The archived pdf Newsletters (1 to 81) were edited by Dr Martin Heath as  superviser of  the Belair Project, and include attributed  contributions by others.  Some  have been reconfigured here as blog posts for ease of browsing and viewing. (An archive of the original PDFs is available here.) More recent newsletters are posted below.


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Friends of Belair Park PUBLIC MEETING

Thursday 2nd March, 2017 – 7.30pm 

Belair Recreation Rooms (access from Gallery Road, SE21)


Hedgerows in Autumn

This meeting will give users of the Park an opportunity to discuss two ecology/amenity issues:

Hedgerows: how would you like them to be managed?

The paths between the hedgerows and the western and northern Park boundaries have become favourite feautures of the park, particularly with dog walkers. The hedgerows were planted as a result of an initiative by the two members of the Friends, Angela Wilkes and the late David Nicholson-Lord (who were also members of the Dulwich Society).

Southwark aims to carry out work on the hedgerows before April and the nesting season.

The hedgerow presently helps to screen the new industrial-style fence along the railway embankment. Many people enjoy the hedgerow at its present height, but if left to grow unmanaged it will become straggly and an inefficient screen. A number of people want it trimmed much lower for reasons of personal security, but with too much reduction, it could become meaningless in terms of both visual effect and ecology. There will be presentations from members of the Friends and from Southwark officers. The technique of hedge laying, which promotes new growth, density and strength will be explained. This will be followed by an open discussion.

Threats to trees after flood relief works.

The purpose of the recent flood relief project was to detain water within Belair Park, so that local drains are not overwhelmed during major storms, leading to overflow and water damage in local homes and businesses. Unfortunately, the creation of earth mounds to hold back water has caused ponding over the root system of magnificent trees and this problem must be addressed urgently. What are the possible solutions and when will action be taken?

Southwark has approved our request for funding to repair the section of path near the West Dulwich gate of the Park, where uneven ground, mud and ice have posed seasonal slip and trip hazards.


Hedgerows in Spring


Hedgerows in Summer


Hedgerows in Winter


Flooding of root system

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Is your library under threat? Share your experiences with us – The Guardian

Some of you may be interested in this link. Thanks to Laura Swaffield for pointing it out to the Friends.

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April 9, 2016 demo, which took place on the day that the occupation of Carnegie Library (Herne Hill) ended

Until its closure earlier this year, many members of the Friends of Belair Park were regular users of Carnegie Library, which played an essential role in education and community events. It would be a tragedy to lose this major public facility.

I reproduce the words of Stephen Carlill for those of you who wish to protest:

Dear All,

Applications for Planning Permission and Listed Building consent have been made to change the use of Carnegie Library and carry out extensive works to the building and on the Reading and Wildlife Garden.  If these were to go ahead they would effectively exclude any library or other community use of the building or garden and it would be only a fee-paying gym.

Please email the council objecting to the applications by the closing date for objections, which is Monday 12th December.  Below is a list of important points that it would be helpful for you to include.  If you do not have time to write something yourself then please just copy and paste the list into your email.  This is an exercise where the number of objectors is at least as important as what the objectors write.  Every member of your household should therefore email separately if at all possible.  If you can get others to email as well that would be even better.

Your email should be sent to and must to be considered include:

  1. Carnegie Library SE24 0AG
  2. Applications numbered 16/06270/FUL and 16/06271/LB
  3. Your name
  4. The address where you live


Important points to make are:

