Planning applications

What we do

The Society, through its elected committee, considers that, if the Society is to play any part in the democratic local planning process it needs to be able to express views on behalf of the Society and to do so transparently. The weekly lists of applications issued by Lambeth and Southwark Councils are monitored and where it is felt that a comment might be called for, the application is referred to the Society’s planning group. Once a response is agreed the Society puts in an objection, a comment in support or says nothing. The vast majority of planning applications are not controversial and do not call for comment. The Society always welcomes any views expressed by members on planning issues.

Telecoms mast at the junction of Frankfurt Road and Herne Hill

Southwark has received a proposal from Telefonica and Vodafone to install a 17.5m mast with cabinets at ground level. It is said that such a mast will be necessary in view of the proposed development at Dorchester Court, which (assuming such development proceeds and receives planning permission) will include penthouse flats and the removal of the current rooftop telecoms installation. Due to relaxation of the planning regime in this area, a mast of this height does not require planning permission, though it does require “prior approval” from the local authority. A local authority cannot object in principle to the installation, but can intervene in terms of siting and design. Southwark were singularly incompetent in preventing inappropriately sited telecoms cabinets at the junction of Croxted Road and Norwood Road. We have nevertheless written to Southwark to object to the siting of such an over-dominant feature in a prominent position on Herne Hill and to question the need at this time, given that there is no planning application at this stage for the Dorchester Court development.

Protected horse chestnut trees between Fawnbrake Avenue and Brantwood Road

We objected to an application to take down two horse chestnut trees. The Society was instrumental some years ago in getting Tree Protection Orders for a line of chestnuts that runs along the boundary. The trees probably predate the houses in Fawnbrake Avenue and definitely predate those in Brantwood Road. Though affected by the leaf-mining moth, which turns the leaves prematurely brown (as are most chestnuts in London and elsewhere), there is no reason to believe that this renders the trees unsafe. Lambeth later informed us that the application was defective and was being withdrawn, because no qualified report to justify removal of the trees had been submitted.

Basement extension at 3 Fawnbrake Avenue

We commented on a proposed basement extension. Such extensions are becoming more widespread. Our comments concerned issues relating to the amount of natural light, bin and cycle storage and landscaping of the front garden. Lambeth have now granted consent.

New dormer windows, 132 Herne Hill (former fire station)

We commented on a proposal to convert the attic space for residential accommodation and the creation of six dormer windows. We did not object in principle but stressed the need for sensitive handling of what is a very fine public building (built 1905–06) within a Conservation Area, and particularly the need for detail to be provided of the materials and precise design of the windows, such detail not appearing in the planning application documents made publicly available.

20 Haredale Road, proposed bungalow in garden

We objected to a proposal to build a bungalow in place of a small garage. 20 Haredale Road is a corner property and its garden runs along Herne Hill Road. We objected on grounds of the banality of the design and its failure to add anything of interest or architectural merit to the street scene and pointed out that the undesirably cramped dimensions of the accommodation (barely satisfying the minimum criteria for a dwelling in single-person occupation) were only necessary because the retained garden land would otherwise have been reduced below the amount required under Lambeth’s planning policies.

Peckham Coal Line

This is strictly outside our area, but we felt it to be a public realm issue affecting the wider South London community and therefore posted an objection to an application that could jeopardise an imaginative scheme to convert the old Peckham Coal Line into an elevated public park, providing a welcome green oasis in a heavily developed part of London. Details of the Peckham initiative can be found at

26 Sunray Avenue

The Society had objected to what was felt to be a back extension that was far too large in the context of what are small houses with good-sized gardens designed in the garden suburb tradition. There was particular concern that the scale of the proposal did not respect the character of the Sunray Estate Conservation Area. Southwark has allowed the proposal. Given an earlier decision allowing a large back extension it can be predicted that the Sunray Estate will now see many more such extensions and, the Society fears, a steady erosion of the Estate’s special character.

