The media are mostly reporting the latest government guidance on which premises and businesses can still operate and which must close. But sometimes it’s good to see what the government are actually saying.
Many neighbours (including Fawnbrake Avenue residents plugged into the Fawnbrake Street Party WhatsApp group) have already heard about the plans to erect a massive building sprouting two tower blocks of 20 and 29 storeys at Loughborough Junction, where Herne Hill Road approaches Coldharbour Lane. Yes it’s in Loughborough Junction, but this eyesore would dominate much of Herne Hill too, particularly on the Lambeth side.
The site is bounded by Hinton Road (the short extension of Milkwood Road), Wanless Street (right up against the back gardens of the houses), Herne Hill Road, and one of Loughborough Junction’s many railway viaducts, this one carrying trains to and from Denmark Hill Station.
The proposed new building (it is nominally one “podium building” with two towers superimposed) would offer some employment and retail floorspace, and 170 flats.
Time to send in our comments
Few of us would argue that these two sites are perfect as they are. Redevelopment is overdue, with the emphasis on more housing accommodation, but with some space for businesses too.
But why the looming towers? The crass unsuitability of such an intrusive development has provoked an unprecedented torrent of predominantly hostile comments on Lambeth Council’s planning site. There is still time for others to lodge their objections. It’s easily done and now is the time, before the website closes for comments. The site can be reached by clicking here.
A host of objections suggest themselves, including the grotesque disturbance of the traditional, mainly low-rise landscape and views around this part of south-east London including from Ruskin Park.
Herne Hill Society on the case
The Herne Hill Society’s highly expert planning group have already posted a report, available by clicking here. They are currently preparing a major, detailed objection to this plan. We will post a link to this when it becomes available.
Meanwhile, this post focuses mainly on the transport issues.
But first … another 16-storey tower looms
What makes things worse is that the proposed development would sit alongside another earlier one, in the pipeline already, featuring a 16-storey tower, on the neighbouring so-called Higgs Estate. This lies just the other side of the same railway viaduct and abuts on to Coldharbour Lane. Lambeth granted planning permission for this development in December 2019. Local societies including the Herne Hill Society and the Brixton Society strongly objected to this application too, but were overruled by Lambeth.
So if the current application were to be granted, Loughborough Junction would “benefit”, as the estate agents say, from three highly intrusive tower blocks – see the picture.
In our view, one’s enough.
Rail transport links? Wishful thinking
What is particularly nonsensical is the claim that the development is well served by public transport.
It is literally true, as the application blandly states, that “The application site is well served by public transport and Loughborough Junction Station, which is within a two-minute walk of the site, offers mainline train services to central London and elsewhere.”
But of course, this ignores, either deliberately and cynically, or unprofessionally, the fact that at critical times of the day (and particularly at morning rush hour between 7:30 and 9:00), the Thameslink trains stopping at Loughborough Junction are already full to bursting – so much so that passengers wanting to board at Herne Hill station, just 2 minutes up the line, often have to wait for several trains to go through before they can squeeze on. No way would the hundreds of additional commuters emerging from the proposed tower blocks be able to struggle on board at Loughborough Junction.
Lies, Damned Lies and Cynicism
A Transport Plan, one of the many supporting documents accompanying the application, concedes that a Lambeth Council study in 2014 already identified, even back then, that “Loughborough Junction … suffers from sharp peaks that contribute to relatively uncomfortable conditions for passengers both within the ticket hall and on the platform.”
Things have undoubtedly got worse in the last six years, and will get even worse when the residents of the 16 stories on the Higgs Estate start trying to get to work. But the authors of the Transport Plan, inevitably delivering what the developers want to hear and have paid for, suggest that people could quite easily walk to Denmark Hill station (already highly congested) via Ruskin Park or to Brixton Underground. We have seen no evidence that the developers or their transport planners have bothered to open a dialogue with the train operators to address these issues. Perhaps because there is no solution?
Raising the very same objections last March to the earlier Higgs Estate proposal, the Brixton Society pulled no punches:
“The present Public Transport Accessibility score is … deceptive, and new residents will experience difficulty if they wish to travel to work in Central London at normal hours. Yet that access to Central London will be the main appeal of this location for purchasers of the sale or shared ownership dwellings within this development. Claims by the applicant that only a few will wish to do so are entirely specious.”
It still went ahead.