  • The Traffic Assessment included in the applications indicates that a substantial proportion of the customers for the gym will come from outside the area and the proposed opening times mentioned in the applications are 6am to 10pm weekdays and 7.30am to 10pm at weekends, with the possibility of even longer hours.  All of this is completely inappropriate to the wholly residential area in which the library is situated.  Residents should not have to suffer the disturbance of loud voices in the streets and car doors slamming.  The Assessment says many of the gym users will travel to and from it by train or bus but this is not credible and there would be increased pressure on the limited amount of parking space in the roads round the gym.
  • The proposed excavation of the basement is not deep enough to accommodate gym uses in which the participants jump or raise up  their arms.  It is proposed to hold exercise classes, including “higher energised” ones, on the ground floor but a group of people jumping up and down in any one of those rooms would generate vibration and noise which would preclude the use of the other rooms.
  • Lambeth’s Planning policies require construction on back gardens to leave at least 70% unbuilt on and all construction to be a positive response to what is there already.  The proposed construction would take up more than half the Reading and Wildlife Garden, leaving only a strip separated from the building, and destroy mature trees.  The garden is a public one and the setting of the Listed library building.  It should be left alone.  If construction is necessary it should be in keeping with the building and take place on the van park.
  • The information provided so far has been grossly inadequate.  The applications have been given only minimal publicity.  They are available only on the Council’s website and then only intermittently.  The application documents repeatedly assert that implementing the proposals would “aid and support” the building but no details are provided.  There is no indication of where the exercise classes would take place.  We are told that this would be in community spaces but all the accommodation has this label and nowhere is set aside for library or other community uses.  There is nothing  about measures to contain vibration or noise, about air conditioning on any floor of the building or about smell inside or outside the building.


The effect of the works on the stability of the building, asset transfers, leases and property rights are not Planning considerations and therefore have to be ignored in the Planning process.   I therefore suggest that you do not mention them.

I am hoping that some of the recipients of this email will have the time, patience and dedication to go through the applications on Lambeth’s website but most of us obviously cannot do that.  I am therefore attaching what I think are the two most important documents, namely, an extract from the Transport Assessment and the proposed layout of the basement and garden areas.

Stephen Carlill



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Urgent. Please object by Thursday Nov. 24, 2016.

The Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood and the Friends of Champion Hill are fighting to prevent a developer from overturning a restrictive covenant that ensures that the Dulwich Hamlet football grounds are used only for “leisure or recreational or educational purposes.”

Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood – Respond to Planning Application 16/AP/4051

The Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood are a group of people whose main aims are to protect and improve Dog Kennel Hill park and Dog Kennel Hill wood in Camberwell, London.

We object to planning application 16/AP/4051.

We cite the following objections, in agreement with the Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood.

The current DHFC ground is protected by a restrictive covenant (Clause 8) to ensure it can only be used for “leisure or recreational or educational purposes”. If this is lifted it means that the current stadium could be built upon or used for any purpose by anyone now or in the future. This could mean the demise of our long-standing football club.

  • These S106 agreements between Kings College, Southwark Council and DHFC were put in place to prevent the future development of the land and yet planning application 16/AP/1232 seeks to develop this land.

  • The S106 agreements must not be lifted without some other legally binding agreements set in place to safeguard bot the future of the football club and Green Dale fields.

  • Section 4.16 of their Planning Statement says that the new stadium build will be “future proofed for sustainability” and yet there has been no financial evidence to substantiate this. This application must be turned down until a full and transparent Financial Plan has been published for the community to scrutinise.

  • The applicant states in the cover letter that planning application 16/AP/1232 is “entirely acceptable and in accordance with policy” and yet hundreds of local people have objected due to its total disregard of  both the London Plan (Section 7.17) and the Southwark Plan (Policy 3.25). The new stadium does not constitute an ancillary facility nor does it maintain the openness of MOL due to its enclosing wall. It would therefore be a departure from both the Southwark and London Plans.

  • The applicant also states in their cover letter that planning application 16/AP/1232 is “in the public interest”. This is wholly refutable as the plan to destroy a rare piece of open green space has met with a lot of local opposition. The applicant has not provided clear evidence that their proposal is the only way forward. The local community would like to see other avenues explored whereby the football club has an improved stadium and flats built on their existing footprint, with no encroachment on the wild open space of Green Dale fields.

  • The draft S106 agreement laid out in the Planning Statement says that the stadium and MUGA will be freely available for local schools. Currently the astro turf pitch is used by local children on an ad-hoc basis. If the walled stadium and MUGA are built, this removes the current free access to children outside of a formal school arrangement. In effect, this application removes vital sports facilities from the area rather than providing them.

