Ben Patio special

Regular reader Ben Patio has trumped me with a series of exclusives recently.

He is right that the Apollo video library has just sublet half the store and is still open.

He revealed that a new Child Development Centre is going to open on Peckham Road (although, in fairness to me, I did notice that something was going on there, and almost wrote about it yesterday).

He also made the claim that Blake House was a front for laundering drug money, so today I passed by there to see if I could find any evidence; I’m not sure what I was expecting to see, perhaps two shaven-headed men exchanging a briefcase for a cardboard box. Anyway, I was disappointed.

I went to get a haircut at Cube and was fortunate enough to get a hairdresser who has lived all her life in Camberwell, so we had a good chat about the area. She told me that the Cube club (58a Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8QZ, no connection to the hairdressers, and I’ve never been there as I don’t trust bars with no windows) has been sold, and that her boss knows the owners of Blake House and thinks they just went bankrupt due to lack of business. Probably because of their measly portions.

So that’s two hits out of three for Ben Patio, which is better than I usually manage so I hope he never sets up a rival Camberwell blog.

In other news, my wife and I went to The Phoenix yesterday for lunch. The food was shit; it came out of the kitchen in about five minutes so had obviously been microwaved, and my sandwich had about half a jar of mayonnaise on it and was virtually inedible. Still a great place to have a drink, though.

Also, St George have appealed against Southwark Council’s decision to turn down planning permission for the Grove Lane development. It seemed to be a fairly emphatic refusal, so the appeal could be futile; however, big money has a way of getting what it wants.

I bought a copy of the Camberwell Quarterly yesterday so I’ll mine some stories out of that. Also, I’m giving serious consideration to going on a guided tour of the church next Tuesday. This offically puts me on the path to being elderly.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

21 thoughts on “Ben Patio special”

  1. glad to be of service… and there’s about as much chance of me starting a blog as there is of st george winning their appeal. when i was talking to someone from the planning dept the other day he said st george had begun negotiating a revised scheme, which usually means they don’t think they’ll win.

  2. Unrelated note but my partner and I went to Safa last night and it was bloody great, we had main and dessert and couple of drinks for £30. Lovely! Apart from the annoying party of four sat next to us making a huge fuss about what they were ordering (and one of them thought he knew everything Indian food…nob).

  3. Can recommend Silver Lake takeaway, just down from the Castle. Quick, friendly, and just delicious food. Me and the missus worship it.

  4. The Silver Lake is good, is it? I’ve been getting Chinese from my local, which is not exactly the delicacy it could be. I’ll check them out, if they deliver.

  5. They do everything, Chinese, Indonesian etc. The menu is a small book. Duck in plum sauce. [Adopts Homer Simpson voice] Mmmm…

  6. By the way, Guy, did you know you can order online from Safa? I’m not sure under which conditions you’d have internet access but no phone, but it’s always possible; and I suppose this would be perfect if you shun human interaction of all kinds.

  7. Speaking of eating and drinking has anyone tried the Dispensary — a new bar on Camberwell New Road? It’s ok but a little bit contrived — as if its trying a little too hard to be a “trendy London bar” .. and the drinks are ruinously pricy for Camberwell but saying that its light years better than the “Dog and Wifebeater” pubs that are in the immediate area

  8. Safa is indeed a very fine Indian restaurant. I am surprised it hasnt made it into Time Out or the like yet…
    On a different note — the Child Dev centre to be on Peckham road (currently a building site). This was approved a while ago, but, the developers had to reconsider the facade. Southwark council want something looking impressive and prominent — which is definitely a good move!

