How do we want Camberwell to develop?

This post is to address some issues raised in the comments of the last one, and to raise a few new ones, hopefully.

There’s an attachment to this area that I haven’t seen in a lot of other London areas; the mix of different cultures that gives it an edge, the large numbers of students that keep it lively, the small independent shops that make you feel like it has a personality, the variety of bars that mean there’s always one to suit your mood.

But yes, it needs investment. The communal areas are poor, for the most part; the leisure centre is in pieces, the Green is unkempt and attracts drinkers, the range of shopping is poor, there is no cinema, arts centre or equivalent social space.

But how do we want it to develop? Do we want it to become the archetypal modern high street, indistinguishable from its neighbour? Or do we want it to keep the character that keeps us all talking on here?

OK, I framed that question negatively, so I’m sure you can see which side I fall on. But I don’t want to have the choice between Subway or Benjy’s when I want a sandwich; I want the choice between Seymour Bros. and Tadim. When I go to a bar, I don’t want to go to All Bar One or a Wetherspoons; I want to go to the Sun & Doves or the Castle. I want to have an area where I can go out for a meal at night; an area where my range of choice doesn’t come down to a pub or an Indian.

I’m not an idealist; I want to see the Mary Datchelor school site redeveloped — I just don’t want to see it redeveloped by someone who tries to cram in as many flats as possible and bugger the consequences. I know that fast food joints are popular — but if that’s all we have, no-one will ever want to try opening a deli because they won’t be able to compete on price. And I like the Phoenix and looking forward to the food at the Dark Horse, even though they’re chain-owned.

Camberwell will never be like East Dulwich (thank god, some might say), but there’s also no reason it has to become like Kilburn (if you don’t know it, you don’t know how lucky you are). We can have development without dropping our trousers and bending over for whoever offers us the cash.

What it comes down to in the end, though, is us. If we have a Tapas bar that serves healthy food at decent prices, we have to eat there; if we have a bookstore that doesn’t just sell to the community but also encourages the community to read, we have to buy our books there even though Amazon can sell them for a few quid cheaper; and if we don’t want to see the main street become a bazaar of fried food shops (with the attendant litter they bring), we have to start getting involved in providing an alternative.

OK, comments are open; do your worst.

Author: Peter

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

56 thoughts on “How do we want Camberwell to develop?”

  1. I think TommyD makes an interesting point about ambivalence to private investment. We want to see improvements to Camberwell, but we don’t want a bland, corporate high street. It’s a difficult circle to square. The fact is that Camberwell already has the worst of the chains, we’ve got a KFC, MacDonalds, Wetherspoons etc, and they’re all very popular. Luckilly, we also have some great independent places too and they also have a market here. This is a reflection of the diversity of Camberwell and is a large part of it’s character. The problem is, that with regeneration comes ‘gentrification’ and the inevitable increase in house prices, change in population and loss of character. The fact is that if you want to live in an interesting, diverse and singular area, as opposed to a clone town, you have to put up with a slight edge that isn’t always comfortable and tolerate interests that conflict with your own.

  2. I agree with that, in that the house prices are centrifuging people further out. This is a national problem.

    However, the pragmatism of the last few years of Labour government have seen a vast improvement over the previous Convservative understanding of things.

  3. It’s a balancing act really. I think we all use soem of the chains — i for one am happy Camberwell has a Superdrug and a Woolworths (although it is one of the worst Woolworths in London!) and i admit i use Sainsburys a lot. But as Peter has pointed out marketing and the local council can only do so much — in the end it is up to us — if we want those independent shops, pubs and restaurants to survive we have to use them and realise that cheaper does not neccessarily mean better! For example i love the DIY bit of Camberwell superstore — to a DIY ignorant girl they have patiently given me more advice on various DIY purchases than B+Q ever could and it’s only 10 mins walk from my flat, worth paying a little extra for i think.

    or those that are interested in this subject you may want to read the New Economic Foundations report “Clone Town Britain” it makes interesting reading http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/z_sys_publicationdetail.aspx?pid=189

  4. Lots of interesting stuff there Peter.

    I like your point about independents — so many of us talk a great game when it comes to independent traders, then when it comes to the crunch buy our food at Sainsbury’s and our CDs from Amazon etc etc. But I would make the point that multi-national or chain store does not mean bad per se, personally I am more influenced by a company’s ethical/CSR policies — hence Marks and Spencer would get the thumbs up whereas Macdonalds would patently not. Big firms don’t have to sacrifice all to the profit motive.

