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Penge tunnel restored

It appears that the much-heralded work to replace the railway tracks in the Penge Tunnel, which closed our rail link to Victoria last week, has been completed enough to allow the reopening of the line.


But there are some restrictions in place until Sunday 7 August. Passengers are advised to check before they travel – updated timetable information for Monday 1 August is available in journey planners.

This is all because there is still some work in the tunnel to be completed by Network Rail, which means that their trains will run at a reduced speed through Penge tunnel from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August.

Accordingly, the Shortlands and Bromley South/Victoria stopping service via Herne Hill will have only two trains per hour to London Victoria in peak times this week.

Lambeth Country Show 2022 – parking restrictions and street closures

After a two-year break, like Glastonbury (er, perhaps not quite the same …), Lambeth Country Show is back this year, on Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July. It will run from 12 noon to 8pm on each day (last entry 7:30pm). Click here for the publicity blurb.

The consequential street closures and parking bans near to Brockwell Park are pretty comprehensive. Even for those of us who live just a little further away from Brockwell Park, one inevitable impact is the complicated series of temporary traffic orders which impose one-way traffic systems on certain nearby roads and road closures, and parking suspensions too. And not just for the weekend of the Show.

Although the Country Show runs for only two days, the numerous traffic orders extend from 7 July until 24 July.

The list of temporary traffic and parking restrictions has been published in a recent issue of the South London Press newspaper. They are probably also published on Lambeth Council’s website but we haven’t found them there yet. On the other hand there are the usual laminated A4 notices attached to lamp posts all over the place, like this one spotted on Milkwood Road.

Traffic Order on Milkwood Road, 30 June 2022

It would be unbelievably tedious to list all the orders here. But the South London Press have also posted the full legal Order on their own website .

Impact on Fawnbrake and neighbouring streets

Just to pick out two or three details that might affect us living in this corner of Herne Hill:

  • In Gubyon Avenue there will be one-way traffic system for all vehicles in the direction towards Herne Hill
  • There will be one-way traffic on Milkwood Road between the bridge in Herne Hill and Gubyon Avenue
  • Vehicles driving on Herne Hill will be banned from entering Gubyon Avenue
  • Vehicles driving down Fawnbrake Avenue towards the centre of Herne Hill will be banned from turning right into Gubyon Avenue

However there is a sort of opt out. The Notice says that the “one-way traffic systems, bans and suspensions would only apply at such times as shall be indicated by the placing or covering of traffic signs and ‘no parking cones’”.

So, as ever, we will need to be sharp-eyed looking for such signs.

Electric Vehicle recharging bays in Fawnbrake Avenue

Who knew? It appears that Lambeth’s policy is to “introduce Electric Vehicle recharging bays adjacent to all of the lamp column EV charge points across the borough”. Rather like the markings on disabled parking bays. Which sort of makes sense. But these spaces can only be used by cars actually on-charge and, crucially, also have a permit for the Parking Zone in which they are located.

After all, an EV charging point embedded in the lamp post isn’t much use if a boring old diesel vehicle is thoughtlessly parked there for days on end, blocking your shiny new electric car desperate for a top up.

What isn’t clear – unless we have failed to drill down deep enough into the baffling depths of Lambeth’s website – is how many lamp column charge points, and thus reserved parking bays, we can expect to be introduced in this area.

Meanwhile another parking hazard has been introduced: presumably our parking enforcement officers now have access to software which will tell them (by reading the number plate?) if a non-electric vehicle is erroneously parked in a space reserved for an electric car  in which case they can issue a penalty notice without further ado.

There are 20 lamp columns on Fawnbrake Avenue, if we have counted correctly. There is already one electric charging point outside number 10, and now another one has arrived, with little fanfare or notice to the adjoining houses.

Shall we shortly have the whole street wired up for electric vehicles?

No-one is saying. What is clear on the other hand is that the system for siting these charge points – and the corresponding reserved recharging bays – is pretty opaque. Once the list of charge points (they proceed by successive batches based on no known criterion) is agreed by the councillors, a short period of “statutory consultation” is launched by council officers.

To be fair, it must be difficult to balance the requirement for electric charging points with the actual number of electric cars arriving on our streets. But as these points can only be used by electric car users who have a permit for our Parking Zone, and as there can’t be that many electric cars in this area, we won’t need that many points at this stage.  So, numbers of points and siting are important.

Meanwhile, how is one to know about this “consultation” process? Either by assiduously reading the very, very fine print of notices published biweekly in the South London Press (which few read) or by studying an A4 notice limply attached to a lamppost where the charge point, and thus the reserved Recharging Bay are to be introduced. As in the above photo of a notice outside number 86.

