Category Archives: Our Street

Lambeth coyly reveals its policy on Electric Vehicle charging points

Neighbours may remember our report in June about an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging point being installed, with no clear warning or explanation, outside a resident’s house. He protested – not at the concept of an EV charging point, which of course no-one could really object to, but at the lack of consultation, given that a crumpled laminated notice replete with official jargon hanging from the lamppost just like another appeal for lost cats, could scarcely be regarded as consultation.

In response a senior officer of the council – having in due course ordered the demarcation of a dedicated EV parking slot outside our neighbour’s house – has just sent him a lengthy statement which explains their approach.

 

 

 

 

 

This is an attempt to summarise and simplify what they are saying.

Free bonus

Any reader with a thirst for more information and a capacity for council jargon can spend a happy hour or so ploughing through a report and appendices buried deep on the Lambeth website.

Meanwhile, here goes…

1. Lambeth assume that the EV market and user demands will rise and that the council should therefore cater for existing and potential EV users. But preserving normal CPZ parking bays adjacent to a new charging point could create difficulties and conflicts, hence the need for dedicated areas. The council assume that internal combustion engine (ICE) users and non-recharging EV users should still be able to find a permit space elsewhere locally (noting correctly that residents have no automatic right to park at their preferred length of kerbside).

2. Lambeth aim to increase the number of lamp column charge points across the borough, and as the EV market develops the council will need to keep their policy under review in supporting the increased demand for recharging. They say that not every lamp column would automatically be appropriate for a charge point installation. But even if almost all suitable lamp columns were to be converted into a charge point, they say, there would still be the risk that ICE vehicles could obstruct access to EV users wishing to recharge their vehicles – hence the need to provide dedicated EV charging bays, barred to other vehicles including even EV cars when they are not being charged. (Comment: if, at some future point, all cars were electric, demand for charging points could not be met simply by converting lamp posts, of course. What then?)

3. Lambeth have a general target to achieve. Particularly in roads with minimal off-street parking, no EV vehicle owner should be further than five minutes away from a charge point. Once this aim is met, additional charge points (e.g. in this case) can be provided to cater for known demands. (Er, how do they assess demand?) They rather defensively pointed out that a notice was erected explaining their intention – but our neighbour’s robust response to this feeble excuse points out, as mentioned above, that while there is general public support for the electric charging policy, Lambeth’s failure to properly communicate their policies and decisions typifies, unfortunately, the council’s tendency to impose policies with negligible explanation: “a half decent consultation programme would have dissipated a lot of the current unhappiness”.

The big unknowns

No-one seems to know whether the take-up of electric cars will accelerate or stagnate. Obviously there is no exhaust pollution from EVs, which is a huge benefit. But there is ample doubt about the wider economic and environmental benefits and costs, when you take into account the need for much additional electricity generation (by what means?), the painful cost of securing the rare ingredients for the batteries, which in addition cannot be safely recycled when they expire; and the gigantic environmental and financial cost of disposing of perfectly efficient modern diesel and hybrid vehicles in order to comply with government targets.

So I suppose Lambeth can be forgiven, in this sense, for keeping options open and proceeding step-by-step.

They are still rubbish at communication though.

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.

Urgent! Watch out! Parking restrictions are back on our street

As some neighbours have learned to their cost, it is expensive to ignore these temporary parking restriction notices – not having seen them, or even innocently misinterpreting them, is no defence when you get a parking fine.

These new ones start at 08:00 hours on 20th January – tomorrow, Thursday! – and continue until 18:00 hours on Monday 24th January.

On these days, parking is suspended on both sides of the street  outside numbers 56 – 60, and equally outside numbers 81 – 83.

Nos. 56 – 60

The reason for the parking suspension is not clear: no doubt all will be revealed.

As the bays mentioned do not necessarily correspond to the house numbers, there is probably room for ambiguity in interpreting these rules, but I would be tempted to play on the safe side and avoid overlapping into road space close to these areas – we know that the parking attendants (sorry, Civil Enforcement Officers) will only be doing their job if they are hyper-diligent.

This is all a nuisance as it takes out quite a lot of parking at a time when the street is already busy with tradespeople’s vans and trucks. You may want to warn them as well as any other visitors and neighbours.

Electric cars – where can we charge them (and other problems)?

I’m afraid I have shamelessly lifted this article from a recent Spectator website. It attracted a very high number of interesting comments, which I cannot begin to reproduce.

