Save Sydenham Hill Ridge

by Friends of Mais House

Save Sydenham Hill Ridge

by Friends of Mais House
Friends of Mais House
Case Owner
We understand the need for social housing and support a redevelopment. What we disagree with is the size of the proposal.
on 29th December 2020
pledged of £65,000 stretch target from 919 pledges
Friends of Mais House
Case Owner
We understand the need for social housing and support a redevelopment. What we disagree with is the size of the proposal.

Latest: Oct. 17, 2022

Next Steps for Campaign

We listened with disbelief to Lewisham’s retrospective advice that they do not read cc’d emails, and therefore had not seen The London Wildlife Trust’s objection. On this account we…

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Friends of Mais House are residents living on and around the Sydenham Hill ridge.

We welcome the development of the City of London Sydenham Hill Estate for additional social housing. We believe in building good quality, environmentally friendly housing that will last well into the future.

In November 2020, Lewisham granted planning permission for 110 units on the site of Mais House and Otto Close garages. The huge increase in scale in an environmentally sensitive location will mean felling mature trees and reducing much needed green communal space. It will impact on a conservation area, the historic and natural environment, and the much-visited ancient woodland opposite, as well as local infrastructure.

The campaign's tremendous supporters helped to fund a Judicial Review, and planning permission was quashed on 18 May 2021. You can read the full Judgment here.

But, interpreting illegality and their "significant errors" as mere technicalities, Lewisham planners pushed the self-same plans through again just six weeks after the Judgment, when Councillors voted in approval of the application for the second time.  We are determined to fight this travesty and are now raising money to fund the legal costs for a second court hearing (a so-called rolled-up hearing) which will take place on 9th June 2022.

Press releases for the campaign can be found here.

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Update 50

Friends of Mais House

Oct. 17, 2022

Next Steps for Campaign

We listened with disbelief to Lewisham’s retrospective advice that they do not read cc’d emails, and therefore had not seen The London Wildlife Trust’s objection. On this account we were disappointed with the Judge’s decision not to grant permission for appeal. However, all is not lost. We are in touch with London Wildlife Trust and continue to lobby, through various channels, for a less environmentally damaging, and more sustainable build. It is one thing to get planning permission, quite another to meet all the Conditions and to demolish and build what is proposed.

Thank you all so much for your contributions, which funded our legal costs. Although the legal route may be closed for now, we remain in touch with our lawyers and have built up a solid bank of support from which to lobby. We are planning events and petitions; if you would like to stay in touch with the campaign, please join our mailing list here.

Update 49

Friends of Mais House

Sept. 11, 2022

Appeal Refused!

Friends of Mais House are saddened to share the news that the application for Appeal has been refused.  This has come as a shock to campaigners and lawyers, who all agree there is a strong case for an Appeal.  A meeting is being arranged with the legal team this week.  

While we’re considering our options, we urge supporters to write to your elected representatives and urge them to intervene.  It’s not too late to stop this massively insensitive and environmentally damaging over development.  Lewisham themselves have now stated that the Friends represent “a large swathe of the local community”. It’s time they listened to that community.

We’ll report back further following legal advice.

Update 48

Friends of Mais House

Aug. 11, 2022

Grounds for Appeal Filed

We have filed the grounds for Appeal and the CoL have responded. Once Lewisham have also responded, we will await the Court’s decision on Permission to Appeal. 

In the meantime, we are still short of our target which covers the initial cost of Appeal. Please do continue to share our campaign link, it makes a difference.

Update 47

Friends of Mais House

Aug. 3, 2022


Thank you to all who have contributed to the appeal application fund. We have strong grounds for appeal. Our current target for preparing the appeal is £5k. We are half way there. In order to proceed we need £2500 by end of August. Please help us get there. Every donation counts. The future of our environment has never been more important than now.

Update 46

Friends of Mais House

July 14, 2022

Judgement and Grounds for Appeal

It is with disappointment that we must share the news that we were unsuccessful in court on 9th June and did not overturn Lewisham’s planning decision. Mr. Justice Fordham handed down his decision on Monday (11th July). Our lawyers, however, believe there are very strong grounds for Appeal. With the support of the community, we have made the decision to appeal on two grounds, one of which our lawyers have told us is of wider interest to the public.

We now need to fund raise for the appeal. We appreciate this is not the news anyone wished to hear, but we trust the lawyer's judgement on this and believe that justice and our environment are worth fighting for. We very much hope we can continue to rely on your support. 

You can read our Press Release with the grounds of appeal here:

Update 45

Friends of Mais House

June 13, 2022

Court Hearing

We were at The Royal Courts of Justice last Thursday (9th June) for a full day hearing in front of Mr. Justice Fordham. All of the grounds were discussed in detail. Our lawyers did an excellent job but we have been strongly advised not to speculate, in their words, ‘It is now up to the judge.’

The judge will consider the extensive number of documents and the evidence set before him and hand down his decision in a report. This may take some weeks.