We all applaud the idea of electric cars, and would welcome a widespread installation of charging points, balanced to need, within sensible distance of our homes. If you have an electric car, and more and more neighbours are thinking along those lines, more charging points are obviously highly desirable. Ultimately the introduction of electric vehicles could be the most decisive intervention to reduce street pollution and would bring other environmental benefits. We are only at the beginning of this process, one assumes.

However, the siting of these points, and consequent loss of regular parking spaces, are matters of concern to all residents. Some would love to have one near their house and others not.

It is annoying for any person not yet the proud owner of an expensive electric car whose house has been arbitrarily chosen for such a benefit. And irritating for someone with such a car who would love to have EV point near them.

A well hidden appeal

Consult us, Lambeth!

So, a diplomatic public consultation seems essential to explain the formula for selecting posts for adaptation (and the consequent loss of a parking space) and gives those affected a chance to have a say.   The views of everyone else should be sought to ascertain who actively wants one.   A brokered solution should be possible that balances everyone’s views.  There also needs to be assent to the total number of points in the street as parking is already tight and we can’t lose too many spaces.

Simply writing “Have your say” on a document lodged deep out of sight in the Council’s website doesn’t do the trick.

Saved from demolition!

The 1935 art deco style house at 10 Dorchester Drive in Herne Hill has just been granted Grade II listing by Historic England (@HistoricEngland) , following representations by the Herne Hill Society (@HerneHillSoc), the Twentieth Century Society (@C20Society) and Lambeth Council.

The house by Leslie H Kemp and Frederick E Tasker (1935-36) is based on the architects’ winning design for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition in 1934. It is one of only two versions known to have been built in England, both of which are now listed.

Responding urgently to news of the house’s possible demolition by the new owner in February (he had already started to demolish the boundary wall!), a Building Protection Notice (BPN) was issued by Lambeth Council in response to pressure from the Herne Hill Society, independent experts, and @C20Society. A BPN protects unlisted buildings of special architectural or historic interest, but only temporarily, pending a formal legal decision by Historic England – which has been announced today.

A leading design historian @DeborahSuggRyan has commented: : “This is… the best example I have ever come across of this combination of International Style and Moderne that British builders experimented with in the mid 1930s… [It] has a remarkably intact original exterior and interior…”

More details of the house here.

The full official listing entry compiled by Historic England, showing the basis for the Listed Building protection, can be found here.

Herne Hill rental homes shortage – and why

Wendy Peterman, one of our truly local estate agents, has posted an interesting comment on the rental housing shortages in Herne Hill (and nationally).

Based on current trends in the property market in terms of growth of the population  – Brits living longer, the lack of new homes being built, and the reduction in social housing (aka council housing)  –   demand for homes in the private rented sector needs to increase nationally by 227,000 homes per year, she says.

 

 

 

 

So, based on those numbers, Herne Hill theoretically needs to have an additional 72 private rented properties per year.

Problem: the number of private rented properties in Herne Hill has instead reduced from 2,535 in 2017 to 2,399 in 2021, a net loss of 135.

Wendy’s blog unpacks the reasons, as she sees them,  for this trend in private renting, and the possible upturn in rentals: see the full blog here

But maybe that’s not the whole story…

Firstly, some of us might add that the stupendously high cost of buying a flat or a house in London (where the ‘average’ deposit, according to one of this morning’s papers now stands at over £115,000) must inevitably push people towards the rental market, thus stimulating yet more demand in excess of supply, creating that frantic and highly competitive search for a decent rented flat that afflicts so many people these days.

And secondly, landlords are facing an imminent change in the landlord/tenant law which is hardly calculated to ease the supply of rented accommodation.

Here’s why.

Until now, landlords have had the right to terminate a tenancy and repossess the property – either because they want to sell it or live in it themselves, or perhaps because the tenants have proved unsatisfactory,  or even because they believe that they could get higher rental income with a new tenant.

But the government has today now confirmed its plans (trailed in the Conservative 2019 election manifesto) to change the law that until now has allowed such so-called Section 21 “no-fault” evictions. This has alarmed some landlords and likely making them much more cautious when choosing tenants.

The National Residential Landlords Association, a trade body, has warned that abolishing Section 21 would make tenants feel less obliged to pay rent. “For the new system to work, the Government needs to ensure it includes clear and comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately repossess properties,” he said.

The NRLA went on to say that “This should include a mandatory ground for serious rent arrears. It would be unacceptable if the new system gave any signal that paying rent was an optional extra.”

A medium-term consequence of scrapping Section 21, some landlords believe, is that it will also make it much harder for lower income tenants to find properties, particularly amid a chronic shortage of rentals. Some landlords had already started evicting tenants ahead of the abolition of Section 21 being put into effect.

