On housing and squats

An article in one of the London freesheets (and remember, you get what you pay for) this week featured the tales of squatters, including an 11‐bedroom Victorian pile here in Camberwell. Wha? Where’s the 11‐bedroom house around here? Does anyone know about this? The other two featured were in Peckham, so our neck of the woods is now firmly fixed in the public conscious as populated by work‐shy blaggers.

On the subject of housing, I took a pass through the St George development at Vauxhall last weekend; it was horrible. Empty and vapid, it seemed like there was maximal development on the allowed space and minimal planning; the blocks loomed over central courtyards and made them cold and dark on a sunny day. I hope the staunch opposition by the Camberwell Grove mob has been enough to ensure the same doesn’t happen here.

Been out for a bit of tennis up at Ruskin Park; they say you have to pay to reserve a court, but no‐one enforces it so even if you do the right thing and make your booking, chances are that someone will be on the court already. Very unrewarding. Had to throw a father and child off last time; felt evil, but rules are rules. That didn’t seem to stop the boy from crying.

Goings‐on: Last Saturday was Bonkersfest! on the Green; as is my annual tradition, I missed it. It’s not my fault that a lot of my friends were born in the summer. Lots of photos on Flickr if you want to see what it’s about. Carnaval del Pueblo is on in Burgess Park on August 3; I’ll be at a football match that day. Honestly, it’s kind of ridiculous.

I’m still looking for more people to contribute here; Drew’s post was excellent and highlighted (highlit?) events that may otherwise have gone unreported. That’s the kind of thing I’m after. If anyone wants to have a go, just let me know.

Author: Peter

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

97 thoughts on “On housing and squats”

  1. Peter, it’s a general rule‐of‐thumb with tennis courts that if you chance your arm to get a game in, and someone comes along and says, “I’ve booked this,” you say, “Fair cop, I’m off.” That’s what I do at Myatt’s Fields. Tough shit on the dad for not forking out for his son. His fault, not yours. Don’t feel guilty about it.

    There’s a third court on the cards for Myatt’s Fields in the renovation. Also, the people at the Walworth Road courts are very friendly and welcoming, should you venture down that far.

  2. Houses available for squatting are called ‘EMPTIES’ by prospective dwellers. I have not noticed any 11 bedroomed or otherwise locally. But then I’m not on the look out for ‘empties’ perhaps because my vision is always ‘full’.

    Myatts Fields play area is opening tomorrow (today) Thursday 24 July. Come along and play! The water works won’t until the end of the month because the leccy co can’t won’t shan’t plumb in the leccy until then.

    Listening to the soundtrack from Elvira Madigan. Gorgeous. Mozart. “Moz — Art” as my eldest read it. Delightful.

  3. Drew, how about narrowing the gap between the Arts Festival and Bonkersfest so that it serves as a culmination/wrap party?

    Been thinking about the Festival since your call for feedback…It was fab and the way you got stuck in with such aplomb paid dividends. Sorry for the tardy response — been away. No stunning brainwaves I’m afraid (after all, it was fab) but a few thoughts:

    1) Wrap party — It does tend to fizzle out a bit, always has done. It would be nice if it went out with more of a bang (as opposed to a gunshot) hence the perhaps crap idea mentioned above. My vote would be for a knees‐up at the Sun & Doves. Maybe punters could collect some kind of tokens/stamps from the various events to gain entry/get a free can of Tenants Super or something?

    2) Publicity — The stuff I got through the door was great. To try to catch the eye of those from further afield how about banners on the lamp posts along the super highways that cross at the Green (with a web address) for all the passing (if not stopping) trade? And get in Time Out more — I don’t know how many read it (I do) but it was annoying to see listings for Live Potato Peeling in Shoreditch and such things getting a much higher profile than the Festival during the lead up and whilst it was on.

    3) Programme — Looked great and I’m sure it was a huge effort to produce but there were quite a few errors and contradictions in it which limited its use a tiny bit.

    There was more, but I’m sorry I’ve forgotten. Will drop you a line if I remember.

  4. I’ve mixed feelings on SGW Vauxhall. I think it sits nicely architecturally on the river by MI6. We’ve friends who live there and once inside, the views are amazing and the space nice. Unlike Council high‐rises, folks there take care of shared lobbies and such and it’s welcoming. The shadows cast are like Canary Wharf — hard to avoid when building up, which is the bit I remain unsure of. London is best as a low‐rise village, but housing demand will make that difficult to maintain. And if you live there, you’ve a tube underneath, the River Walk, a supermarket, gym, pub, etc. And the money Lambeth made from allowing a formerly derelict site become a sought after place to live funded the transformation of Vauxhall Cross, which is not finished yet but already full of thriving businesses. Two years ago they had open viewing for one of the early penthouses and it was jaw droppingly gorgeous. Two floors atop the building with all glass on all sides. The views were amazing. Some Saudi Prince ended up buying it, for cash apparently.

