Food and Drink News: Openings and Closings

Featured illustration by Sam Peet, used with permission. Thanks, Sam!

Some enticing news, some good news, some bad news.

Openings

There’s a licensing application in for Ambigu, a new restaurant over two floors at 58a Church Street, the site of the recently closed Kalabash African restaurant and Club Couture in the basement. The food would be small plate / tapas, largely Latin American, with a small bar and a late license. The team behind the application are involved with the Bermondsey Social Club, and Blues Kitchen in Brixton and Shoreditch. You can see more details on the published appeal to local residents [PDF].

It’s an interesting proposition; the request is to have a license until 2am, and Camberwell doesn’t offer much in the way of late-night dining. My guess is that there will be some objections about noise from the residents of Camberwell Grove. I can’t find a formal decision made on the application as yet.

Peckham’s famous Frank’s will be moving into a winter residency in the room above The Camberwell Arms, which they bought outright back in May (I missed that news at the time). Seems Camberwell’s Frank’s will be a cocktail bar.

Major refurbishment work seems almost complete at The Grove, on Camberwell Grove, which will reopen this month as Grove House (update: it reopened on 11th November). After the last tenants, the Grand Union chain, sold most of their properties to the Draft House chain, The Grove returned to ownership by Young’s, but they’ve said they’ll only be acting as landlords and the new tenants are private; I don’t have any details yet on who they are.

Closings

The Bear, on Camberwell New Road, will be closing down for six-eight months from this Friday, 10th November as the landlord of the building renovates the upper floors of the building. The team at the Bear say they will definitely be re-opening again next year, and there’ll be a big party there on Friday.

Nape, the wine and charcuterie deli on Church Street, has permanently closed. They’ve said they’ll soon publish news about why they had to do it; I don’t know whether it was trouble with the premises (I know it wasn’t as complete as they wanted it to be), a simple lack of business, or just the difficulty of doing business in Camberwell.

Camberwell Church Street is becoming pretty bare after the closure of Angels & Gypsies, Queen’s, and now Nape. Does the area’s heavy concentration of students make it hard for slightly more expensive dining and drinking spots to keep going? Or is it perhaps with seasonality (it’s quiet in Summer and at Christmas, again because of students)? Is it more to do with the transport links? The A202 running through the middle of it?  Business rates?

Whatever the reason, seems that it’s often a struggle for small businesses to establish themselves here.

Possible Closing and Opening

I can’t comment on this publicly yet, but have been told that it’s likely that another small, popular, recently established business in the area may be closing soon. However, there’s a chance it could appear again in a different venue a little later. Sorry for being so maddeningly vague, I’ll update in future.

Camberwell Yards ‘box park’ plans scrapped

Plans for Camberwell Yards, the box park / container village project proposed for the area behind Butterfly Walk, have been scrapped. An email sent to some local residents says:

As you are aware, we have been working on this project for most of the year and have gone through extensive public and tenant consultations.

We have received a huge amount of interest and positive support for the project where the majority felt that this would be a beneficial addition to Camberwell.

At the end of an extensive reach, where we have also undertaken various surveys and reports including Transport and Noise Reports (following consultation of the Community) in order to support a planning application for this temporary project, we had hoped to submit the application for planning during September.

Unfortunately, our discussions with one key Tenant has proven to be unsuccessful as they feel that the project will not be compatible with their operation.

Therefore, it is with regret that we have to inform you that we will not be proceeding with this exciting project.

We would like to take this opportunity to all the people who attended the Consultation, and to all those people who have shown interest, co-operated and supported our team in endeavouring to get this project off the ground.

It’s fair to say that not everyone was behind this idea—some with reason, others less so—but I would have liked to have heard more about the plans, so it’s a shame this didn’t progress a little further.

More info if I get it.

A request for help to run the social media

I first posted on this blog 13 years ago and, despite some help from many people along the way, have been running it mostly singlehandedly. There have been an awful lot of changes to the way people use the web since 2013, not least the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and the amount of work to keep it going has increased greatly.

Lately I’ve been finding it a struggle to balance the work required to maintain a useful resource across all the platforms, as well as having a full-time job and keeping some kind of personal life. While I’m not planning to give it up any time soon, I wouldn’t mind asking for a bit of help.

