The Dulwich Estate
The majority of people in Village Ward live on the Dulwich Estate, whether as freeholders, leaseholders or tenants. This is mainly in a direct relation with the Estate, but sometimes it is through Southwark Council which holds long-term leases from the Estate.
There are two, almost completely separate, issues in our relationship with the Estate:
- Estate policy on ‘maximising’ its income from rents for its beneficiaries, principally JAGS, Alleyn’s and Dulwich College. This is the more fundamental because it determines who can afford to run a shop on the Estate, whether in the Village or Half Moon Lane and affects everybody in Village Ward. It also results in the scandalous (but legally correct) attitudes shown towards the Judith Kerr school playground.
- The ‘Scheme of Management’ which requires even freeholders to pay an annual charge which is used to pay for the costs of implementing ‘The Scheme’ and for the upkeep of The Estate’s land in public use. It is non-profitmaking.
Our Policy on the Estate
Rents and Land use We would seek – preferably through a Dulwich Village Neighbourhood Forum (DVNF) [see below] – to discuss with the Estate their interpretation of their charity mission. We think that is quite unnecessarily narrow and ignores the requirement of every charity to ensure public benefit.
We would also suggest that the three co-opted Trustees should be elected by those who live on Estate land.
If that was ineffective the DVNF, as a legally recognised entity, would seek reform through the Charity Commission.
Scheme of Management.
In September 2016 Dulwich Liberal Democrats carried out a survey (2,500 letters delivered, with a 16.5% response rate) into opinion as to whether, in the 21st century an unelected body, accountable to no-one, should have the right to levy charges and impose restrictions on freeholders in a world less deferential to authority than 40 years ago when the scheme was set up and when there were no Council conservation areas.
Overall 54% thought the scheme should be reformed, while 37% were happy with the status quo.
40 years ago, Dulwich was a sleepy backwater; now it has been discovered as an ideal place for grandiose property investment and improvement, often at the expense of neighbours. To police this, the Scheme needs considerably more than the resources it receives from annual (and licence) charges. Yet, in answer to its own survey (which coincided with the Lib-Dem’s), roughly half of respondents said they would simply not be willing to pay a higher annual charge.
So, from whatever point of view it is considered, the Scheme no longer seems ’fit for purpose’. Clause 13 of The Scheme gives various possibilities for termination, part-termination, variation or transfer of its powers and rights and we would seek to discuss these with The Estate, again preferably through a Dulwich Village Neighbourhood Forum (DVNF).
Dulwich Estate website
You will probably be aware of the very active Herne Hill Forum and also the Dulwich Village Forum, which crowd-funded a much more environment-friendly alternative to the Quietway 7 scheme recently imposed on the Dulwich Village junction.
Neither of these, however, has yet gone through all the bureaucratic hoops necessary to become an official ‘Neighbourhood Forum’ though both aspire to do so. Under the 2011 Localism Act an NF application must demonstrate that it has democratic support and represents all the constituents of the area – gender, ethnicity, age and occupation.
When set up it is a legally recognised entity and can draw up a local development plan which Southwark must accept unless it contravenes an existing over-arching Southwark or London-wide plan. Such a body would also have a recognised position in discussions with both The Dulwich Estate and, if necessary, the Charity Commission.
Our policy on Neighbourhood Forums
Liberals have always believed that administrative decisions should be made at the lowest possible level in order that the individual should have the greatest possible control over his or her own life. We therefore thoroughly support the establishment of both the Herne Hill and the Dulwich Village Neighbourhood Forums.
Traffic, Parking & Electric Charging Points
The basic problem is that there are too many motor vehicles on our roads, but somehow it’s always everybody else’s cars that cause the problem, not ours!
This has two main adverse consequences. First, it causes congestion which wastes time, energy and money and, second, it discourages exercise and causes pollution to the detriment of good health .
Southwark has one of the lowest number of electric charging points in Inner London and these few appear to have been sited randomly without consideration of local needs.
Our policies on Traffic, Parking & Electric Car Charging
- In order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, we support the mayor’s proposal that all car-owners in London should pay an additional congestion tax on their vehicles
- We believe that in all traffic schemes consideration of pedestrians should be the first priority so that walking becomes more pleasurable than using the car. That was why we supported the Dulwich Village Forum’s alternative plan for an environment-friendly junction in the centre of Dulwich village.
- We support measures to make cycling safer and easier because cycling is good for both our health and the environment. However, we don’t believe in imposing ‘quietway’ routes often unrelated to the various routes cyclists may actually choose to take; we are also wary of schemes that make a marginal difference to cyclists passing through an area, at the expense of those who live there.
- We are neutral on controlled parking schemes on which there is much to be said for and against. We think they can be beneficial but should only be implemented where a clear majority of residents is in favour and when due recognition is given to the details of the scheme and its knock-on effects.
- We believe that while there is an urgent need for more charging points locally, provision must be carefully thought out and subject to genuine consultation. Interesting ideas like using lamp posts for electricity supply for (slow) charging will need to be implemented with sensitivity to the needs of all car-users in a street.