The support for our campaign has been hugely heartening. Our lawyers were impressed with our community spirit and our clear message to support social housing with a smaller scheme. We have done what we could and now we wait and see. Thank you so much for being a part of it.
Update 44

Friends of Mais House

June 7, 2022

Thank you to our awesome supporters

We are in court this Thursday and so close to our target. We have not chosen the easy road, but this case is of fundamental importance to our democracy and our environment; it had to be done, we cannot watch the bulldozers roll over this precious place. Many, many thanks for being part it. Please think of us on Thursday.
Update 43

Friends of Mais House

May 31, 2022

Just 9 days until we are in Court

We have just 9 days until we are in Court and we are finalising all the documents with our lawyers. Lewisham Council and the City of London together have planned a monstrosity for our back yard. The community have not been listened to. 

We are proud of how our multicultural and diverse community have stuck together and are putting up a tremendous fight for justice. There is extremely limited public transport up here, very few extra parking spaces, no doctor’s surgery and no shops. The access for anyone with buggies, wheel chairs or limited mobility has not been thought through, and all this on top of losing our trees and precious green space where the children play, to say nothing of the threat to wildlife in the woodland opposite.

The current plans simply cannot not go ahead. A serious rethink is needed. We have great confidence in our lawyers who got us through the first round. We believe we can get through the second. Your continued support is invaluable to us. 

Thank you.

Update 42

Friends of Mais House

May 18, 2022

9th June Approaching

On Sunday we had a magnificent fair that brought together the whole community. As the environmental crisis scales the political agenda, 19 mature trees are still under threat of felling, and another 11 beautiful trees due to be severely pruned which will substantially reduce their potential longevity. This in London, where trees and green space are already at a premium. The proposed mitigation measures are woefully inadequate. 

We are in court on 9th June and still in need of further funds. Please do keep sharing our link on your social media accounts. It really helps. 

Finally, you may have noticed that our lawyer's name has changed to Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors. Please be assured that our legal team remains the same. At the start of May, Harrison Grant transferred its practice to Hodge Jones & Allen.

Many thanks

Update 41

Friends of Mais House

May 4, 2022

Mais House in New Report

The Countryside Charity for London warns that there are currently more than 50 precious green sites across London threatened with development. CPRE London’s “Forever Green” report names Sydenham’s Mais House redevelopment as one of them.

Last year, a Judge agreed that Lewisham's planning processes were unsound, quashing the planning permission and urged Lewisham and the City to work with residents to reach an acceptable design.
But within weeks, Lewisham rushed the very same planning application back and granted permission.

Lawyers acting on behalf of a member of the Friends of Mais House, believe that Lewisham’s processes on that second occasion were also flawed and have asked the Court to quash the planning permission accordingly. 

Thank you to all our supporters. With 5 weeks until the rolled up hearing, your support will help us challenge this scheme in Court.

Update 40

Friends of Mais House

April 24, 2022

Six Weeks

We are now in the final 6 weeks before the court hearing on 9th June and whilst it is impossible to predict the actual amount we will need, our estimated target to cover legal fees and costs is £60k.

The FAQs on the campaign website has an explanation on how funds have been spent.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support to overturn these monstrously insensitive plans to destroy our environment and community, and please do keep sharing and tweeting.

Update 39

Friends of Mais House

April 4, 2022

Next tranche of fundraising needed by 21st April

We thank you all for your continued support and keeping us to target. We are now aiming to raise a further £7k by 21st April, taking our stretch target to £55,000 to allow us to pay the lawyers as the work is done.  

This is our fundraising progress:

Update 38

Friends of Mais House

March 9, 2022

Rolled Up Hearing on 9th June

At the rolled up hearing, both sides can put their arguments to the Judge. The Judge will then decide whether to grant permission for a second Judicial Review, which would then proceed on the same day.

Lewisham and City of London face strong opposition to the over development of the Mais House site. We are grateful for all donations, posts and shares of the campaign.

More details on the case and fundraising FAQs are available on our website:

Home | Friends of Mais House 

Update 37

Friends of Mais House

March 6, 2022

Court Hearing Set for 9th June

We have just been told the Court date will be 9th June 2022. As with the first Judicial Review (JR), we are raising funds in tranches to cover legal costs.

Our first goal is to raise £6k by 23rd March (which, added to previous funds raised, shows as a £48k stretch target). This is to seek Counsel’s advice on the Judge’s order. We are grateful for all help in achieving this goal, which will enable us to take the next step towards being in Court.

The next fundraising phase, beginning in April, will be to enable us to give direction to the lawyers to complete the paperwork. This will take us back to the High Court where we hope, once again, to quash this preposterous planning application.

We so appreciate all your help and support in getting us this far. Together we can keep the pressure on and save both our community and this precious environment.

Update 36

Friends of Mais House

Feb. 18, 2022

A ‘Rolled -Up’ Hearing

The High Court Judge, Judge Ouseley, has ordered what is called a ‘rolled up’ hearing. This means that that he would like to hear, in person, the reasons for granting a Judicial Review (JR). If he agrees the grounds are arguable, he will give permission for a JR to take place and the JR hearing will likely follow on the same day. 

We need to raise £6k by 23rd March, in order to review and amend the grounds as a first step in preparing for the hearing. 

