Holmewood Neighbourhood Association

Newsletter No. 10, Sept 1999

Holmewood Neighbourhood Association
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Newsletter No. 10, Sept 1999                                          Free distribution to 250 households


Holmewood Neighbourhood Associattion




HNA Meeting:


The next Holmewood Neighbourhood Association meeting will be held at,


The Friends Meeting House

Redlands Way


on September 28th 1999

8pm start,

with tea and coffee.



Church Hall Development:

Come and discuss the plans to develop the Church Hall backing onto Holmewood Road into flats.  Plans include demolishing No. 3 Cotherstone Road to make way for the entrance to this development

Meet your local councillors

Meet your local Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councillors who will be at the meeting to answer any questions you may have on local issues


Everyone Welcome – Please come along. 

It’s your neighbourhood.


From the Editor

                                                Sarah Prynn

Summer is drawing to a close and the next HNA residents meeting is coming up.  Please do try and attend.  There is an exciting agenda, and lots to talk about with the proposals for the Gardens to become one of the UK’s first Home Zones.  Come along to find out more about the implications of this, and to voice your opinions.  The HNA aims to get involved in the consultation of this project with the council, to ensure that resident’s views are heard AND heeded. 


I have a review of the presentations of the two guest speakers at the April meeting:

Please contact me on 0181 674 3091 if you would like a copy – or pick up a copy at the next meeting.


Remember, this is your newsletter.  We would like as many contributors and views as possible.  Please let me have your contributions.  Please remember too that classified ads are free!!!


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Tree Update                                by Duncan Law


Tree Walk

Seventeen people met in the Gardens for a fascinating guide tour of the trees by Derek Hoare in May.  We are aware that many residents could not come because of religious commitments on Sunday mornings. We apologise for the hasty scheduling and will endeavour in future to plan events for Sunday afternoon.  If sufficient residents express interest, I am sure Derek would do a repeat performance at a more convenient time.  Please tell him at 2 Holmewood Gardens.


He began in prehistory, telling how the earliest trees colonised an inhospitable planet and gradually changed the atmosphere making it possible for humans and other animals to develop. We made a list of the possible uses of a tree from fuel to buildings to animal habitats to beautiful things to look at which enhance the value of properties in the vicinity by 10%. We looked at how you could begin to identify tree and then proceeded to visit a number of them, which Derek introduced eloquently. We met the Yew, the Ginko, the Walnut, the Horse Chestnut, the Maples and Sycamores, the Plane, the birches, willow and hazels and ended up at the Holm Oak at the entrance to Holmewood Road.


I for one am much more knowledgeable about trees than I was before May 9th.


Problem (!!!) Trees

Individual trees that affect residents seems to be a subject of passionate debate. If a particular tree in a neighbour's garden is affecting you either speak to them about it or write an informal letter clearly setting out the problem and your suggested solution. This may well resolve the problem. If not there is a neighbours mediation service which may be able to help and advise. The Neighbourhood Association cannot get involved in judging the complaints of one neighbour about another.


If you have a worry or complaint about a street tree or a tree in the gardens it is useful for the Association to know about it. If we can come up with a plan to moderate or alleviate the problem consistent with the interests of the tree and the other users of the gardens then so much the better.  But please remember trees will shed leaves and that any inconvenience is

a small price to pay to keep our beautiful tree-lined Garden.  We are trying to get to a position were Lambeth will consult residents before doing any work beyond routine maintenance - which would have saved our elderly but healthy Damson from its truncated fate.


New Trees for Holmewood Gardens and surrounding area.

Six trees have been planted in the Gardens as a result of HNA lobbying: two feature trees on the dog green and four birch trees at the south end to replace the dead one. The Damson will be replaced next year.  Three street trees, a plum cherry, a pear and a crab-apple which will blossom successively, will be planted at  the Garden end of Holmewood Road, the only places where underground services did not prevent it.


A pair of Tulip Tree will be planted in the pavement build-outs to frame the Garden end of Cotherstone Road.


We have been working on a specification for the planting at the Brixton Hill end of Holmewood Road.  All this will be subject to a survey of underground services.


The trees will be planted this autumn.


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Planning update                    by Janith Wong


News broke at the HNA meeting in April that the Association successfully campaigned at Appeal to have the unauthorised workshop at 14 Maplestead Road condemned.


The Planning Inspectorate Decision

In a detailed report, upholding Lambeth Council’s Enforcement Order, the Inspector has rules that the workshop ‘(does) not sufficiently respect the need to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area’.


