Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Objection letter against the proposed building plans.

Here is a standard objection letter that you can sign and send to the London Borough of Lewisham. You are also welcome to use parts of this letter and add your own comments against the plans.

Connor Corrigan
Lewisham Planning Service
Laurence House
1 Catford Road

Dear Mr Corrigan,

Planning Application No. DC/09/71953
15 to 17A Tyson Road and land behind 39 and 53 Honor Oak Road

I object to this planning application for the following reasons:

-The new planning application is very similar to the last one with only a few minor adjustments. This slightly revised planning application reflects as such a disregard for the fundamental problems underlying the former planning application that was unanimously rejected.

• Excessive density – the proposal will result in over development of the site.

• There too many buildings and they are too large – the design and scale of the development is not compatible with the surrounding environment.

• The layout is cramped and there is no access for emergency vehicles to one of the buildings.

• The development will result in the loss of too many trees and too much wildlife.

• The loss of open space.

• The impact on the local infrastructure including roads and schools

• The increased risk of flooding due to the loss of naturally draining land and trees.

Signature (Print and Sign)



Monday, 24 August 2009

'New' 'slightly revised' planning application for Tyson Road, Summer of 2009

Pictures above: If the developer gets his will, all this will be gone....For the sake of 'luxury' flats.

Loromah Estate submitted a new, slightly revised planning application in July that was publicly announced this August. The application which represents Loromah Estates fourth attempt to build in this area, has been quickly rushed through considering the fact that their previous application was unanimously rejected on all accounts by the councillors the 31st of March this year.

In the latest application, the developer has cut the number of flats from 74 to 71 flats. They have also made space for a "second" option that "could" take the size down to a minimum of 67 flats.

There are still a whopping 9 blocks of flats though and even if they have preserved a few more trees in the latest application, their aim is still targeted towards knocking down at least 70 mature trees.

Block number 1 has even been increased in height (In option 1) with as much as 2.8 meters taking it to over 12 meters in total which would completely remove all light and view for the inhabitants in 53 Honor Oak Road.

As a summary, one can conclude that the developer has done 'as little as possible' to confront the fundamental problems underlying their previous planning proposal.

We recommend that as many as possible submit individual objections to Lewisham and object on the same grounds as the former application.

We have very little time as the letters should be in before the Council makes their decision the 2nd of September.

Forest Hill Society has already submitted their objection and there are rumors that as many as 300 people has signed individual objection letters already. This is amazing considering the short public notice and the fact that the application was submitted during the summer holiday.

Remember, we can't have too many objections against the proposal to turn Forest Hill into Concrete Hill. So keep objecting!

Tyson Road Stag Beetle Sightings for the Great Stag Beetle Hunt 2006-2008 plus some recent sightings.

Picture above: Male stag beetle spotted in Fairlie Gardens, the summer of 2006.

June (Male)
September (larvae)

31 May
1 June (Male)
3 June (Female)
4 June
9 June (Male and Female)
10 June (Female)
11 June (Female)
14 June (Female)

8 June (Male)
9 June (9 x Male 1 x Female)
10 June (2 x Male)
13 June (1 x Male)
14 June (1 x Male 1 x Female)
15 June (2 x Male)
20 June (1 x Female)
21 June (1 x Female)
27 June (1 x Female)
28 June (1 x Male)
29 June (1 x Female)

All of the sightings listed above were recorded contemporaneously on the “Great Stag Beetle Hunt” website run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

Photos above from top to bottom: These are photos of a recent sighting of a male stag beetle in Tyson Road area that was spotted 28th of May 2009.

Widlife pictures from the area taken during the Summer of 2009

A Gatekeeper resting on a flower just yards away from the proposed development.

The extremely rare Tiger Jersey moth is frequently spotted in the area.

A beautiful Comma taken just yards away from the proposed building site.

Tyson Road proposal defeated: Newsletter written by Cllr John Russell and Cllr Philip Peake for the Forest Hill Society Newsletter.

Photo of the area under threat.

"It doesn’t often happen so when the community comes together and wins a significant victory against over development, we should all take note and learn lessons for the future. When Loromah Estates put forward a planning application to build nine blocks of flats on a back land site behind the Christian Fellowship Centre on Honor Oak Road and to the rear of Tyson Road, local residents refused to accept the odds stacked against them and came out fighting. The Forest Hill Society supported them all the way as did their local councilors, John Russell and Philip Peake. We asked the councillors to explain why this victory matters.

In our short number of years as councillors, we have frequently come up against that bane of local campaigners’ lives: the English planning system. Particularly at Lewisham Council, it is very difficult and rare to be able to defeat a developer’s proposal once it has the support of the Council Planning Officers.

