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   News

 
11 October 2021
 

Mais House update

Friends of Mais House announcement: 

    

FRIENDS OF MAIS HOUSE LONG STRUGGLE TO SAVE SYDENHAM HILL RIDGE CONTINUES

Unless you have moved here only recently you will know that the local community, spear-headed by the Friends of Mais House (FOMH) has been fighting to stop a monster development on the City of London Sydenham Hill housing estate (which includes the Grade II listed Lammas Green), and involves demolishing the sheltered housing known as Mais House. Despite all efforts at meaningful consultation and many objections, planning permission was granted last year for a development with buildings of unrealistic height and mass.   This was set to threaten our green environment, disrupt our tree line, lead to loss of Play Space for existing residents and bring more residents and cars than the local infrastructure can cope with. 

A tenant resident, with the backing of FOMH, took Lewisham Council to Court. The group spent hours of their much valued working time, and with the help of you, the community, raised some £40,000, and in the spring the High Court ruled that the Council had acted illegally and permission was quashed.

BUT the recommendation of the judge, Mrs Justice Lang that Lewisham Planners ought to urge the City of London Corporation to “re-consider the height and scale of the proposed development, and submit a more acceptable proposal”, was ignored and they brought back the self-same proposal to another Planning Committee with such short notice that there was insufficient time for the community (or committee) to be able to wade through a 250 page Case Officer report and an additional 40 complex documents released just a few days before, even including one on the day that the Committee met.

Council Officers and elected representatives were treating this process as a mere ‘seen to be done’, ‘tick box’ exercise, by seeking further advice and/or making documents available, but  not acting on the specialist advice they were given. 

Lewisham Council’s own consultees objected to the scheme.  The Conservation and Tree Officers established the level of harm to the natural and built environment.  Its independent Design Review Panel, a group of professional design experts recruited by Lewisham to serve as an advisory body, are not happy with the scheme and have made a number of significant recommendations.  The two local MPs objected, as did disability experts and many others. Indeed there was only 1 letter of support vs. more than 240 objections.

OUR COMMUNITY WILL NOT LIE DOWN  FOMH sought further legal advice and were advised the case was good, so a claim for Judicial Review is now in motion.  Of course this sadly means more money is required, but we hope you will stay on board. Every donation helps, big or small, to bring these developers and planners to task.  Please see the Save Sydenham Hill Ridge (crowdjustice.com)  page to get more details, including the summary of the grounds for this application.

Crystal Palace Park Wireless Festival concerts 10-12 September 2021

Concerts returned this summer to Crystal Palace Park which are intended to enliven the area and help pay for the upkeep of the Park.  The August concerts had small audiences (up to approximately 5k), but the Wireless Festival, 10-12 September, anticipates a total audience, over the whole weekend, of 30k-40k people.  Although audiences were asked not to attend by car, there may be traffic congestion and parking issues on the Ridge, and possibly other issues, including high noise levels.  

Attached below is the Community Letter from the Wireless Team.  It details road closures, noise-regulating acoustic and other measures taken to mitigate possible problems.   It provides a Community hotline (020 8396 7701), the direct line to Event Control, which will respond accordingly to any issues reported by the local community.




PC Ross Kennedy, of the Dulwich Wood Ward Safer Neighbourhood Team, advised the following about policing the event:

I understand having such a large event taking place nearby may be concerning, but the policing plan for Wireless has been resourced centrally & the amount of officers deployed to it is significant.  I have seen the policing plan (sorry, I’m not permitted to share the document itself) and, to summarise, each day we have well over 400 officers including mounted officers & public order officers assigned to keep this event & local area safe.  I hope this will reassure you all that should there be crime or anti social behaviour linked to Wireless, that we are in a very good position to deal with it.  Attached is a document from event organisers with some further information regarding the management of the festival & also contact details for their community team, so please reach out to them if you have further queries.

One final thing regarding Wireless.  If on Friday/Saturday/Sunday there is something occurring in the area that you believe in linked to Wireless Festival & you want to call it into police, then please say you believe it is Wireless related when you contact us.  The reason for this is that the call handlers will need to direct the call to the correct officers to deal with.  If you simply said something is occurring on street XYZ Street in Dulwich, then it will get sent hard stretched Southwark Officers.  If you also mention that you believe it’s linked to people at or going to/from Wireless, then the call will be sent to some of the many officers assigned to this event to deal with, so you will get a better & quicker response.  I hope that makes sense.

