Category Archives: General

One of the most unusual houses in Herne Hill …

… is an archetypal 1930s modernist home in Dorchester Drive, which has just come on the market after 65 years.

It starts with Kemp & Tasker

Who? Leslie Kemp and Frederick Tasker were English architects who practised in the 1930s as Kemp & Tasker.
They are best known for their cinemas (many now demolished, inevitably), although they are also responsible for several notable 1930s/modernist buildings in South London and Kent, often constructed by an energetic firm of builders, the Morrell brothers of Bromley.
These include the Dorchester Court flats between Herne Hill and Dorchester Drive, which as many local people will know are now owned by a neglectful property company harbouring ambitions for deleterious extensions.
However the Morrell brothers also built individual family homes including two Kemp & Tasker designed houses just up the road from our street, on Dorchester Drive. Indeed, the Morrells designed and built that whole street, each house being different from its neighbours.

Dorchester Drive

In 1934, one particular Kemp & Tasker house design was submitted to the Daily Mail’s Ideal House Competition.

The Morrells embraced and promoted this design, claiming in a glossy brochure  (unearthed for us by our learned neighbour Laurence, who indeed spotted that this distinctive house has come on the market) that it could be built to order anywhere. And so it was.

It’s red

Unlike another No 10 with a famous black door, number 10 Dorchester Drive, two streets up from here, has in fact a red door and windows and is one of the three known Kemp & Tasker examples of this design that still exist – and it is now on sale.

Morrells brochure for K&T house


Form an orderly queue

The 5-bedroomed  house is said to be fundamentally in good order, having been lived in and cared for by the same family – Mr & Mrs Eysenck – since 1956. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, the celebrated and latterly controversial psychologist, died in 1997 and his wife Sybil Eysenck died in March 2020, which explains why the house is now on the market for the first time in 65 years.
The property is being marketed through estate agents Hamptons. Their blurb announces that

“… this house now provides the opportunity for a buyer to breathe new life into a well-loved family home to create something really special in terms of style and space. It has wonderful features such as curved doors, original hardwood flooring (beneath existing carpets), original Crittall windows, the fabulous ‘sunspan’ curved window in the lounge, grand iron staircase and original tiled bathroom. There is a wraparound garden and off-street parking on both sides.”

However, the buyers will need to find £1.75 million, plus a fair bit more for the necessary updating. Insulating all those big windows will also be quite a challenge. The red paint will probably be replaced by something more muted from Farrow & Ball or Mylands.

Disappointed dreams

Incidentally, the Morrell brothers (they were twins) also built a much bigger house, for themselves, at no. 5 Dorchester Drive. But they managed to go bankrupt and never got to live there.

Brockwell Park music events – Lambeth respond

Following our earlier post (below) about the proposed massive music events in Brockwell Park next summer, we wrote to our two Labour councillors expressing serious concern.

Jim Dickson replied promptly. His response reads as follows:

“Thank you for getting in touch and for putting forward your views as part of the consultation, held much earlier in the process than previously under our new Events Strategy so that we ensure stakeholder feedback is incorporated much earlier on. It is vitally important that residents able to feed back and play an active role in the conversation around events in parks and how Lambeth maximises its cultural offer to its residents.

Our parks and open spaces have been, and continue to be, a lifeline for people during lockdown and they are hugely important for the health and wellbeing of our residents. I am hugely proud of our parks team, volunteers and friends groups and others who have played their part in Lambeth’s parks being voted the best in London as per the recently published Good Parks for London report. We take our role enormously seriously as the custodians of these great public amenities, not just in terms of protecting the ecology within the park but enhancing it as we rise to meet the necessary challenges facing us in terms of the climate and ecological emergency. I am proud that this was also reflected in the Good Parks for London report, where Lambeth was only one of two London boroughs to score in the highest category on ‘sustainability’ as well as also doing the same in the ‘supporting nature’ category. We wouldn’t do anything that put at risk the precious ecology of our green spaces.

Sadly the financial pressures that the council faces due to the government reneging on its promise to not leave councils to pick up the bill for the coronavirus pandemic and this means that we do have to ensure that we bring income in across the board so that we are able to continue to spend on our at-risk young people, on care for our older residents or on our award-winning parks and open spaces.