  5. I have mates that live there and have enjoyed the lovely evening views from their small balcony. John Major is in one of the penthouses. It is ok inside the flats but the corridors are institutional. The complex is an absolute eyesore for everyone else who has to look at it from outside. Regularly voted most ugly building in London by Architects Journal. Shame on Lambeth for allowing it to be built, isolating Vauxhall from the riverfront and sqandering the small stretch of riverside they have.

  6. Returning to the empty property thats potentially available to squatters — the thought occurs to me is it Windsor Walk?

    I think its likely to be a commercial premises or houses that have been used as commercial premises (and therefore they have knocked two or more houses together) rather than one single house.

    Anyone have any ideas?

    Is the large house at the top of Dog Kennel Hill (righthand side as you are going to sainsburys from camberwell) still empty?

  7. Doesnt Chelsea Clinton also live at one of the penthouses at Vauxhall too?

    And I fear the river was cut off from the wider Vauxhall/ Kennington population when the railway line was constructed through the area

  8. Mumu — it would not surprise me to see journalists salivating over someone else’s bumper property bonanza as they imagine the next commercial property getting the routine rubber stamp for conversion to ugly residential. Whether it’s welfare abuse or freak house price jumps, the UK is the capital and champion of arbitrary enrichment, running adjacent to the American Dream of earnt status.

    Hence the description as an x‐bedroomed property even when it still has a commercial use, if that is the case.

  9. Or what about 123 Grove Park? The massive former rehab home for kids that has spent years in planning? It’s massive.

  10. If St George’s Wharf had been made more permeable instead of an almost solid glass wall and the spaces between the river‐facing‐balcony maximising fingers were clearly public or private, then it could be almost forgiven. Lambeth Council could have achieved this if they had made the developer jump through a few more hoops. For them to then move their offices there from Brixton just rubs salt in the open wound. The rest of Camberwell might feel the same way when Southwark Council moves all its offices to Tooley Street next year!

  11. It’s important to note they moved their PLANNING offices there (probably for cheap rent, if any, which suggests St George may be a lot of bad things, but they are certainly clever 😉

  12. 123 Grove Park has certainly been squatted in the past, and there’s a current squat opposite the old convent at 17–18 Grove Park. There are some big old houses down that way.

  13. Indeed, what riches we have in Camberwell. Today a ring‐necked parakeet flew through the leafy ceiling of the trees above Lucas Garden, where one could have fancied oneself in a naive painting by Rousseau, such was the tropical heat, not a breath of wind, and the timelessness of that peaceful green space. There were several shiny, stainless steel dessert spoons scattered by the far wall near Linnell Road, as though the seraphim and cherubim had been having a midnight feast of Angel Delight.

  14. Then, there is an Elf on Bushey Hill Road, a Riley Elf Mk II (a booted Mini, cousin to the Wolseley Hornet) with walnut dashboard and old, wobbly, where‐are‐we‐going gearlever, wonderful.

  15. The Cambria pub just behind Ruskin Park is having a major re‐fit inside and out

    Paint job (camoflage green),scaffolding on the outside (the old security bars on the windows facing the back garden have been removed!)

    Whoever has bought it seems to be doing a thorough job — but they are getting rid of the football — no more skysports (10 grand a year is expensive)

    They want to create a community pub with lots of popular activities every evening — it will be family friendly — no doubt they want it to be like Spain or Italy but they also manage to watch a football game effortlessly at the same time — without aggro — maybe that’s what is putting them off…Although I’ve never seen the locals at The Cambria misbehave regarding the footie

    There will be a good menu with “locally sourced” food — that will be Brixton or Peckham market then…

    Sounds good — no doubt Mark will be viddying the results for himself shortly 🙂

  16. In today’s Times, William Rees‐Mogg — aka “Mystic Mogg” and a man with a near 100% record for getting things wrong — backs our own Harriet Harman to succeed Brown.

    Ah well, that’s Hattie’s chances scuppered. It was fun while it lasted.

  17. They would be mad to ditch Brown. People are beginning to like his style, which suits the somewhat serious and sober times.

  18. When Brown tries to smile he looks like a drawing of a sad face that has been scrawlled onto a scrotum…

  19. Yes, he lacks the affectations of spin, planet brand and the I‐am‐an‐icon culture, unlike that fluffy radio DJ bloke who preceded him, who we must remember was awfully unpopular before he went, a bit like Princess Di.

  20. No one would want to succeed Brown right now. It would be the most poisoned of chalices.

    In many ways I quite respect Gordon, but I do wonder about all those reports of his fearsome temper and occasional petulance. Blair, meanwhile, is looking smugger and smugger — and that takes some doing. When he met Omaba (before Brown did) on Saturday his face just said: “Ha! I don’t seem so bad now, do I?”

    Middle East peace envoy, my arse.

  21. Yes, Brown has been a disappointment. I had higher hopes for him. He’s been unlucky in some ways, but also quite underwhelming. And make no mistake — as our ‘safe hands’ Chancellor he spent us right into the ground, and we’ll suffer for that. Payback is a comin.

  22. Tony Brown is refreshingly lumpy and unshiney. He does not preen and has no sheen. His “you must all do better” attitude was at first annoying, but that will now disappear. What he needs now is some good ideas to make our economy totally unreliant on the world economy, that’s all.