  9. This is probably a bit off-topic but after reading about the Grove Lane development and the Child Development Centre, I was wondering whether anyone knows what’s going on with another nearby site — the building on the south side of Peckham Road opposite the BP garage. Okay, okay, so I’m posting about Peckham on your Camberwell blog but I just had to post here because this blog is actually quite good, and the site I’m talking about is pretty close to the SE5 border. Besides, many of us around here no doubt venture into both Peckham and Camberwell.
    I’ve always thought this area (which as includes the burnt-out pub on the corner, and the empty Kennedys Sausages shop) could do with some attention, as the nearby Copthorn homes development on the north side and on the opposite side the rebuilt Academy school have been completed now and yet this site has remained derelict for as long as I’ve lived here (around two and a half years). For the uninitiated, the building in question appears to have been an industrial unit of some sort, and has long sported the “Love Peckham” iconic graffiti that has raised a smile for many passers by on their way to the bus stop.
    What’s interesting is that the building seems to have been all demolished with the exception of the frontage, some heavy-duty scaffolding has been put in place to prevent the wall collapsing onto the street, and nothing else has happened now for weeks.
    I’m quite curious as to what is planned for the site, and can’t quite figure out why the frontage has been left in place, as it’s rather ugly and lot really suited as a frontage for any new development (whether residential, retail or anything else). My girlfriend joked to me the other day that perhaps the developers wanted to retain the “Love Peckham” graffiti and couldn’t bring themselves to knock the frontage down! But seriously, does anyone have any news about this development?

  10. I think that it’s going to be residential, and that the planners asked for frontage to be kept, pelican motif and all. Quite nice art deco‑y feel to it I thought. Can anyone confirm whether this was the building that was squatted by someone calling himself the ‘king of ethiopia’ and who subsequently put a curse on southwark council?

  11. Nice one Ben. I suppose it may look okay after a bit of work so I will reserve judgment…
    Since you seem to be the man with the plan, maybe you could also shed some light on what — if anything — is happening with the two parades of mainly run-down shops that make up 1–51 Peckham High Street (on the north side, to the east of the school). I believe Southwark council was at one time planning on making a compulsory purchase order, with a view to demolishing the existing buildings in favour of a new mixed retail/leisure/residential development. The other day I came across this site:

    which appears to have a design for the site. But then, no dates are mentioned — which makes me wonder whether this competition to select a design actually occured some years ago, and that Southwark have put the whole thing on hold (much like the Eagles Wharf redevelopment by the library, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere). Any ideas?

  12. er well i don’t really know much about that site i’m afraid. but the europan competitions (6 was a few years ago now) have become infamous in the UK for never being actually built, unlike mainland europe where they build them enthusiastically. they need to demolish that copthorn development though. a disgrace.

  13. Yes, I suspect nothing will happen here for some time then — which is just something we have to get used to in Britain, it seems.
    We disagree about the Copthorn development though — I actually think it’s one of the better buildings in the area, and — whether by accident or design — Southwark haven’t done a bad job of redeveloping the north Peckham estate. If you look at the whole stretch of road from around Lyndhurst Way around there to Queens Road station, most of it is still pretty drab could do with a lot of attention. What’s really sad is how much public money was effectively wasted building poor-quality social housing that ended up being pulled down barely 30 years later. It almost makes one inclined to think that during the cold war the British government should have been more worried about soviet infiltratration and influence in Britain’s architecture than in Britain’s political affairs!

  14. you’re right, we’ll have to disagree. my personal opinion is that they’ll be pulling down the north peckham area all over again in 30 year’s time, because it’s suburban housing built in the middle of a city. a retrogressive approach. you don’t get this sort of nonsense in the netherlands, where they understand the need to make the most of the land that you have.

  15. Yes, it will certainly be interesting to see what happens over time as I can’t see anyone would have imagined the original estate being pulled down so soon when it was originally built. There are quite a lot of 1/2‑bed apartments in the north Peckham area now, but Southwark has placed a lot of emphasis on semi-detached houses too — which is suburban housing through and through as you say. This is really like going from one extreme to the other, after the guided walkways and stairwells of the old estate. But the going for mixed has to be a good thing.
    I agree that we seem to adopt retrogressive approaches in Britain, failing to learn from both our own mistakes and the valuable experience that can be gained from looking abroad. It’s crazy how local councils often seem to put so much faith in housing redevelopment, as though that’s all that is needed to turn an area around. Okay, so Peckham now has the library, sport centre and a rebuilt school. But the difference between the Camberwell/Peckham area and the more gentrified parts of London isn’t just in the quality of the housing and nightlife. Places like Islington, Notting Hill, etc. actually have offices and many other businesses located in them, providing for a more balanced mix of activities — which is unimaginable in Camberwell/Peckham at the moment. What is find most laughable of all is some of the statements Southwark have made about the proposed Cross River Tram. Here’s one classic:

