A new library for Camberwell in 2014?

Something I missed but which will have a great impact on Camberwell is the new library which finally, it seems, is on track, not without controversy.

On 4 June 2013 the Southwark Council Planning Committee passed the planning application for the construction of a new library on Camberwell Green. Details of the new library are on the Southwark website.

You will recall two years ago in 2011 details were published here of plans for a new library which we were assured by the Council Leader Peter John would be built by “autumn 2012”.

Following the Council Leader’s bold pronouncement problems occured with the scheme and so here we are two years on still with an inadequate library in Camberwell.

This is all set to change with the construction of the new library (artist’s impression of the new library below  taken from architect John McAsclan + Partners website)New Camberwell Library

According to Southwark the new library will be located on Camberwell Green and “will include areas for adult, children and young people libraries as well as public access computers, study area and meeting rooms. The main library areas will be located on the ground floor with meeting rooms and study space located on the first floor. The main entrance will face towards Camberwell Green.”

The library is a key part of the Camberwell regeneration programme which aims to connect the Green with wider Camberwell.

The location has attracted great controversy as the building will be located on the site of Camberwell Orchard on the Green, various other suggestions for a library location have been put forward. Realistically I cannot see Southwark deciding at this late stage to relocate the new library but protestors are urging the council to think again. Let us hope that this will not result in another two year delay to the new Camberwell Library.

23 thoughts on “A new library for Camberwell in 2014?”

  1. Thanks for writing about this. I don’t think enough people know about it, especially since the plan has been discussed/modified/proposed again over several years, as you say.

    I agree that Camberwell needs a new library. But I’d like Southwark to look seriously at alternative sites. I think the two-years-vacant Job Centre is a particularly strong contender.

    It’s also important to recognise what would be lost if the orchard was destroyed. The current plans make no real attempt to compensate for the loss of biodiversity, food plants and significant trees.

    Take just two trees: the independent arboricultural consultants commissioned by the council for the planning application rated the two silver maples in the orchard at ‘A’. (Other options are B, C and U.) This translates as: “Trees of high quality and amenity value. Usually, mature trees with a significant life expectancy which would enhance any development. Retention of these trees is strongly encouraged”.

    Green space, opportunities to see plants growing in a woodland setting, fine mature trees — these things are in short supply in this part of Camberwell.

    It would be good to see the conversation continue here, but if people have time today and would like to visit some other orchards and libraries, I’m leading a walk from Peckham Library to Camberwell Orchard today via various peaceful spots. All welcome to walk and talk. Meet under the portico of Peckham Library at 1.45 for 2pm start.

  2. Apart from the trees, it seems like a good place for the library. It’s pedestrian friendly (unlike the old job center) and will help spread the town center out a bit and make it less of a mirror of the 4‑way junction.

    What type of building are they proposing?

    Meanwhile, Burgess Park looks pretty good. An improvement definitely. And there’s a lethal-looking BMX track being built. The way the kids ride that track at the Old Kent Road end of Commercial Way, there’s going to be some spectacular riding.

  3. I think, as always the problem is the council’s total lack of transparency.

    The building design and location were all decided before the “consultation”.

    If you are going to build there, and I am not convinced it’s the correct place, then why not build on the hideous GP surgery. Alternatively, by the swimming pool on the car park. That is central.

    Their reasoning for not doing looking at these options was that they “have to” build the library on one floor for access and can’t use lifts or escalators for mobility reasons.

    I do think that with a bit of imagination and real consultation that they could have come up with something more interesting, less damaging to the orchard (where I picked up handfuls of red currants and black currants the other day), and something that we can be proud of.

    Instead we have Peter John’s vanity project, and as far as I can tell, a rather uninspiring design that will date very quickly. Well, at least he gets what HE wanted.

    Having said that, I would rather like a new library. And yes, it will open up the Green. Let’s just hope they don’t ignore everyone’s views on how that should be redesigned.

  4. That part about a potential “urban greenway” between Camberwell Green and Burgess Park makes sense. Good point.

  5. In other news, it’s three nectarines for £1 at Cruson, or four of those smaller flat white peaches for £1.


    On no account shop at “FACTORY OUTLET” shoe shop in Butterfly Walk. They sell exclusively a brand called “Apogee London” which are an apology for shoes. They have a couple of other branches in SE.

    I got my money back today but the merchant was rude about it, so I offered to fight him outside.

    Bazaar behaviour indeed, as the partner said — but the daughters loved it.

    When I cool down I will talk to Southwark about Apogee “shoes”.

  7. My comment is awaiting moderation. In the meantime, Radio Camberwellonline will play martial music.

  8. Library looks great. “Opposition” (they’ve huffed and puffed for 18 months and out of the 42,000 residents, they’ve managed 220 signatures.) 18 months.