But the many problems of electric vehicles – including not just the initial cost but also their weight, the environmental impact of the raw materials, their high demands on the electricity network and of course, as mentioned below, the obvious problem of where they can be charged especially in a crowded city – are beginning to dawn on people. True, some houses on Fawnbrake Avenue have been able to convert their front gardens to a parking space, thereby solving one of the problems. But a majority of residents don’t have that option. And lamp-post charging sets off a whole number of other complications.

 

“With their private jets and gas-guzzling mansions, delegates at Cop26 have been widely criticised for an elitist attitude towards the environment. Nothing better demonstrates the gulf between policymakers and ordinary people than over the charging points for electric cars. It is one thing to install a home charging point for your car if you own a large house up a crunchy gravel driveway – indeed, according to the property website Rightmove, owners of such properties have been fitting charging points with great enthusiasm, with a 541 per cent increase in the number of homes being advertised with such a facility over the past year.

But what do you do if you live in one of the 43 per cent of homes which do not have off-street parking? In fact, you don’t necessarily have to be of modest means to live in such a house – there are plenty of city centre homes, in Belgravia and such places to boot, which open straight onto the pavement. Owning a car in a city has not been easy ever since controlled parking and traffic wardens started to appear in the 1960s, but it is just about to get a whole lot more difficult. Even if you can find somewhere to charge an electric car the electricity is likely to be several times more expensive than plugging it in to your home supply.

That said, there have been some trials with on-street recharging points, which may be coming to a street near you soon. Under the Go Ultra Low City Scheme, 1000 on-street charging points were installed in London in 2019 – utilising existing lamp-posts. You are not going to get a rapid charging point from the electricity supply to a lamp-post – they are limited to 3.7 kW – but it is enough for an overnight charge. Reading, too, has been experimenting with fixing sockets to existing lamp-posts.

But there are still many problems to overcome. In Reading, many street lamps proved to be unsuitable because there are installed on the nearside of the pavement, which would have required a cable to be dangled dangerously across the footway. Pedestrians face enough obstructions without having to step over an electric cable every few yards. That problem could be overcome by excavating small channels beneath the pavement so that a cable can be run across without tripping people up. One company, Greenmole, in association with Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Salford has been installing just that: channels which lead from a motorist’s own home to the roadside, to enable charging. It comes at a price – such an installation will cost you around £3000. But there is a bigger problem, too: very few people have a reserved parking place directly outside their home – even where parking permit schemes exist they tend to allow parking on a street-by-street or area-by-area basis, not to individually-designated parking spaces.

As more electric cars come into use, there are going to be intense battles over this. Should homeowners be allowed to claim parking spaces directly outside their homes so they can charge their vehicles more easily – and if so, what should they be charged for the privilege? After all, the public highway is supposed to be a facility for all, not for bits effectively to be privatised for the exclusive benefit of nearby property-owners. In any case, reserving parking spaces outside homes is not going to help everyone. If you have a house, say, divided into three flats, who, if anyone, gets to bag the single streetside parking space?

One thing is for sure, until the problem of charging electric vehicles on the streets is solved, properties with off-street parking are likely to command an even greater premium than they already do. The Battle of Cable Steet is long remembered as the struggle between communists and fascists in the 1930s. The Battle of Street Cabling has yet to come.”

A Short History of Fawnbrake Avenue

We’ve heard people wondering about the history of our street, so it might be useful to jot down some key dates and developments. Like several other areas of Herne Hill, Fawnbrake Avenue feels outright Edwardian in its architectural language. But it wasn’t all built at the same time. Which makes this post a little longer than our usual ones.

Herne Hill as a small township developed later than, for instance, Brixton. In the mid-Victorian years, much of the prominent domestic housing hereabouts consisted of the generous mansions and villas with generous gardens, occupied by the “carriage trade” gentry leaving central London, dotted along both sides of Denmark Hill and Herne Hill: now, for the most part, replaced by more modern housing. Down in the centre, the railway station arrived in 1862, at first known as “Hernehill” Station and, as in many other places, this was both a stimulus of and a reaction to urban development and population increases.

A glance at an extract from the Ordnance Survey map of 1870 shows the beginning of this phase of local history. Fawnbrake Avenue and similar streets did not yet exist, but some landmarks are already visible: St Paul’s Church and the neighbouring vicarage (now of course Herne Hill School) and the Half Moon Public House. The railway station can also be seen, operated by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. But many of the other features visible here will later be swept away: notice, if you can spot it, the clearly imposing residence known as The Cedars placed between what will later become Kestrel Avenue and Gubyon Avenue. Otherwise on our side of the slope it’s mainly fields, trees and gardens, many belonging to grand houses which front on to Herne Hill itself.