I am pleased to say however that the event organisers for the coming summer event are changing their application so that the events will only run for 1 weekend rather than the 2 originally proposed. In other words the application is similar in pretty much all respects to that for the events which ran successfully in 2019. The change means the events will therefore set up and pack down in shorter time than in the original application and there will be fewer days when parts of the park can’t be used. That is an outcome I support.”

Security Alert – local credit/debit card scam

A neighbour has circulated this warning:

“Last Monday, 29th June, soon after 9.am, I was tricked at Herne Hill and my debit card was stolen. Is there any way of making this scam known more widely in this area and warning other people?

It was done very cleverly.

I park in Carver Road in order to be able to take home heavy shopping from Tesco and Sainsbury at Herne Hill.

A young black man, dressed in black and wearing a blue disposable mask, came up to me and said that I need to pay to park there. I said that was not necessary because I have Southwark residence parking permit for this area. He said that there is a new rule for the Covid 19 time and that there is a small fee for parking there in connection with Sainsbury in order to stop people from taking up the space for too long. I said that there were no signs in the street about this and he said that they were being put up soon, and that if I did not get a ticket for the shopping time I could be fined £170. I would be able to see this in on the internet.

I asked him why he was telling me about the parking. He said that he was the undercover Sainsbury parking person. And he explained that I could get the temporary ticket from Sainsbury’s ATM. I thought, well I will go and look at the ATM. Of course I should have checked with Sainsbury’s staff but he kept wandering in and out of Sainsbury’s as if he was a staff member. He stood some distance away and told me how to get the ticket. I put in the card and tapped in the number. The sun was glaring onto the screen so I moved my hand to shade it in order to see the instructions and at this point the card must have been taken. I looked round and there was another man just behind me, also in black clothing and wearing a blue disposable mask. The card was no longer in the slot. I was confused because this man looked like the other man. But then I saw the other man standing near the Sainsbury’s entrance and he said “Try pressing cancel” and “Oh the machine has swallowed it”, you will have to go to report this, there have been problems with this ATM. Go to your bank branch, or go into Sainsbury’s to see if they can get it out”. I went into Sainsbury’s to tell them that the card may be stuck in the machine, but that I think that it has probably been stolen and they said that this has happened there already.

Within 15/20 minutes I had contacted the bank to cancel the card and they told me that £500 had been taken at Tesco ATM shortly after the card theft.”

Work carried out in people’s homes

Thought this might be useful/reassuring for neighbours.

The latest government guidelines for coping with  Covid-19, updated early this morning (25 March),  states that “work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

“No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.”

Onslaught on the twin towers

Plans for the twin tower development proposed for Loughborough Junction, featured in our last post, have been comprehensively rubbished in a formal objection now tabled on behalf of the Herne Hill Society.

The main thrust of the Society’s objection is that a decision to allow the proposed development would go against the Lambeth Plan for new developments, as well as the London Plan and indeed the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework.

This sounds academic, but demonstrating how the proposal is fundamentally inconsistent with the Council’s own planning guidelines makes it very difficult for the Lambeth planners to give it the green light – though of course there’s no guarantee that they won’t find a way to wriggle out of this.

The draft new Lambeth Plan lays down many requirements that new developments must respect, including the principle that the design of a new development must be a response to the good aspects of the local context and historic character in many detailed ways.

The proposal flouts Lambeth’s own standards

As the Society’s magisterial demolition of the proposal states, the architects have signally failed to meet these policy criteria. “Two towers rising to 29 and 20 stories are not a positive or contextual response to the character of the area. On the contrary, they are wilfully antagonistic to the character, creating densely congested structures with an overbearing presence out of any reasonable scale with neighbouring buildings.”

They go on to say: “The rationale of the designs stems solely from the maximisation of housing capacity on a small site, not from any response to local context.”

Rules for tall buildings

There is more. They note that the London Plan and the Lambeth Plan emphasise that tall buildings require excellent design and should be of “exemplary standard”. But as the Society points out, “the towers stand out for their gross incongruity in the local context not for any outstanding design quality or distinct architectural expression.”