We thank everybody for all their support so far in the journey to protect this ecologically sensitive part of London from a massive overbuild. We must protect both for the wildlife and for future generations. 

We are extremely grateful for all donations and shares.

Update 35

Friends of Mais House

Dec. 9, 2021

Thank You for Your Continued Support

Dear Friends,

We are awaiting the decision on permission to proceed to a second Judicial Review. If a second Judicial Review is granted, we will commence a new phase of fundraising. Whilst the timelines are not yet known, your continued support to save this precious environment is really appreciated.

Many thanks

Update 34

Friends of Mais House

Nov. 10, 2021

Thank You and Next Steps

Many thanks for sharing and donating to our campaign, we were really pleased to meet the £42k stretch target. Your ongoing support means a lot.

Since our legal team submitted a claim for Judicial Review on 1st October, Lewisham Council have submitted a defence on all grounds. We must now wait for a Judge to decide whether to grant permission to proceed to a second Judicial Review hearing.

We are continuing to campaign for a better development that preserves the environment and delivers genuinely quality and accessible housing on the estate.

Update 33

Friends of Mais House

Oct. 21, 2021

2 Days to reach our target. Share share share! We can do it!

Dear Supporters, 

Your donations to help us resist this huge overdevelopment that will destroy the environment, our community, and heritage is hugely appreciated. We have very little time to reach our target. Please would you share on all your networks as soon as you see this to help us reach our target so we can confidently move forward. 

As always many, many thanks.

Friends of Mais House

Update 32

Friends of Mais House

Oct. 16, 2021

7 days to reach £42k

Please spread the word. Our environment, our heritage and our community are under threat. Once gone they will be gone forever. Our elected Councillors ignored the advice of their own advisors and MP’s to review the plans. 

We believe a less environmentally and socially damaging scheme is viable.

We have another chance for justice. Every donation counts. Thank you so much.  

The £42k stretch target builds on the £35k we achieved in the first campaign. We are seeking £7,000 to fund the initial legal costs as we apply for a second Judicial Review (JR). The remaining funds from the first JR (after all legal fees were paid and costs awarded) were used to assess our claim and draw up grounds for a second JR.

Update 31

Friends of Mais House

Oct. 5, 2021

New Judicial Review Application

Dear Supporters,

The decision to grant planning permission again in August was disheartening for residents. The plans remained unaltered, despite the considerable concerns raised by Lewisham’s own Conservation and Tree officers, as well as the Design Review Panel. The proposed development will result in a substantial increase in density, a drastic reduction in community green space, felling of 19 trees, harming heritage and threatening ancient woodland in the vicinity and is of increasing concern.

Having reviewed the planning submission in detail, the Friends of Mais House sought further legal advice. Grounds have been identified for a second Judicial Review (JR) as follows:

(i) The Council misunderstood policy, had no evidence and acted unreasonably in asserting that the scheme was the ‘optimum viable use’, or more accurately, that a smaller scheme was not viable.

(ii) The Council acted unfairly, in breach of the Statement of Community Involvement and in breach of the obligations with respect to background papers in publishing a large volume of material shortly before the committee meeting and proceeding with the meeting.

(iii) The Council failed to publish third party consultation responses at all in breach of the requirements on background papers.

Our legal team have issued a claim for JR in the High Court, this was served on Lewisham Council and The City of London on 1st October. The Council must file a response within 21 days. The papers will then go to a Judge to consider whether to grant permission for JR.

We are advised that we have a good case and are encouraged by other planning cases, where plans have been withdrawn and are now being reconsidered. The work on the first JR has provided a valuable foundation of supporters and media interest and, encouraged by our previous victory, we are embarking once again on a fund raising campaign which we hope you will be able to help us with. We intend to proceed in stages, as before, allowing for the flexibility to pull out at any stage if necessary. We have been advised the final costs will be in the region of £30k. Our first target will be £7,000 to cover liability costs and consider the council’s response to the grounds.

Our goal remains to work collaboratively with the City of London to produce a sustainable co-design scheme for the Estate that respects the existing community, the environment, and the heritage, as well as providing 100% high quality, sustainable homes for new residents.

We were heartened by the positive response from many other groups fighting similar planning applications and know our previous victory has encouraged those groups to persevere with their own battles for planning justice. We hope you will stay on board and consider donating and sharing our page. Every donation helps, big or small, to challenge this damaging development.

Many thanks,

Friends of Mais House

Update 30

Friends of Mais House

Sept. 1, 2021

Funds update and next steps

Dear Supporters,
The decision to grant planning permission (again) was published by Lewisham Council on 19th August. We are reviewing the documentation to consider next steps. We continue to be careful with funds and residents have been doing a lot of work in their own time to keep legal costs down. 

  • We were awarded £35,000 of costs when we won the Judicial Review case. Our total legal costs, exceeded this, however, the money raised by Crowd Justice covered the shortfall.
  • There is an excess and we are now using this for further legal advice in light of the recent development, in order to assess possible next steps. 
  • Of the funds used to date, 97% have been spent on legal fees. A small balance has been spent on other costs such as architect consultancy and leaflet printing.
  • The funds continue to have oversight by a small group of residents.
  • If we make a new challenge, we will need to fund raise to cover legal fees.

