Dulwich Village junction closed

The Dulwich Village junction is now closed and it’s possible to start to see the impact, for better or worse.

Southwark have set up a rather nifty way to comment on it via the website https://dulwichvillagestreetspace.commonplace.is/

There, you can see a map of the Village and ‘click on’ various blobs representing comments already made (green for positive comment, red for negative comment) and see what people are saying.  You can ‘agree’ with comments people have made, or you can make your own comment – to do this you need to click the green ‘Have your say’ button in the top right, click where on the map you are commenting about (for instance, on the junction itself) and then make your comments (don’t provide any personal information).

Please do have a browse and ideally, comment – it’s important our views are represented, and I’m assured, by Helen Hayes no less, that this will reach the ears of the powers that be.

In the meantime – it seems inevitable that this closure will be followed by other ‘temporary’ closures, such as Burbage Road, which will likely further displace traffic onto our roads.  We are monitoring the situation and will be putting ideas to you in due course.

Dulwich Village junction closure – update

For those who didn’t yet hear, Southwark Council has approved the closure of Calton Avenue at the junction with Dulwich Village, effectively closing the junction.  It’s not clear exactly when this will happen physically – 25 June has been mooted – but it will surely be in the coming weeks.

We understand this is a ‘temporary’ 18 month measure, though our assumption is that once in place, it will be hard to reverse.

Our concern as a Committee, which we have expressed to Southwark’s councillors and officials, is that this central element of the ‘Healthy Streets’ scheme is being implemented under the emergency Covid-19 powers, but with none of the mitigations that were set out in the Healthy Streets plans that would have relieved our streets from at least some of the displaced traffic -such as the Northbound permit restrictions on Dulwich Village.

Our Councillors have indicated that they are aware of this issue, and that there will be a ‘second phase’, though it is not clear what money there will be to spend on the second phase.

Our view is – as an RA we are likely to all have different views on whether the junction should remain closed or not under these circumstances; for those who support the closure, there are groups such as Clean Air for Dulwich, while for those against, there is OneDulwich.

However, as an RA we should be united in wanting to discourage through traffic from using our streets – and there is a window to put ideas to Southwark and to have them implemented in the ’second phase’.

We have started working on ideas – we are looking to convene a group on this topic.  If anyone has their own ideas and/or is interested in participating in this group please let us know – it’s not an easy one so we need all the inspiration we can get!

