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Planning threat to natural woodland, Bowley Lane off Farquhar Road


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#1 radiostar

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:16 PM

This is a ‘heads-up’, to let the community know about something, so people can choose whether or not raise an objection.

Bowley Lane is a small lane leading off Farquhar Road to Spinney Gardens and the disused Paxton Railway Tunnel. It is just a few hundred yards from the Crystal Palace Triangle. It runs past the side of the Dulwich Upper Wood local nature reserve (LNR), and it can be seen quite clearly from the Crystal Palace Parade. Along the lane is a small triangular woodland thick with trees, of about 850 square metres, separating Bowley Lane and Spinney Gardens, and connecting to the LNR/Wood, and opposite the houses on Bowley Lane. People walking along the top path through the Wood would be forgiven for thinking this small triangular copse – referred to here as ‘the spinney’ – might be part of the LNR/Wood itself. It is a small woodland area, with mature trees (most of which were specifically planted decades ago) and many naturally seeded trees, as well as shrubbery. It’s not a managed piece of land, but has been allowed to be natural. It has been there for at least 27 years, or at least since the Spinney Gardens estate was built, and is a little gem of peace and tranquillity.

Planning application has been applied for, to build a block containing four maisonette flats, with associated parking spaces, in this spinney. The flats are not social or affordable housing and will do nothing to alleviate pressure on housing within the area or borough (Southwark). It is purely a commercial development as the flats will be for commercial sale or rent once built. Many of the trees and plants within the spinney would be lost, and some trees would have to be significantly cut back. The magnificent line of tree cover along Bowley Lane would be lost, though the applicant claims some tree cover would be maintained.

The building itself is in a staggered shape, to fit into the space available. It would be flat-roofed, and it would butt right up against the boundary with the Wood. There would be virtually no gap between the footpath at the top end of the wood, and the proposed building. Mature trees within the Wood would be affected, and some would need to be cut back. Doubts exist about how the building could be constructed without damaging or at the very least impacting on the local nature reserve. It really does seem from the plans like a building is being squeezed into a small space. Part of the site would be surfaced over to allow for car parking spaces.

At present, the consultation period for the application ends on Wednesday 27th July, though this might be extended by a few days. This is the date by which any objections to the planning application can be lodged. Normally, the consultation period ends three weeks after notices have gone up on-site, and as yet a notice has not gone up but is expected within the next few days.

It is quite easy to object, and it is imperative that any one against this development should do so as the number of objections lodged and the validity of the points made is what really counts. Objections can be lodged online at planning.applications@southwark.gov.uk or in writing to Southwark’s planning department. The planning application number is 11/AP/1923, and the title is ‘Land Adjacent to 7-14 Spinney Gardens, SE19 1LL’. All the documents including plans and views of the site and proposed building can be seen on Southwark’s planning web site here; http://planningonlin...stemkey=9540731

Please make sure you quote the application number 11/AP/1923 in any correspondence.

The development would be ‘attached’ to Spinney Gardens. This estate built in 1983/84 has won two Housing Design Awards, in 1987 and in 2008. The proposed new development bears no resemblance to Spinney Gardens whatsoever, and does not even fit in with the line of buildings on the estate.

The spinney connects to Dulwich Upper Wood, and is believed to be of importance to bats. The nearby Wood as well as the Paxton Railway Tunnel just yards away are known to be bat habitats, and the spinney is part of their foraging territory and acts as a conduit between the Wood and the tunnel, as well as between the Wood, the Parade and then into the Park. The applicant commissioned an Ecological Assessment that acknowledges the presence of bats around the spinney, but the assessment was conducted during one day in May. Hardly a true survey of a site nearly 30 years old! The Assessment can be seen online along with the other application documents, at the link above.

You can probably tell, I’m not in favour of the new development and will be objecting. I hope this post will alert other local people, especially anyone who knows Dulwhich Upper Wood local nature reserve and this little spinney, and that others will object too. We only have a few weeks in which to object. The more the merrier, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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#2 Clarity

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:12 PM

Radiostar

I have a feeling (but may be wrong) that the triangle of woodland formed part of the landscaping scheme when Spinney Gardens was built in 1984 - I presume Southwark would have a record of the plans and approvals for Spinney Gardens, so this could be checked. If it was the case, that should be raised with Southwark planners.