To allow time for work of an industrial nature to be relocated to more suitable premises, an extended compliance period of six months has been granted, within which the workshop must be demolished.  There is no change to the proprietor’s right to use the yard as offices and storage as before.



The building was erected by the proprietor’s of the yard without Planning Permission and therefore, without consulting local residents.  Built on the site of old garages in the builder’s yard, the unauthorised workshop is larger and taller than before and uses different materials.


Situated in the heart of the Conservation Area and in close proximity to adjacent homes, the building’s unsightly appearance and obtrusive bulk generated complaints from neighbours.  Additionally, concerns were expressed by residents of the wider Holmewood area about the noise, rubbish and traffic resulting from the intensified use of the yard as a manufacturing workshop.


HNA acts

AT the beginning of the year, residents wrote to the Council to express their concern about the nuisance caused by the new building and the use of the yard.  Others put their names to a petition co-ordinated by resident Janith Wong.


Councillors Toren Smith and local MP Keith Hill were contacted.  Both made representations in support of HNA member’s views and Lambeth Council’s case against the unauthorised workshop.


Thanks to all who supported the campaign.


September Update

Since the order, a planning application has been made for the development of 14 Maplestead Road.  HNA has raised an objection to the application on several grounds, including visual amenity (the development will be out of character with the rest of the conservation area), its change of use and has queried a potential overlooking problem.


More information is available form Janith Wong or Duncan Law.


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Treasurers Report     by Dene Lewidge


The recent mail drop by myself requesting donations to support the HNA has met with limited but generous response.  A total of £56 has been collected via donation envelopes and the donation of an old fire surround raised an additional £40 making a total of £96 raised to date.  If you have been too busy to drop the envelope put through your door round to me then please do so at your leisure but bear in mind we need your support and a nominal donation of £1 from each household would make a considerable difference to our funds.


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Crime Report         by Dene Lewidge


As part of the HNA's attempts to address local problems we are encouraging residents to be vigilant when it comes to crime.  In recent weeks there has been an upsurge in graffiti in our neighbourhood, both on private and council property.  There is nothing artistic or clever in the type of graffiti appearing and the bottom line is that this unsightly and destructive practice only serves to detract from our pleasant neighbourhood.  This behaviour is a criminal offence and should always be reported to police as criminal damage.  One of the problems with graffiti is it's virulent nature with one piece soon attracting further pieces.  That is why it is important to remove graffiti as soon as it appears.  Walls covered in foliage seem to be less enticing. Get that honey suckle to work.  On a brighter note Lambeth will assist with its removal.  The service is free for graffiti on council property and free in the first instance for it's removal from private property.  This service is provided by Lambeth via Grimebusters who can be reached on 0181 769 7905.



The dumping of rubbish in the street is on the increase in our area and is also illegal.  Report any incidents, including vehicle registrations, to police if you see rubbish being dumped.  Did you know that the council also provide a bulky collection service for all domestic properties that front onto the public highway.  Residents can use this service once every three months for collections of up to 8 bulky items i.e.. sofas, cooker, fridges or 6 bags of garden waste or 6 half bags of garden rubble.  Call 0171 926 7979/81 for details.



The prostitution problem at the junction of Holmewood Road and Brixton Hill is not going away and we need to report sightings to police as often as possible in order to keep the pressure on them to actively patrol our area.  The women are becoming more and more blatant and are starting to hang around the corner in broad daylight.  Our neighbourhood is in danger of being recognised as a red light area by the women's customers and by other communities.  Once accepted as such this label will be very hard to remove.  Any prostitute activity phone 999 and report it. Never confront them directly as a lot of these woman are suffering from highly contagious diseases.


Windscreen Washers

There has been an increase in the number of windscreen washers appearing at Christchurch Road junction with Brixton Hill. Primarily Rumanian, they are aggressively cleaning windscreens of cars caught at the lights.  They tend to target lone females and harass them into handing over money.  They are committing the offences of Unlicensed Street Trading and Highway Obstruction and despite numerous incidents being reported to police little or no action is being taken.  Please do not encourage the windscreen washers by giving them money.  Report any sightings to police and do not be put off by a negative response.  Point out the offence of Unlicensed Street Trading as Brixton Police seem particularly reluctant to admit their awareness of this piece of legislation.  Brixton Police general reporting number is 0171 649 2025 or 999 if you can't get through.