You may have seen Helen Kinsey quoted in a recent Guardian article:

We continue to campaign for a better quality, less damaging development on the site of Mais House.

Many thanks,

Friends of Mais House

Update 29

Friends of Mais House

July 1, 2021

Outcome of Strategic Planning Committee

You may have heard that the strategic planning committee approved the planning application on Tuesday evening (29th June) for the demolition and redevelopment of Mais House.

We were given notice of the meeting only 12 days in advance and in that time 42 new documents were submitted. The community pulled together and worked really hard, lobbying councillors, MP’s, and other stakeholders.

The Committee, in their wisdom, chose to ignore the advice of their own experts, a legal expert in planning, and two MP’s, to say nothing of misreading the passion in the community for meaningful and transparent consultation and protecting the environment. The process was an interesting insight into the lip service paid to democracy.

We are gaining support in our request for an amended development and will continue to campaign for what is right. We are in touch with the legal team.

Thank you for all the support. We will keep you updated.

Update 28

Friends of Mais House

June 26, 2021

Campaign Update - Planning Committee

Many of you will have seen that Lewisham Council have resubmitted the same plans again and these are being considered by a strategic planning committee on Tuesday 29th June.

We are disappointed that, Lewisham, despite losing at the High Court with the Judgment highlighting several issues,  have chosen not to reconsider their approach or discuss further with residents, and have submitted the exact same application.

As we won the High Court case, we were awarded costs of £35,000 (capped according to Aarhus convention) and these have been received by our solicitor. After final legal fees for the Court case were paid, the remaining funds are sitting with our legal advisors.

We will continue to respond to the development proposal and seek legal advice where appropriate. We appreciate your continued support. We strongly believe that a better quality development on the site is possible, which will better serve the community (existing and future) and the environment.

If you are not already a member of our google group and would like to help with the response, please email us at [email protected].

Many thanks,

Friends of Mais House

Update 27

Friends of Mais House

May 18, 2021

TOGETHER WE DID IT! Success in Court

Dear Friends, 

We are delighted to announce that Mrs Justice Lang handed down her judgement this morning. She concluded:

“Given the number of significant errors made by the Council, and the possibility that, absent such errors, a different conclusion could have been reached by the Planning Committee, I consider that the decision to grant planning permission ought to be quashed.”

She has found in our favour on the following grounds:

Ground 1: failure to give great weight to harm to heritage assets and failure to consider the extent of less than substantial harm as required by the PPG [Planning Policy Guidance].

Ground 2: failure to take into account the Conservation Officer’s advice.

Ground 4: failure to make background papers available.

Ground 6: failure to ask the Design Review Panel to consider the planning application in breach of legitimate expectation.

Needless to say we are absolutely thrilled! Justice has been done for the community, the environment and for all who have supported us. We hope our success gives hope to many others facing similar planning issues. Thank you so much!

We now sincerely hope The City of London and Lewisham will work with the community to produce much needed, sustainable, appropriately scaled, good quality social housing for the site that respects both the built and natural environment.

Once again, a huge, huge  THANK YOU! 
Update 26

Friends of Mais House

April 30, 2021

Update on the Court Case

Dear Supporters,

We were in Court on Tuesday and Wednesday. We had hoped the link to the public gallery might have been published in time to share, but in the event the court gave permission to share it widely only half an hour before the case began. Since late comers were not admitted this did not give us time to share it through Crowd Justice. 

The Judge will give her ruling in writing and we will let you know as soon as the result is published. It is of course inadvisable to speculate.

We are hugely appreciative of all the support we have had, and now, we wait patiently. 

With very best wishes,
Friends of Mais House
Update 25

Friends of Mais House

April 26, 2021

We did it!

Dear Friends,

We did it! We are a few pounds short but our solicitor has confirmed we have enough to pay legal fees and costs. A huge thank you for your commitment and support to this monumental fund raising effort in the name of democracy, the environment, our heritage, and our community.

Now we are all keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow!

The solicitor is confirming whether we can send the link around. The case begins tomorrow morning at 10am. If we are able to send the link, you must join before 9.50, muted and with no video. Please note: The Law does not permit recording of the hearing. We've been told that to do so is contempt of Court. 

We do not know when the Judgment will be handed down, but will post an update as soon as we know the result. Depending on the Judgment and Lewisham's reaction, we may need to seek
further funding.

Thanks again!
Friends of Mais House

Update 24

Friends of Mais House

April 23, 2021

Court Hearing on Tuesday & Wednesday - 3 days to go!

A BIG thank you to all supporters for your generous donations and messages of support and encouragement. If anyone feels moved to add a further donation, it would be gratefully received. We have raised an incredible amount, but at the time of writing we are £2,000 short. 

The case is due to be heard before Mrs Justice Lang DBE on Tuesday and Wednesday, 27 and 28 April 2021. The Judge has directed that the case be listed at 10 am.

