All Change On Camberwell Green

After what feels like years of discussions and focus groups, planning permission has finally been presented for Camberwell Green. More on this in a bit, but other plans are afoot too.

Theoretically, work on pocket spaces and specifically Datchelor Place (home to Flying Fish and Pigeon Hole) will be pedestrianised before the end of this financial year (Take heed Southwark Council: April 5th. Get a move on). After this one is done, there’s still a quite a few other pocket spaces to do too. The very successful Camberwell Arts Christmas Market showed what can be done there if given the space and the resources.

The New Camberwell Library
The New Camberwell Library

The new library is taking shape nicely too. Whilst I have been quite vocal in my disgust at a (Labour run) Southwark Council sham of a “consultation” and the destruction of the orchard, the library itself looks good from the outside and I hope that we get something that we can be proud of. I love the type font for the front of the building. The new library sits on the edge of Camberwell Green, between the green and the Magistrates’ Court.

Which brings me neatly onto the plans for Camberwell Green.

On the whole I think the plans sympathetically take into account the history of the Green whilst giving it a much needed and welcome upgrade. Thought has been given to allow people clear paths to the library and beyond, to the court and even Burgess Park. However, there are some aspects that I am not so keen on. Below is a screen grab from one of the many planning permission documents. You can see all of the documents here: Southwark Planning Website

Camberwell Green Overview of plans
Camberwell Green Overview of proposed plans


In the plus column:

  • The green will retain some of the historical features such as the original gateposts, the ancient pathways, the war memorial and the Sidney Bates memorial bench. I hadn’t really noticed the gateposts before, but I am glad they are being restored.
    Camberwell Green
    Original pathways and most of the mature trees to be retained.
    Camberwell Green Gatepost
    Original Gateposts to be restored and retained.
  • Most of the trees are to be kept, including the lovely massive one that overhangs the pathway by the loo (see below for more about the loo). At the same time, more trees will be planted, including disease resistant elm trees to replace some of the trees in the future.
  • The railings will now be kept around most of the Green. (The original designs took these away to make it less pleasant to stop people hanging around there being “anti-social” i.e. street drinkers, but without thinking it might make it less pleasant for everyone else as well!)
  • The playground has been moved to the north end of the green. I think this makes for a better, larger connected open space rather than two spaces divided by the playground.
  • The south east side of the green will be extended to take in part of the road in front of the Peabody Estate. This will be used for the farmer’s market and other events. I think it makes sense to bring the market to a more obvious position. Hopefully this will help the market traders and customers.

    Future Location of the Farmer's Market.
    Future Location of the Farmer’s Market.
  • The borders of the green on Camberwell Church St and Camberwell Road will be filled with flowers and wild meadows to create a buffer zone between the green and the traffic.
  • There are also several “feature walls”, near the borders, some of which will also contain seating.
  • And finally, there will be a pedestrian crossing from the green to Camberwell Passage. As someone who crosses the road here all the time to catch the bus, I know this is a really helpful thing. (I hope they don’t make it too frustrating for traffic though. If it’s a pelican crossing that takes for ever for the green man, often people have crossed already meaning drivers have to pointlessly wait while nobody crosses!)

On the down side:

  • The toilet. Yes, THE TOILET! It screams: “Welcome to Camberwell, it’s full of s**t!”. Apparently this toilet, that sits at the crossroads to the green (where a beautiful water feature of another type used to sit, see pics below) has to stay because the bus drivers need it. I’m sorry, but I have never once seen a bus driver, or anyone else use this toilet, except on the rare occasions when there are big events on the green. If it has to be kept (and I do not think it’s worth it personally) a much better solution would be to have it near the farmer’s market area, in a more discreet position. Not with the door opening onto a busy crossroads where everyone can see you! (Apparently cost is preventing this. See below for my solution).
Welcome to Camberwell Green. It's a bit shit.
Welcome to Camberwell Green. It’s a bit s**t.
Note the old water fountain that pre-dates the current water feature!
Note the old water fountain at the entrance to the Green that pre-dates the current water feature!
  • I don’t like the new street lights that are proposed. I think they will date very quickly and the ones we have currently are a much better design for the green. Maybe the money saved by not buying new street lights could be used to pay for moving the turdis (a.k.a. the toilet).
Existing Lamp Posts
Existing Lamp Posts. Pigeon Optional.


Proposed Lamp Posts for Camberwell Green.
Proposed Lamp Posts for Camberwell Green. Man with briefcase optional.


So what now?

What do you think? Do you like the plans? What do you want to see changed, even at this late stage?

As well as adding your comments below, if you want to show your support or opposition to the plans (see full details of all the documents and plan here) you should email Southwark’s Planning department quoting planning reference 14/AP/4537. Send your emails to: planning.​consultation@​southwark.​gov.​uk.

A note on the Southwark website says: “Please make sure that you state the application number and your postal address. Comments that you submit will be published on this website for others to see”, so make sure you do this.

And if you want to make a fuss (dare I say a “Sh*tstorm”?) about the toilet plans, get in touch. Let’s march!