You may be aware that squatters took over  'The Orchard Centre' in Cotherstone Road earlier in the summer.  The alarm system covering the site was mysteriously criminally damaged and the squatters entered two of the buildings which conveniently were left unlocked.  Since moving into the centre the squatters slowly but surely expanded over the site to the point where they gained access to all the units.  The numbers of people in the centre increased considerably and there were several weekend parties held there much to the annoyance of local residents in general, and those in Cotherstone Road in particular. 


As local residents we are subject to a particularly high council tax charge payable for the purpose of living here.  These people abused a community system to which they made no financial contribution.  They did not maintain the centre in the condition they found it and it was allowed to deteriorate still further. They have caused considerable damage, including using one of the blocks as a toilet. The electricity supply was still connected when the squatters moved in and it was the residents of Lambeth who have had to foot the bills these squatters generated.  This extends to the legal costs which were incurred as a result of the court action that was taken to remove them from the site. 


The squatters were finally evicted 4 weeks ago, although the cost to Lambeth (and therefore council tax payers) now includes paying for a 24 hour security guard to watch the site.  There is also a security number on the gate to call in the event that you see someone suspicious trying to gain access to the site.


HNA looks forward to seeing what will happen to The Orchard Centre.



There has been a spate of opportunistic burglaries on Roupell Park Estate. Entry has been gained using a small ventilator window that has been left open to open a large window. The thieves then let themselves out through the front door with what they can find - often while the owners are sleeping nearby.


There have also been a number of robberies in the area recently also following a pattern. It is generally elderly women who are targeted. They are pushed from behind so that they fall and their bags are taken. Sometimes they have just collected pensions. Elderly residents who are going out to collect pensions should arrange to be accompanied. If you can find no-one else call the Neighbourhood Association and we will find someone.


There has been some petty car crime and one resident has acid thrown over his vehicle.


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Play Area – calling all child carers!

Are you a local mum, dad, au pair, nanny or child-minder who uses the play area with your charges in Holmewood Gardens?  If so, we are trying to get together a group of people interested in forming a sub-committee to work on issues concerning the play area and equipment for all local children.  You may have noticed that the repairs to the current equipment were carried out to a very poor standard – the slide is considerably shorter than the previous one, and the suspended, ‘wobbly’ bridge has merely been replace by a flat, unmoving bridge – not very exciting for the children.   There have also been problems recently with glass and other sharp objects in the park, which at best cause annoying punctures to bicycles and at worst are a serious safety problem to children.


If you are interested in being involved in trying to improve things for all local children, please contact any one of the committee members.


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Planning Issues - Brixton’s Tramshed                             by Duncan Law

The LCC Tramshed next to the Toyota Garage on Brixton Hill has been bought and  Conservation Area Planning Permission for 5 houses and 17 flats has been applied for by UJIMA Housing Association. I have written to the Conservation Officer Edmund Bird saying that whatever happens I think the rather characteristic 20s facade with its ‘LCC Tramways’ and ‘1923’ signs should be preserved and supporting the Lambeth planning principle of preferring employment generating uses over housing development. It transpires that the preservation of the facade is part of the plans.  It is a fine shed with a huge excellently preserved roof with skylights which would make a wonderful studio/ office complex.  It could hardly be better served by public transport from the four corners of the borough. Ideally it should become a Tramshed again as being among the most efficient and clean public transport systems invented. Historically this was the end of the Tramway line which consolidated Brixton's position in the first half of the century as a desirable white-collar suburb with easy communications into the centre of London. It is described as a ‘land-mark building’ in the report proposing the designation of our Conservation Area:


"At the top of Brixton Hill stands the former tramway depot - built in a simple monumental style with beaux arts influences - carefully massed stock brickwork with a central arch into the depot over which is an unusual      Georgian style window of painted and riveted metal. The original sign has recently been revealed following the closure of the garage. It was opened in 1923 to accommodate the electric tramcars introduced in 1904 along Brixton Hill which terminated at Westminster Bridge.  The depot had a relatively short working life as the trams were withdrawn after the second world war in 1952."


Residents of the flats in Christchurch House on the corner of Brixton Hill and Christchurch Road are planning to fight to preserve this building. Anyone who wants to join their cause and preserve some of our heritage can contact them via Duncan by calling 0181 678 6617 or could write directly to Edmund Bird, the Lambeth Conservation Officer at Acre House, 10 Acre Lane, London SW2 5SG.