The case is likely to be heard remotely. It is not permitted to record the hearing, but a public link may be provided so that anyone can attend. If so, we will endeavour to post an update when it becomes available.

Our campaign has 300 individual backers, which shows the strength of feeling about the proposed development.

Best wishes,

Friends of Mais House

Update 23

Friends of Mais House

April 13, 2021

BBC London Lunchtime News!

We were on BBC News yesterday. The piece only remains on the BBC site for 24 hours, however, a copy has been saved on this link to view and share with friends and contacts. You may need to copy and paste it into your search bar:

Please do share it. We are in Court in two weeks. 

Here are all the other links:
Many thanks for all your contributions and support for this cause to protect community, green space, heritage, environment and democracy.

Friends of Mais House

Update 22

Friends of Mais House

April 10, 2021


We have 16 days to reach our target and urgently need £10k more. The clock is ticking. 

Please help however you can by sharing our link with your family, friends and contacts with a short message imploring them to donate! Every share and every donation large or small makes a difference.

The final traunche of documents were filed with the court on Thursday and we are really pleased we have managed to pay the lawyers to date. We are now raising funds for the court case itself. 

Helen Kinsey was interviewed by Selma El-Wardany (standing in for Eddie Nestor) on BBC Radio London on Wednesday. Helen spoke about the need to rethink how social housing developments and community green spaces must be considered, together. You can listen to the interview at 50 mins 30 secs into the programme, here:

A report on London’s Green Community Spaces was published in October supported by The Mayor. An update cited the increased recognition of their importance following the lockdown experience: 

‘....we need to recognise that parks are part of a wider network of public realm, which includes spaces such as civic squares, streets and green areas in housing estates.’

You can read the full report here

We have campaigned solidly for two years to get this far. We have really valued all your support and would not be where we are without you. We are fully determined to make this target. Please, please do keep sharing. 

Crowd Justice:




We wish you a lovely weekend and a safe venture into the weeks ahead as we begin to leave lockdown.

Friends of Mais House

Update 21

Friends of Mais House

April 7, 2021

Amazing support & final push to 27th April Court hearing!


We have done magnificently! Please pull out all the stops to help us reach our target before going to Court on 27th April.

London’s small green spaces are increasingly being recognised as the lifeblood and lungs of the Capital.

Our legal team are busy working on our case and will update us as soon as they can. 

We would like to thank everyone who has spread the word or donated over the Easter weekend, the response has been amazing. We have campaigned for over 2 years for a more sensitive development, which we strongly believe is achievable.

Update 20

Friends of Mais House

April 3, 2021

Please help us reach £25k by 7th April - we're nearly there!

Our lawyers hoped to file a response to the detailed grounds of resistance before Easter, however, our response needs several comments and additional documents. Our legal team will take the extra time to fully consider their response and will file by  7th April. 

We are working hard to reach the £25k mark by this date, before the final push to reach our target for the court hearing on 27th & 28th April. 

We are thrilled to have made it this far and thank everyone for their support. This case is becoming more prominent as it is clear how much our precious green spaces have meant to us over lockdown. 

Do please keep sharing the links with your friends, family and contacts, it really makes a difference. 

Thank you and have a wonderful Easter!

Update 19

Friends of Mais House

March 28, 2021

Big Fundraising Push - Help Stop the Monster Build!

We have set our next goal as £25k by just after Easter, as we want to pay our legal fees as we go along.

Being granted a Judicial Review hearing is a huge achievement, we are encouraged that we have a strong legal case. The Court hearing is in just 4 weeks' time, so we must keep up momentum. We are undertaking a big fundraising effort to reach £25k by 7th April. 

  • Please email your friends about our campaign to stop the monster build that is set to destroy a conservation area.
  • Please follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook group - every like and share helps!

Many thanks for your support in bringing this case to Court. We appreciate all the words of encouragement.

Friends of Mais House

Update 18

Friends of Mais House

March 23, 2021

COURT HEARING ON 27th APRIL – Together We Can Do It!

With the clock counting down to the Judicial Review Hearing on 27th April and Lewisham Council determined to fight this all the way, we have limited time to raise funds.

Lewisham and the City of London have filed their detailed grounds of resistance with the Court. Their story has not changedOur case is as strong as ever and our legal team are preparing the trial documents, which we must file by 29th March.


Castlebar, a care home occupying the Victorian mansion next to Mais House, announced last week to residents and staff that it will close on 30th April. We have always argued that Castlebar will be adversely affected by the scale, massing, and proximity of the City's development.

We are shocked by the timescale given to Castlebar’s 40 residents, even more so in these restricted times.

Big Campaign Push

We are about to embark on a big fundraising push to raise the money to go to Court. We are encouraged by the support we have received so far. We are sure this development will set a precedent for further high-density building on the ridge.This case is about protecting our ecosystem and our heritage from a monster build. We want high-quality, sustainable social housing.

All help (post & sharing links) and every donation - big or small, is hugely appreciated.

Together, we can make a difference.

Update 17

Friends of Mais House

March 15, 2021

Thank you to our generous supporters! We have hit £17k

With the Court date fast approaching, we must keep up the momentum. We are aiming for £20k next.