179 Mayall Road

Mayall Road provides very good examples of Victorian artisan housing built shortly after the railway arrived in Brixton and Herne Hill. They are remarkable for their intactness and distinctive decorated parapet with concealed roofs behind. The houses deserve conservation area status. We therefore objected to a proposed mansard roof extension, not because mansard roofs are in themselves undesirable, but because these houses will lose their historic integrity. However, the pressure on local authorities to allow house extensions is inexorable. Lambeth allowed the proposal, as they have done in nearby streets with similar, albeit not so distinctive, houses (e.g. Effra Parade and Barnwell Road). In a few years mansard roofs in these streets will probably be almost universal.

Bath Factory Trading Estate

There was a public meeting on 19 April 2017 convened by the Herne Hill Forum to discuss the future of this site (i.e. the Norwood Road shops, the railway arches behind and the land between them). The meeting generated considerable interest, partly it seems because many attending thought an actual scheme was under discussion. What in fact was under discussion were the planning policy proposals for the site in the draft New Southwark Plan. These proposals support redevelopment that preserves the current amount of employment floorspace,  a new link (through the railway viaduct) that would improve the “permeability and legibility” of the site and good quality frontages for Norwood Road and the railway arches with the possibility of residential development above the Norwood Road shops. We have indicated support in principle for these policy proposals, since this an area that clearly needs regeneration and there would be great advantages in having this part of Herne Hill better integrated with other parts of the area. But everything would depend on the detail of any actual scheme.

Carnegie Library

We objected to the scheme that would see a gym installed in the basement with associated works. Essentially, we argued that the scheme goes against many of Lambeth’s own planning policies and signally misses the opportunity to come forward with a truly innovative and practical plan that uses the great potential of the building and its garden land to best advantage, while respecting the building’s historic quality. In spite of our objections, and those of other organisations and local residents, the planning application was passed.

You can read the full text of our objection here.

Herne Hill Neighbourhood Plan

A group set up by the Herne Hill Forum is making progress with a Neighbourhood Plan. In July 2017 the submission seeking approval of the Forum as the body responsible for preparing the plan and seeking approval of the Herne Hill boundary was accepted by both Lambeth and Southwark. The Councils will decide in early December whether to designate the Forum and agree the area. This process has taken much longer than anticipated, in part because of the need to agree the boundary with other neighbourhood groups, such as those representing Loughborough Junction and Norwood.

For your information: What is an S106 agreement? [external link]

Reader Comments

Posted by David Taylor March 21, 2012

Peabody are keen to hear local views. I have seen the outline scheme and am impressed. It has fewer units than the previous scheme and is designed in terraces to match the Victorian houses opposite on Milkwood Road, although in a contemporary style. There is still no car parking, as it so close to the station so let’s hope the CPZ soon comes in.

Posted by Patrick Roberts March 21, 2012

Peabody might make for better neighbours, but if there’s no CPZ in these streets, residents in that development could freely park in Gubyon and Fawnbrake: mayhem!!

Posted by Annie Park September 28, 2012

The parking in Gubyon Road is already a nightmare and dangerous, especially in the morning with commuters parking, others using it as a rat run, the Herne Hill School run mums parking willy-nilly. The residents of the new development must not be allowed cars!

Posted by Chris Schuler June 04, 2015

As a long-standing resident - I have lived in Holmdene Avenue for 25 years - I would be among the first to object to any development that I felt threatened the character of the area.

I visit Dee Dee’s perhaps once or twice a week, and walk past it almost every evening. Over the past two years, I have not seen the slightest evidence of any disruptive or unpleasant behaviour. It is a friendly, welcoming, orderly and well-run establishment. The bar attracts a friendly and mixed clientele of locals of all ages and backgrounds. The staff are polite, personable and totally professional, and always close within the prescribed licensing hours. The music and poetry evenings they put on make positive contribution to the cultural life of the area. The music is not played at an excessive volume and is hardly audible from the street.

In short, I believe that Dee Dee’s has enhanced the neighbourhood and its sense of community. I wish it every success, and hope it continues to flourish.

Posted by Bianca October 04, 2015

Have you responded to Bullfinch Brewery’s application? Comments close today / tomorrow? Applied to play music and sell alcohol 7 days a week till 11pm. Very inappropriate location on Rosendale Road.

Posted by Colin Wight October 06, 2015

Yes the Society has commented and the Bullfinch has withdrawn music from their application.

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