Public transport changes

The latest TfL Commissioner’s Report [PDF] has been published, and it contains mixed news for our manor. The bad (depending on your point of view, I suppose) news is that the proposed Bakerloo Line extension through Camberwell is off the table:

We undertook an initial consultation in autumn 2014 on route options for a Bakerloo line extension to the south of Elephant and Castle. Since then we have undertaken further work on a number of alternative routes proposed during the initial consultation. The results of that work demonstrate that the preferred route option for a first phase is from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham via Old Kent Road.

However, there is the promise of compensation for not getting the tube:

Any extension would also be supported by significant improvements to the national rail network in southeast London, including the possibility of a new Thameslink station at Camberwell.

Presumably this would be on the site of the old station, on Station Road — this area has previously been flagged for major development. It’s been mentioned that this would ‘reopen’ the station, but I think it would be a complete rebuild / new build — I can’t see how there’s enough left of the old station (closed to passengers in 1916, to freight in 1964) to be viable.

In other transport news, TfL is consulting on changes to the 436 bus route. It’s proposed that the bus will no longer go on to Paddington after Vauxhall, but will instead go to Battersea (to serve the new developments there). The bus would also reduce in frequency between Lewisham and Vauxhall. To compensate for the reduced service of the 436, the 36 would increase in frequency.

The consultation on this change closes on the 10th of January.

Thanks to London SE1 for the heads-up on the tube story.

On the buses

For the last few months, like many people, my commute to work has been affected severely by the road works at Elephant and Castle. The removal of the northern roundabout and the new north-south cycle superhighway have often created tailbacks all the way back to Camberwell Road. The option of traveling west up Camberwell New Road has also been affected by the road works for cycle superhighway 5 over Vauxhall Bridge. Personally I welcome these developments, but I will be very glad when their construction is finished.

The effect on traffic made me think about the extent to which Camberwell commuters rely on the bus to get to work. Census data from 2011 shows just how dependent we are – out of more than 8,500 wards in England and Wales, the six with the highest percentage of residents in employment who use the bus to get to work is:

Camberwell Green 44.3%
Peckham 44.2%
Faraday 43.9%
Livesey 41.1%
East Walworth 38.9%
Brunswick Park 38.6%

Source: Office for National Statistics, Neighbourhood Statistics, Method of Travel to Work (QS701EW), 2011

In other words, our little area of London is unique in the whole of England and Wales in terms of its reliance on the bus. The reasons for this are interlinked. With the exception of South Bermondsey and Denmark Hill stations, there are no other rail or tube links across the six wards. As with much of inner London, car ownership is low – between 60% (Brunswick Park) and 69% (Camberwell Green) of households do not own a car. Only 7% of commuters across the six wards cycle to work, which compares to upwards of 20% in areas of Hackney (although hopefully this will change once the new cycling infrastructure is in place). By contrast, the bus network is very comprehensive. 15 different bus routes pass through Camberwell Green, which is one more than Piccadilly Circus. During rush hour on Camberwell Road, the interval between northbound buses is usually less than a minute.

Just another reason, if one were needed, why Camberwell is special.

Camberwell’s view of St Paul’s Cathedral Update

In 2014 and earlier this year I wrote about the proposal for residential towers on Park Street near Tate Modern that threatened the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the northwest corner of Camberwell Green. In response to the concerns raised by local residents, the developer reduced the height of the tallest tower by two storeys, and in the summer Southwark Council gave the go-ahead for the project. The new building will still have an adverse effect on the view of the drum of the Cathedral, but the view of the dome should be preserved. It is probably the best outcome we could have expected, so thank you to all those who wrote to the Council to object to the original proposal.

Nevertheless, it will still stick in the craw when the towers are completed, and their top floor penthouses are marketed for their unparalleled views of the Cathedral!

Help crowdfund the Coal Line

My Camberwell friends, I may have a part of the cycle solution (certainly to Millwall, Dagmar) – but we need your help! The Peckham Coal Line is now Crowdfunding through Spacehive. Take part and help this resident-initiated project move one step closer to creating an urban linear park that would connect South London. An oasis of greenery soaring high across the rooftops of Peckham on a disused rail siding. A route as useful as it is beautiful, unlocking dormant Victorian infrastructure to connect neighbourhoods and high streets, and people to work.

More than a park – a vital connection: The 900-meter link will be for walkers and cyclists and will bridge a gap in a wider network of greenways that would run largely traffic free across South Camberwell to Greenland Dock where Sustrans are planning a new bridge to Canary Wharf. The campaign needs to get out to a wider audience so if any of you know of someone who might be interested please forward the website to them.

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Proposed improvements to Camberwell town centre

Southwark Council have recently begun a public consultation into proposed improvements to the ‘public realm’ around Camberwell Green. There is an overview of the plans in this PDF [3MB], and more detailed maps are available at the consultation website.

In this post I’m going to point out a few of the more obvious changes that I noticed, with comments where I feel them useful. Hopefully in a future post we’ll get some more detailed commentary from Tom Leighton, who’s likely going to be somewhat more critical than I.

Map of Camberwell Green showing proposed improvements

Congestion around the bus stops outside Butterfly Walk has been addressed by relocating bus stop Q (35, 42, 45, 68, 345, 468) from outside McDonalds to the north side of the junction, outside the Green on C’well Rd. The pavement here will be extended to accommodate the extra passengers, and a new pedestrian crossing.

The pavement will also be extended from the corner of the junction where the Tiger sits, up past bus stop P outside Barclays Bank, to Butterfly Walk. Unfortunately, congestion around bus stop L, outside London Food & Wine on C’well Church St., hasn’t been similarly addressed with any pavement changes.

Traffic signals will be changed to allow right turns from Denmark Hill into Coldharbour Lane, and two-way traffic into Daneville Road. The pedestrian crossing near Orpheus Street has been moved further north, directly outside the entrance to Butterfly Walk. These two changes are aimed at making safer the area around Orpheus Street, previously noted as an accident blackspot, and where Esther Hartsilver was killed recently.

Sadly, there seems to be little further provision for safe cycling around the area. Small exceptions include a short cycle track turning southbound into Grove Lane, and a small cut-through to the leisure centre from Kimpton Road, where the new entrance to the parking spaces will be.

Another small step to making Camberwell Green junction safer in general is removing the right turn for buses onto Denmark Hill from C’well New Rd. I believe the eastbound 185 is the only bus that makes that turn, so it will be diverted along Medlar St.

There seems to be a preponderance of new taxi bays, for some reason. The bay outside Noodels [sic] City will be moved to outside FM Mangal, and new bays created outside Cruson.

The pavement outside the Hermits Cave will be extended, and the traffic lights outside removed. This is part of some changes that were already planned as part of the Pocket Spaces initiative — and already begun, in the case of Datchelor Place, as The Pigeon Hole are finding to their cost.

Overall I think these are broadly positive changes, although I’m a little disappointed by lack of proper considerations for cyclists — but then, as we don’t even get the TfL rental scheme here, I can only suppose that Southwark aren’t really interested in that.