    I think there is room for a good deli in Camberwell (although you could argue that Chave do Douro on Coldharbour Lane and the Metro minimarket on Camberwell Church Street constitute delis — if not on the white middle class model that perhaps springs to mind when one thinks of a deli!), and a good butcher — I seriously believe that customers for these shops exist in Camberwell. And I also believe that if Brixton can support a good cinema there’s no reason Camberwell can’t. Peckham has a cinema too!

    In terms of differentiation from the architypal modern high street — I think the free market determines what this high street looks like in any given area and unless the council puts some CSR or ethical criteria in its planning applications we’re never going to get the sort of quality independents we want — the chains WILL come along and gobble up the high street, they have the economies of scale to beat any local shop on price and eventually their constant need for growth will drive them into fringe areas like ours.

    The only way to combat it is to pay the higher prices that quality independents ask for. There’s a quality butcher in Clapham called Moen’s that charges the earth for some of the best meat you can get hold of — and not only do local people buy it, but people come from all over to do the same. So it’s up to us. Will we put our wallets where our mouths are? Will we pay for what we believe in? Is it really this stark?

  5. Apologies Peter — I fear I hit a raw nerve.

    I love the idealism expressed on this site, which represents a lot of folks in Camberwell. In fact, I share it. But my ventures of late involving talking to some 200+ people in my neighbourhood and in every facet of the Gov’t/ quango/ charitable realm, have taught me idealism must be replaced (or at least countered) with a heavy dose of realism. Otherwise, we face the inertia that has plagued so many before us who also thought: ‘Camberwell — so central, so special, it is rife for transformation into something really unique’.

    Three such families signed our petition despite the fact that they are selling up and moving elsewhere. Long conversations on the doorstep ended with ‘I wish you well’ — but the look in their faces said ‘you are naive and you will have little impact on what happens here.’ At the time I was a bit angry. With time, I’m beginning to understand.

    Some basic principles I would suggest for the Forum or anyone else in terms of ‘developing’ Camberwell:

    - If you stand on Camberwell Green and look at the infrastructure and ponder ‘how beautiful it could be with cafes, shops, etc.’ then you are being slightly idealistic. Counter it with realism by looking at the demand side of the curve — the people going about their business. Bellendon has learned that creating what a mostly white middle class thinks Peckham should be like failed to realise the majority of the population living there don’t agree. The result is a culture of dependency (ironic to use a term generally cast on lower income developments). If public money was pulled, the businesses there would mostly fold. Is a lap dancing club application a disgrace or actually what a different segment of people actually living there want? (note: I’ve signed the petition against before tomatoes are thrown)

    - ‘Regeneration’ is not a bottomless pot of money sitting at Town Hall waiting for people to request it. The whole of Southwark save Camberwell is undergoing massive, 10-year regeneration projects — all fuelled by private investment partnering with Government. If we don’t attract private money, we won’t get public money of any consequence. The only exception is Peckham (and that money is drying up fast). In that case, national attention of the state of things meant they got massive investment. Most of it came through Housing money at a National level. And by reverse, they were able to attract private developers to join in.

    - You cannot force investment by private enterprise and you are very limited in finding funding resources to prop up local businesses. If you do find it, it will be short-lived and the demand by locals must produce a profitable business.

    - It is far better to sit down and work with investors/developers than to fight them at every corner. Eventually, they’ll win anyway. Better to sit down with them and create a reputation of a community keen to welcome investment — and to get concessions on what the community feels will be a good neighbour. But you cannot take away their profit incentive.

