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Camberwell and my life in it

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Welcome to the Camberwell Online blog, a place for free and spirited exchange on anything with even a tangential connection to the South-East London district.

All Change On Camberwell Green

Written by | 43 Comments.

After what feels like years of discussions and focus groups, planning permission has finally been presented for Camberwell Green. More on this in a bit, but other plans are afoot too.

Theoretically, work on pocket spaces and specifically Datchelor Place (home to Flying Fish and Pigeon Hole) will be pedestrianised before the end of this financial year (Take heed Southwark Council: April 5th. Get a move on). After this one is done, there’s still a quite a few other pocket spaces to do too. The very successful Camberwell Arts Christmas Market showed what can be done there if given the space and the resources.

The New Camberwell Library

The New Camberwell Library

The new library is taking shape nicely too. Whilst I have been quite vocal in my disgust at a (Labour run) Southwark Council sham of a “consultation” and the destruction of the orchard, the library itself looks good from the outside and I hope that we get something that we can be proud of. I love the type font for the front of the building. The new library sits on the edge of Camberwell Green, between the green and the Magistrates’ Court.

Which brings me neatly onto the plans for Camberwell Green.

On the whole I think the plans sympathetically take into account the history of the Green whilst giving it a much needed and welcome upgrade. Thought has been given to allow people clear paths to the library and beyond, to the court and even Burgess Park. However, there are some aspects that I am not so keen on. Below is a screen grab from one of the many planning permission documents. You can see all of the documents here: Southwark Planning Website

Camberwell Green Overview of plans

Camberwell Green Overview of proposed plans


In the plus column:

  • The green will retain some of the historical features such as the original gateposts, the ancient pathways, the war memorial and the Sidney Bates memorial bench. I hadn’t really noticed the gateposts before, but I am glad they are being restored.
    Camberwell Green

    Original pathways and most of the mature trees to be retained.

    Camberwell Green Gatepost
    Original Gateposts to be restored and retained.
  • Most of the trees are to be kept, including the lovely massive one that overhangs the pathway by the loo (see below for more about the loo). At the same time, more trees will be planted, including disease resistant elm trees to replace some of the trees in the future.
  • The railings will now be kept around most of the Green. (The original designs took these away to make it less pleasant to stop people hanging around there being “anti-social” i.e. street drinkers, but without thinking it might make it less pleasant for everyone else as well!)
  • The playground has been moved to the north end of the green. I think this makes for a better, larger connected open space rather than two spaces divided by the playground.
  • The south east side of the green will be extended to take in part of the road in front of the Peabody Estate. This will be used for the farmer’s market and other events. I think it makes sense to bring the market to a more obvious position. Hopefully this will help the market traders and customers.

    Future Location of the Farmer's Market.

    Future Location of the Farmer’s Market.

  • The borders of the green on Camberwell Church St and Camberwell Road will be filled with flowers and wild meadows to create a buffer zone between the green and the traffic.
  • There are also several “feature walls”, near the borders, some of which will also contain seating.
  • And finally, there will be a pedestrian crossing from the green to Camberwell Passage. As someone who crosses the road here all the time to catch the bus, I know this is a really helpful thing. (I hope they don’t make it too frustrating for traffic though. If it’s a pelican crossing that takes for ever for the green man, often people have crossed already meaning drivers have to pointlessly wait while nobody crosses!)

On the down side:

  • The toilet. Yes, THE TOILET! It screams: “Welcome to Camberwell, it’s full of s**t!”. Apparently this toilet, that sits at the crossroads to the green (where a beautiful water feature of another type used to sit, see pics below) has to stay because the bus drivers need it. I’m sorry, but I have never once seen a bus driver, or anyone else use this toilet, except on the rare occasions when there are big events on the green. If it has to be kept (and I do not think it’s worth it personally) a much better solution would be to have it near the farmer’s market area, in a more discreet position. Not with the door opening onto a busy crossroads where everyone can see you! (Apparently cost is preventing this. See below for my solution).
Welcome to Camberwell Green. It's a bit shit.

Welcome to Camberwell Green. It’s a bit s**t.

Note the old water fountain that pre-dates the current water feature!

Note the old water fountain at the entrance to the Green that pre-dates the current water feature!

  • I don’t like the new street lights that are proposed. I think they will date very quickly and the ones we have currently are a much better design for the green. Maybe the money saved by not buying new street lights could be used to pay for moving the turdis (a.k.a. the toilet).
Existing Lamp Posts

Existing Lamp Posts. Pigeon Optional.


Proposed Lamp Posts for Camberwell Green.

Proposed Lamp Posts for Camberwell Green. Man with briefcase optional.


So what now?

What do you think? Do you like the plans? What do you want to see changed, even at this late stage?

As well as adding your comments below, if you want to show your support or opposition to the plans (see full details of all the documents and plan here) you should email Southwark’s Planning department quoting planning reference 14/AP/4537. Send your emails to: planning.​consultation@​southwark.​gov.​uk.

A note on the Southwark website says: “Please make sure that you state the application number and your postal address. Comments that you submit will be published on this website for others to see”, so make sure you do this.

And if you want to make a fuss (dare I say a “Sh*tstorm”?) about the toilet plans, get in touch. Let’s march!

43 Comments » . January 17th, 2015. Filed under Activism, Development, General, Guest Author, History, Places

Camberwell’s place in The New Southwark Plan

Written by | 48 Comments.