    People who shout “the consultation was flawed” usually mean “they didn’t pick my plan”. We elect Councillors, who employ armies of professionals. Of course they don’t put an empty sheet of paper on a table for every thing they do. They do it. That’s what we elect and pay them to do. They bring the near finished plan for us to see, but unless we can demonstrate reasons against, or a big opposition (0.52% is not terribly big) then it’s a winner. Please could the 0.52% stop costing us precious time and money. You did enough of that with Burgess Park, which is fantastic in spite of you.

  9. I wish people wouldn’t spite on the pavement. I feel like saying, “You’re not a baby!”

    The orchard would get more votes if it had a sign on it saying, “Established 1992”. Then burgers would have a better idea of its heritage. Scrubbing up orchards never goes down well — apparently you can hear the trees scream. But I agree with Grover that the library looks great. Peckham library is a brilliant place — it gives off the right vibe, in my view. It is profoundly anti-street violence and mineral-rich-government corruption.

    I was one who mithered a bit about Burgess but for sure when you see what the plants are now doing you know that they were set by an army of professionals. Burgess Park is burgeoning, will be a marvel.

    In the mean time, Apogee Shoes are quaking in their boots. Can you hear me Apogee Shoes? You will commit suicide on the walls of Southwark trading standards.

  10. The BMX track opens August 6. Saw a fella putting up the signs the other night. Hopefully I’ll have the good sense not to try and ride it.

    Also, there’s a an Eid festival planned for Burgess Park next week.

  11. The Carnaval is indeed a hell of a highlight. As Peter’s new post says, the new Burgess Park is confounding its doubters as it matures.

    In the meantime, I know a good joke about a notorious Mexican bandit called Black Pedro, though I can’t quite recall it all. Basically, a squitty little fellow is humiliated by Black Pedro who makes him eat his horrible bandit shit at gunpoint.

    Pedro falls asleep drunk and the little guy steals his guns, rides into the next town on his donkey, demands drink at the saloon, says he is friend of Black Pedro who lent him his guns.

    “You know BLACK PEDRO?”

    “Sure, I had lunch with him today.”

  12. Asked after the Carnival del Pueblo a while back and got this reply…

    Directors Statement:
    Carnaval del Pueblo is an event that has been happening for over 15 years in different parts of South London. Burgess Park has become its home. By delivering some of the famous Latino artists, the event became London’s second biggest street party and Europe’s biggest festival of Latino music. After a series of incidents and circumstances, (some of them related to the Carnaval itself, some of them unrelated), Carnaval del Pueblo has been fighting an uphill battle for funding. The impact of this has caught up with us and so Carnaval del Pueblo will not happen again this year, mainly because of lack of funds.

    CDP had also lost its focus in recent years and the need for change was felt across the community. Further to a series of procedures, a new management team have taken over. This has happened in the last few months and has also affected any possibility of having the CDP event this year. We felt that we needed a break with the past. We will start the Carnaval with a new focus, new directions and with a clear intention to improve the relationship with the community and listen to what community needs to say.

    This has allowed us to prepare a plan for next year (2014). We have already secured the venue, the spiritual home of the CDP, Burgess Park, with the blessing of our friends at Southwark Council. We are already working on plan A, B and C on how to deliver a high quality event directed at the Latino community and its friends in the heart of South London. However, we will need your support and help. It will not be easy. Nevertheless, our community is a hard working and determined one, so we can see a brilliant future for this event, as long as we keep our focus and keep evolving.

    To show that we are not resting on our laurels, we are doing 2 events this year, building up to the event next year. We are welcoming volunteers!! To register:http://carnavaldelpueblo.com/

    The first one is an event in partnership with Music for Life, a community organisation that works with education and cultural heritage in the Latino community. The event goes under the name of The Local World Arts Festival, featuring Los Niños Vallenatos del ‘Turco’ Gill, direct from Colombia, happening on Sunday 11th of August. http://www.musicforlife.me.uk/ orhttp://carnavaldelpueblo.com/ The second event will be on the 17th of November, details on that coming very shortly.

    Thank you very much for your understanding and for any enquiries please contact: admin@​carnavaldelpueblo.​co.​uk

    CDP Board of Directors

  13. Sounds brilliant. * TONIGHT * TONIGHT * TONIGHT * The link above strangely takes us to a possible phishing blogsite. This one does it:


    Is anyone else bothered by doorstep chuggers? They have the Guardian reading manner but the Sky TV spiel — the resulting cognitive dissonance is repellent.

    Who on earth are “Friends of the Earth”, anyway? Some kind of bothersome, unempathetic aliens, presumably. Why don’t they bring their own money with them?

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