Archived on 6/5/2022

OLSPN and the Sydenham Society

7 Apr '22

Since the first sign of problems with the OLSPN redevelopment (in July 2017), the Sydenham Society has been extremely reluctant to get involved. Their attentions were focused on delays to reopening the Greyhound, as can be seen from back copies of the magazine. There was no time to spare on a new crisis, mushrooming in the lower reaches of Lower Sydenham.

I tried to get involved with the Sydenham Society, and did all the leg work on the case. I was happy for them to put the Sydsoc ‘brand’ on public meetings that I’d called, just a day or two before the event. Sadly, however, they refused to get involved in the planning inquiry, saying that there was no realistic prospect of success. Therefore, I formed the ‘Fairlawn Park group’ of objectors, and represented it myself, without the support of counsel. I did this as a Rule 6 party, which allowed me to cross-question witnesses, and to introduce new evidence at the inquiry, and again for the High Court.

In the last few days, it has been made clear that Sydsoc is not only uninterested in improving the proposed scheme, but is actively working against changes, being dismissive of immediate neighbours’ concerns. Barry Milton has been publicly dismissive of my relevance, standing up at meetings to speak on behalf of the Sydenham Society, promoting the new redevelopment application as being excellent.

Barry, Annabel and many of the committee live in the Thorpes conservation area, at the more affluent end of Sydenham. They have repeatedly refused to allow me to speak with them, and claim that their Architect consultants say the scheme is ‘pretty’. I’d like to have seen these reports, and their original briefing from the Sydsoc committee.

This largely anonymous group, who stood as a bloc with no other candidates admitted, haven’t consulted their members about OLSPN. I know, because I’m a member of Sydsoc, and was refused permission to raise the matter at AGM. The Committee has adopted a patrician stance, telling people that they authorise a design, while refusing to hear from members that are directly affected on a daily basis.

I have only wanted to work constructively with them, but the current Sydsoc committee are behaving as an autocratic force, and refusing to speak to people directly affected. Finding that they have been misleading me about their true position is disappointing, and has convinced me of the need to make a public statement on the situation. It’s all a bit sad.