Maybe our new neighbours in Loughborough Junction will all resort to cycling? In which case, the cycle shop on Coldharbour Lane might do quite nicely out of it. The rest of us won’t.
Next weekend, the Friends of Ruskin Park are planning another extravaganza with old favourites and new surprises for all ages.
It’s Saturday afternoon, from 12pm to 6pm at and around the Ruskin Park Bandstand.
As they say … Bring the family, there’s so much to do including donkey rides, arts workshops, face painting, raffle, craft stalls and local groups.
They will have live music on the bandstand and in the new acoustic tent. Plus this year we’ll be joined by Matt Barnard juggler extraordinaire and a daring trapeze show.
Food and Refreshments
These will be provided by Canopy Beer Company, Tyjanick Galettes, Deli Jerk, Clarkshaws Brewery, Gourmet Sausages and Eden Organics. There’ll also be a Friends of Ruskin Park stalls selling tea and cake and Pimms and strawberries.
For this and all their events, they have an excellent website.
Wednesday 8th May will see an important event for Herne Hill.
With wide, compassionate and practical support from all around Herne Hill, including a good number of Fawnbrake Avenue neighbours (and a boosted by generous contribution collected at last July’s Fawnbrake Street Party), a group of local people – Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees (HHWR) – have overcome many challenges to welcome a refugee family into our neighbourhood via the government’s Community Sponsorship scheme.
It was never going to be easy. The talents, skills, time and financial support of dozens of individuals made it happen. But Herne Hill can be proud of what the team, with widespread support and encouragement, have achieved. After a painful and stressful time in the refugee camps of the Near East, a grateful family arrived in December 2018 and is now settling in well.
All are invited to hear about this remarkable project and join in celebrating the journey thus far. The occasion (supported by the Herne Hill Society) is an opportunity for the team to report on what they have learned, to thank the community for its support, and to look ahead.
Wednesday 8th May , Herne Hill Baptist Church, Half Moon Lane, SE24 9PW, starting at 7:00pm
Free, everyone welcome. No tickets are required, but the organisers would be grateful if those planning to attend would RSVP as they will be offering refreshments. Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this bi-centenary year of Herne Hill resident John Ruskin, the Herne Hill Music Festival is hoping to include a musical based on Ruskin’s only children’s story in its programme.
Professional composer Paul Ayres plans to turn The King of the Golden River by Ruskin (recently republished by Thames & Hudson with wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake) into a musical to be performed by St Saviour’s Primary School.
However, they need, quite rightly, to pay a fee to the composer, and there are other costs of production as well.
The Festival organisers have already had generous support from the Herne Hill Society and other business sponsors, but they are still short of £350.
So there’s a fund-raising campaign
If you can help celebrate John Ruskin and give the young performers from St Saviour’s the unforgettable experience of taking part in a musical, have a look at the fund-raising page and perhaps consider making a donation.
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.
They have created an excellent website and we can follow them on Twitter: @ExitBurbage
It’s outside our area of course, but quite a few of us drive to Dulwich Park, to visit either the Park or the world-famous Picture Gallery.
Now, as just announced on Twitter by the Dulwich Society, it appears that the London Borough of Southwark plan to start charging £2/hr to park in Dulwich Park and Belair Park.
It all sounds a bit rushed. The decision is due to be determined this coming week, and will be followed by a 21-day statutory consultation. Read more here.
It’s probably not surprising that Councils take every opportunity these days to extract a bit more revenue like this (even if they then need to employ wardens to check that people have paid). It’s just a pity that alternative ways to get there, e.g. the P4, are so unreliable. And isn’t £2 per hour a bit steep?
The Dulwich Park Friends are urging the cabinet member not to make a decision until they’ve had a chance to canvass views and respond. No doubt the Gallery will have a point of view too.
Handel’s great oratorio “Messiah” is being performed on Saturday 2 March at All Saints Church, Rosendale Road.
This performance is in memory of the immensely popular Timothy Penrose, who was Musical Director at All Saints for 26 years, leading the choral music through the devastating period after the fire which destroyed the church in 2000. He was also a celebrated counter-tenor, who appeared in over 100 recordings, singing with The Sixteen conducted by John Eliot Gardiner and with Pro Cantione Antiqua, among others.
7:30 pm, tickets at the door (£15 / £12 concessions)
News about Fawnbrake Avenue & neighbouring streets in Herne Hill, London