Whilst we can't view individual donor's details, we read all your comments. We know that this campaign is important to many people.

Section drawing of proposed development.

If you haven’t had a chance to share the links yet, here they are again. Every share counts!

With thanks,

Friends of Mais House

Update 16

Friends of Mais House

March 14, 2021

Can you help us reach £17k by 17th March?

Can you share our links ?

We need funds to engage our lawyers in scrutinising the defence documents on 17th March.

We would be so grateful for a big share of our links at this time. 

Thank you all so much for your support. This is a really important case: Low Quality Development vs Our Environment.

Many thanks to all our supporters

Friends of Mais House

Update 15

Friends of Mais House

March 8, 2021

Help Save Our Trees - Urgent Appeal

Thanks to our generous supporters, we have now reached £14,000! To keep on target, we need a further £3,000 by 17th March.

Nineteen mature trees cannot be replaced, community green space, wildlife habitats and unbroken treeline once gone, are gone.

As you are aware, we have been granted a Judicial Review. This is a huge success. But we now have very little time to raise the funds to go to Court. We are a small group of volunteers who are passionate about our community and our environment. We know we can do it, but it will take a push, and all the help we can muster. 

We really need your help to spread the word, please get in touch if you can help us. Please email [email protected]

Follow us on social media and share with your contacts:

NEW! We now have a website giving more information and history:

Update 14

Friends of Mais House

Feb. 26, 2021

Court hearing date set for 27th April!

We need to raise the legal fees so that we can present our case in Court, it is estimated that total costs will be £35,000. We therefore need to raise £22,000 by the end of April.

We have achieved so much in getting to this point and could not have done it without our supporters.

Obtaining a Judicial Review was a significant achievement, we now need to undertake a huge fundraising campaign ahead of the Court hearing in 2 months' time. We will be sending out press releases and posting on social media. Our campaign needs everyone to engage with these posts by liking and sharing them, encouraging others to donate. If you have any press or media contacts, please speak to them about our campaign.  We can supply press releases - please contact us via Twitter, Facebook or at [email protected].

There is a strong sense of injustice about how the development consultation was carried out. Some of the issues consistently raised were:
  • Unprecedented density in a suburban location with poor infrastructure and transport links at the top of a hill
  • Incongruous design - overbearing and intrusive
  • Disregard for the Area of Special Character along Sydenham Ridge
  • Sydenham Woods wouldn't be there if local residents hadn't campaigned for it back in the 80s - Southwark council wanted to build on it
  • Negative impact on biodiversity in a nature corridor, loss of 19 mature trees and severe damage to several more excellent specimens.
  • Loss of play space for residents of Otto Close
  • Displacement of Mais House residents, lack of assisted living and limited accessible homes

Many thanks for your continued support.

Friends of Mais House

Update 13

Friends of Mais House

Feb. 18, 2021

Fundraising FAQ

Outlined below are some fundraising FAQs, which we hope supporters find useful.

  • Where does my donation go?

Funds are transferred weekly, direct to the campaign solicitors, Harrison Grant. The funds pay for the time of the solicitor, QC, Court fees and any expenses incurred (e.g. photocopying). The funds will also be used to cover any of the other side’s costs we may be obliged to pay (which we have been advised, will very likely be capped at £5,000).

  • Why am I not receiving any updates?

We post regular updates onto the Crowd Justice case page. These are sent to supporters who chose to opt in to receiving email updates; please check your junk mail. Updates may also be viewed on the Crowd Justice case page.

  • What is a stretch target and why does it keep moving?

Crowd Justice requires campaigns to set an initial target that reflects the funding requirements of the first stages of the legal procedure. Once this initial target is met, these first pledges are paid to the solicitors. If we are advised we have a case and decide to move forward, ‘stretch targets’ are then set to meet the legal costs of each next step. Sometimes legal cases, once initiated, are settled out of court, this system prevents us from raising funds we would not need if that were to happen.

  • Why does the countdown keep changing? 

The Crowd Justice countdown resets to 30 days by default. We will ask for it to be adjusted if funds are needed by a particular date, as per the legal process.

  • What fees do Crowd Justice charge?

Crowd Justice deduct approximately 6.3% from donations, this comprises a 3% administration fee plus card transaction fees.  This is not an extra charge on your card, it just means slightly less of what you donate goes to fund our case.  This is comparable to other fundraising sites.

  • Why are Crowd Justice asking me for a 10% contribution to support access to justice?

This is a Crowd Justice initiative, it is entirely voluntary and is separate from our campaign. When you enter your card details, you are asked if you would like to make an additional donation. This donation goes towards help funding access to justice for other causes.  You can click on edit to change the additional donation to as much as you want, or zero. 

  • Do the organisers have access to our personal details?

The Crowd Justice platform is the recommended platform for raising funds in legal cases brought by a community. It is a secure and transparent site and takes care of compliance matters. None of the funds raised pass through our hands and we do not have access to your card details, your email addresses or any other details.

  • Who oversees the fund?