  • The land registry entry for title SGL62094 (the current stadium) page 6 point 10 says that there is another S106 agreement dated 21 May 2003 which lays out “provisions relating to the development of the land in this title” and yet this document has not been published nor provided by the applicant. Without seeing the contents, this application should be refused.

The comment below is copied from Simon E Hughes MBE (not to be confused with former MP Sir Simon H. W. Hughes).

FRIENDS OF CHAMPION HILL Green Dale Update A planning application (16/AP/4051) has been submitted by, not the Hadley Property Group, but by Green Dale Property Co Ltd (GPC), to strip Dulwich Hamlet Football Club playing pitch of all the protection it has through the S106 agreement between Southwark Council, J Sainsbury’s and King’s College; this protection prevents building houses on the pitch. Once stripped of this protection there will be nothing to stop the owners (the developers) building on the pitch. The club would be left with nowhere to play. Please join me in protesting against this strongly. To make your feelings felt, register your objections with Southwark Planning Committee before Thursday 24 November. Either write a letter to the Case Officer or go to Simple Search on the Southwark website by pasting this into your search engine, which should get you to Simple Search, insert the application reference 16/AP/4051; after a short wait press make a public comment, scroll down, fill in your details and make your objections. You might like to use points I have made in my letter to the case officer over the page. Please don’t cut and paste too much as your objection will then count for less.

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Robbie Gibson

The disappearance of Robbie Gibson has caused great concern and there are serious fears for his safety.

Many will know him as an indefatigable and very eloquent campaigner for the Crystal Palace area and for Lambeth libraries, he was one of the stalwarts who occupied Carnegie Library in protest over Lambeth’s plans hatched out with Greenwich Leisure Ltd to convert the library into a gym, with an unsupervised book area.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call police in Lambeth on 101 or the charity Missing People on 116000.

Go to This Local London for more on this story.

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Louis Masai live painting for Dulwich Festival


The London Wildlife Trust are very pleased to announce that artist Louis Masai will be painting an image of brown long-eared bats onto the Crescent Wood Tunnel in Sydenham Hill Wood on Friday 13th, Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th May as part of the Dulwich Festival. Louis will be working on the painting between 10:00 and 18:00 on each day

Please join us to watch Louis at work and to learn more from our staff and volunteers about London Wildlife Trust’s bat work at Sydenham Hill Wood

We were delighted to find a brown long-eared bat for the first time in 5 years during a survey this week (pictured above). It is the first record of this amazing animal since one was found hibernating in the old train tunnel in 2011. The tunnel is a registered bat roost which is protected by law. Louis’s painting aims to celebrate the brown long-eared bat and raise awareness about London’s bats

Thank you to the Dulwich Festival for their enthusiasm in organising the event with us and special thanks to Dulwich Going Greener for providing crucial funding for this event and for Southwark Council’s cooperation


PDF  SHW events spring-summer 2016

Loads more London Wildlife Trust events coming up!

Evening bird walk, Sydenham Hill Wood, Thursday 19th May 2016, 19:00

Tree walk for London Tree Week, Crystal Palace Park, Thursday 2nd June 2016, 19:00

Tree walk for London Tree Week, One Tree Hill, Saturday 4th June 2016, 14:00

Bat walk, Sydenham Wells Park, Friday 10th June 2016, 20:30


Pond dipping family event, Sydenham Hill Wood, Sunday 12th June 2016, 14:00

Booking essential, contact Diana Wallace:


The history of Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich Library, Tuesday 14th June 2016, 14:00

Evening tree walk, Sydenham Hill Wood, Wednesday 15th June 2016, 19:00

Bat walk, Nunhead Cemetery, Friday 24th June 2016, gates open at 21:00 for 21:30 start

Wildflower walk, Sydenham Hill Wood, Sunday 26th June 2016, 14:00

Booking essential, contact


Bat, moth and owl prowl, Sydenham Hill Wood, Friday 8th July 2016, 21:00

Bug day! Sydenham Hill Wood, Thursday 21st July 2016, 11:00-15:00

Butterfly walk, Sydenham Hill Wood, Sunday 24th July 2016, 14:00

Booking essential, contact

Great North Wood walk, One Tree Hill to Crystal Palace, Saturday 20th August 2016, 12:00