  23. Yep, all these knobends who have created a false reality by maxing out all their easily obtainable credit cards and looking down on others don’t look so smug now…

    But that’s what happens when you’re a slave to the American economy

    Special relationship? — If that’s what you want to call blackmail and rape…

  24. “Brown” energy is code in the trade for non‐green & unrenewable. As chance would have it, the roadbuilding Chancellor PM did indeed, early in his reign, veto a “feed‐in” tariff due to the special liberalised nature of our UK energy market.

    So no incentive for micro‐generation at home to feed back into the Grid. Whereas in Germany you are actually paid more than you yourself pay the energy company, for units of electricity you generate in surplus.

    However, new Brown French nuclear power stations, together with ever reliable Middle Eastern suppliers of oil, surely mean we are guaranteed full energy sovereignty and independence from the world economy, and have no need of micro‐generation or a continental‐style rail infrastructure, to shield us from energy price shocks. Thanks Gordy!

  25. This is all a bit over my head. I do know that “Cameron” means looks good on camera. Brownfield sites are where dogs poo before Olympics are held. The Conservatives will win the next election just as they did in 1997, then things can only get better. Not everyone can afford to generate their own wind or gas as much as the cycling Conservatives, however. Maybe there should be a return to industrial power, with pickets not picket fences, unions not sun‐dried tomatoes. Come on, Albion!

  26. That’s ZanuLiebore’s fault. Or inadequate parking restrictions in Camberwell. Either way, last night’s rain was good for the grass.

  27. A quick search for ZanuLiebore finds some very vitriolic blog blokes at it! Today’s Guardian has an obituary of Elizabeth Bartlett the national health poet. Now there’s someone to look up to.

    Drew, did you meet Stella Duffy during Arts Week? She was reading at the library, I see.

  28. Roll on the general election…

    Which puppet do I choose?

    These are the choices we make in a democracy which isn’t physically cracking your head open with a truncheon

    So I suppose it’s democratic in that sense…Us proles should be greatful for that at the very least…

  29. The old Kennedys shop on Denmark Hill has a new sign — ‘Michelle’s Meat & Fish’ — maybe we are getting a butcher at last.…

  30. A butcher would be great. When I first moved here I thought Peckham would be great for buying meat cos every other shop was some stinkin butcher. And it is good — so long as you want lamb or goat or knackered chicken. I go to Irish Nevins most times now, for the rest.

  31. @34

    Bunch of philistines — it will be a lowest common denominator butcher shop with no concept of aesthetic or presentation

    What was wrong with keeping the original fixtures and fittings of that shop?

  32. Fingers crossed it will be a decent quality butcher. Did a quick search for Michelle’s Meat & Fish, can’t find any previous.

  33. Since she’s called Michelle then at least we should be able to get bangers, pork belly and some good beef! 😉 Not like Mohammed’s Fresh Meats. Though his lamb is fine indeed.

    Course, most likely it’ll be one of those naff meat shops with everything packed up in suspicious £2.50 trays of “Chinese” ribs. Nice.

    Hey ho.….…..

  34. Michelle you say? I have just walked past the former Kennedys and the sign actually says Christine’s Meat and Fish. I hope its good.

    On another note I see that Su Thai (at the start of Coldharbour Lane opposite Nandos) has reopened

  35. And the Eastern Tree restaurant on Coldharbour Lane seemed to be shut when I walked past — is this permanent or just tonight?

    It has a Golfrate properties sign over the door so maybe it is being forced out by new landlord (Golfrate seem to be taking over London — they have bought the Fridge and numerous buildings in Brixton and other parts of London. there is discussion about the company on urban75 — http://www.urban75.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=250148 and http://www.urban75.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=248709 )

  36. Eastern Tree has eratic opening days. Check before you travel.
    Refurb of Cambria looking good with red awnings and large crystal chandeliers.
    Read Stella Duffy’s book while lying on a Greek beach a few weeeks ago. Very enjoyable and recognised many of the characters and locations.

  37. I know this sounds a bit mad and very OTT.. but does anyone know where I can hire/rent a soft ice cream machine for the day. My daughter is having a party this wkd and has expressed her interest in an ice cream machine. Short of hiring a van to park outside our house, I have no idea

  38. Aren’t ice cream machines are a feature or figment of Roald Dahl films? I would improvise with packs of ice cubes from a supermarket in a large plastic bowl full of cheap tubs from Lidl. Scoop, plop, next.

  39. Yes, but if you make ice cream machine noises, the nippers won’t know any different. They’re be too busy skidding round on E numbers anyway!

    🙂

    ?!?!

  40. 47‐ Are you availible to be hired for the production of ice cream van noises between the hours of 2–6 this saturday afternoon? If so then you hav saved me a packet
    😉

  41. What, you mean you have someone cycling round the local road making ice cream van noises so the little children cry, “There’s an ice cream van! There’s an ice cream van!” But the noises keep moving round and round the block and the cockney Italian man and his van never appear. Very Roald Dahl!

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