    - You could create something really unique and special — but it will come from community people working flat out and funding coming from outside of Government (mostly). The downside is, I’ve found people full of ideas and idealism for creating such things are generally far better at talking about them than they are doing them. That sounds harsh I know. But people are very busy — they have day jobs, lives, families, friends etc. Purchasing an old School site and creating flats as a community project is much, much harder than hiring a barn and putting on a community theatre production.

    - There are wider forces you have to understand. The current agreement of the UDP is critical. If we don’t get input into what will be the master plan for our area over the next 10 to 20 years, we’ll get caught up in fighting things we cannot win and being reactive rather than proactive. Lobby hard on creating a master plan — otherwise, we’ll continue to suffer from piecemeal planning and have no basis for fighting things we do not like.

    I know my views won’t be popular and to be fair, I don’t particularly like them myself. They are just hard learned lessons from what has been a difficult, frustrating journey on our side of the SE5.

  6. Not at all, Tom; I just felt your comments in the previous post deserved more than a cursory response, and I wanted to open it up to wider debate.

  7. I have an ambition to open a Bakery/Deli/Cafe and I’ve always thought that Camberwell would be the ideal place to do it — The problem is the rents have gone up by more than 400% in the last few years which leaves my cousin and myself considering locations in East London (where he lives) rather than around here which in my heart I know would be an excellent choice — I would want it to be very much a homely place that does good food and functions as a well respected part of the community — It wouldn’t be a Bluebird or “New Labour East Dulwich” type deli as someone suggested above! (I don’t think that would work very well, here anyway) — I also think a cinema/arts centre is vital for Camberwell — In the 1980’s Lambeth Council Demolished an Art Deco Odeon Cinema practically overnight because it was being squatted and used as a drugs den when a bit of foresight would of ensured we would still have a cinema now — We now have a Nando’s in it’s place and an ugly architecturally redundant building which is depressing to look at — Yes, Camberwell Green needs to be re-landscaped and maybe even extended Westwards to New Road but I suspect that there is no realistic chance of this happening until the CR Tram & East London Line Tube Extension arrives in 2016 (Nooooo!I can’t wait that long!) and traffic calming measures can be realistically put in place — but maybe we can do something about Burgess Park which is an open space I’ve always been very fond of but has never quite become the place it so clearly deserves to be — Also Butterfly Walk has been a complete folly since it was built and maybe needs to be demolished and the bus and traffic management totally redesigned because at the moment it’s a terrible bottleneck, and any shops maybe relocated to the Somerfield Car Park where they could get access from Grove Lane and thus re-establish a connected pedestrianised traffic free route between Church Street and Denmark Hill — But I tend to have far too many ideas that come to nothing — As a Chinese lady once told me “A person with a Rat brain has far too much nervous energy to burn” Hmmmm…

  8. TommyD — Your views aren’t wrong and you don’t have to apologise for them — Unfortunately when dealing with Council,Property Developers and the vastly different types of people who make up the South London Community/Population it is very unrealistic to think we can achieve some kind of perfect utopia totally on our terms — but we can get a few things to go our way…Maybe there are some people who live on Camberwell Grove who have the Authority and Influence (which impresses Councils) to help us out a bit — I’m sure if we post them some of our proposals there will be more than a few willing to help out and lend their support…

  9. TommyD, there’s nothing wrong with being pragmatic. Keep it real!

    Sadly my family and I will be moving out of Camberwell shortly, for one sole reason — there are no decent schools. One half-decent school and Camberwell would see an overnight change for the better.

  10. Are there really no decent schools in Camberwell? I know Lambeth has no primary schools. I’m not criticising and i would never expect parents to sacrifice their childrens education but surely not very decent schools would become decent if everyone stuck around and sent their children to them?

