altoghether big job in front of me this coming Sunday...

Jt said...

Best of luck to you and it good to see that the petition is at 142 signatures.

Anonymous said...

Just for the bigger picture:
I don't know if anyone of you remember our delightful Mayor of London's biggest campaign promises, that he would like to see an end to the building of our back gardens and green land. Well with these words in mind, the head of the Forest Hill campaign, sent Boris Johnson a letter asking him for his support against these plans and the reply he received from GLA was everything but passionate. It wasn't even signed by the mayor himself but by one his secretaries.
I just read an article in the Evening Standard today, that our decent mayor is backing the building plans in Crystal Palace Park.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23596261-details/Mayor+backs+plans+for+houses+in+Crystal+Palace+Park/article.do


Just another U-turn and another broken promise from our mayor who just doesn't care and who definitely is not caring for any borough south of the river.

nobbly brick said...

Yes anon, unfortunately that bigger picture will also reveal that whoever is in power the developers have a powerful lobby, not based on anything worthwhile of course, but based on (in the respect of the large corporates) greed.

I have seen a Lewisham MP turned by the developers and it was a worrying sight...

Headhunter said...

Yes I remember Boris saying that he was going to re designate gardens as greenfield rather than brownfield sites (as they are currently are) to stem the tide of developers buying houses on large plots and then cramming about 10 blocks of flats on the site (which is or at least was, becoming very popular). Yet again he hasn't delivered.

Anonymous said...

The Forest Hill campaign in today's Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2008/dec/08/boris-london

Anonymous said...

London needs to get its green wildlife sites properly regulated.

hunkamunka said...

The Guardian namechecks this site! how cool is that?!

Anonymous said...

Do you think they got the story from brockley central?

Monkeyboy said...

He's a know Brockleyite sympathiser and a member of the media creative complex.

The local conspiracy theorists will take time off hating funny foreign food to rub their hands with glee.

max said...

Do you think he's one of them lizards?

Monkeyboy said...

Well it you see him basking on a hot rock before going to work at The Guardian, where no doubt he'll be doing his up most to destroy everything upright Englishmen hold dear, then possibly.

Tressilliana said...

BC mentioned in The Guardian!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2008/dec/08/boris-london

Anonymous said...

That article is already linked at the bottom and someone has posted the link above.

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