Camberwell Green Public Consultation

Southwark Council have some money to improve the Green, and are running a public consultation to ask what needs to be done. Give your opinions in this online form.

What would you ask for?

Also, a promo website for the proposed Southwark Supertram has been launched. It looks feasible, but apparently political will for the idea is not strong.

Author: Peter

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

64 thoughts on “Camberwell Green Public Consultation”

  1. Hmmm… it’s difficult to say without thinking no one will listen.


    I wonder how much money there’ll be available for Camberwell Green improvements. On the basis that the Green is about 1/40th the size of Burgess Park it’ll be no more than £200,000. And you can’t get a lot done these days for two hundred grand. Just about pay for the consultants to consider whether they should get out of bed.

    But then, with the money set aside for moving the library (what happened to the plans to open a new library on Camberwell Green?) to the Green (maybe £2mill, just a stab in the dark) there could be benefits to doing the two things side by side.

    Then the shops the library vacates could become two pawn brokers and a betting shop.

  2. Can’t see there’s much to consult on about Camberwell Green itself. But tying it in better with the surrounding area would be wonderful. It’s hemmed in on two sides by a ridiculous amount of traffic, made worse by really terrible road design.

  3. Changes need to be made to anticipate long term use of the space and with encouraging more use by more people and a wider demographic in mind.

    The Green would benefit from better play equipment and some rain cover and more seating. A cafe/refreshments/Fresh bread and baguettes/florist/newsstand could act as encouragement for more people to use the site. But this would need research for feasibility and a strong, ergonomically efficient design packing in as much amenity as possible using a small footprint.

    More table tennis tables would certainly get used — they should NOT be on grass — and should be set so they are level, NOT like at Burgess Park and Central Venture Park where the ping pong table tops are markedly twisted because they have been put on uneven ground.

    Picnic tables, chess and chequers tables and seating, more bins and other seating might be useful.

    Some evergreen flowering shrubs would provide noise protection particularly from the Camberwell Road side.

    Permanent infrastructure for markets/fete/fairs would be useful too and some form of retractable all weather protection would make the Green useable for more of the year.

    The lights in the big central tree ought to be rerun so they don’t trace out straight lines into the branches. They ought to look like a cloud of lights not a lot of radiating lines. Lights in other trees could make the Green look spectacular at night. There should be a reason to be there at night, things and activities to draw people to the Green.

    A facility as above could be the focal point for activities — and could be an information bureau as well, promoting all the stuff that happens in the whole area. Arts Festival and other stuff should be thought about when planning this too. Set spaces for live acts and exhibitions considered.

  4. You get a pretty broad demographic using the Green, no? Sometimes a little skewed towards street drinkers, admitedly.

    Too much hard-standing and it would cease to be a Green.

    Agree on the playground bit .

  5. You’re right Gabe, I didn’t mean to imply a loss of grass. Just ping pong’s not much good on grass — it gets worn down and the soil gets rutted. And muddy.

  6. There are very few street drinkers on Camberwell Green now, Gabe. Strictly speaking, Greater London is an alcohol-free zone, so street drinkers are systematically moved on. The push has been successful for public spaces. There is a system of deterrent fines which has worked.

    Did anyone see the Panorama on Monday about middle-class drinkers in Camberwell? I missed it.

    I would like to have seen, mind you, that programme about classier drinkers — it was on Monday on the television on Panorama.

    Class drinkers missed that Panorama programme on Monday about drinkers who drink, I think.

    Will there be a pub on the Green soon?

  7. The council should fix the ping pong. And the playground. And the benches. Agreed.

    We went to a pre-Olympics community event on the Green. Think lots of plastic signs, loud hailers and people telling you where to walk/where not to walk. It was fun despite all that.

    Because it was the Olympics (sporty!), the council decided to enforce the no-drinking rule that day and had Street Warden types dressed in black accosting the regulars as they wended across the Green, cans in hand.