Best wishes,

Daniel Greenwood

Conservation Project Officer, Sydenham Hill Wood

London Wildlife Trust – Protecting London’s wildlife for the future / Facebook / Twitter

Direct line: 020 7252 9186 / Mobile: 07734 599 728


All our lives are better when they’re a bit wild. Share why wildlife and wild places matter to us all at



The London Wildlife Trust is part of a network of 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the UK, working under the umbrella of The Wildlife Trust Partnership, the UK’s leading conservation charity dedicated to wildlife protection.


Registered Office: Dean Bradley House, 52 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 2AF. A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, Number 1600379. Registered as a charity in England and Wales, Number 283895


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Great North Wood – Launching an exciting new project

Photo shows Sam Bentley-Toon Great North Wood Project Development Officer - Centre for Wildlife Gardening London Wildlife Trust making his presentation to meeting

Sam Bentley-Toon Great North Wood Project Development Officer – Centre for Wildlife Gardening London Wildlife Trust making his presentation to meeting

On May 7, 2016, the London Wildlife Trust invited representatives from friends of open spaces groups to meet at The Sparrowhawk Public House at Crystal Palace to hear an outline of a scheme to enhance  the ecology of a number of key sites which were once part of the Great North Wood. The idea was received with enthusiasm and participants were keen to explore ways in which they could co-operate to turn it into reality. This was just the beginning of the process, which has the makings of another great community project, like the LWT’s Lost Effra programme.

These are some documents as PDFs:

GNW Consultation poster – friends

GNW-project summary

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Labour’s shame as it tries to close libraries in questionable deal with gyms company.

occupation Carnegie libraryLambeth refuses to consider alternative financially viable plan by libraries’ chief.

Carnegie Library occupied!


Big march on Saturday April 9. Gather outside Carnegie Library, 118 Herne Hill Rd., SE24 at 11:30AM. The march will go to Brixton via the threatened Minet Library. 

The Friends are a non-political body. We criticised the Conservatives in no uncertain terms over their odd deal to put a giant commercial building on Crystal Palace Park and now it’s Labour’s turn to feel our wrath.

Lambeth Council has revealed its financial incompetence and true Machiavellian colours with its plans to close several libraries and convert library space to gyms run by  Greenwich Leisure Ltd.  GLL has revealed no business plan and has not had to submit itself to competitive tender. In order to push the plans through at Carnegie Library (Herne Hill Road, SE24 Lambeth set up a community trust that the community can’t actually join and which has been packed with former Labour cllrs.  Our local Labour MPS have damaged their reputations by refusing to back the campaign to safeguard all of Lambeth’s Libraries. Labour’s Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has not had the courage to risk his stage-managed campaign by confronting an issue which would have brought to light Lambeth’s scandal.

We asked documentary maker Charlotte Knowles if she would produce a video highlighting the anger and defiance of local people:

Carnegie Library  – Barbarians at the gates.

Statement from Dr. Martin Heath A.K.C..

They just haven’t got it. Maybe, they can’t get it. They insist on being the proverbial swine before whom one is warned not to cast ones pearls.

Like many people engaged in actions which are clearly wrong and destructive by most people’s standards, Lambeth councillors protect their consciences by weaving around themselves a coccoon of their own spin, a kind of virtual reality helmet, which shuts out the world and what it is saying.

On our side of the fence, I see good, gentle and sensitive people with a profound sense of civic responsibility, some of whom are being driven to illness with the worry of this ludicrous situation.

From their side of the fence, a Lambeth councillor, bored with the debate and wanting to mock despairing members of the public, sends out an image of a yawning cat, followed by an image of a cat on gym equipment.

Councillors have denounced those trying to defend their libraries as “toxic” and “troublemakers.” As one of those who helped plan the occupation and who stayed for its early stages, I’ll tell you what I actually saw.

