The Fourth Reserve write;
The Fourth Reserve is a Conservation Trust established in 2016 to safeguard the natural heritage of South East London’s New Cross to Forest Hill cutting. Started as a small Friends Group’ living in the vicinity of the railway corridor, the group is concerned about one section of railway corridor in Brockley threatened with development under the ownership of a property developer.
The scout hut, situated on Courtrai Road, is on a strip of land bordering the railway line, the ‘middle part’ of the New Cross to Forest Hill Cutting that runs between Courtrai Road and Dalrymple Road. The whole stretch is already recognised by planning policy for its wildlife significance, designated as a Metropolitan Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the Lewisham Local Plan dating back to the 1990s.
This woodland is home to a variety of protected species including bats and many mature trees; it is the oldest section along the green corridor, with winding paths through a dense cover of mature woodland, a living of the Great North Wood and the pre-urbanisation of Lewisham. In order to protect the wildlife and their habitats local group the Fourth Reserve Trust is actively campaigning to preserve the neighbourhood’s fragile nature corridor and get the cutting recognised for its ecological significance as a statutory Local Nature Reserve. This would be of great benefit to the neighbourhood, in particular local schools.
This railway corridor is currently afforded a level of protection by planning policy. However, different parts of the corridor have different pressures making it vulnerable to deterioration and eventual loss with it’s SINC status not obligating management to maintain its biodiversity interest. Currently for example the Courtrai Road land which is depicted on maps as far back as the 1700s had building waste dumped on it in an apparent attempt to degrade the land only a few hours after receiving the designation of Asset of Community Value.
“The site itself has mature trees of species which are rarely found this near to central London and it is the best available in a wide area of surrounding suburbs“, noted David Dawson, Deputy Director of the London Ecology Unit in a 1990 report.