    I’m not that bothered by people drinking in the street. But people hurt by alcoholism have my sympathy (well, some of them).

    £1 a can in the newsagents versus £4 a pint in the pub… plus you can sit out in the sunshine on the Green and watch the world go by. Not a hard calculation.

    Speaking of middle-class drinking, I was in the Crown & Greyhound in Dulwich last night paying £4.20 for a pint of lager… & then we sat outside…

  8. Aha! Gabe; ON the middle-class drinking tip; I thought so: The Crown & Greyhound is one of Mitchells & Butlers 2,500 or so pubs. M&B, as THEY say just: “love building innovative brands”.

    M&B have many brands, from Toby Carvery and Sizzling Pubs to Metro Professionals and All Bar One to Harvester, Crown Carveries and Browns, for all occasions and all types of people “we’ve a brand to suit every occasion”. The Phoenix is one of theirs.

    Well, that’s odd. M&B’s website seems to have gone down. This no doubt, as their share price goes up.

  9. I have been known to buy my £1 can of lager and sit on the green watching the world, and ambulances, go by.

    Love it and have never been hastled or asked to move on. I think the problem with people drinking in public always boils down to who is drinking (ie “horrible, nasty, smelly, trampy alcoholics” v’s lovely, fragrant, white middle class people)rather than the fact that they are drinking.

  10. J Mark Dodds

    I hate nearly all those brands you mention — especially All Bar One…

    Also if I want a decent steak, I’ll go to a place where they do it properly like an Argentinian…

    A brand to suit every occasion, my arse

  11. Greene King IPA is £1.99 a pint in the Old Dispensary. Get in there and fill your boots. I’m happy to pay £4 for a pint as long as I know it’s been brewed by dedicated craftsmen with good ingredients, but not if it’s carbonated piddle from high-turnover vats.

    There seem to be fewer people drinking on the Green now, although there are still one or two passed out every day. The problem is, moving them on doesn’t help, it just changes the location of the problem. We used to have a wet centre where people with drink problems could have a drink and access to a counsellor, but it was shut down.

    I was propositioned by a prossie on the Green once, but didn’t realise until later. She asked me if I wanted business, but I mistakenly thought she was a contestant on The Apprentice, trying one of Sir Alan’s tasks.

  12. I don’t really like The Crown & Greyhound, mainly because of the Dulwichy crowd that go there mid-week. And now because I know it’s pubco. Also, the service is s l o w.

    On the other hand, they do have St Austell ales in at the moment. I suppose a bit like Peter, I’d rather spend money on better beers.

    Monkey Cat — yes, I guess it does depend who’s doing the drinking, and how. But to boil it down like that is too reductive (“horrible, nasty, smelly, trampy alcoholics” v’s lovely, fragrant, white middle class people). Alcohol and alcoholism is complex and found in all walks of life.

  13. The Hermits is still a pub for all people. There’s no need to go anywhere else, expect the toilet occasionally or exponentially frequently. Sometimes it’s nice to go on a minibreak across the road to Stormbird. Then home. But where is it?

  14. J Mark Dodds

    Just got back from visiting some friends in Cambridge a few days ago…plenty of places to go around in what must be the natural home city of the public house but even they have lost quite a few in recent years.

    Most seemed to be owned by Greene King.

    I noticed that the best ones we frequented tended not to be owned by the aforementioned.

    Funny That eh?

  15. “Who are Greene King?

    Greene King are the country’s leading pub retailer and brewer with a heritage of running pubs and brewing beer that can be traced back over 200 years. Our impressive range of pubs, restaurants and hotels, together with our world famous ale brands and our excellent customer service, make us what we are today – experts in hospitality.

    We operate, rent and lease pubs and restaurants throughout England, Wales and Scotland. With our base in Suffolk, we serve over 1,800 communities throughout mainland Britain. Our place at the heart of those communities is as important to us as our reputation with our shareholders for consistently delivering industry-leading results.”