Yet on 31st of March, that’s exactly what we all did at Planning Committee ‘B’ – not just marginally, but entirely: members of the committee voted unanimously to turn down officer advice and reject Loromah Estates’ application to build 74 flats on predominantly ex-garden land between Tyson Road and the Christian Fellowship Center on Honor Oak Road.

The community, Forest Hill Society, and we councillors can all be proud of ourselves. But celebration should be tempered by caution. Draft documents in the council’s new planning policy – the ‘rules’ committee members have to consider – still allocate the site for 80-odd flats. Loromah may not appeal but instead present another plan: it remains to be seen whether any new ideas will genuinely address local people’s concerns.
Now is a useful time to look and see what happened: just why did the residents, the Forest Hill Society and ourselves working together manage to win this one? We can all learn lessons and apply them to future planning applications.

In this case, the developer was his own worst enemy. In an attempt to maximize profit, his team had introduced a fundamental design flaw. All car movements would have had to go underneath the blocks as there was no space for roads elsewhere. And despite extensive use of public relations consultants, it was clear that the development would not feel like a “woodland glade” after most of the trees had been removed and bat-boxes and green/brown roofs had been used as eco-sticking-plaster.

The obvious flaws created a vigorous residents’ campaign. Three-hundred-and-thirty-five objections must be a record for this borough. Led by Andrew Wood, residents did their homework and fought a very informed and highly effective campaign. The secret to their success was not to object saying “we do not like this,” but in properly studying and understanding the Lewisham Council planning policies and the London and national planning frameworks.

Campaigners were then able to argue from a position of knowledge, putting together a coherent argument, based in planning law. This is a position which has to be taken seriously. Backed up by the strength of local feeling, residents, FHS and councillors were able to pull this together into an argument that ultimately won over the committee.

It is a powerful example of what local residents can do when working in partnership with the FHS and ourselves in a common cause. We should be proud of what we have done and ready to start again at a moment’s notice when necessary."

Loromah Estate's third application turned unanimously down by Lewisham Planning Committee the 31st of March 2009.

Photo of the area under threat.

This is how Forest Hill Society summed up the reasons for rejection on their blog the next day:

"Lewisham’s Planning Committee voted to unanimously reject the recommendation of planning officers and refuse a planning application to build 74 flats on a backland site in Forest Hill. The councillors agreed that the proposal put forward by Loromah Estates was over development, poorly designed and could become a magnet for criminal activity.

The local community, supported by Forest Hill Ward councillors, organised a vigorous campaign to oppose this development and appeared in force at last night’s Planning Committee. The Council received about three hundred objections and five petitions, reflecting the strength of local feeling.

The planning application proposed building nine blocks of three to four storeys on land behind the Christian Fellowship Centre on Honor Oak Road and to the rear of Tyson Road. A previous attempt by Loromah to gain permission for a dense housing development here was rejected. This new application featured some superficial modifications and a slight reduction in density but was, to all intents and purposes, the same proposal. Planning officers, who had worked with the developers on this new application, recommended approval. However, in an unusual move, they noted on their report that “a lower density development in this backland location would lead to an improved scheme.”

The Committee quickly decided that the development was indeed too dense for the area. It was also concerned about the heavy loss of mature trees.

The councillors were particularly concerned about the proposed undercroft parking in the development. The councillors believed this would encourage crime and would quickly become littered with waste. Providing security gates, as suggested by the developer, would mean the residents of the furthest block having to drive through three or four sets of locked gates to reach their parking space which was clearly impractical, according to councillors.

The Forest Hill Society praises the decision by the Planning Committee to overturn the planning officers’ recommendation. The Vice Chair of the Society, Michael Abrahams, who spoke on behalf of the local community, pointed out;
“Loromah Estates was proposing a very high density development in a backland site on one of the steepest hills in London. Not surprisingly, the result is a very poor design which has been strongly opposed by the local community.”

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Guardian and Boris' London, a podcast by Dave Hill, featuring Andrew Wood, representing our campaign.

"In this latest Comment is Free podcast, Dave Hill travels around the capital to assess how the new mayor is implementing his vision – and talks to the man himself".

You can listen to the podcast by the following link:


Dave Hill in the Guardian makes a comment on Boris Johnson's failed promises to safeguard green spaces in London, featuring our campaign.

By Dave Hill.

"There was always going to be conflict between Mayor Johnson's conservationist instincts and his wish to leave the boroughs alone. Two good examples are now making themselves known. Tomorrow, Tory-run Bromley will almost certainly go ahead with LDA plans to build nearly 200 houses on a piece of Crystal Palace Park as part of a larger development. The Crystal Palace Community Association has been fighting against it, but the Standard's Mira Bar Hillel has reported that Mayor Johnson has made good on the promise he gave at People's Question Time a few weeks back not to intervene.