I’m looking for volunteers on all the social channels. The work involved isn’t onerous; keep an eye on local news, share/retweet interesting stories, perhaps post the occasional bit of original content. If you’re a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram user who can spare a few minutes every other day or so, I’d hugely appreciate it.

It’s strictly volunteer work, unfortunately; I’m long past the stage where I could usefully earn any money from this. There are occasional opportunities to get invited along to events, but I can’t promise anything.

If you’re suitable and interested, you can leave a comment here, email peter@​camberwellonline.​co.​uk, or message me on any social channel.

Hope to hear from you.

A safer Camberwell Green; Camberwell Station; and Camberwell Yards

Before I get started with the latest news round up, a quick word of apology for some misinformation in my previous post. I read about the proposed Camberwell Yards temporary development (more on that later) and saw it described as ‘box park’, which I (mis-)understood to be the actual Boxpark rather than a similar concept. To be clear: Camberwell Yards is a box park rather than the Boxpark. I corrected my post shortly after publication, but some people had already read it and reacted to it before my correction was made. For that, I’m sorry. And from now on, I’ll be referring to it as a container village.

Now, on with the news.

Safer Camberwell Green

This week TfL opened a new public consultation on their proposed changes to Camberwell Green, aimed at making it safer after it was named as one of 73 junctions in London with unacceptable collision records. You can see the main proposals in the images below, or download a PDF for higher resolution.

Many of the proposed changes involve widening pavements—especially welcome for bus stop L outside London Food & Wine on Church Street—and pedestrian crossings. The traffic islands to the north, east, and south of the Green junction will be slightly shifted and expanded to accommodate the new wider crossings.

More substantial changes include the traffic lights at the junction of Church Street with Grove Lane / Artichoke Place, which will be removed and replaced with a signal crossing some 15m west, nearer Sophocles. The signal crossing at the junction of Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street will be moved north, nearer to Butterfly Walk (this was originally announced a few years ago).

There will be a new signal crossing on Camberwell Road, from the mouth of Camberwell Passage to the Green. This will involve moving bus stop E 35m to the north.

The bus stop on the corner of Vicarage Grove and Church Street will also be moved some 9m west, sort of opposite Lumberjack, to make it safer to turn left—especially for cyclists.

Cyclists will also benefit from changes to the Green junction, with early release lights and 5m advanced stop lines (which I can tell you from experience are barely obeyed by a not unsubstantial proportion of motorists). There will also be two-stage right turns for cyclists turning right onto Denmark Hill or Camberwell Road.

Finally, there will be a new cycle lane on Church Street heading west across the Green junction.

Map of proposed changes to Camberwell New Road
Camberwell New Road and west of Camberwell Green
Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Church Street
Camberwell Church Street and east of Camberwell Green
Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Road
Camberwell Road and lower Denmark Hill
Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Green junction
Camberwell Green junction

I think these are pretty decent proposals, but I look forward to hearing what everyone else thinks—and hope that if you have strong feelings about any of the changes, you let TfL know before 3rd September.

Camberwell Station

Southwark News have reported that the report into the proposed reopening of Camberwell Station has been pushed back by a few months, with a TfL spokesperson saying of a meeting between Network Rail, TfL, LB Southwark:

They’ve decided it needs a bit of extra work. It was a consensus of opinion between the three at the meeting. It will take a couple of months. Then it will need signing off again.

An article in a recent issue of Future Rail magazine, The Fight For Camberwell, has some interesting background on the reopening campaign, not least that Denmark Hill station saw some seven million passenger journeys in 2015–16—almost double the number from 2010-11.

Camberwell Yards

Southwark News also have a little more information on Camberwell Yards, the container village proposed for the small car park / loading bay behind Morrisons.

The reaction I’ve seen on Facebook & Twitter has been mixed, with many against it on principle because “it’s gentrification”. Which, to me, isn’t much of an argument because we don’t have any idea yet of what’s going to go in it, and the idea that ‘container village = gentrification’ smacks of dogma.

As an idea of what it could do for the area, the new Peckham Levels—set to open in the former car park above the cinema on Rye Lane this October—will host 70 businesses / organisations, of which 75% are from Peckham itself, and a further 10% from across Southwark. One of those businesses is our own Nandine, the Kurdish cafe on Vestry Road.