    That’s who Greene King are.

    If anyone is interested you can go to all the pubco websites and find out who they are. They all say almost exactly the same thing as Greene King.

    They are all rubbish. They create awful uninspiring deadly boring pubs, food, beer, brands and ‘hospitality’.

    Shame really.

  16. The Hermits sets the standard around here. A neigbour moved to our street specifically so she could be within walking distance.

    The Fox on the Hill has a big garden. I stopped in on my way past on Saturday to kill some time. It catches the sunshine out on the front lawn.

    Probably it’s a pubco? Feels like one indoors.

  17. I thought you were going to say, “to kill a fox”. There was a huge one in the Lettsom Estate the other day, really bushy tailed, big as a dog. They bring an appealing part of the past to the urban environment, but will take your chickens in town as quick as they would in the country.

  18. They are not expensive compared with many other pub chains because they use their economy of scale to buy stuff cheap and then pass the savings on to their customers… A good thing I say but regrettably, along with what they perceive to be ‘good value’ Wetherspoons also provide sticky tables, fruit flies (I KNOW they are difficult to keep down) in abundance, staff who enjoy working with each other but don’t engage much with customers, bland interiors which, although every last one of them is unique, all appear to be the same. You know where you are with a Wetherspoons pub. And generally you wish you weren’t there.

    Wetherspoons regularly get national awards for being one of the UK’s best employers. I imagine Tim Martin puts them forward for that.

    Tweaking that J.D.W. formula could make the best pub chain in the world.

  19. The Drovers and Fox are good enough. Some days, nothing can beat the Fox garden. Always, nothing can beat Jamaica Stout for two quid at the Drovers.

    But there must be more to life — to Camberwell and Peter’s life in it — than pubs.

    There is! Last Saturday we went to the D’Eynsford Estate Fun Day, an extremely local and really friendly event and a right laugh in this world of hype, spin and Eurotrash.

    A highlight of the party music was one of our favourites:

  20. @Gabe

    I am a member of Whirled Cinema and you would be correct in your assessment…however, they do show the best of Hollywood and American Independent cinema too — as well as classic film nights…

    I watched “Nostalgia for the Light” last week that was stunning — a doc about Chile’s Atacama desert and the astrologists who work there and making a link between their work and those who dig to uncover the hidden buried secrets of the desert. Generally, the horrifically tortured victims of General Pinochet who this country gave asylum to 10 or so years ago 🙁

    Talking of astronomy, by coincidence, I live in Herschell Mews…

  21. The Cambria could be such a nice pub, but someone really needs to clear up the many huge dog turds in the beer garden from time to time.

    Last time I was there I saw a poor chap unknowingly churning up a huge pile that had been deposited under his table with his very pointy, shiny shoes.

  22. Yes, and yet, to have tiny pointy shoes with little canine faecal gifts on the end — can’t someone senior do something about this? Little knows how such small tinyisms can butterfly-effect-like turn the universe on its head on a sixpence in a trice.

    Where’s me smelling salts? Where’s me sodding pills? Quick! Fetch them from the shelf. NO! not them you silly boy, they’re the blue pills. Get me the RED pills, you mincing pratt!

  23. On a nicer note, the bright copper coins of the leaves have started to fall from the trees in Lucas Gardens where the local children are playing after school for the last time this year in the September sunshine. Next Friday night, the Equinox will call an end to the growing year and mark the start of the necessary dying.

    Soon after this, young philosophers will be seen in the parks, heads bent, heads down, looking for something somehow wise growing from the soft damp ground of autumn.

    What can it be?

  24. Conkers.

    It’s difficult for the conversations not to return to pubs. Pubs are such important things. And I know so much. Too much. About pubs. And particularly the pubs around Camberwell. The walls have ears. The walls of the pubs that is.

    And I do not, cannot, recount even half of what I know.