Landlords are not a popular constituency for any government to protect, but if the costs and complications of renting continue to mount, this would be another reason why the rental market is shrinking, or increasingly available only to more prosperous and financially reliable tenants.

Artists’ Open House on Fawnbrake Avenue

The Artists’ Open House project, a major element of the annual Dulwich Festival every May, goes from strength to strength. The full programme now has nearly 100 pages! And the area covered reaches from Peckham Rye down to Crystal Palace and from Loughborough Junction across to the fringes of Forest Hill and Sydenham.

 

 

 

This year, we have an open house here on Fawnbrake at number 73 where Alan and Jorge are opening their house to show Jorge’s landscape, portrait and abstract paintings. There is more information about his work on his website www.sanchezart.co.uk

Here, as across the festival, the artists open their houses for visitors on 14–15 May and 21-22 May, normally between 11 am and 6 pm

The website for the whole of this year’s Artists’ Open House programme   can be found here.

Local Elections Results for Dulwich Village Ward

And the results for Dulwich Village Ward, over the other side of the hill in Southwark, were also announced:

DULWICH VILLAGE WARD 2022    
       
Margy Newens Lab 2,111 elected
Richard Leeming Lab 1,922 elected
Richard Wingfield LibDem 1,133  
Tristan Honeyborne Cons 1,063  
Clive Rates Cons 1,053  
Raghav Parkash LibDem 1,037  
Christopher Langdon Green 387  
Piers Holden Green 370  
Paul Randolfi Reform UK 50  
       
Electorate: 7,658
Ballot Papers Issued: 4,645
Turnout: 60.66%

Local Election Results

The local election results for our ward were announced this afternoon:

 

HERNE HILL & LOUGHBOROUGH JCT. WARD 2022
Jim Dickson Lab 2,429 elected
Pauline George Lab 2,393 elected
Deepak  Sardiwal Lab 2,342 elected
Celeste Hicks Green 1,838
Nick Christian Green 1,818
Paul Valentine Green 1,566
Robert Blackie LibDem 264
John White Cons 253
Dick Tooze Cons 251
Andrew Whitten Cons 243
Charley Hasted LibDem 175
Jonathan Price LibDem 148
Berkey Kartav TU & Soc. 71
Electorate: 11,301
Total votes: 13,791
Turnout: n/a
Number of postal votes sent: 1,373

Sydenham Hill Wood under pressure

Yes, it’s not in Herne Hill, and certainly not in Fawnbrake Avenue, but many of us know and treasure Sydenham Hill Wood,   and it became a precious haven during successive lockdown periods.

Sydenham Hill Wood, March 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

In inevitable consequence, however, the paths and neighbouring areas got heavily trampled, and are now being restored by volunteers. Some vulnerable species have been put under real pressure, and without this vital work, they may not recover.

The wood is a rare remnant of the renowned Great North Wood which stretched in ancient times from beyond Croydon, over the Norwood Ridge (now Crystal Palace) right down to Dulwich and Herne Hill and even to Deptford. It is cared for by the London Wildlife Trust (LWT). The adjoining Dulwich Wood is cared for by the Dulwich Estate, but with support from the LWT.

There is currently an appeal, where public contributions will be matched by larger donors, to raise the money towards the restoration task.

In these tense times there are so many calls on our generosity, but this appeal for Sydenham Hill Wood feels hugely worthwhile. Click here to read about the appeal.

 

 

Herne Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team

Perhaps it’s not generally known that the Metropolitan Police have a Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) explicitly for Herne Hill Ward.

 

 

 

They have asked if members of the community could please complete a short questionnaire, for which the link is given below.

Herne Hill SNT is formed of a Sergeant, two PCs and one PCSO. The team is responsible for keeping Herne Hill safe as well as dealing with any ongoing Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) issues and concerns raised by the local community. They have regular meetings with a panel of community representatives, and aim to issue monthly reports on their activities locally.

The latest report reads as follows:

“The team this month [March] have focused on several community deployments aimed at targeting what have been identified as key priorities on the ward.

“The first tasking undertaken was a bike marking event at Brockwell Park utilizing smart water. This was following several reports of bike thefts. This was incredibly successful with over thirty bikes marked.

“The team then undertook two days of community speed watches on Herne Hill Road and Milkwood Road. This involved the use of a speed gun and saw many community volunteers participate. This led to several speed warnings being issues and one male being arrested for traffic and drug related offences.

“Finally, the team undertook a weapons sweep on the Thorlands Estate (comment: this lies to the north of Coldharbour Lane) with council community enforcement officers. This again was very successful with four knives recovered.

“The team will take on feedback from the ward panel meeting and will be looking to replicate this again in the coming months.”

Click here for link to short survey.