Southwark Council recently released The New Southwark Plan, a look at their intentions for the borough in the near future. Here’s what they say about Camberwell:

Camberwell will continue to be celebrated as a vibrant and distinctive town centre with a diverse and independent retail offer, an abundance of burgeoning creative and cultural industries and outstanding architectural heritage. Camberwell Green will undergo a sensitive programme of renewal to reinstate its role as the civic heart of the community. The town centre recently benefited from a refurbished leisure centre and within the plan period will benefit from public realm improvements and a new public library. Camberwell College of the Arts, the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital are prestigious local institutions that fulfil the dual function of major employers, educational institutions, treatment centres and visitor attractions.

So not much new there. We know about the plans for the Green, the new library, and the street improvements. But this is interesting:

Future development within the town centre will complement the existing commercial and civic functions. Key potential regeneration areas include the Butterfly Walk shopping centre, which could be transformed into a new public square for Camberwell, and Station Road. Both of these opportunities for significant development would include an improved retail offer and potentially other town centre uses alongside new homes.

A new public square, presumably where the car park is now. And what kind of regeneration in Station Road? Something to do with the railway arches, currently occupied by garages? Much of the road is taken up by the bus garage, can’t imagine that’s going anywhere. There are, irritatingly, no further details on either plan.

There are limited opportunities to provide new homes outside the town centre, with future development in the wider Camberwell area needing to be sensitive to the existing character and contribute towards an enhanced public realm.

After the new houses where Jono’s was, and the further down Camberwell Road where the builders yard was, there really aren’t many more opportunities for new housing. Which is why I think we won’t be getting a tube station — although if you don’t agree, you can join the march this Saturday.

Update: Oops, there was a first consultation on the plan last night. Missed that, sorry.

48 Comments » . November 25th, 2014. Filed under Development, Events

Camberwell Arts: Open Studios, Arts Markets & Catalogues.

Written by | 22 Comments.

We hope you enjoyed the 20th anniversary Arts festival with its mugs, cakes, lucky dip installations, arts market, music and Hokey Cokey! That was back in June, so we thought it was about time we updated you on what we have been working on since then. Download out latest newsletter from here.

Cataloguing Camberwell e-flyer landscape

Thurs 13th Nov, 7:30pm, Peckham Pelican — 92 Peckham Road, London SE15 5PY

Come and join us at the Peckham Pelican (strictly speaking, still within the Camberwell borders!) to pick up your very own commemorative copy of CATALOGUING CAMBERWELL as well as celebrate…
• Launch of the Christmas Open Studios flyer
• Launch of the Christmas Arts Market
• Introducing the new board of Camberwell Arts
• An exciting announcement about the 2015 festival theme!

There will be music by Winston Skerrit and Cassandra Rutledge, who will showcase work from the 20 Downloads project developed for this year’s festival, followed by The Art of the Magic Lantern — which uses pre-cinema projection equipment to create a new live performance by Nicole Mollett and Frog Morris.


We invited local residents to create a collective catalogue of this year’s festival of 20 commissioned artworks, 20 events and exhibitions that looked back, forwards and sideways at Camberwell and all it has to offer.
The results are Cataloguing Camberwell – a selection of our 20 favourite reviews.
In these pages you’ll find party bags, pop-up concerts and cake-based treasure hunts, the Beast of Camberwell, Eight Wonders of Camberwell and a Camberwell-inspired mug collection.
It’s not your typical catalogue, perhaps — but one that we hope showcases our thriving local arts scene and inspires you to explore Camberwell further.


We are delighted to announce the first ever co-branded Open Studios event!
In the run up to Christmas, the studios and artists of Camberwell will be throwing open their doors to the public and selling their wares to art-lovers and gift-seekers.
From canvases to prints, silver to ceramics, you will find something to suit all tastes and budgets in SE5 this Christmas.

Download your copy of the flyer from our website
Everyday, we are showcasing the artists on Facebook and Twitter #CAFXMAS2014 so you can get a sneak peak of what is to come!

East Camberwell Open Studios: Thu 28th — Sun 30th Nov
(Vanguard court & 11 Vestry Mews)

West Camberwell Open Studios: Fri 12th — Sun 14th Dec
(Artichoke Print Workshop, Clockwork Studios, Coldharbour Studios, Empress Mews & Remakery)

…Or pop into Daily Goods between 25th Nov-7th Dec, to see work curated by Orso Major Gallery.

MADE IN CAMBERWELL xmas 2014 logo

Saturday 6th December 10-5pm — Datchelor Place (Off Camberwell Church Street) SE5 7AP.

Join us at Datchelor Place on Sat 6th Dec for… MADE IN CAMBERWELL: An arts market bursting with crafters, artists and makers from Camberwell and beyond.
Set in a cosy cul-de-sac surrounded by cafes and eateries, we’ve made it easy to stock up on Christmas presents whilst keeping you toasty, well fed, and full of Christmas cheer.
Want to be a Stallholder? Download the application form & e-mail CamberwellArtsFestival@​gmail.​com

For the latest info:
@CamberwellArts - #CAFXMAS14

22 Comments » . November 8th, 2014. Filed under Art, Events, Shopping

Camberwell and the South East, 1960s.

Written by | 33 Comments.

Quite lovely short film in two parts about the modernisation of Camberwell and its surrounds in the early 1960s. Ironic to see the praise for modern housing which is now falling to pieces or knocked down, while the dismissed old housing is now worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

So many things that no longer exist. The church on Wren Road, the Rosemary Branch pub, the Camberwell Beauty on the Samuel Jones factory, the last remaining London dairy farm.

“The drama of change is the balance of loss and gain.”

Thanks to Twitter user @leighannewalker for finding these.

33 Comments » . October 21st, 2014. Filed under History