  11. not completely on message but there are a couple of planning applications sitting with southwark council at the moment that some of you may be interested in. They are for a 4 and 7 storey flat development (retail ground floor) stretching from the 7th day-type church next to jobseekers office/bus depot entrance on the corner of the green opposite the red star which should get rid of aristocrats and the associated sound of smashing glass each night, next to that a 5 and 7 (i think) story office/retail development where cash converters is, and a 4 storey flat development on the corner of camberwell road/medlar street, leading down medlar street almost to the railway line.

    many flats, average architecture.. but big development. will not really be in keeping with the other architecture around the green, but at the moment it’s a sh*t hole along that stretch (i know cos i live in one of the 5 terraced buildings that will remain, sandwiched between the developments).

    thoughts?

  12. Well something needs to be done with that stretch of Camberwell it’s a bit of a state (and the continued disintegration of Redstar doesn’t help) and i think camberwell sorely needs some decent affordable homes (not sure if these will be that?) The question is always with large flat developments like that is infrastructure — can the buses cope with more residents in that particular area, what is the car access and parking like? and as Ben rightly pointed out a cople of posts up is local scholls are bad families won’t want to move in. Do you know who the developer is — that can often be an idication of what the development might be like.

  13. Here’s where the SE5 Forum could do well.

    Contact the developer on behalf of the Forum, a well-organised, registered entity with more than 400 (?) active members. [READ: This is a group that could cause me some serious issues in trying to get my planning application through].

    Be courteous and suggest a representative group from the Forum discuss the plans with the developer. They’ll bite — the thought of a well-oiled machine calling 400 people into swift letter-writing action or chamber-cramming mode will bring them to the table.

    I doubt there is much you can do if the plan falls within guidelines. Planners and Councillors can’t just oppose something because they want to. They have to have valid reasons (maybe there are some). If not, try and get something else. Suggest ‘your residents would benefit from a better Green and you’d certainly be able to sell units faster if the Green were maintained — how about a contribution?’ Or, get some trees planted. Or a new toilet on the Green.

    Also, another tip. Architects love talking about their plans. Pull the file via the duty planner up in Walworth at the Regeneration Dept. Look at it. Call the architect. It worked many times for me when owners/developers wouldn’t talk.

  14. A deli would be fab and I know loads of people who would be over the moon if a decent deli with quality food opened up in Camberwell. I really like the turkish deli on the Walworth road (next to Fitness First) which does delicious fresh baked bread, fruit and veggies and exotic meze-like treats from afar, something like that more central in Camberwell would be great.

    I used Wordsworth books all the time and thought they were fab, a lovely place to browse for hidden gems, I was devastated when they closed down. Same with Espana tapas — although I stopped going there about a year before when the guy who used to own it (who was from the Canary islands I think?) left and went home, he was so lovely and always remembered us and gave us free wine, it didn’t seem the same without him.

    When I moved to Camberwell six years ago I optimistically thought that because of the changes in the area and an influx of new people we would see more diverse and independent businesses opening up and doing well, not the opposite, then again, there are some real gems around still and I’m trying to hang on to my optimism…

  15. i have already made a representation on behalf of the owners along the remaining stretch. the planning applications are within the local development framework, so will probably go through. i did petition for some improvements the public realm along that stretch (and changes to the design) as part of the planning conditions but won’t hold my breath.

    there is to be some underground parking on the residential sites, and the affordable housing quota is 35odd% — below the standard level in greater london. 50% single bed flats, 30% 2 bed, rest > 2bed i think. this from memory. happy for anyone to see my response to the planning officer if they’re interested.

    the planning committee will consider the application in september i think. the deadline for views to the planning officer (Mr Van Well)
    is therefore extended at his discretion. the office/retail application consultation period is still live.

    i actually work for the RIBA, however the architects concerned have been very unforthcoming. The developer (at least for the 2 residential schemes) is listed as Giant View Ltd

    they are listed at companies house, but little info. they have existed since 2003. can find no history of development details, and so i think they may well be a front for investment and so the plots may be sold on with planning permission for a profit, although i don’t know this. it would be a shame if the applications are given, whatever the quality of the scheme, if the sites then lie undeveloped and landbanked and left to rot for 3–5 years until the camberwell market is felt to be peaking. particularly for those that are left on that strip!

    the planning application details for the residential schemes are *Planning Application ref: 06-AP-0774, 272–274 and 294–304 Camberwell Road*

    happy to discuss a possible se5 forum approach with anyone else that is interested/informed.

