Category Archives: Friends of Belair Park

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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Swamp Cypress tree in Belair Park – previously hit by lightning – to be saved

Since the Annual General Meeting late last year, the Friends have been hard at work, liaising with Southwark councillors and officers to improve your Park and working also in defence of other local green spaces. We have a backlog of news, much of it concerning the aftermath of the flood relief works, and we shall be bringing you this in a series of bulletins of which this is the first.

T. distichum Sept 16, 2012 mjh

the Belair Swamp Cypress in Sept. 2012

T.distichum April 11, 2015

the Belair Swamp Cypress in April 2015

We begin with an update about a much-loved tree in Belair Park, the American Swamp Cypress, close to the mansion. It has been a much-admired feature of the Park for many years (see the photo taken on September 16, 2012). The species (Taxodium distichum) is otherwise known as the Bald Cypress because it drops its leaves annually.

A long-lived tree, often reaching ages of over half a millennium, it is a native of swampy forests in the SE corner of the USA. One of its notable feature is that in environments in which the water fluctuates, it typically produces woody “knees” that rise out of the water-logged surface and enable the tree to get oxygen down to its submerged roots. There has been no need for our specimen to produce “knees” in its present location.

swamp cypress growing in Delaware

a forest of swamp cypress growing in Delaware (Credit: Kej605. CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sadly, our tree was struck by lightning in mid-October, 2014, and the top section came down. There has been talk about removing the remaining section (the present appearance of the tree is shown in the photo, taken on April 11, 2015), but during this month, after a brief email exchange between Martin Heath, Chair of the Friends, Paul Highman, Dulwich area parks manager and tree officer Ian Williams, a decision has been taken to preserve the lower part of the tree.

It was not the only swamp cypress in the Park, but it was the easiest to find!

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Chairman’s Annual Report for year of 2014

The Friends of Belair Park Chairman’s Report for 2014 outlines our mission to protect public green space. Belair Park is part of a network of green spaces which function as essential wildlife corridors across the urban landscape, as well as serving the human community. During 2014, we have worked closely with New Leaf Educational Gardens and with the Lost Effra Project, run by the London Wildlife Trust. We have also collaborated with the London Borough of Southwark, Thames Water and engineering services provider Mouchel to feed local knowledge into the planning and delivery of a scheme to construct flood relief works in Belair Park. We have also been active in questioning current plans by developers ZhongRong to construct a giant commercial complex on the hill top section of Crystal Palace Park. These have involved the summary over-turning of more than a decade of consultation, which had culminated in the explicit recognition of a nature garden area, and of a promise by Bromley Council that no large commercial building would ever be considered for the site.
We thank for your valuable support during 2014.
Our very best wishes for the New Year.

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Friends of Belair Park hold their ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – Sat. Nov 29th

The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Belair Park will take place on Saturday, November 29 at 12:30 pm in the Francis Peek Centre, Dulwich Park, SE21. The FPC is adjacent to the car park, which may be reached from Old College Gate on  College Road.

This will be a no-frills business meeting, focused on organisational issues.
Pfeffernusse were served at the AGM – as baked by volunteer Nadia

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Leader of Southwark Council: “I have now told these people twice in the clearest terms that they will never build on or remove any MOL at Greendale.” FOBP welcomes his statement. Concerned locals should attend developer’s meeting about future of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club.


Saturday July 19, 2014. Future of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club (and associated fields).

10.00 am to 3.00 pm, 19th July. Dulwich Hamlet Football Club Edgar Kail Way London SE22 8BD.


On June 30, Dr. Martin Heath, Chair of the Friends of Belair Park contacted Southwark councillors Barrie Hargrove (Cabinet Member for Public Health, Parks and Leisure) and Peter John (Leader of Southwark Council). He passed on an email which had been sent to him as a campaigner for green open space. It had explained representatives of various local bodies had been:

“invited on a walkabout around the Greendale fields this morning with Steve Lancashire from PR company “Four Communications” and Roger Lee, an architect from “Farrells”. They wanted to hear what we had to say about the future of Greendale. They are trying to gauge public opinion so that they can draw up some plans with the new owners of the football club (property developer’s “Hadley”).”