Skip forward to the next generation of the Ordnance Survey Map, surveyed in 1894/96 and published in 1897. Alongside Herne Hill itself and Denmark Hill (not visible on this extract) the big mansions are still there.

Fawnbrake arrives – just!

But on our patch, Fawnbrake Avenue has now appeared, linked to the main road by Gubyon and Kestrel Avenues. The Cedars is clinging on, though with a diminished garden it seems.

What is noteworthy is that the newly-created Fawnbrake Avenue is very curtailed. It only extends as far as the boundaries of the back gardens at the bottom of the eastern edge of Kestrel Avenue –as far as number 27 in present-day numbering. Today, where this row of houses ends, there is a gap between 27 and 29, and a noticeable change of design in the front facade of the houses.

My amateur research in the Electoral Register confirms that no. 5 Fawnbrake Avenue was definitely inhabited by 1893.

After no. 27 on this first row of houses on the north-west side of Fawnbrake, it’s still green fields.

But visible on our northern fringe is part of the Milkwood Estate developed by the Suburban Village & General Dwellings Company. Here Lowden Road had already been established in the 1870s. The map shows its long terrace of houses (with their short back gardens, as now) completed all the way up to Poplar Walk.

The electric tramway along Milkwood Road is also shown on the map, along with Neville’s Bakery, to be superseded in a later generation by the Milkwood Community Park and an extension of Jessop School.

Filling up the Avenue

The extension of Fawnbrake beyond no. 27 depended, naturally, on someone buying the land and (usually the same person) erecting the houses and extending the street. Property developers and speculators were still seizing opportunities to acquire land to infill. The land for my own house (81) and its two immediate neighbours either side was parcelled up for sale as building lots in 1899.

Who owned the land? Mr Sanders, mostly

Thanks to the meticulous research made by our neighbour Laurence Marsh, who is a notable local historian, and others writing for the Herne Hill Society’s historical collection, we know that the major landowners hereabouts were the Sanders family. In this instance, Robert Arthur Sanders was the landowner, being the great-grandson of Samuel Sanders (see Herne Hill Personalities) who had made his money in timber in the 18th century and bought more than 100 acres on the Lambeth side of Denmark Hill and Herne Hill.

Samuel himself lived in one of the houses he had built on Denmark Hill, in what is now Ruskin Park. As Laurence has established, it was Robert Arthur Sanders (1867-1940), later MP for Bridgwater, who started to sell off building land at the end of the 19th century. Later, Robert Sanders also sold some of his land to the LCC to establish Ruskin Park.

Laurence believes that most of Fawnbrake is built on Sanders land. Laurence’s own house was, and so was mine: I have a copy of the deed of conveyance dated 3 February 1899 whereby Robert Sanders and Isabella Sanders (his wife) sold the plot of land (consisting of land which now houses numbers 79, 81 and 83), to a Mr Arthur Walter Tribe – although the Vendor (the Sanders estate) reserved the right to approve the plans for these houses.

Gubbins vs. Sanders

However that first small original stretch of houses that marked the start of Fawnbrake was not built on Sanders land but on property belonging to the trustees of the Gubbins family, who owned the land on which Gubyon, Kestrel, Cosbycote, Shardcroft, Woodquest and Rollscourt Avenues were also built. When it came to extending the original short stretch of Fawnbrake, there was a legal dispute – perhaps let’s call it a negotiation – between the Gubbins and Sanders trustees which was resolved, as you might expect, by a handsome payment to the Gubbins trustees.

(We should assume, Laurence advises, that the Sanders estate (and no doubt the Gubbins land too) would have been parcelled up and sold to builders/developers under building leases (often for 99 years), which meant that the original owners retained the freehold, taking a ground rent of a few guineas a year. It would have been several generations later, maybe half way through the 20th century, that householders bought the freehold.)

Tribe’s the man

So Mr Tribe was the builder-developer for our little plot: there will have been others for different parcels of land, which will account for the differing styles along the length of the street. Mr Tribe lost little time in getting the houses built, as we know that number 81 at least was first registered to an individual owner in August 1902. Not long after, we hear of controversy about the cost of paving the road, which had to be shared among ratepayers. On that, more on another occasion perhaps.

Thanks again to Laurence’s investigations, we now know, too, that Arthur Walter Tribe was an architect and surveyor, born in Kennington in no great wealth: his father was a bricklayer. He died in 1942, leaving a decent fortune.