  16. ewookie — I always felt that that stretch of Camberwell could be opened up to take the Green westwards to New Road — maybe a few years ago it would of been possible to do but it looks like there is no chance of that happening now — especially as the derelict bus garage has been refurbished…

  17. I’d be interested to know more of the background ewookie. You’re right it sounds as if it is an investment thing with the company probably set up to do thins (they may have been “banking” the land for some time waiting for the best moment. From what you mentioned it sounds as if it will be mainly small ish flats aimed at the young professional market (in reality buy to let landlords!) Who are the architects?

  18. I know we’ve come a long way,

    We’re changing day to day,

    But tell me, where do the children play?

    As Cat Stevens sang. I agree with both Ben and Hannah in this way: that there are good primary schools here like Lyndhurst and Dog Kennel Hill, but it’s a gamble to get in there; then what happens at 11? The bars and restaurants in Camberwell are comprehensive, but what happens after closing time when you go home and make babies and they are treated like lottery balls in the schooling system?

    This is the real divide in Camberwell — people with or without kids. This is a sensitive subject, anyway: there are obvious problems about schooling that it is difficult to mention.

    I myself grew up in an immigrant town and went to infant and primary schools fascinatingly bulging with all manner of imaginative children who were an education in themselves. But at 11 I was able to go to a grammar school and start properly the long haul to 18, when you then compete with those who went to Eton or Fettes.

    Schools like Lyndhurst have the kind of mix I mean. The teachers, parents and kids seem to me to be really committed to living, learning and having a laugh. But what happens next for that Somali kid who has seen the bodies in the streets and really knows the value of getting on?

    I feel sombre about this. So I am going to have a laugh about the aristocrats in ewookie’s message, who are too nocturnally challenged to hold their glasses successfully.

  19. hi hannah

    i think most of that stretch has been owned by one guy for some time (David Ade Afolabi, who certainly had some ownership of 296–302 Camberwell Road according to the application). I have no other information on who this chap is. hence easy for them to buy the site. Harder along the rest of the stretch as it is mixed tenure.

    As for teh other info:
    The architects/project managers are Weston Williamson architects 020 7403 2665
    The Transport statement was conducted by BJ&P 01932 867773
    The sunlight and daylight appraisal was conducted by Malcolm Hollis 020 76229555
    The planning statement itself was compiled by Washington Young LLP 020 7232 9298

    hope that helps!
    E

  20. Does anyone know anything about the new build development on Dog Kennel Hill? I passed it recently but didn’t take down any details. Anyone know if there are flats available or the name of the development?

  21. ewookie — just looked on Southwarks planning register — that certainly is going to be a big development! I’ve lloked at the architects website as well and as you say their architecture tends towards the average. All i can say is that with the proposed A1 and B1 units on the gound floor maybe it will liven up the shopping space around there — final thoguth i hope they’re not knocking down Gala Bingo — that’s a brilliant art Deco building (it used to be a Regal cinema)

  22. Weston Williamson are definitely an above-average practice, and would be a surprising choice of architect for an investment vehicle looking to make a quick buck.

  23. Will you keep on building higher

    ’til there’s no more room up there?

    … But tell me, where do the children play?

  24. Give ‘em a tin of 7 Up each and leave them outside the Hermit’s Cave, like everyone else, Dagmar!

  25. Hannah — I hope they don’t knock down Gala Bingo either — It would make a perfect cinema again one day — We’ve already had one Art Deco cinema get demolished in Camberwell — another would be a travesty, now that we have an SE5 Forum that’s one of the types of situations we can have an influence over… — I do think it’s listed though…

  26. The Forum, along with us “army ants” out in the field will make a difference. If you speak to anyone who’s been away from the area for a while they all seem to say how much things have improved. I’ve been here about 4 years and, barring the obvious losses (in my opinion books, world music and tapas) things have indeed improved. When I think about it.

    ewookie, get in touch with the Forum regarding the development. This is exactly the kind of thing it needs to be involved in.