Broadband Issues Update

This is an update on the broadband issues over half of our members kindly let me know about.  I appreciate many have satisfactory service but forgive me for writing to you all.  With so many working from home, and planning on continuing to do so at least part of the working week in the future, a better broadband speed is so important.
During lockdown, BT advertising tips on how to work from home have been on the radio.  However, they do not listen to private individual complaints about the dreadful service.  They are completely ignoring pleas to give our part of SE21  a decent broadband speed we could actually use for zoom meetings and skype, instead of buffering or, in one reported comment, a commission lost because the broadband went down.  It is Openreach you have to talk to once a form requesting faster broadband  is filled in, but there is no way to actually speak to anyone.
On 30 May I had a quite long exchange with the “helpers” on the BT and Openreach twitter accounts.  It is annoying that on the SE21 7BJ  Ofcom broadband coverage map,  brown shading is surrounded by acres of green.  That is the few houses in SE21 versus everywhere else in the area.  You can see this yourself by looking at this:
https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-coverage and typing in your postcode.  The twitter helpers could not explain why the cabinet dealing with our service has not been upgraded.  Everywhere else in the district has been,  according to an Openreach engineer who helped me with my loss of service, by Facetime and me doing the work.  There were early discussions with Openreach about this area but they seem to have not reached any conclusions.  The difficulty in getting any real advice about our actual cabinet being upgraded is nigh impossible.
The suggestion we might contribute towards the cost via a community fibre partnership has been ignored.  Can I draw your attention to the following:
Being told there are no plans at present to supply our small area with faster broadband and basically finding out areas in the north of the Borough need it more  (see below) is extremely frustrating – everyone needs it!!!  A friend in Turney Road, .3 of a mile or .4 kms walking between our homes, even less as the crow flies, has a BT download speed of 76 mbps and mine at the time we spoke was .91.
Most importantly, many of us are paying between £25 and £60 a month for a broadband service which is not adequate.
Because businesses are not part of the RA, I am unable to be sure what service they use – Virgin Media, Sky, BT or other, however I am pretty certain they do not have good speeds in many of them, as they are in part of the brown shading.
Apparently Southwark Officers have been having conversations with Openreach about rolling out a service to the borough.  Openreach is going to treat Southwark as a priority, but only in the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe areas, with a density of population larger than ours.  Our councillor Richard Leemimg, wrote to tell me that (in Rotherhithe and Bermondsey) ” the existing broadband does not meet the government’s minimum standard of ‘decent’ broadband (around 11 Mbps)” in that area.  (Would that many of our members of the RA could reach that speed.)   It sounds as if New Cross will  be next to get an improved service.  In fact if the Ofcom broadband coverage map is studied I would feel our area is equally in need – although there may of course be an argument for older Rotherhithe district broadband improvement.  All the new developments following the river bend seem to have plenty of speed options that we do not in our little broadband desert.  I would urge you to look at the map and scroll round to look at broadband speed availability in Brixton, West Dulwich, West Norwood, Norbury, Streatham, Stockwell, Brockley, Nunhead, East Dulwich, Sydenham, Gipsy Hill and Streatham.  Then compare our small area that for some reason the Openreach powers that be want to ignore.
Richard also goes on to say “However in order to concentrate the minds of the various providers the council is going to launch a ‘heat map’ asking people to register their connectivity issues. This will be similar to the transport maps we have been using in response to the COVID-19 transport issues in recent weeks and will be live by the end of July. This will enable us to demonstrate demand to the various broadband providers so they can make more informed investment decisions.”  When you are invited to take part in this, please do so as it will help our case for improvement.
One of the many engineers who came to sort out my service told me that we should report the local issue to Ofcom.  The following is the link:
Councillor Leeming is copied in, and I would like to thank him for his help.  Sue Badman of the Dulwich Society is also copied in.
I attach the survey conclusions.  There is a bit of shorthand but if you have trouble following it just email me.  The only facts missing are the comments which are in the main pretty disgusted with the service we receive.  I am happy to take this forward and try to have constructive talks about registering our interest in a partnership, but would please ask you to let me know if you would wish to join – the application has to be more specific than a few people saying maybe to me.

Dulwich Village junction closure

Southwark have published a list of road closures and other measures they are enacting under the emergency powers they have been granted in connection with the Covid-19 crisis.
Southwark have taken to opportunity to close off Calton Avenue at the junction with Dulwich Village, such that motor traffic will not be able to turn from Dulwich Village into Calton Avenue/ Court Lane, or visa versa.
Effective 15 June, for 18 months.
See links  http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=50023147&Opt=0
Details of the first wave of measures for Dulwich Village can be found here: http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/documents/s89209/APPENDIX%203%20-%20DULWICH%20VILLAGE.pdf
We had feared that Southwark might do this, in isolation and without any of the other measures designed to mitigate displacement traffic, and had made strong representations to them.  These have clearly been ignored.
For your information, a group has been set up called ‘One Dulwich’, which is aiming to press Southwark for a more holistic solution  to the traffic issues, avoiding junction closures such as the one above.  It’s separate to the various Residents Associations including ours, but in case anyone is interested in joining in their efforts, I have copied a mail from one of the founders below, including contact details.

“One Dulwich is (so far) a large and growing group of residents in what Southwark has called Area B in the ‘Our Healthy Streets’ consultation. We support the overall objectives of ‘Our Healthy Streets’ – that is, reducing traffic, improving air quality and making active travel (cycling and walking) easier and safer – but believe that timed restrictions (stopping through traffic at peak times), as opposed to permanent closures, would be a more proportionate response.