The 20th century dawns

So by the turn of the century, our urban landscape, at least in these streets, was edging closer to what we now know. The next decade, running up to the start of the First World War, saw the progressive completion of the Avenue largely as we see it today, roughly when Queen Victoria died (January 1901) and was succeeded by Edward VII. (So our street is a mix of late Victorian and (mainly) early Edwardian architecture.)

The 1913 edition of the Ordnance Survey confirms this milestone. Fawnbrake Avenue is by then in its current condition, missing only the link into Brantwood Road which of course did not appear until the 1920s/30s. As far as I can tell from the Electoral Register, number 71 was occupied by 1901, and number 81 by 1903. The letterbox shown on the map outside nos. 79/81, and bearing the cipher of Edward VII, is still here! Whether house building proceeded unit by unit along the street until the road was complete, or in different plots according to the financial state of the housing market, it is not easy to say without further research.

Note on the map that the electric tramway (between West Norwood and the City) is still visible at this point, coming up Milkwood Road from Loughborough Junction with a little branch running along Lowden Road. The tram system was wound up in the 1950s.

So since Edwardian times, Fawnbrake Avenue’s domestic architecture has seen almost no outward change, though of course the arrival of the motor car has made a difference …

World War II

But we must recall that there was a little interruption from the Luftwaffe whose bombs took out a couple of houses (identifiable by their post-war rebuilds) at nos. 133-135: see this extract from the extraordinary  LCC Bomb Damage Maps. (The next bombs to be released from the same aircraft demolished several houses in Lowden Road, where again the post-war rebuilds are obvious.)

The same map also shows bomb damage at the other end of the street, at numbers 1 and 2, which I hadn’t previously been aware of. If rebuilds and repairs were necessary, they have been carried out to match the pre-existing architecture.

On these maps, incidentally, a building colour-coded black normally means it was totally destroyed; other colours indicate varying degrees of damage and repairability. But by comparison with other areas, elsewhere in London, in Britain and in Germany, our streets escaped lightly.

Narrow escape

Nevertheless if we’d been around on 23 August 1944, we would all have heard a massive explosion when a V-1 flying bomb narrowly missed Milkwood Road but took out properties on the northern section of Shakespeare Road, just across the railway lines. Four houses were demolished and 40 damaged, but miraculously, no lives were lost on this occasion. This was the last of five V-1’s to hit our area in 1944.

Still, over 6,000 people were killed (mainly in and around London) by V-1’s and over 17,000 seriously injured and maimed.


Much more local history is accessible through the publications of the Herne Hill Society including:

Herne Hill Heritage Trail
Herne Hill Personalities
The Milkwood Estate – the Story of a Lambeth Community
A Short History of Herne Hill

Personal and Doorstep Security

These security announcements in the latest Dulwich Society Newsletter are relevant to us here too.

Local muggings

There have been recent reports of single
young women being hassled or mugged near the
junction of Turney Road & Croxted Road

Aggressive doorstep salesmen

There are continued reports of aggressive door-step salesmen
both in the Village and in West Dulwich. Police
advice is to be very careful to check before opening
front doors.

These are probably the infamous ‘Nottingham Knockers’ who were seen in Fawnbrake Avenue in recent months – see this report from SWLondoner quoting advice from Operation REPEAT .

It’s a national problem. Kent Police issued the following advice about doorstep callers earlier this year. This includes:

  • If someone turns up unexpectedly always put a door chain on before opening the door and keep it on while talking to callers.
  • If you don’t have a door chain, check who is at the door from the nearest window
  • Don’t be afraid to turn people away.
  • Always ensure rear doors and windows are shut and locked when answering your front door.
  • Call police if you suspect cold callers may be bogus.

Southwark Police issued the same advice earlier this year.

NappyValleyNet reports similar issues.

The Nottingham Knockers scam

Who are they?

Nottingham Knockers (that’s where it started, apparently, but it’s a generic name) are usually young men who go door to door, selling household products. They are dropped off early in the morning in a particular location by a large van and are then transported around that area throughout the day until approx 2100hrs.

They will offer to show you ID which will likely be ‘Hawkers Work Creation’ and say they have just been released from prison. This company does not actually exist and is purely a laminated piece of card with their picture on. They will be carrying a large holdall style bag which contains various household items at high prices and will try and hard sell to make more money. They will also tell you about how they are trying to make a better life.

Police all across the country regularly receive calls from the public, who state that upon declining the products, they have been subjected to verbal abuse and threats to cause criminal damage from the sellers. Police have carried out stop checks and the people involved have been identified.

Police advice

If you do experience any verbal abuse and feel intimidated, please call 101 and tell the police what was said, and a description of the person.