They also flag up the proposed towers’ harmful effect on heritage assets, particularly views from Ruskin Park and Brockwell Park where what is proposed is a “markedly intrusive, permanent alteration to views from the park, one that makes no positive contribution to the park and its local context.”

The proposal’s airily dismissed references to potential bottlenecks in public transport (mentioned in our last post) are also painfully exposed and politely savaged in the Society’s response.

There is more: it’s well worth a read, and shows the importance of having a strong local Society, supported by experts who know their stuff. The upshot is that their demolition of the tower development proposal,  while elegantly written, is comprehensive and enough to make its architects blush. (Don’t count on it.)

Read it all

The full text of the Objection can be read in a PDF found via a new page on the Herne Hill Society’s website, through this link.

Over in Brixton, residents see red over nabbed street flowers

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph reported that a row had erupted on a street near Brixton Hill after a resident accused neighbours of stealing flowers planted on the street by a community group. It began with a note pinned to a tree in the street, reading: “Please do not pick my flowers. Thanks”.

An aggrieved neighbour replied: “In an area massively affected by gentrification, it’s sad to see people claiming ownership of even the flowers.”

But other neighbours chipped in, and one wrote: “ARE YOU SERIOUS? This is not about ownership or gentrification, this is about someone trying to make the street a nicer place for EVERYONE by planting flowers and people stealing them and stamping on them!”

The original note poster responded, explaining that the lupins and geraniums had been planted as part of a local scheme called Our Streets, in which members of the local community “adopt” a tree to water and plant flowers under. They added that the flowers had now been dug up and “moved elsewhere”.

 

A local gardener who been planting brightly coloured blooms on roads near her house reported that they have been stolen, and commented sadly “Come on, people of Brixton Hill – you’re better than this. 12 plants taken overnight.”

We couldn’t imagine such things happening here on Fawnbrake Avenue, could we?

Parking in Dulwich Park – again

Over on Twitter, one or two people commented on our recent story about Southwark’s proposed parking charges in Dulwich Park. They said rather smugly that no-one should take their cars there anyway, and that walking is more environmentally correct.  Conventional fair comment, but not everyone is fit enough to walk two or three miles to visit a park or a gallery.  Oh, I suppose they can always summon a Uber …

A nicer and more balanced opinion has appeared from one of our neighbours here in Fawnbrake.  To save scrolling down, I’ll reproduce it here too:

“Another reason to visit the park regularly is to attend the many Dulwich & District U3A groups that meet in Rosebery Lodge. Many Herne Hill residents are signed up for these. Personally, though by nature lazy, I get out the bike and cycle to my group, so am feeling rather smug about the planned charges. But this is not an option for everyone and the absence of a good bus service makes it more difficult. But I do commend cycling. And from where I am in Fawnbrake you can always avoid the climb up Kestrel (and Ruskin Walk on the return) by taking the slightly longer way round along Milkwood Road. And from Half Moon lane turn into quiet Winterbrook Road, where soon the Japanese cherries will be flowering – a real delight.”

Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park

EXIT: burbage (again)

It’s easy to miss comments posted on this blog (one of the defects of the site architecture), but readers may wish to know that our Burbage Road neighbours have commented on our earlier story as follows:

“Thanks so much for featuring the Exit:Burbage celebrations in your fantastic newsletter . Look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during them. Details on our website

Very best wishes from your neighbours in Burbage Road
Louise Wood , Chair of the Burbage Road Residents Association

Exit: Burbage

This March sees the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Burbage –   artist, entrepreneur, friend of Shakespeare, and celebrated during his lifetime as the most eminent actor of his age.

Our neighbours in Burbage Road, built across the fields in late Victorian times to join Half Moon Lane to Dulwich Village (or vice versa), have launched a timely festival to commemorate Mr Burbage, entitled Exit:Burbage, with the first event (waiting list)  –  a guided Burbage walk between Shoreditch and the Globe Theatre  –  on 13 March, the exact anniversary of Burbage’s death.

Richard Burbage

They have created an excellent website and we can follow them on Twitter: @ExitBurbage