Meanwhile, in Forest Hill in Labour-led Lewisham another local campaign has won coverage in the South London Press and support from Brockley Central in its struggle to prevent - ironically - an "eco-homes" development on a piece of land adjoining Tyson Road where stag beetles thrive. Boris again appears reluctant to get involved. One of the campaigners told me this afternoon that he'd received only standard responses to his letters to the mayor, which was much the same as when he'd lobbied Ken Livingstone. The mayor won't want to hear sentiments like that expressed too frequently.

Written by Dave Hill for the Guardian, the 8th of December, 2008

You can read the whole thing along with comments on http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2008/dec/08/boris-london

The "Keep the Forest In Forest Hill" causes something of a stir in our neighboring Brockley, not at least because of the precious stag beetles..

Brockley Nick writes:

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 bullodozing there are', which also happens to be an important home to man's best friend, the stag beetle.

We think they have a point. "

Brockley Nick has written about the stag beetles before in a former blog-post that I would like to add here, considering what sort of serious threat they are under here in Forest Hill and for those who still hasn't given these strange and remarkable creatures a thought:

"In the event of a nuclear holocaust, cockroaches are due to inherit the earth. Likewise, scorpions are always showing off their ability to be frozen and resuscitated with a blowtorch. Whatever the fate of the planet, the future of most mini-beasts looks assured. Not so, the British stag beetle (Lucanus cervus), which is apparently the panda of the insect world.

As visitors to the Horniman Museum are reminded, Lewisham is the front-line in the battle to save the UK's largest beetle (which grows up to 8cm).

The London Wildlife Trust explains:

"Numbers have declined since the 1940s and their UK distribution has contracted from a large swathe of southern England and Wales. Recent surveys suggest that they are now more restricted to the south-east, with concentrations along the Thames Valley, in north-east Essex/Suffolk, and the New Forest. Perhaps surprisingly London is one such ‘hot-spot’, and is nationally significant for the stag beetle populations it supports.

"The stag beetle appears to be significantly more common in the south and west of London, in areas such as Lewisham, Beckenham, Dulwich, Wandsworth, and Richmond.

"Their decline has been attributed to a number of factors, the primary one being the reduction of appropriate habitat - dead wood. The tidying up of woodlands, parks and gardens has led to the burning or chipping of dead wood, and stump-grinding of felled trees removes another vital source for the beetle."

Sightings of the beetle are usually made between May and August, which is mating season and also flying season - so if one of them comes buzzing in to site, try not to swat the poor, aerobatically-impaired creatures out of the sky."

By Brockley Nick.

You can also read about the whole thing in the Brockley Central by going to www.brockleycentral.blogspot.com
It is also worth taking a look at some very insightful comments from bloggers on this very topic as well.

South London Press and the resident's fury over Developer's 'Green Wash'

"DEVELOPERS planning to build “eco-housing” on what they claim is derelict land are facing the fury of residents who say it is an important ecological habitat.

The proposed development boasts “eco-friendly homes” on “largely vacant and derelict land” in Forest Hill.

However, residents opposing the plans say only a small part of the site behind Tyson Road is derelict and most of it is woodland and green space, home to a protected species of stag beetles.

Andrew Wood, who is opposing the development, said: “Everyone thinks this is crazy as the site already supports a fantastic biodiversity and is a great open space.

“All the experts say gardens play a vital role in sustaining biodiversity in urban areas, so why aren’t the planners protecting them?

“It’s this whole garden grabbing issue again – it seems to be open season on green spaces in Forest Hill.”

Opponents claim the developer is trying to hide the fact that the area is already an important environmental space by producing a report that says there is no evidence of stag beetles.

Mr Wood added: “We don’t have many protected species in Lewisham so wouldn’t it be a good idea to preserve one of the few that we do have?”

The development plan, which has been submitted to Lewisham council for consideration, is for 76 flats and has been scaled down following public response to an original 84-flat proposal.

Stuart Cuncliffe, project director for developers Loromah Estates, said: “All the proposed buildings would have “green” or “living” roofs, some of which would form wildflower meadows.

“There are a range of measures to encourage biodiversity.”

But Mr Wood said: “A development that is a death sentence for local trees and wildlife doesn’t get any better by giving it a green roof and putting up a few bat boxes.”

The site contains two partly-derelict houses, a derelict brick building and around 20 garages.

But a large part of the land is green space with trees and plants.

The original plan resulted in 193 individual objections and six petitions against it, and Mr Wood is expecting a similar level of resistance again.

By Michael Stringer

This article was published on Friday the 28th of November 2008 and is written by Michael Stringer.

The whole article can be read here: http://www.southlondonpress.co.uk/tn/News.cfm?id=26347&headline=Fury+at+Forest+Hill+eco-plan

A detail of the woodland area in Forest Hill under threat