66 thoughts on “All Change On Camberwell Green”

  1. @Monkeycat

    Good post, very informative.

    I agree that the toilet would look better at the back where the new market area will be — or even nearer to the new library?

    I am slightly disappointed that only half of the road in front of the Peabodys is being landscaped…I would be strongly in favour of the whole road up to the new library — Which does looks like it might prove to be useful but as you mentioned, the consultation beforehand WAS very poor — I wasn’t impressed at the time either.

    The current lamp posts are fine and I agree they would look better sandblasted and/or re-painted…The proposed new ones are too bland and generic.

  2. Love the CamberwellOnline Blog …

    Thanks for taking the time to write this informative article about this important area of Camberwell .… Much appreciated.

    I totally agree about the streetlights !

    Shame they don’t bring back the water feature.

    I think … Within Reason ! … priority funding should be made available for this area … It really is “The Face” of Camberwell.…

    Attractive faces attract people ! … People will hopefully bring money , investment & regeneration.

    Camberwell is a super central and often overlooked part of town with much potential.

  3. Good blog Monkeycat. It makes the plans more visible and understandable. Thanks.

    I had not noticed the lamp posts, but now you mention it, I also prefer the existing ones. I’m not entirely convinced that moving the playground close to the main road is a good idea, but I guess it’s so you can see it from the new library.

    I hope the new library comes out well. If it does, it will add a new dimension to the town centre.

  4. We could turn the prominence of the toilets into a feature; “Camberwell, where the convenience is king”.

  5. King ‘andy if you’re a bus driver. Do they have a special key? Are they available on the black market in the Joiners?

  6. As for the lamp posts, I think you’re right that they’re less interesting visually, but the idea is that they’re more energy efficient and less light polluting, which is worth the trade-off, IMO.

  7. @peter: But how long will it take to make the energy savings for the manufacture of the new ones, and the disposal of the old lamp posts? If it’s not less than 20 years, I don’t see the point as it seems that the green gets a facelift every 20 years or so.

  8. Thanks for the post and updates. I very much prefer the new lights.. I find the 80’s ones (pictured) twirly, pastiche and ridiculous. The new ones will have a much better light as well.

  9. Oh grim indeed. A few curves wouldn’t have gone amiss — a little softening. Perhaps the occupants will fill their balconies with greenery as well as the washing.

  10. Surely the provision of toilets for the bus drivers is the responsibility of TFL and not Southwark council.

    Whilst they are about it they might look at the bus stand/ bus stop situation going down to Walworth Road. Ive seen old people unable to do the sprint up the road and buses driving past as the stops are full of stationary vehicles.

  11. Provision of public toilets in London is hopeless. Anyone would think the needy go where they can, these days. The fact is, the cost of the upkeep of a public toilet is beyond our civilisation in cities. At one time, they were the down-to-earth pride of civic society. What a strange turn of events.

    The bus drivers drive past whole classes of primary children, Diana, rather than pick them up, because the children are a nuisance to them. These drivers will not slow down for old people.

    What a strange turn of events.

  12. Anthropologists like to talk about toilets.
    Here is an extract from London Anthropology Day

    The Anthropology of Toilets

    This film workshop will consist of a short talk followed by the screening of a film about toilets in Indian cities entitled “Q2P” by Paromita Vohra. The film is something of a response to the characterisations of urban Indian space as one of public defecation and the omnipresence of excrement. It asks provocative questions such as who the toilets are for, why there aren’t more toilets and how the provision of toilets allows us anthropological insights into the contours of urban Indian class, caste and gender hierarchies. The film allows us to explore a “fecal politics” that is predicated upon the anthropologist Appadurai’s notion that the distance one is able to create between oneself and one’s own excrement is a virtual indicator of an Indian’s class.

  13. Never mind the farmers market, I’d adore Camberwell to have a humble weekday market on that site. Imagine that, a market and a library!

  14. That farmer’s food contains lots of roughage. After identity politics, we have fecal politics — a powerful new popular movement.

  15. Not much roughage in a pastiche. Maybe the new bakery will do a rye flour version.

    Roughage is also a good word. It doesn’t look like it sounds, or vice-versa.

  16. Africa Cup of Nations final tonight at 7pm, Ivoire v Ghana. The barber shops of Church Street and the Peckham Road will be rocking. Car horns from 9pm.

  17. Sorry, a rum night in Equatorial Guinness where it came down to the two goalkeepers facing each other at the end of the penalty shootout, the footballers having failed to get anywhere.

  18. More specifically in Camberwell, does anyone know

    a) when the new library will open?

    b) the story behind what looks like a new church on Love Walk? It looks a modest, but also quality-expensive, building.