    I was wondering about trying to somehow convince Simon Ratcliffe (Basement Jaxx) to weave some magic with the Redstar. That was until hearing about the flats that will soon be built opposite. In the meantime, he’s a Camberwellian so does anybody know him.…?

  27. This is not Islington.

    We will fight them on the beaches.

    We will fight them in the hills.

    We will — NEVAH — give in.

  28. On the contrary Dagmar, after a second night ending in the armed response team descending on our neighbourhood, we will greet them as liberators.

  29. Ewookie definitely contact the se5 Forum through our website — we’re only just starting out but we’re hoping there will be a lot we can do — or if you’re not working on Friday (28th July) you can pop along to the community event on Camberwell Green where we will have a stall.

  30. I got a copy of ‘Living South’ magazine through the door this morning.

    There was an interview with the member of Basement Jaxx who lives in Brixton. He was banging on about how great Brixton was.

    There was a column by Jenny Eclair. She didn’t mention Camberwell at all.

    There was a big double page feature on how great the Bellenden area in Peckham is.

    This is what I meant in my response to the previous post when I talked about getting the SE5 forum involved in marketing the area — just getting a bit of PR to some of these ‘lifestyle’ magazines so people realise what a damn fine place Camberwell is…

  31. I think that’s a good idea Richie, though it does pose a bit of a chicken and egg argument.

    Which comes first, creating something to sell — or selling something that we’re trying to create?

    I’ve been in the media/PR game for too many years. The only thing worse than no PR, is getting loads of PR that visitors find doesn’t match their experience. It will take five times the effort to lure back dis-satisfied visitors. Peckham’s gotten column inches that would make Posh green with envy. But many, many people who believed the hype have come away promising ‘never again’.

    So has all the PR helped — or hurt their efforts?

  32. I take your point Tommy, but for me Camberwell has a similar sort of appeal to Brixton — but with slightly less crime. And Brixton still sells its-self as a pretty cool, edgy place to live, and a good night out.

    Of course, Brixton has the academy and that long musical association, whereas we have jazz at the crypt, accoustic folky Sundays at the S&D and whatever live music delights the Dark Horse is going to offer.

    Lots of my friends who have visited me in Camberwell were surprised at how many good pubs and bars there were — we should be able to capitalise on this.

    Re Bellenden Road — I agree that it’s massively over-hyped, and a total contrast to the surrounding area. A white middle-class haven that in reality consists of very little worth the trip. Apart from the Review bookshop.

  33. From the comments here, and my own experience it seems clear that a large part of Southwark’s central government income is dependent upon them achieving significant increases in residential uses. The Government’s 60% target of new builds on brownfield sites also prioritises residential development on brownfield sites.

    Unfortunately, this is very bad news for shops and leisure centres, particularly those dependent on free short stay visitor parking, which Southwark does not provide except for traditional shopping areas such as the Green and the ‘Castle. It means that applications for conversion to residential use are vulnerable to a fast-track rubber stamp in the most inappropriate of circumstances (cf. Fairview Homes on Camberwell New Road and the residential shop conversions on Denmark Road, many of whose frontages look like amateur conservatories economising on glass). No offence if you live in one — I also have lived in some real ‘holes in my time.

    If a study could be commissioned showing how much shared community/commercial space has been lost to residential in Camberwell over the last ten years, serious questions would need to be asked. It should then be possible to establish a minimum quantity of street frontage and ground floor level per 100 residential dwellings that should always be devoted to shop or community use.

    I think it is clear we are significantly below the absolute minimum; the Regen department could give guidance to the planning department that they are not allowed to create a greater number of residential uses than commercial in any one year until this imbalance has been redressed.

    Come on David Milliband, we need your brain to work out a way to financially incentivise Councils to protect shared community space, as a counter to the brownfield residential incentive.