Also - check if there are stag beetles there - they are a protected species. Perhaps the warden of the adjacent woodlands could help with that?

Edited by Clarity, 08 July 2011 - 01:14 PM.


#3 radiostar

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:39 PM

Hi Clarity, you have a good memory, back in the early 80's the triangle of wood had some managed planting (which has resulted in the mature trees and some of the shrubs/bushes) but otherwise was kept seperate from the development of Spinney Gardens. I checked with the warden of the Wood and it is beleived that it was originally intended for the spinney to become a managed natural space in conjunction with the organisation then running Dulwich Upper Wood, but that no forthcoming funds from the owner of that land at the time meant nothing happened. Since then the site has been allowed to 'return to nature'. As for stag beetles, the Ecological Assessment report from the applicant says there are none in the spinney, though there are in the adjacent Wood.

#4 matt-h

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:49 PM

I would certainly object to this development; not only on conservationist principles, but also on the principle that the proposed flats are hideous.

#5 St. Lukes Railings

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:55 PM

And I'd be going to Dulwich Wood to try to convince some Stag beetles to relocate

It's been done before......

#6 Hermit

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 05:58 PM

As for stag beetles, the Ecological Assessment report from the applicant says there are none in the spinney, though there are in the adjacent Wood.

You could try newts. They have the same clout as stag beetles.
http://www.dailymail...rare-newts.html

#7 Andrew Gibson

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 04:39 PM

Radiostar,

Thanks for raising this and for posting the address of Southwark Planning.

This small spinney really adds to the "green / rustic" atmosphere of the area and it would be a pity to lose it; especially to such unattractive housing.

I asked ward councillor Lewis Robinson about this application. He told me that as Chair of the Dulwich Community Council he had "called in" this application to the local planning committee. That means that local councillors will hear and decide on the application (in public), rather than the decision being delegated to officers behind closed doors (albeit following proper guidelines). The "call-in" is a welcome first step for residents.

We now need to track this application and get ourselves down to the Committee when the decision evening arrives. The more of us who can show up, the more councillors will realise the value of the wooded area to local residents. (Hope I am not working that eve!!)

#8 kibitzer

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:22 AM

"We all live in little boxes" that's what this looks like to me.

I use to live in Farquhar Road and remember the building of the Spinney Gardens estate - loads of lorries queueing up at unearthly hour of the morning to remove earth and such like so this estate could go ahead. The natural woodland was like an "oasis" along this very busy road and created much needed greenery. what an awful building they want to erect? I am glad that this has been called in for the councillors to see - why is it - do we get these out of character planning applications submitted by developers who look at our area to make a quick buck. This application hardly preserves or enhances the area - let's hope on flora and fawna grounds that this is turned down and quickly.

The other point - there must have been a reason why this piece of land wasnt built on in the first place? when they built the estate?

#9 radiostar

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 03:06 PM

Kibitzer - I've researched the same question you raised. My understanding is that the original developers of Spinney Gardens intended to turn that small triangle of space into some sort of managed open space or coppice to compliment and enhance the estate, and to work in conjunction with the adjacent Dulwich Upper Wood and to do this by using the organisation managing the Wood (Trust for Urban Environment). The Trust required a budget for doing this work, and the developer either ran out of funds or didn't want to pay, so nothing ever happened and the site went unmanaged other than the organised planting that took place during building of Spinney Gardens.

Andrew, I've been in contact with Cllr. Lewis Robinson to keep him abreast of the issue, and he informed me also he had 'called in' the application. The same applicant put in a planning application this time last year, for the same plan, and Lewis came down to the site and met with local residents and the warden of the adjacent Wood. That application last year was withdrawn after a few days when the Southwark Ecology oficer asked for an ecology and habitat survey of the site.

It is imperative that as many people as possible submit objections to Southwark in relation to this new planning application, and that those objections raise relevant valid objection points, such as the unsuitablility of the building's design, the clash with the award-winning design of Spinney Gardens, the loss of use of the natural open space, the lack of appropriate research into the ecological role of the space, the inappropriate proximity of the proposed building to the Wood (local nature reserve) and its impact on trees in the Wood, and any other points.