A volunteer from our group completes a fund reconciliation monthly. This is agreed with the solicitor and overseen by five residents.

  • What happens, when the case ends, to any funds left over? Will I get a partial refund?

Crowd Justice have a set policy for leftover funds, which are detailed in their terms and conditions. It will depend on the total amount of donations that you have made.

  • What happened to the funds that were raised on the GoFundMe site?

After paying architect fees and campaign expenses (eg leaflet printing and drone images), the remaining balance (£825) has been transferred to the campaign solicitors, Harrison Grant.

  • How many backers are there?

As at the end of January 2021, there were 131 individual Crowd Justice backers.

  • Finally

If information sometimes appears a little anomalous (e.g. funds haven’t quite made their targets, or the clock moves forward before we expect it to) please bear in mind we are a small group of volunteers juggling life in lockdown! We are always grateful for extra help from supporters with fundraising experience.  Please do get in touch ([email protected]) if you can help.

Update 12

Friends of Mais House

Feb. 13, 2021


We are thrilled to announce that we have been granted permission for Judicial Review. Mrs Justice Lang has agreed we have an arguable case on all grounds. At the end of the Order she says: 

‘In my view, the Claimant’s grounds are arguable and merit consideration at a full hearing’.

The Order sets out the timetable for the case:
  • the Council and the City of London now have to file and serve detailed grounds and any written evidence within 35 days of service of the Order; 
  • that takes us to 18 March 2021
  • We then have 21 days to file a Reply and any further evidence.
The Court will now be looking to list this matter for a two-day substantive remote hearing. The Court has also confirmed that this is an Aarhus Convention claim so that costs, should we lose, are limited to £5k.

We have built up a firm foundation of supporters and we are building momentum. We are constructing a website which will give the history of the area and the woods as well as host updates and have a link to the CJ page. This should help engage the media and people further afield.

We have had a few days respite from fund raising. We will now need to set a target of £35k which, all being well, will cover the costs of preparing for court and a two-day hearing. We are researching now, whether this will be best done in stages or in one swoop. In the meantime, we wanted to share the news, and of course, need to raise money, either way.  

A community felt there was an injustice, a solicitor confirmed this was likely, a QC then added his confirmation, and now a judge says we have an arguable case! Our strength is in this strong sense of injustice against the environment and the community.

Please do continue to share our links with friends and family and on your social media platforms, we have rather a lot of money to raise and need to reach a wider audience. Use short bold headlines e.g. 'Judge confirms we have an arguable case. Help save our environment! Justice for Social Tenants’

A huge thank you for helping us to make it this far.
Update 11

Friends of Mais House

Jan. 31, 2021

Thank you and next steps for February

We reached our £12,000 target! Thank you so much for all your help.

We have now raised enough to pay all our legal fees to date. We expect the Judge to decide whether to grant permission for a Judicial Review by 20th February. In the meantime, we are stretching our target to £17,000 in order to cover our liability of the other side’s costs, which we expect to be limited to £5,000. In the unlikely event that we cannot proceed, the £5,000 will go towards those costs.

Following feedback from backers, we are preparing a list of FAQs about the case and the fund raising process which we will post as soon as we have drawn it up. If we are given permission to proceed, we will further stretch our target to cover the costs of going to court.

Please do keep sharing our link on your networks.

Many thanks,

Friends of Mais House

Update 10

Friends of Mais House

Jan. 30, 2021

Reply filed to the Council’s defence at Court & Fundraising

Yesterday, Friday 29th January, Lawyers [Susan Ring of Harrison Grant Solicitors & Richard Harwood QC] acting on behalf of a member of the Friends of Mais House, filed a Reply to the Council’s defence at Court; a Judge will now consider whether to grant permission to bring Judicial Review proceedings against Lewisham Council and the Corporation of the City of London.

If the Judge approves the application for permission, the case will move to a full hearing; the Friends hope that the Courts will quash the recent planning permission and the City will work collaboratively to produce a co-design scheme for the Estate that respects the existing community as well as providing high quality homes for new residents.

Your contributions have made this progress possible.  Thank you!  We are working hard to reach our target of £12,000 by Monday. Please continue to support this campaign by donating and sharing the Crowd Justice link.  Inevitably, our target will be stretched further as the case progresses. However, we are taking this step-by-step, with each step bringing us closer to success.

NB it has come to our attention that not all our backers are receiving our email updates. It is best to check back on this site as we post regular updates here.

Update 9

Friends of Mais House

Jan. 24, 2021

Our campaign is in the press! Please comment, like & share

Our campaign is building momentum. Lewisham and CoL are due to submit their grounds of Resistance on Tuesday. We are now in the News Shopper and News from Crystal Palace.

Please do feel free to spread the word; the quality of our environment is so important and never more so than in these times.
Many thanks.

Update 8

Friends of Mais House

Jan. 20, 2021

Local victory for Cox's Walk & six days left to reach £12,000

Locals have recently won a planning decision to prevent the Cox’s Walk oak trees from being felled. This is huge and shows what we can do when we work together.