If the (much smaller) Camberwell Yards also supports local businesses in that way, I wouldn’t be against it at all.

 

News round-up: Camberwell box park, Camberwell Fair and more

Lots of things to talk about, not least the news that Camberwell could be set to turn into hipster central! Let’s start with that.

Camberwell Yards

There’s a chance that Camberwell will get its own temporary retail / entertainment space made of converted shipping containers, similar to Pop Brixton, The Artworks Elephant, or the Boxpark that’s so beloved of the hipsters in Shoreditch and, er, Croydon. Camberwell Yards, as it’s called, is mooted to be on the smaller area of the car park behind Morrisons in Butterfly Walk.

Map showing Camberwell Yards, just off Daneville Road
The proposed location of ‘Camberwell Yards’

There are a planned 14 shipping containers around a central communal area. The intended uses are:

  • Four containers for food and beverages
  • One container for local community use
  • Eight containers for local businesses
  • One container for WC
  • A central communal area for flexible use, e.g. a pop-up cinema
Indicative layout of Camberwell Yards
14 Container units surround a communal area
Sketch of the Camberwell Yards development
An artist’s sketch of how the area could look.

It’s fair to say that reaction on Twitter to this news has not been entirely positive, with much muttering of gentrification and hipsters. I’m not entirely against the idea myself, although I think the key word used in the description above is local. How will businesses be judged to be local? Who will decide? How will that be enforced?

If this brings new people to the area and gives support to truly local businesses, then yes it’s a positive move. If all it does is bring people in who stay only in the box park, don’t get out and see more, and in fact attracts custom away from existing local businesses, then no, it’s not a good thing.

Notices up on the former HSBC building state that there will be a public consultation about this on Thursday, 20th July, from 3–7pm, in the old bank itself. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make this. If anyone is planning to attend, do please get in touch and send me a report.

Update, 28/09/17: the plans have been scrapped.

Camberwell Fair

A reminder that this Saturday, 22nd July, Camberwell Fair returns to the Green. The fair is

a celebration of the diverse people, culture and community of the local area, and will feature 2 top quality music stages, 40 market stalls, food, bars and games.

Entry is once again free, although may not always be; the organisers are crowdfunding to raise £3,000 to cover their costs and keep it free in future. If you’ve enjoyed the fair in the past, or plan to this year, consider chipping in a few quid to support; it’s not entirely selfless, you can get some goodies in return for your donation.

Camberwell Grove Railway Bridge

If you live in East/South Camberwell, you may be affected by the ongoing closure of this bridge. The latest news is that it will cost at least £17,000 to strengthen the bridge to support vehicles up to 3 tonnes, plus the cost of works to ensure that heavier vehicles can’t cross it; or at least £1,000,000 to strengthen it for vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Some people want the bridge reopened, others want the closure made permanent. If you have an opinion, Southwark Council want to hear it.

The Bower

More crowdfunding news, this time for a new gallery, bookshop, publishing studio, and cafe—in a converted toilet block in Brunswick Park. The Bower will

host a series of exhibitions and events and produce books with artists and writers by Publication Studio London on site. In addition to this, The Bower will provide a much needed cafe service to the park, serving freshly made coffee, tea and refreshments, all from local suppliers.

If you’d like to see a better use for the old WCs, you might consider sending them a few quid towards their £10,027 (very specific) target.

Nape & Rock Oysters

A quick thanks to Cannon & Cannon for inviting me along to their Oyster Summer Session at Nape on Sunday. Fantastic Jersey oysters from &Rocks, and great wine from Nape themselves. Good to see the place nice and busy, it’s a very welcome addition to Camberwell and a local business that deserves support. And I’m not just saying that because I was given some free oysters.

Two plates of oysters, one raw, one cooked
Raw oysters with lemon, and grilled oysters with chipotle

Camberwell Green

And finally, the revamped and refreshed Camberwell Green has been awarded a Green Flag, “the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom”. It’s a pleasure to walk through there now, and great to see it so well-used in the nice Summer weather we’re having. Wish more people would pick their litter up after them, though.