  34. Very good points there!! I think there needs to be a scheme where councils could compulsary purchse derelict and run down properties and turn them to residential use — thus killing two birds with one stone. Come to think of it something like this may have been suggested by government a couple of years back

  35. We have such a scheme ongoing in our neck of Camberwell. Property has sat empty for 20 years. Council started compulsory purchase orders in 1999 — said they couldn’t locate owner (who they apparently sold property to in 2001). Four years later they ‘found’ him. Started proceedings. Guy comes up with development plans. Turned down. Given another extension. He’s missed it. Still waiting.…

  36. The trouble with compulsory purchase orders is that they were heavily abused in the 60’s and 70’s to build concrete slab utopias for maximum shareholder profit — and we know for a fact the negative impact the majority of these large scale developments had in Southwark, particularly along the Elephant-Walworth-Camberwell-Peckham axis…I think we all know of streets which have maybe 4 or 5 Victorian houses and then the street stops suddenly — and there is a huge 6ft brick wall totally ruining the natural, organic flow of the original street plan — for a pre-fabricated concrete monstrousity — this is what ruined many communities and towns all over the country…and it’s never really recovered — funny how the low rise brick built social housing still wins out every time and is still functioning as it was intended to…

  37. I’d like to see an arts and craft market in Somerfeilds car park. I’d also like to see that area transformed into a market square with cobbles trees and cafes. Camberwell should play to its strengths more. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of really interesting history and a great future with the Art college and Hospital both going from strength to strength. The parks are nice, the architecture interesting and varied while views over London from Denmark Hill are brilliant — but no one knows about them. I think Camberwell should show itself off a bit more.. This doesn’t mean it has to become gentrified or attract chain shops, but it might mean preserving the area better…. green plaques are a good idea. A market, mapped history walks around the streets and an afternoon in Ruskin Park, Dulwich village or a Bellenden café would make a great day out for any Londoner in my opinion hopefully attracting visitors and money into the local economy without having to go cap in hand to the council.

  38. My Dear Tommy D

    My name is Mel Raido and my Brother is Jose Raido.
    For the past two years we have been redeveloping the Marbella hotel and Viva Espana Reataurant. This has been in our family for over twenty years and I have seen Camberwell develop although not that much as the time passed. We really felt strongly about moving on the area in the right way and felt a Hotel and resaturant would be the place to start.
    Our aim to create the best tapas in London and a deli thats serves Breakfast and Lunch. All the food being sourced from the best places and organic.
    So heres the rub we are creating a 33 room boutique style hotel The Church St Hotel and reopening the Tapas bar as Angels and Gypsies. The hotel rooms are all individual styled and really will be unique to the area and south London. Concentrate on colour simplicity comfort flare sexy inspiring spiritual cool with a n embrace of oldschool in terms of our philosophy and service. We also beleive Camberwell is about getting people to come to the area, promoting it, Camberwell is camberwell because of the personal touch that its businesses bring.
    So much to say.
    Always love reading this site because it makes me really beleive in this area it has such energy creative energy and we want to be real visionaries in realising its potential. We also have plans oneday to open a cinema one day although their aint no money in it it will be done from love I smile.
    The restaurant we tried to make it all about the food and just begin with creating a reputation for ourselves on that word of mouth but the exterior let us down of course and we closed to begin our vision.
    I beleive that Camberwell is a community that must support eachother in terms as my man Tommy D said if like us I was importing my tomatoes from spain getting my cod from Petershead in Scotland etc.… but who appreciated it but the few( we did have a loyal cliental but small) and the local whinos who dropped in to wander amidst our few tables to help themselves to wine with their medication. But we beleive thaty a truly good restaurant is much needed and in demand in any area specially Camberwell, and food is a huge passion of mine.
    We are going to start the revolution in the green or carry it on and we hope, we know that we will have support and other visionaries to lead or follow.
    Look out for the space opening soon.
    The Church ST Hotel and Angels and Gypsies Deli Tapas and Cerveceria.

    If we can conquer the safety of the area, people want to feel safe then we are half way there. Businesses should pool together to start a security scheme maybe?