 

Kissing gate at Crescent Wood Road entrance to Sydenham Hill Wood

 
London Wildlife Trust's proposal to fell a mature and rare wych elm impaled on the railings of this gate in order to repair and make the entrance more accessible, was opposed by a number of local objectors (21/AP/1385 | Replacement of kissing gate at the entrance to Sydenham Hill Wood on Crescent Wood Road and replacement of boundary fence along Crescent Wood Road together with resurfacing works within the kissing gate box and steps leading up to it. | Sydenham Hill Wood And Coxs Walk Development Site Sydenham Hill London Southwark).  On 5 July, the proposal was withdrawn.  LWT then explored an alternative site for the gate but was advised by Southwark Council that this was impossible owing to a structurally essential wall which could not be touched.  
 
LWT representatives invited SHRNF representatives to a site meeting on 2 September 2021, when they explained to Secretary, Daphne Hunter, and member, Jan Morrison, why the alternative siting of the gate (away from the elm) was impossible.  LWT would, it was indicated, now revert to the original plan which involved destroying the elm.  While accepting that the gate could not be re-sited owing to damage to the retaining wall, DH and JM made strong representations against the reinstating of a plan, which had officially been withdrawn in July, involving the felling of a healthy and much valued tree.  They made a number of alternative suggestions for repairs to the gate in a way that would both make the gate accessible and maintain the elm.  LWT was sympathetic and agreed to consult with the contractors on the suggested alternatives.  
The Secretary recorded the content of the meeting in a letter to the LWT, expressing the hope that the Trust would explore successfully the options to prevent the destruction of the elm.  A response is awaited.  
If you wish to comment, or would like further information, on this issue please email us on news.sydenhamhillridge.london@gmail.com
81 Sydenham Hill

On 1 July 2021 the SHRNF Committee submitted the attached objection to the developer's application to vary original planning permission.  Southwark has yet to come to a decision.




28A Sydenham Hill (Highfield House)

On 9 June 2021 SHRNF lodged an objection to this planning application on the basis that both local infrastructure (especially medical care) and on-site management (9am-5pm on weekdays only was proposed) was inadequate for a group of homeless persons.  Lewisham refused the application.

Mais House update 2:
Please see here the 1 July 2021 press release from the Friends of Mais House:


28 JUNE 2021: LETTER OF OBJECTION FROM SHRNF COMMITTEE:


 

Mais House update 1:
 
Following concerted efforts from local groups, including SHRNF, MPs, Ellie Reeves (Lewisham West and Penge) and Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood), sent the following letters to Lewisham Council:
 
 
 
27 JUNE JOINT LETTER TO LEWISHAM'S STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE, LOCAL WARD COUNCILLORS, LEWISHAM/SOUTHWARK MAYORS, & MAYOR OF LONDON:

Objection to Planning Application DC/20/115160, Corporation of London: Redevelopment of Mais House/Otto Close Garages   

Lewisham Council’s Strategic Planning Committee: Tuesday 29th June 2021

 

We are writing on behalf of the Sydenham Society, the Forest Hill Society, the Dulwich Society and Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Forum. We all aspire to high quality estate redevelopment appropriate for a prominent, sensitive site that will strike the right balance for incomers and existing Londoners. 

 

We are seriously concerned that the height and mass of the proposed Mais House redevelopment will not only blight the Sydenham Hill ridge but may come to be used as a precedent by Lewisham for further tall blocks thereby leading to intensive urbanisation and causing irreversible damage to a precious and irreplaceable environment. 

 

Lewisham’s original decision dated 20th November 2020 to grant the planning application was quashed by Judicial Review on the grounds of procedural flaws, but at short notice the application will now be heard by the Strategic Planning Committee on 29th June 2021 by Lewisham Council’s Strategic Planning Committee.

 

What we are asking

We ask the members on the Lewisham Committee:

 

  1. To give full weight to the expert opinion offered by Lewisham’s Design Review Panel, the Council’s Conservation Officer, the Council’s Tree Officer and the Twentieth Century Society,

  2. to reject the current Application because of the identified harms that would be caused by it.