  25. Donnachadh McCarthy was at the SE5 Forum AGM tonight — in AOB he brought up the fact that ‘Camberwell Orchard’ will be dug up to have a library built on it. I am sorry, Donnachadh, that I did not back you up in the meeting.

    I stood down as Vice Chair though. So now I can say a few things without confusing people by my being a representative of SE5 Forum as well as a person with views…

    Also I now hear that Burgess Park actually cost £10,000,000, NOT the mere EIGHT million that so scraped me up the wrong way. I’ve been taking pictures all over the park of the snagging that needs doing by the way. Why do I do this? I ask myself. I don’t have an answer but I cannot help this, I’m NOT just griping out of ignorance, it just annoys me so much that there can be such profligate waste of public money being turned into results that are so meagre against the cost. I used to be a landscaper. I was trained in part by John Brookes, I worked with Dan Pearson and Cleve West. And I was deputy editor of the Society of Garden Designers quarterly magazine. Andin another life I used also to level and lay very large, hectares large, very flat playing fields for a living. And also I worked for a year on the restoration of a 1000 acre estate in Northumberland. And I designed and built and planted over fifty gardens entirely myself and project managed two Gardener’s World Live main show gardens at NEC. And a bit more besides.

    AND MORE MONEY IS BEING SPENT NOW that could be put to much more effective use. A not inaccurate guess is around £2,000,000 for ‘the new library’.

    It is widely accepted that the current library is not suitable and a much better facility is needed. HOORAY We ALL agree on something at last. Apparently consultation has shown that We all, the majority, are perfectly happy with the notion of a new library being built in front of the courts. I do not believe for a minute that this consultation was done scientifically. It was a done deal. The councillors want to be able to say: ‘we said in our manifesto we’d do this that and the other for Camberwell. And we’re doing it’. That’s why this is happening. It’s got NOTHING to do with what is the best site, the best use of resources, nothing to do with anything other than local party politicking.

    One of the mantras of councillors in these parts has always been that ‘we (the council) don’t have any land or buildings in Camberwell so there’s very little we can do to improve things’. This illogical, irrational and factually incorrect statement has been trotted out for decades, literally, by our elected people of all political persuasions. It’s been fed to them by Officers who have problems with fiefdoms or is a reflection of some ‘planning guidebook written in the 1920’s that says something like ‘a town has to have the following physical ingredients and conditions in order for anything successful to happen in planning terms; blah blab blah and, Camberwell does not conform to the grand plan social engineering essentials stereotype so it’s not been dealt with for the last thirty years — or something like that.

    Rubbish. There’s LOTS can be done in Camberwell and the council can steer influence guide and dictate a lot of what it wants but the fact is there’s no one there, nor has there been for decades, with a creative mind, the right kind of training, basic street wise nous or entrepreneurial flair and duck and dive sensibility that has ended up generating a vision for Camberwell that extends miopically beyond small scale short term disastrous dabbling around the edges. This has been going on for decades and has left Camberwell as we know it now. Full of betting shops, bad food takeaways and bookies.

    So now there is going to be a new build library on the piazza in front of the Magistrates’ court. This will cost £two million and will altogether block out one of the few open spaces left in Camberwell, make a funnel pedestrian route out of an airy open space, cut off the Elmington estate from Camberwell Green, block the courts, and views from and to them, from Camberwell Green.

    Think about this:

    The developer for the JobCentre site OFFERED to BUILD THE LIBRARY FOR NO COST TO THE TAXPAYER. Southwark told them they weren’t interested. “We’ve got that all sorted” or something like that — BEFORE the ‘library consultation’ had even begun. The developer’s offer was NEVER mentioned during consultation. WAS IT? NO.

    The consultation amounted to:

    Do you want a library that’s new and shiny and open and airy and lovely? yes or no

    Do you like to see green, or yellow, when you visit a library. etc.

    WE are going to build the library on the square that’s just the right size for it. This is good isn’t it. Yes.

    They are just going to ruin another bit of Camberwell for the next foreseeable future. YET AGAIN.