  19. @Gabe — shortly after that piece on the Prince Albert, it closed for a refurb so it will be interesting to see whether it is still an ‘old-school boozer’ when it reopens.
    Regarding the Cadeleigh Arms at the top of Shenley Road, I used to pop in there every now and then to watch the football on weekends — was often pretty quiet but I liked it. Any idea what is happening with it? I thought it was going to be turned into flats but doesn’t look like much has happened since it closed.
    The new library is supposed to open in spring so I guess that could be anytime from next month to June? It does look pretty good from the outside as I get the bus up Camberwell Road each morning.
    The church on Love Walk is the new Camberwell Green URC Church. I believe they demolished their old (larger) building on the site, sold of the section bordering Grove Lane which is now being developed into extra terraced flats/houses and are building the church building on Love Walk. Some further info, if a bit out of date is here:

  20. That was a good post, Peter, as good as the pub. I can’t help thinking that people are more conveninet when they’re wired up to the internet and the closing down of human pubs is what the guvverment wants.

  21. Thanks PK. The article on the Prince Albert was very well photographed and written, so that’s a hint it won’t be exactly the same. But that’s okay. I reckon there’s a fair chance it’ll stay “authentic” after the overhaul. It would be a shame if it ended-up like another version of the Wishing Well or The Tiger.

    On the other hand, The Montpelier, up the road, I prefer since it was done up.

    I like a mixed boozer myself. That’s one of the reasons I like most of the pubs in Camberwell. It would be fabulous if somebody energetic and enterprising could re-open the Cadeleigh Arms.

  22. Dagmar, you might be on to something with that Internet theory. The statistics will probably prove you correct.

  23. I saw inside the Cadeleigh last night. The bar has been ripped out, looks like its curtains for that place.

  24. The conversion into flats of the Bickleigh riond the corner on Vestry Road was allowed only if the ground floor were left as a commual area, a lobby. This I believe to be the truth.

    The guvverment don’t like us gathering in small bands of men or clutches of women to confer, to agitate. Combination, it used to be called.

  25. Looks like a cafe/restaurant is due to open up in place of Queen’s Nails next to Caravaggio as there is a alcohol licence application on the security grill. Googling the names on the application seem to suggest these guys ( who do catering, a supper club and some market stalls. Sounds like it would be an interesting addition to Camberwell. Have tweeted them to confirm but no response so far.

  26. The people from the Camberwell Islamic Centre spoke well about this today on BBC Radio 4. Our muslim folks are great, they do exactly what it says on the tin. They are proper, peaceful people in every sense and very dignified and they get what life is about.

    This chap, though, calls for Sharia law in Camberwell. Surely he is right, in his own case.

  27. @Gabe
    Long story short on the Love Walk Church (United Reform Church). The Church was a)too big for the number of parishioners and b) in need of repair. Following long consultation and a large number of iterations, the URC have built a new, smaller church, funding it through the development and sale of new private residential buildings built on the Grove Lane facing part of the site.

  28. Seems like a sensible down-sizing strategy for the URC.

    We should be thankful they didn’t stick a Tesco Metro in at street level.

  29. Bertolt Brecht rolled through Camberwell yesterday with a train of channel tunnel wagons. The class 92’s electric circuits are duplicated in case of failure in the tunnel. The engines were made by Brush Traction at their Loughborough erecting shops in the 1990s.

  30. Eilean, have just purchased George Gissing’s “The Odd Women” for 20p from the fabulous ADL charity shop in Peckham. Much mention of Walworth Road and Herne Hill. Have not forgotten your recommendation of his “In the Year of Jubilee”, set in Camberwell.

    This is a 1980 Virago Classic. I’d like to see Elaine Showalter’s intro to the Penguin.

  31. @Dagmar, I am beyond thrilled that you have purchased ‘The Odd Women’. In my imagination the Herne Hill house is on Red Post Hill.

    Also, I am thinking of changing my name to Rhoda.

    I trust that you will find a copy of ‘New Grub Street’ very soon, and that it costs 15p

  32. Morning Camberwellians!
    Monkeycat and I have a very dear friend who is looking for a room to rent in Camberwell from April whilst she house hunts.
    She’s in her 30’s, has a PHD, works at Southbank Uni so is very trustworthy, and is a total delight to be around.
    If you know of anywhere that might suit — please feel free to drop me a line: jordana@​jordanaleighton.​com.
    Thanking you!

  33. Dagmar and Eilean,

    You reminded me that the Camberwell Library is asking people to recommend books to go into the new library.

    If you go to the library there are postcards you can fill in. Your name can even be inscribed in the book to let everyone know who suggested it!

    Wouldn’t it be lovely to get a whole shelf of hand-picked Camberwell related themes in the new building?

  34. Does anyone frequent Daily Goods on the high street ?

    I like to support local businesses and have being going in since it opened. I like to get to know the people and develop a rapport which gets you going back. Surely that is the point of local shops.

    I have just made my last visit.I can no longer stand the miserable unsmiling staff. I am a very friendly person and always say hello but in there just get blank looks back. There is a very friendly American guy but its always different staff.

    Anyone else noticed this ?

  35. John,

    Try Pigeon Hole Cafe down Datchelor Place. Its very pleasant and the staff are rarely without a smile. I think you will find that it is right up your street.

Comments are closed.