  3. To ask their Officers to work with the Developer and the local community to promote an alternative development for this site that will provide social housing in a way that preserves the trees and green areas of the site, and provides a quality of homes and a living environment for existing and later residents that future generations will thank them for.

  4. To recognise that Lewisham’s own Design Review Panel have made positive suggestions that offer a constructive way forward for a fresh, genuine conversation with the community to work out a future for this site that works locally and for Lewisham, ideally through a properly-funded co-design approach. Please listen to them. 

 

 

A second chance to do the right thing

There is strong feeling in the community that Lewisham Council’s original decision to grant the application was wrong and that this development is really not what Lewisham needs. In her judgment at the judicial review HH Mrs Justice Lang DBE (at para 157) noted  “…  the number of significant errors made by the Council...”  She added (at para 158): “In my judgment, if the legal errors which I have identified above had not occurred, it is possible that the Members would have concluded that the IP [Interested Party] ought to re-consider the height and scale of the proposed development, and submit a more acceptable proposal.”

 

We appreciate it takes courage to listen, look again and take a different view. 

 

We hope that the Committee can be bold enough to do that.  This would do much to help counter the local cynicism that says there is no point participating because you will not be listened to; and to show Lewisham’s commitment to real community engagement. 

 

We would welcome the provision of more social housing on the estate.  But we want the right housing on the right scale with the right balance of preservation of what already exists and protection of amenity for those living there and proper forethought about the living conditions for the new occupants. 

 

The decision to be made by the Strategic Planning Committee will have long term effects. If you approve this application the new build will stand visible for miles around as a symbol that you were not willing to listen. If however you reject this application and agree to what we and your own Consultees are asking, you will be creating homes that will nurture and support families for decades to come. 

 

Background: the site and detail

 

For those not familiar with the application, Mais House was a former c 65-unit sheltered housing scheme forming part of the Corporation of London’s Sydenham Hill Estate which also comprises Lammas Green, a post-war Grade II listed Council estate and Otto Close, a 70s extension. 

 

The site is a prominent one with a high level of conservation area protection.  It is located on Sydenham Hill ridge, a currently unbroken wooded ridge with protected views, forming part of the London skyline.  It adjoins Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods. It is environmentally sensitive, located in a conservation area and borders a SINC, a unique habitat which is home to bats, stag beetles etc.  

 

The steep gradients, the quality of the existing build styles, and the sensitivity of the local environment make the constraints of this unusual site hard to understand on the committee’s papers. We therefore also ask the Committee to make a site visit. If you are on the Committee and do not have intimate knowledge of the site and its complex topography, please do visit to see for yourself. 

 

In summary

 

We write as an inclusive coalition of local community groups asking you to heed the expert advice you are getting from so many quarters and turn down this harmful application for overdevelopment.  Show that you care about the environment, our conservation and heritage, and protecting the quality of life of existing and incoming social housing tenants.  Lewisham must not sacrifice the quality of life for its tenants simply to fulfil a numbers quota. Please create social housing we can be proud of. 

Yours sincerely,

 

Annabel McLaren, Chair, Sydenham Society

Daphne Hunter, Secretary, Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Forum

Ian McInnes, Chairman, The Dulwich Society

Claus Murmann, Forest Hill Society

 

Attachments:

  1. Judgment from Judicial Review

  2. Design Review Panel report No 4

  3. Twentieth Century Society representations

  4. Conservation Officer’s comments

 

 

 

The grounds for judicial review upheld by Mrs Justice Lang:

  • Ground 1: Failure to give great weight to harm to heritage assets and failure to consider extent of less than substantial harm as required by the Planning Policy Guidance

  • Ground 2: Failure to take into account the Conservation Officer’s advice

  • Ground 4: Failure to make background papers available

  • Ground 6:  failure to ask the Design Review Panel to consider the planning application in breach of legitimate expectation