These beech and catalpa (Indian bean) trees are two of the many under threat from the Mais House development. Nineteen trees will be felled and many more severely pruned. Well used green space will be lost, precious to both the wildlife and the community, particularly the children. We have six more days to raise £3,500. Please help spread the word and share with your friends and networks. Every donation, like and share makes a difference and is truly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Beech tree next to Mais House:

  • Catalpa at the back of Mais House:

Update 7

Friends of Mais House

Jan. 13, 2021

Funding for next stage - 26th January

26TH JANUARY 2021 is our next deadline to ensure we can pay the lawyers for the next stage.
We have two weeks to reach our stretch target of £12,000, this is to review the Summary Grounds of Resistance. Please share this page as widely as possible, all shares make a difference.  Together we can quash this unjust decision.

Thank you for your support.

Update 6

Friends of Mais House

Jan. 8, 2021

Update on the legal case and fundraising

We are thrilled to have made our initial Crowd Justice target. Thank you for supporting and sharing our campaign to challenge a planning decision that will be so detrimental to this unique environment.

Our lawyers received the responses from Lewisham and The City of London and filed the claim in Court where it was issued and has been served on the defendant. Lewisham and The City of London are required to respond to the court with their grounds for defence by 26th January 2021. A Judge will then consider whether there is an arguable case and make a decision on granting permission for judicial review.

We are now actively fundraising to reach the £12,000 stretch target to cover a potential claim for costs from the other side and enable us to begin moving on to the next stage, which will be to consider any grounds of resistance.

Your support is hugely appreciated.

Note: now that we have met the initial target, the countdown will automatically renew every 30 days.

Update 5

Friends of Mais House

Dec. 29, 2020

Thank you for helping us reach our initial target!

Dear Supporters,

Thank you to everyone who donated, shared, and supported the cause. We have made it to our initial target of £7,000!

We have instructed the lawyers to review Lewisham’s response and file the case in court, if that is the recommendation following the review. We are still waiting for Lewisham’s response, which is due tomorrow. We will keep you updated on the case.

You will see the site has automatically moved onto the stretch target of £12,000. If the judge gives permission for the case to be heard, and our legal team advise us, we can take the case all the way through the court. This money will then be needed.

Once again, thank you so much for all your support, for justice and the environment.

Best wishes,

Friends of Mais House

Update 4

Friends of Mais House

Dec. 28, 2020

Over 80% funded - 2 days to meeting our target!

On Wednesday 30th December, Lewisham are obliged to reply to our legal team. Our legal team will review the reply and then apply to the court for permission to proceed with the case.

We are very close to our initial £7,000 target, needed to instruct the legal team to proceed with this action.

Please continue to share our campaign on social media and consider asking a friend or family member to pledge £20, if 40 people did this we would reach our target.

Once again, many, many thanks for helping out with this crucial case.

Friends of Mais House

Update 3

Friends of Mais House

Dec. 26, 2020

Help us bring this crucial case to court - 50% funded!

This development will impact The Great North Wood, a tract of ancient woodland on the highest point of South London. This treasured biodiverse ecosystem, is enjoyed by people across South London.

Another large development has been applied for on the ridge citing the planning permission granted for this development. It is vital we make a stand and prevent the flood gates from opening so we can protect this unique environment.

We raised £7,400 for legal advice and to deliver a pre-action protocol letter to Lewisham Council. Judicial Review has a very tight time-frame. The funds are needed for the legal team to review Lewisham’s response and register the case in court which must be done by 30th December.

We are extremely grateful for your support in this crucial case and ask if you could share this page with as many friends and groups as you can so we are able to take this forward.

Thank you.
Update 2

Friends of Mais House

Dec. 20, 2020

We have until 30th December to raise funds!

We are aiming to raise the initial target by 30th DECEMBER, when we are due to respond to the Council.

In addition to the removal of 19 trees, many mature trees near the development will be severely pruned or suffer root damage. This is to make space for a 32% increase in footprint.

This black locust tree is scheduled for removal, the application noted that it was a 'Fine, large specimen... outstanding landscape value'.

This summer, the tree was severely cut back, due to one branch being diseased. There are excellent tree specimens including oak, beech, Indian bean, and cedar scheduled for pruning across the estate.

Black locust tree before and after pruning

Oak tree on the boundary

Oak and red beech on the boundary

We really appreciate the level of support the campaign has received in such a short time.

Update 1

Friends of Mais House

Dec. 17, 2020

Legal letter sent to Lewisham yesterday

Yesterday, a pre-action protocol letter was sent to Lewisham Council by our solicitors. This is a significant step forward for our case and we have been advised there is a good prognosis of success.

It is now imperative that we share our campaign with as many people as we can to raise funds for the next stage. We expect Lewisham's reply by 30th December.

Please follow us and share on social media:

The grounds focus on the illegality of the decision taken, owing to serious neglect to inform the Planning Committee of Heritage and Conservation reports available. This is backed up by Lewisham’s own Community Involvement Statement, The planning Act, The Listed Buildings Act, The Local Government Act, The National Planning Policy Framework, and a number of recent case laws. Protection of the environment is key. 

Many thanks for your support

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