Some other concerned individuals and myself are putting together a list of objection points which we can circulate to anyone else who wants to object. They can then include any of those points in their objection and add any others they feel are relevant. To receive the list of objection points please send an email to saveourspinney@gmail.com and please include your postal address just so we can know you are local, and not the developer trying to get our list! All email and postal addresses will be kept confidential and not added to any other mailing list or passed on to any third parties.

Radiostar.

#10 Norwood lad

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:25 PM

Surely if this patch of woodland was part of the original development and set aside and even planted to compliment the woodland, regardless if it was never taken over and managed by trust looking after Dulwich Wood then that should still be the case. How can a developer buy the patch of land and then attempt to develop on it?

Who actually owned the land and sold to the developer that now has it mitts on it?

#11 Norwood lad

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:42 PM

Surely if this patch of woodland was part of the original development and set aside and even planted to compliment the woodland, regardless if it was never taken over and managed by trust looking after Dulwich Wood then that should still be the case. How can a developer buy the patch of land and then attempt to develop on it?

Who actually owned the land and sold to the developer that now has it mitts on it?


So its this patch of woodland up for grabs.
Posted Image

I hate the way developers look at the area and see all the green spaces and think to themselves hmmmm, bit of money to be made cutting this lot down. <_<

#12 jamesl

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 09:19 PM

Radiostar

Could you post the suggested points of objection to assist those who want to object to formulate their own one.

One question I have is whether it could be shown that local residents have used the land for recreation or walking on for over 12 years. If locals could prove this there might be a case to prevent development because of rights over the land acquired by adverse possession. This would not be a planning consideration but might give another route to prevent development.

#13 radiostar

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 10:47 PM

In answer to questions raised:

The plot outlined in red on the image posted by Norwood Lad is correct, and is the site of the proposed development. It is not technically part of the Dulwich Upper Wood Local Nature Reserve (LNR), even though from the aerial image it looks like it is. There is in fact a rather scrappy and run down boundary marker between the plot and the Wood though it is not all that easy to see even at ground level. It is a series of concrete posts connected by wire lines of some kind of metal. Even at ground level, the plot – or spinney – seems to be a natural extension to the Wood. The development would butt right up against the boundary with the Wood, and remove this natural corridor.

The site is part of the Spinney Gardens estate, and as mentioned previously was originally intended to be managed as a natural/ecological space as part of the estate. The freehold of the site and the rest of Spinney Gardens is owned by a company called Covent Garden Ltd., (nothing to do with the real Covent Garden in central London). This company is a commercial buyer of freeholds based in Westerham, Kent, and which bought the freehold in 2004 from the previous freeholder. It is Covent Garden Ltd. that has applied for planning permission to develop the site with the box-type construction. One cannot discount the possibility that the company bought the freehold perhaps with an eye to the development opportunity of this plot of land! One wonders what other reasons a commercial buyer of freeholds would have for buying the freehold of a site where the homes on it are either freehold themselves or have 999-year leases.

There are two footpaths across parts of the site: a paved footpath linking Spinney Gardens to Bowley Lane, and a gravel footpath across a small section of the site from Bowley Lane leading into the Wood. Both of these footpaths remain in the applicants plan. Neither could be removed anyway, as they have been in existence for many years and right-of-way exists. The applicants plan shows the building squeezed in between the footpaths, with parking spaces on the section of the site separated from the main section by the paved footpath. I don’t know if it could be shown that the land has been used for recreation or walking on over the past 12 years. Local children have often played in there. The site is thick with trees.

We are putting together a list of points people can use in their objections, and hope to have this ready around the end of this week (which still gives around two weeks to submit objections). We prefer not to post the list online, but email it to anyone who intends to officially object. Please send an email to saveourspinney@gmail.com to be added to the circulation list. All details will be treated confidentially and no email addresses added to other lists or passed to third parties.

#14 kibitzer

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 02:31 AM

Thanks Radiostar for your detailed and researched thread - will look forward to the 10 point objections etc.

#15 Norwood lad

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 08:10 AM

Have you tried the village green defence if this site has always been used as a public space.

http://www.farrer.co...ations&Itemid=4

Have you tried the village green defence if this site has always been used as a public space.

http://www.oss.org.uk/


Developers try and get around this by fencing of long established rights of way ( something I would suspect has happened to the patch of greenery along Church Rd that had a fence built around it mysteriously overnight a year or so back) and then try and develop the land.