 
For anyone wishing to submit comment, this is the Lewisham link:
DC/20/115160 | Demolition of existing buildings at Mais House and Otto Close garages, SE26, and redevelopment to provide a part four, six and seven storey building and a part two and three storey terrace building providing a total of 110 residential units (use class C3), community room and estate office; together with alterations to the existing ball court; associated works to vehicular and pedestrian access from Sydenham Hill, Lammas Green and Kirkdale; provision of car and cycle parking, refuse storage and landscaping including amenity space and play area. | LAND AT SYDENHAM HILL ESTATE, SYDENHAM HILL, LONDON, SE26 (lewisham.gov.uk)
SUNDAY, 27 JUNE 20201: URGENT PUBLIC MEETING RE MAIS HOUSE PLANNING APPLICATION
Please see "Events" page for details: EVENTS | Sydenham Hill Ridge
Minutes of 2021-22 Annual General Meeting and of Public Meeting, 1 June 2021
SHRNF's Annual General Meeting was held on 1 June 2021 (members only) and was followed by a public meeting open to everyone.  The AGM reported on the activities of the Forum during 2020-21 and held elections to the SHRNF Committee.  The public meeting, also attended by councillors representing both of the Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Area's local authorities (Lewisham and Southwark), discussed SHRNF's upcoming response to Lewisham's small sites consultation document (subsequently submitted to Lewisham and available on: ..link tba..), and the response to SHRNF's early-engagement survey.  The minutes of both meetings are attached here:
Link to report on the activities of the Forum since the 2020-21 AGM:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LlWQbqp-qAVCGIC8-yUbF6S-RSXm-Bvu/view?usp=sharing
Link to report on the financial position of the Forum:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1353dOvsgS_dZ7pTkuDDKpugH6UwQslzP/view?usp=sharing
PLEASE NOTE: only SHRNF members may attend, vote at, and stand for election to the SHNRF Committee, so please consider joining (https://www.sydenhamhillridge.london/) to become involved and have your say in SHRNF's activities.  Or, to be kept up-to-date on what's happening in SHRNF, please join the mailing list ()
SHRNF and SHRNA:
Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Forum (SHRNF) and Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Area (SHRNA) are a designated Neighbourhood Forum and a designated Neighbourhood Area.
Our two Boroughs are Lewisham and Southwark, with Lewisham as our Lead Borough. 
SHRNF Constitution
Here is the direct link to our Constitution:
https://56d0e1ec-7363-4dfe-8b02-0077eb36363a.filesusr.com/ugd/932ab1_d1c1ec88cb004632900e4b4daa59f046.pdf
The structure, role and duty of the Committee and Officers is described in Section 7 of the Constitution.
This section 7 includes two key sub-sections as follows:
“7.1 The day-to-day business of the Forum shall be conducted by the Committee which shall comprise not less than 5 and no more than 10 members of the Forum elected at a General Meeting. The Committee shall include at least 2 members who are resident or work in the London Borough of Lewisham (each a “Lewisham Representative”) and at least 2 members who are resident in or work in the London Borough of Southwark (each a “Southwark Representative”). 
7.2 The Committee shall conduct the business of the Forum in an efficient and fair way, mindful of their responsibilities to all those living and working in the Area”.
June 2021
 
SHRNF Response to Lewisham Local Plan 
 
SHRNF's final response to Lewisham on the Small Sites Development consultation was submitted on 7 June 2021:
 
 
April 2021
SHRNF Response to Lewisham Local Plan submitted/SHRNF response to Lewisham Small Sites consultation is starting; tabulated data of responses to SHRNF Community Survey available
 
 
SHRNF Response to draft Lewisham Local Plan submitted/ SHRNF Response to Lewisham Small Sites Supplementary Planning Document Consultation is starting
 