    I see and compare Camberwell to the hoods of New York such as the
    lower Eastside, Harlem and Brooklyn which have seen remarkable regeneration, and still retain their sense of individuality. We dont want Camberwell to become like Nottinghill, I beleive Camberwell is still a real area keeping it real with real dynamic people. If we can keep a hand on the crime and promote individuals not chains or corps we will hold onto our personality and originality.

    M

  39. That was brilliant, Joaquin, I am stunned.

    I am just a giddy Danish princess, in this humid heat, in a tiny miniskirt, but even I know that what you have said here is one of the best 12-round fight victories Camberwell has seen in recent years on Pete’s site.

    Your last two throws that won you the argument in the 12th, “personality” and “originality”, were like the best left jap and uppercut I’ve ever seen!

    You will not just be the best in Camberwell, you will, be the best in London.

  40. I wish you great success and to Dagmar’s (and others) delight, will admit defeat and move along.

    Look forward to the opening.

  41. Joaquin — Good News,Good luck, Hopefully it will be the catalyst to help some of the other businesses/properties on Camberwell Church Street to raise their game (so to speak)…

  42. My God, Joaquin, this is a revelation! It looks like you could single-handedly start turning things around and put to shame those “in power” who’ve failed our community for so long.

    This is a bold move and you should be supported (and I don’t mean just with words). If I had it my way, I’d be more than happy for some of my tax to go towards the cost of what you’re trying to achieve. At the VERY least you should ask that an equivalent amount of public money be spent in your immediate vicinity.

    Aren’t you in a conservation area (http://tinyurl.co.uk/bjfd)? Might this entitle you to some form of assistance?

    Either way, this is another endeavour that should involve the SE5 Forum. It could be of real use to you.

    This came at just the right time for me – I’d travelled home via Loughborough Junction for the first time in ages last night and it was a hive of regeneration activity. This is of course great, but it did put me in a bit of a strop because it shows how easily (and quickly) things can be changed. Even when at my most neurotic I don’t think people in high places actually have it in for Camberwell, which means it can only be the rent and purchase prices set by many commercial landlords (and their general apathy) that is holding things back. Could this be one of the biggest obstacles we’re faced with?

  43. Hi guys,
    I’d like to introduce myself to Y’all.My business partner and I have just opened our 2nd shop at the top of Grove Lane,Odie & Amanda.I have lived in Camberwell now for 8 years and like all of you I have been eagerly awaiting Camberwells miraculous turnaround,but have started to feel it aint gonna happen in my lifetime, well at least not on the High Street.My advice is to avoid the high street altogether as it is only the nasty big chains that can afford the ludicrous rents(some prices being asked are akin to the Kings Road Chelsea) and find the little funky out of the way places like we did,not only are the rents much better but also you really attract the customer that you want.I am a strong believer in the trickle down effect,ie lead by example.Since opening our new shop my confidence in Camberwell has increased as the people have been incredibly supportive and so many local artisans have approached us with fantastic products that we are now selling.As our business is new to the area we are able to be quite flexible on finding what people want,so any suggestions would be appreciated ie we are thinking of starting to stock some menswear?????I would love to see other small independents opening up in our areas,there are certainly enough talented people to fill the gap but unfortuneately not enough premises due to so called developers converting usable retail spaces(I still think the greatest crime in recent history was the conversion of the fabulous old Camberwell Grove Bookshop into a faceless ugly apartment block,this type of historical butchery has to be stopped).I am so glad to have found out about your site and will tune in from now on.Thanks, Odie

  44. Love the shop, Odie. Not as much as my other half though!

    Look forward to hearing more from you.

  45. I’ve seen your shop many times walking to the supermarket but to my shame have not been in yet — i ill maybe come along today once my hangover has subsided enough for me to leave the house!

  46. Hi Joaquin, looking forward to the opening of Angels and Gypsies — when is the ETA? Just a suggestion but it ‘d be utterly fantastic if you did food para llevar as well.

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