  26. @Mark Dodds:

    I agree with you about the Library. The consultation was a sham. Do you like libraries? Yes. Do you want libraries with books, cd’s, dvd’s and computers? Yes. Any other comments? No.

    The results of our survey showed that everyone wants a library so this is where we are going to build it.

    Shocking. What about using the camberwell baths car park? that’s quite a large library shaped space there, owned by the council.

    On the other hand, doesn’t mean that we can’t improve the area in front of the Magistrate’s Court. My pipe dream is to extend the green all the way there, incorporating the orchard and the concrete walkway. That would be nice.

    I am also starting to agree with you about Burgess Park. I thought more was going to be done. Why are the roads still there? It still doesn’t look finished.

    On the other hand, what has been done is very nice. I am even getting used to the hills.

  27. @monkeycat

    I also like the idea of an extended green incorporating the orchard and east road along the old peabody flats…

    It is annoying dealing with Southwark Council — I wouldn’t for one moment critizize or knock anybody but I feel that when it comes down to it the SE5Forum is intimidated by the council and possibly terrified if it says or supports something that goes against their wishes of the local councillors. It’s just a hunch on my part…a gut feeling…sort of 🙂

    Perhaps, they have been worn down by years of Southwark skullduggery (I know I have) but apart from the largely redundant swimming pool car park as a location for a library there is also the long term possibility of it still being part of the ex-bingo hall site as a community arts centre hub — not unlike Canada Water library — albeit on a smaller, more managable scale.

    As with the orchard, when it came down to it SE5Forum didn’t officially support the VillageHall idea at the ex-bingo hall either. This dissapointed me but doesn’t mean that I am unwilling to help out with a few ideas and suggestions…I will always be happy to help out locally in any way that I can.

  28. The rain held off and, in spite of the sun, a chill was in the air as I cycled to South Wimbledon and noted the several pubs along the route with AG&G ‘for sale’ signs ‘may suit alternative use subject to necessary consents’. In the afterlife, if there is one for agents who peddle pubs, AG&G will be judged harshly for their dreadful insousiance.

    Later, having returned from south west closer to home (even though I have no home to go to) I sat for some time with a good friend who happens to be a Publican. We talked in hushed tones for, as he said, glancing conspiratorially toward a hedge and back to the building: “the walls around here have ears”.

    The ideas for greenery and orcharderie seem good. And that council car park is a mess.

    The bbowl food is perfectly judged.

  29. @J Mark Dodds

    Don’t worry, I’m more than aware that this world isn’t a place for naive idealism and that the walls do indeed have ears.

    I like everybody else am more than happy to doff my cap, show my gratitute and pretend that we are living in a genuinely functioning democracy while all the time reminding myself that in comparison to a whole range of other nations around the world things could be a lot, lot worse in all aspects of life.

    I have a work colleague and good friend from Sierra Leone who I happen to get on with fabulously well despite us both coming from different backgrounds, continents and being a whole generation apart from each other in age. “Thick as Thieves” is the well worn term that our colleagues use to describe us. Although there isn’t much chance of us being particularly successful at that considering we were both brought up guilty Catholics! 😉

    Anyway, some of the experiences and stories my friend has told me in confidence about what goes on in his home country just bring tears to my eyes with sadness.

    It all comes down to mineral resources and the wealthy families who made their fortune in imperialistic times continuining to have access to that rich bounty.

    Democracy and Government has nothing to do with it.

    It never does…

  30. You cycled to south-west London, eh? Charlie Richardson came from Twickenham. “Walls have ears,” they used to say round here, because there were so many ears nailed to walls, presumably.

  31. Don’t quite know what has gotten into me these last couple of days…maybe as Dagmar suggested the impending Autumn is starting to alter one’s mood — or as this nation’s most famous cigar chomper once said “the black dog is with me”

    Please accept my apologies…normal optimistic service will shortly be resumed…

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