    “The tram will not only provide swifter journeys into central London but it will transform local peoples’ perceptions of their role in its economy. It will encourage youngsters in particular to believe that London’s job markets are as open to them as to any other population group.”

    I actually think the tram is needed (especially because the pressure on bus routes and the nearby Northern Line in the rush hour is enormous). But if Southwark think that building some new housing and putting in a tram system is going significantly alter the level of economic participation (for want of a better phrase), then they’ve got some waking up to do. Even by bus, Camberwell/Peckham within much easier reach of London’s main job markets than most prosperous areas further out than Zone 2. There’s a lot wrong with the way the system works, and it can’t be fixed overnight — but if they’re not going to even try to find the root causes of problems, I find it difficult to hold out much hope.
    The Netherlands and many other European countries do lots of (most?) things better than we do here. I have to wonder what people working in planning on the continent think of British fiascos like the Scottish Parliament building which had numerous problems with the development even after costs spiralled 10 times over budget. Even the projected costs of proposed developments in Britain seem to be absolutely frightening (Crossrail, anyone?).
    Well — let’s hope they get it right with the Elephant and Castle redevelopment at least! What’s your take on this?

  16. oh boy, don’t get me started. hope is all there is, i’m afraid. no-one seems to have spotted that the junction of six major roads is not the right place to try to put a significant public space. no amount of nice artists’ sketches will make this problem go away…

  17. Elephant and Castle is desparately in need of re-developing. Allegedly the architect who designed it originally (and the Heygate estates) then committed suicide when she saw what she had created!

    Current plans for Elephant re-design are for completion in about 2015, so I believe it will be a slow process.

    One other point about Elephant is its‘ central location. I am sure this has been realised, so could mean the new Elephant is very different to that there now.

  18. I agree, there’s more roads at that junction than you would really hope for at a public space. And again I agree — the whole area is indeed is desperately in need of redevelopment. So much so that you almost want to just evacuate the place and get the Pentagon to use it to test their new generation of weapons on — except of course we’d all get depleted uranium poisoning, but we’re not supposed question the military about consequences like that…

    I think the area really does need a decent public space of some sort though. You hear stories that back in the ’50s / ’60s people actually used to go out to the Elephant and Castle for the night — as opposed to merely going through it on the way to somewhere else, as we all do now.

    About the roads though — after I saw the artists impressions of the traffic-free redevelopment I was initially wondering where the developers envisaged all the traffic going. Are they really planning on an underpass at the top of Walworth Road to handle this?

    Around 2015 to finish up the whole thing sounds right, after all the Heygate Estate is set for phased demolition from 2006–2011 I believe. I agree — it’s a great central location, so whatever happens has got to be a better use of the space. Now, who was it came up with the idea of renaming Heygate Street to Heygate Boulevard…

  19. With your mention of Elephant and Castle being a place to go out for the night in the mid-20th century, does anyone know of anywhere semi-decent to go out there now?

    From my observations Elephant nightlife seems to be:
    — Wetherspoons
    — The tragic and horrific looking pub next to Wetherspoons, is it called the ‘elephant and castle‘?
    — a Pizzeria
    — a noodle bar
    — a decent looking pub on London Road

    Am I missing some other places or is this really it?

  20. pizza castello is actually a very good pizzeria. other than that, you’ve da ministry which is, well, the ministry — full of tourists, and the coronet, which is firin’ drum ‘n’ bass.

Comments are closed.