Latest news is that Conservation Area Planning permission has been refused but it is thought that the developers will reapply. Any constructive suggestions for a use for the building and any leads to someone who might develop it as an employment generating resource or for community use gratefully received.


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The Orchard Centre,

originally Aspen House Open Air School for Delicate Children               by Duncan Law

I have been doing a bit of research into this wonderful site (I have some photos if you want to see what it looks like inside).


It was founded and built in the early 20s to educate delicate children particularly those with respiratory problems. They were taught in the open air whenever possible and even the classrooms were built initially without window and only canvas shutters which one pupil only remembers being shut once in his time there during a blizzard! Consequently the cold features in everyone's reminiscences of the place. I wonder I didn't kill more than it cured. However the site is beautiful, and well maintained despite having been deserted for 2 years. It was the orchard of a large Victorian house on Brixton Hill and the stable block forms part of the school. The grass is planted with a mix of bulbs and bluebells and there are roses lining the driveway. The pond and rockery are a bit over-grown. There is a wonderful mix of mature trees. Have a special look next time you wander down Cotherstone Road.  There is weeping willow, silver birch, maple, magnolia, several fruit trees, plane and many more.


The open air school moved in 1979 to a site in Kennington and the Orchard Site was taken over by Lambeth Education. Latterly it was run by the charity CAVE as school for educationally disenfranchised children from Lambeth who for various reasons such as disaffection and disruptiveness could not be accommodated in normal schools. Despite there being serious under-provision in this area in Lambeth the funding was cut in 1997 and the school closed.


If you or anyone you know have information or reminisces about the school please do get in touch with Duncan on 0181 678 6617. The collected will be made available to local residents before it is deposited at the Lambeth Archives at the Minet Library.


The Future

Recently I heard that Lambeth Education had commissioned a feasibility study to return the site to Education Support use and I wrote a letter supporting this. I also wrote to all the Art Schools in the London Area suggesting it as a Painting School Annex and several replied saying it would be great but they couldn't for various reasons.  A Rudolph Steiner School is also interested in the site.


A Healthy Living Centre..?

Another possible use that has been suggested by Gardens resident Ed Rosen is as a ‘Healthy Living Centre’ which the Government is funding. The site itself is health-giving, a haven of tranquillity and sanity. It could host classes and clinics for all sorts of health issues, drop-in centres for mothers and children, elderly people, resource and information centres which the public could consult. There is a group of local professional and voluntary organisations from South Lambeth meeting to develop a consortium to bid for funding.  HNA is represented. If anyone knows of interested parties who should be consulted please let us know.


Following the recent damage caused by the squatters, who have now been evicted, resulting in electricity, repair, legal and 24 hour security costs, it is shame to see the potential of this wonderful centre going to waste.


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Recycling and Home Composting

                                            by Duncan Law

In fulfilment of the AGM resolution in support of recycling and home composting the Holmewood Neighbourhood Association applied for a grant from the Scarman Trust Can Do fund to subsidise home compost bins for a proportion of residents.  Unfortunately we did not get the grant but are assured there are other possible sources. We are co-operating with Ecologica, a local organisation that is developing a local organic recycling scheme with funding which will come from the land-fill tax rebates that Lambeth will get for reducing it's waste stream.


Why Home Composting?

Up to a third of our waste is kitchen waste known as organic or putrescible i.e. it will rot. If it is land-filled along with all the rest it does not usefully return to the soil but decomposes slowly producing methane. This makes landfill sites very difficult to reclaim as well as being a serious source of ‘greenhouse gas’ which contributes to global warming.


If we compost this at home we can prevent this, save Lambeth a lot of money in Landfill Tax which will ultimately mean less Council Tax, and have beautiful fertile compost to put on our gardens. It also means less mess in the bins. I put my bin out every other week and it never smells.


There are several different ways of composting. If done properly they are odour free, clean and quick, producing beautiful rich compost FREE.  The simplest is the ordinary compost heap, best in home-made or bought container. If you fork it over frequently to let more air in or invest in a compost tumbler you will have a hot heap which can make compost in a very few weeks. Or you can use a worm-bin where the worms chew it up for you and there is a by-product of beautiful liquid plant feed. The Association has detailed information on all these methods. Information will be supplied to members on application, for the cost of the photocopying.  Or come and see the worm-bin in action. Worms available. Call

Duncan on 0181 678 6617. CALL NOW!