Further, we have suggested that using timed restrictions in both Area B and Area C – so managing through traffic across the area as a whole – might be a sensible solution, if this is supported by residents in Area C.

We are a very new group. On 27 April, we wrote to our councillors Margy Newens and Richard Leeming, copying in the cabinet member Richard Livingstone and our MP Helen Hayes, with the attached proposal, signed by 40 residents. (Many of us are members of residents’ associations. But there have been major divisions of opinion within RAs, and on individual roads, so we felt it was better to be independent.) Since then, the group has grown very fast, and we are gathering supporters, and their email addresses, daily. 

Since we sent the original proposal, we have also sent a discussion document to our councillors, copying in Clement Agyei-Frempong, which includes research into timed restrictions, and how they are used in the UK. We are not highways engineers, so we have no expertise in cameras, ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), or residents’ permits. But from what we understand, the main component of many schemes (School Streets, city-centre restricted traffic zones, etc) is the use of signs, with spot checks to catch non-permit holders  – so a much less expensive proposition than we originally thought, and certainly easy to trial.

I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t received an enthusiastic response from our councillors, who are very wedded to the Our Healthy Streets proposals. We are also now facing, as you know, the closure of Dulwich Village junction under an Experimental Traffic Order. 

We would be very pleased if anyone in Dulwich Village, College Road or Woodyard Lane wanted to support our proposal for timed restrictions as opposed to permanent closures. We do need to build up a body of support very quickly, as there are a number of lobby groups that are very vocal champions for permanent closures. For the time being, please email me (with your name and the road you live on) at marianne.kavanagh@btinternet.com (we are setting up a website, dedicated email, etc, over the next few days). I will keep data secure on behalf of One Dulwich and will not share it with third parties.”

Building Works in the Village

We want to bring to your attention a number of development related issues which, taken together, could have a big effect on the centre of the Village while works are in progress. 

Two of the three are in our RA.

They are:
– the SGSmith site in Gilkes Crescent/Place being developed by McCulloughs.
– the development of Megan’s by Dulwich Estate on the corner of Gilkes Place and Dulwich Village
– the application to demolish and rebuild 24 Dulwich Village.

Putting aside any views on the merits of these developments in and of themselves, we need to start thinking about the implications of the building works, especially if work on all three overlap, which may happen.  Of particular concern is the impact on school children who would need to work their way around these various sites on the way to and from school. (Dulwich Hamlet and the Dulwich Village C of E Infants School double site.)  The infants go from the old to the new building via the crossing by the St Barnabus Hall during the day, often three times if they have sports,  as well as drop off and pick up by parents and carers.  Although this isn’t happening at the moment because of Covid-19, there will be a time when it reverts, and I have checked this is going to be the case with the school.
It is not yet clear to us how or if these various works would be managed and co-ordinated by Southwark and the Dulwich Estate.  Recent local experience suggests that once building sites get underway, there is very little that can be done to deal with unreasonable work practices (noise, dust, pollution, blocking traffic, out of hours working and so on).  There is also very little if any available parking for contractors with double yellow lines, school parking prohibitions and crossing zig zags.  

To this end we are planning to make representations to L B of Southwark and the Dulwich Estate to insist that proper measures are in place before the planning applications are approved, to co-ordinate and mitigate the impact of these works.  If problems arise, we all need a contact to deal with it rather than waiting  two or three days for an email reply.  This is especially important if pupils, teachers and parents are affected by a problem needing a solution there and  then.  We will be inviting other amenity groups and Residents’ Associations to support this.

The purpose of this mail is to
i) bring this issue to your attention
ii) seek your preliminary views on this matter, to help inform our formal representations to Southwark and the Dulwich Estate

In case you are interested to comment personally or just have a look at the applications, here are links for the relevant ones: on https://www.southwark.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-applications and follow the links to the new online register. Just enter the reference in the last box on the search page.
The Megan’s site application  20/AP/1404The 24 Dulwich Village application 20/AP/0990

We look forward to hearing from you.