We submitted our Response to the draft Lewisham Local Plan Consultation earlier this month.  Here is the link to the Forum’s Response:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JJ-Mx03qaJG_LfkqS2gM_m0qPtFHtve6/view?usp=sharing
As part of the development of the Lewisham Local Plan, Lewisham produced a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
Details are available on https://consultation.lewisham.gov.uk/planning/smallsitesspd/
It states that the aim of this SPD is to provide a design guide to encourage delivery of high quality sustainable homes across the Borough of Lewisham.
The design guide proposes design principles to guide small site developments.
The Forum responded to this Lewisham-wide consultation, which closed on 1 June 2021.
Why is this important to the Ridge Area?
Since 2002 there have been approximately 15 planning applications for the development of small sites in the Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Area, and it is likely that this will continue.  These applications typically replace a detached house with a number of town houses or flats. Some have been highly contentious due to the height and density of the development and the impact on neighbours and the character of the area.
The draft Lewisham design guide made detailed proposals on a wide range of issues, including height, massing, layout, and parking, which have been the subject of objections to previous planning applications.
So, it was important for us to review these proposals in the light of their possible impact on developments in the Ridge area, to ensure that the character of the Ridge is protected.
Tabulated Data of Responses to SHRNF Community Survey
We are assessing the responses to the SHRNF Community Survey, which was conducted during February and March 2021.
While we are in the process of preparing preliminary interpretations, we share the raw data with you, as you may be interested in the range of responses.
Here is a link to the tabulated data of Responses:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/166oCG4Z3LWQRA1RgcsKUklpU0Q-6cSiQ/view?usp=sharing
Responses were discussed at the 1 June AGM, the minutes of which are above.
See:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TmJnYGQDDUftrw5aDnrAwhLs1DbwcFVT/view?usp=sharing

February 2021

SHRNF mailing to SHRNF mailing list 

Launch of Early Engagement and other matters

SHNRF Early Engagement 

The Forum’s Early Engagement, combining a community survey and online public events, was launched in February 2021.  Responses to the Survey and input to online public events is being assessed, and will be used to help shape the Forum's in priorities, policies, and projects.  A report on the survey and on ways forward to future SHRNF engagement with our Area will be available on the website soon.

6th December 2020

Planning application for the Footbridge Oaks

Southwark Council has submitted a renewal planning application, 20/AP/3537 for removal of the Footbridge Oaks, after the existing approval expired last week.
SHRNF will be preparing and circulating a draft response.
Here is a link to the Application:
2 December 2020

 

Festival Republic’s mass events at Crystal Palace Park in 2021-2023 approved by Bromley

 

These are two mass events (up to 45,000 participants/day expected) with Festival weekends in July, proposed by CPPT and Festival Republic, for 2021-23, to take place on the Upper Terraces of Crystal Palace Park. Bromley Council has today published the formal Decision Notice to approve the licence request. 
The expected dates of Festival Republic’s events in 2021 are two concurrent three-day weekend events, 9th; 10th; 11 July and 16th; 17th and 18th July. 
Here is the link to the Bromley Notice:

4 week “South Facing” Festivals in May 2021 and August 2022 - August 2025, proposed by Proud Events 
There is a separate application to Bromley for a licence by Proud Events for smaller events, to take place in the Crystal Palace Bowl, involving between 500 and at most 10,000 people.
 
The Licence Application will be considered by Bromley shortly.
Here is the link to the Application:
23 November 2020

Mais House - Permission for Development letter received

Further to the earlier decision by Lewisham Planning Committee (see item on 2 September 2020 below), Lewisham issued a Permission for Development Letter for demolition of existing buildings at Mais House and Otto Close garages, SE26, and redevelopment to provide a part four, six and seven storey building and a part two and three storey terrace building providing a total of 110 new residential units, community room and estate office.
 
See the following link:

SHRNF opposed the Planning Application which has been granted by Lewisham Planning.

Our last set of objections can be accessed through the following link:

21st November 2020

Cox's Walk Footbridge Oaks

 
BBC Local News carried an excellent item about the “Save the Cox’s Walk Footbridge Oaks” campaign, including Southwark’s response.
14 November 2020

The Cedars - Planning Consultation announced

Lewisham Planning Committee has announced a planning consultation for The Cedars, Sydenham Hill
See the following link for the Lewisham announcement
Closing date for comments is 7 December 2020
SHRNF is preparing a response.    If you wish to be involved with the response, please email us at news@sydenhamhillridge.london
November 2020

2 Sydenham Hill: LBL's dismissal of appeal re demolition:
October 2020

Crystal Palace Park (CPP) Master Plan Consultation closes.

SHRNF submits concerns regarding Rockhills development as proposed.

 

 
 
 
 
 
October 2020

Government’s Planning White Paper

SHRNF submitted initial response to consultation.