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Crystal Palace ‘Nature Garden’ MEETING – 7.30pm, Thurs 12th June 2014

Friends of Belair Park kick off their ‘Nature Garden’ Campaign with a meeting open to all:

7.30pm, Thursday June 12, 2014

– the meeting will last about an hour.


Francis Peek Building, Dulwich Park

(Off College Road, SE21 – car park available beside venue)


Whatever the future of the hill top section of Crystal Palace Park, our objective is to secure that part of the area between the patch of limes and the TV mast as a Nature garden.

This is in accordance with the Masterplan (the Masterplan – circa. 2008 – was devised for the former London Development Agency by Tilman Latz and Partner after extensive public engagement – and was broadly believed to have at least some good features and to have at the very least broad public support. The Masterplan was oddly thrown out of the window with appearance of ZhongRong).

The statement below is taken from the LDA Masterplan Design and Access Statement:

“At the Northern end of the Terrace, the existing ‘Nature Garden’ is incorporated into a series of ecological spaces, enhancing existing ecologies and creating opportunities for increasing biodiversity.”

WOW! This is quite a special statement! It actually acknowledges that this piece of land is a Nature Garden already, and asks for it to be nurtured. FOBP couldn’t agree more!! Let’s put public pressure on this official statement to be honoured.

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print out these ‘Nature Garden’ campaign newsletters and circulate them!!

These campaign newsletters have both been designed to be a double-sided sheet of A4. Please print them out and distribute them widely.

Nature Garden campaign

Crystal Palace background sheet – May 2014

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#96: Just in case you were wondering . . .

. . . what does a Crystal Palace re-build look like?  
Dallas_Infomart Here’s the 1985 re-build to house the Dalllas Infomart, Texas.
There are sphinxes outside and a Crystal Palace-type fountain inside. 
Some of it’s pretty and some of it is just like any other large commercial building. We hope that the folks who work in it like their working environment. Maybe, there’s an appropriate place for such a project somewhere in in London and maybe it could provide employment – but not in our Park, thank you.
Hands off our Park. 
MJHWe are not a sit-on-the-fence talking shop. We are a no-nonsense campaign to save a public park from being snatched by greedy developers. Greedy developers? That’s what we call any developer who’s scheming to grab a slice of public open space to swell their own bank balance. That’s the real story here, not a romantic restoration of our lost history.

trees in Crystal Palace park

Bromley has reneged on the following promise from the Masterplan*: “At the northern end of the Terrace, the existing ‘Nature Garden’ is incorporated into a series of ecological spaces, enhancing existing ecologies and creating opportunities for increasing biodiversity.” (LDA Masterplan Design & Access Statement).
That’s what public parks are for. As London’s built environment becomes ever-denser, the need for public parks can only become more urgent..

*The Masterplan of the early 00s was  a plan for the refurbishment of the Crystal Palace Park, developed by Tilman Latz & partners under the former London Development Agency. The Masterplan’s recognition of importance of green hilltop received enthusiastic support from local groups and the public alike.

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Green Party meeting on the Crystal Palace issue – 23rd April 2014

Green Party meeting org. by Tom Chance

“A very good meeting. We are in the debt of Tom Chance for organising a discussion that brought together representatives of the local community with key skills and knowledge.”  Dr Martin Heath

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#94: Friends of Belair Park report back from ARUP’s latest public presentation (at Dulwich Community Council Meeting – 19th March)

by Martin Heath (Chair, Friends of Belair Park)

Dulwich Community Council Meeting, 19.3.2014. chaired by Helen Hayes

Dulwich Community Council Meeting, chaired by Helen Hayes

The Dulwich Community Council meeting on March 19, 2014 included both a presentation by Arup about the proposed development on the hill top section of Crystal Palace Park, and also a public discussion. Cllr Helen Hayes, who chaired the meeting, emphasised that there would be adequate time to hear everyone who wished to speak.

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