Right up to the final moment when the Library was officially shut, I saw a group of young women clustered around a table, revising hard for their A levels. Presumably, if they had somewhere else to go that was better and more convenient, they would have been there. I noticed pages of biochemistry. A decade from now, these women may well be doctors treating the community, perhaps at the hospital a short walk down the road, or researchers engaged in the fight to defeat crippling or killer diseases.

I saw toddlers playing and being read to in the safe space of the children’s library, where they come into contact with books and could begin a life-long journey of discovery. Overnight, I spoke with a researcher in neurosciences, about stem cells and about Parkinson’s Disease. She had found public libraries indispensable during her education. I spoke also to a youthful geophysicist, with a particular interest in the Earth’s core and our planet’s magnetic field. A young woman was pursuing a masters in evolutionary biology. Another told me of her concerns about defining “Fine Art.” 

“Toxic?” “Troublemakers?” All of them involved in  conspiracy to mislead the public?

How many movers and shakers and technologists and ecologists first set down their roots in the public library – a place as essential to education and to keeping our civilization running as schools and universities?

 I met with those who have traveled widely and who were keen to extend peaceful relationships between very different cultures and we were addressed and inspired by a man, looking years younger than his age, who had survived the WWII siege of Stalingrad. I spoke also to many, many people who were not career academics, but a cross-section of locals, who were no less intelligent or well-read and who loved books dearly.

The Library has hosted an endless succession of community events, including – this is the one I would have enjoyed most as a child – talks about bats and other wildlife, where children have been encouraged to read books and then to attend a twilight bat watch in the nearby park, where the public gather around the pond with bat detectors.

The occupation reminded me of a film I once saw, in which academics were besieged in the great Library of Alexandria, defending it (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) against a mob of religious extremists.

The barbarians are at the gates. What do they want? They want to cram the books into a back room where a self-service, no-librarians regime will be unsuitable for children. They want to hand over space to a gym and so they tell us, opening hours will be extended. When we see this arrangement, we are told in all seriousness, we will be so impressed that will all flock to vote Labour. That at least is the view from inside the virtual reality helmet of Lambeth spin.

We have seen a community trust, with no membership from the general public , but apparently open to former Labour councillors, claim to talk for local people and being exposed for what it is at packed meetings of the Friends of Carnegie Library. We have seen a petulant refusal of Lambeth to get to grips with alternative, and financially feasible schemes, such as that put forward by a libraries chief.

I call for an investigation into the financial competence of Lambeth Council and into the peculiar intimacy of its relationship with Greenwich Leisure Ltd, would-be managers of the gym.

M. J. Heath c/o 020 8670 8924.

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Avaaz’ petition to stop destruction of Ancient Forest

In order to build a ski slope for the 2018 Olympic Games, a swathe of Ancient Korean woodland is under threat. Avvaaz has petitioned the Olympic Committee thusly:

To the International Olympic Committee and the South Korean government:

As concerned citizens from across the globe, we call on you to stop the destruction of forest on Mount Gariwang for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and to protect what remains of this forest that has been a sanctuary for over 500 years. We urge the IOC to ensure that all Olympic Games truly live up to ideals of sustainability and environmental protection.

If you are interested in reading and possibly signing this petition, go here:

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Tom Bolton’s River Effra Walk

This event is coming up on Saturday 19th September. It should be an insightful event, exploring the area’s watery past and the influence that it still holds on local neighbourhoods and wildlife today. The walk will start from the Railton Road entrance to Herne Hill train station at 10am, setting off through Herne Hill and hopping on the bus for a brief stretch to end up on the Thames foreshore near Vauxhall Bridge at 12.30pm. Please bring an Oyster card or contactless payment card for the bus trip and wear shoes suitable for walking along pavements.

We are requesting a donation of £10 to cover the costs of the walk and you have the choice of either making a payment online in advance using Paypal or through a cash donation on the day. If you would like to pay in advance, please send a Paypal request for £10 to Tom Bolton at and feel free to get in touch with me or Tom if you have any queries (or need IT support!).

Finally, if you are no longer able to make it along, please let me know in advance so I can allocate the space to someone else and so that we know not to wait for you in the morning. I will have my mobile on me 07971 315 245 on the day.

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