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What’s On In Brixton


Summer Heritage Walks in South London

Up till October

These walks have been organised by member organisations of the Lambeth Local History Forum.  They are mostly free, but a voluntary donation would help. The walks last about 2 hours.


3rd October - Sunday                 

General tour of West Norwood Cemetery

2.30pm Meet: Cemetery Main Gate, Norwood Road.  Led by member of FoWNC

BR: West Norwood 

Buses: 2, 68, 468, 196, 322

Friends of West Norwood Cemetery

Donation (£1 please) for funds


3rd October - Sunday

Brockwell Park Autumn Walk

2./30pm Meet: Clock Tower (near House) in Park.  Led by Robert Holden. 

BR: Herne Hill. 

Buses: 3, 37, 68, 68A, 196, 322

Friends of Brockwell Park


10th October - Sunday

Walkabout at Crystal Palace

11.30am & 2.30pm.  Meet: Crystal Palace Museum, Anerley Hill.  Led by member of Foundation.

BR: Crystal Palace

Buses: 2, 3, 63, 122, 137A, 157, 202, 227, 249, 323, 358

Crystal Palace Foundation

Adults £2.50, Conc £1.50, Children free


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Restaurant Update


3 Monkeys

Herne Hill

Tel: 0181 738 5500                 By Sarah Prynn

I tried this new restaurant shortly after its opening. Cool clean lines and colours make this is different eating experience to many local Indian restaurants.  The pleasant decor and atmosphere was complimented by an unusual menu, although it was a little hit and miss.  Some interesting choices are offered as ‘specials’ which are not the tired and typical dishes of standard Indian restaurants.  They also offer a tour of the kitchen to those who are particularly interested, although I did not take up the offer on our evening there.


Service was friendly, although the recommendation from a waiter to one of the guests that a dish was mild was not shared by the diner!.  It would be interesting to hear views of diners who have eaten there recently as the chef has apparently changed.


Not the cheapest of meals out, 3 Monkeys is still reasonable value at £40-£60 being the average price for two with wine and makes a pleasant change from a traditional Indian meal.


Oriental Cottage / Thai Restaurant

Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

Tel: 0171 274 2020           by Marion Schumman

A new exciting restaurant has opened on Coldharbour Lane called the “Oriental Cottage / Thai Restaurant”.  The menu is exciting, the food is mouth-watering and the restaurant caters vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.  A combination of Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian foods, well worth a visit and the prices are keen – try the different beers!!


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Back Gardens

If you have too much of something - sand, seedlings, produce... why not let neighbours have it. If it's valuable you could negotiate a price. If you need something - a tool, advice, hard-core, paving... it is quite likely someone in the area has it and could lend, give or sell it to you.







Le Club des Enfants

French classes in a friendly environment for ages 3-11 years. Saturday afternoons 1-3pm in Streatham. Contact Marion on 0181 674 6867 for further details


Compost wanted

Duncan is trying to grow 1/3 of his food this summer in his back garden.


Any compost or kitchen or small garden waste for his compost heap. He will collect (on a regular basis if appropriate).   Large containers for growing, can be anything, doesn't have to be pretty - from dustbins to window boxes. (min size for pots about 6" diameter, the larger the better.) Also any plastic bottles or large mineral water flagons preferably transparent.  Hosepipe, any length.


If you want to set up a compost heap or a worm bin Duncan can provide information (and worms) 0181 678 6617.  Plastic builder's rubble sacs 25p each. Tough and re-useable.  Please call Duncan on 0181 678 6617


Two Fireplaces Wanted:

Original Victorian fireplaces (excluding mantels) for living and dining room.  Please call  0181 674 3091.



Homeopathy is a system of complementary medicine which treats the whole person and strengthens the immune system.  It can offer relief in many illnesses in both adult and children.


Examples of conditions which can be treated include colic and teething problems in babies, recurrent colds, coughs and ear problems in children through to hay fever, physical injuries, grief trauma, PMT and menopausal difficulties.


I am a trainee homeopath offering treatment under expert supervision at subsidised rates.  If you think I may be able to help you, please give me a call on 0181 674 2445


New Corner Shop

Welcome to the new local shop on the corner of Maplestead Road and Upper Tulse Hill

Open 7 days a week, 8am to 9pm, selling newspapers and magazines, wines, sprits and beers, household necessities and green groceries. 


HNA Directory

For a copy of the HNA directory, with telephone numbers for the HNA committee members and a wealth of other useful local numbers, call Sarah on 0181 674 3091.