Proposed improvements to Camberwell town centre

Southwark Council have recently begun a public consultation into proposed improvements to the ‘public realm’ around Camberwell Green. There is an overview of the plans in this PDF [3MB], and more detailed maps are available at the consultation website.

In this post I’m going to point out a few of the more obvious changes that I noticed, with comments where I feel them useful. Hopefully in a future post we’ll get some more detailed commentary from Tom Leighton, who’s likely going to be somewhat more critical than I.

Map of Camberwell Green showing proposed improvements

Congestion around the bus stops outside Butterfly Walk has been addressed by relocating bus stop Q (35, 42, 45, 68, 345, 468) from outside McDonalds to the north side of the junction, outside the Green on C’well Rd. The pavement here will be extended to accommodate the extra passengers, and a new pedestrian crossing.

The pavement will also be extended from the corner of the junction where the Tiger sits, up past bus stop P outside Barclays Bank, to Butterfly Walk. Unfortunately, congestion around bus stop L, outside London Food & Wine on C’well Church St., hasn’t been similarly addressed with any pavement changes.

Traffic signals will be changed to allow right turns from Denmark Hill into Coldharbour Lane, and two-way traffic into Daneville Road. The pedestrian crossing near Orpheus Street has been moved further north, directly outside the entrance to Butterfly Walk. These two changes are aimed at making safer the area around Orpheus Street, previously noted as an accident blackspot, and where Esther Hartsilver was killed recently.

Sadly, there seems to be little further provision for safe cycling around the area. Small exceptions include a short cycle track turning southbound into Grove Lane, and a small cut-through to the leisure centre from Kimpton Road, where the new entrance to the parking spaces will be.

Another small step to making Camberwell Green junction safer in general is removing the right turn for buses onto Denmark Hill from C’well New Rd. I believe the eastbound 185 is the only bus that makes that turn, so it will be diverted along Medlar St.

There seems to be a preponderance of new taxi bays, for some reason. The bay outside Noodels [sic] City will be moved to outside FM Mangal, and new bays created outside Cruson.

The pavement outside the Hermits Cave will be extended, and the traffic lights outside removed. This is part of some changes that were already planned as part of the Pocket Spaces initiative — and already begun, in the case of Datchelor Place, as The Pigeon Hole are finding to their cost.

Overall I think these are broadly positive changes, although I’m a little disappointed by lack of proper considerations for cyclists — but then, as we don’t even get the TfL rental scheme here, I can only suppose that Southwark aren’t really interested in that.

Author: Peter

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

55 thoughts on “Proposed improvements to Camberwell town centre”

  1. Good information Peter. It looks like an improvement, but still pretty crappy.

    I think the absence of a good cycle lane is a missed opportunity, especially considering they seem to be building something halfway decent from Oval to Vauxhaul Bridge. I can’t say I’m surprised. Bicyclists are a minority and Southwark has a piss-poor record on cycle routes, considering much of the borough is in Zones 1 and 2.

    Probably we’ll hear that the planners’ hands are tied by TFL, ambulances going to and from the A&E, the weight of traffic commuting in from Kent, and so on. And so this is maybe the best we can hope for.

  2. The proposals are awful. This is a great opportunity to put decent cycling infrastructure in place that will encourage more people to cycle, cut congestion and improve air quality.

    But yet again LB Southwark show they are simply not up to the job.

  3. To be fair*, I can see why it would be difficult to build a proper cycle lane. There’s not a lot of space and you’d have to lose a lane of motor traffic. That wouldn’t bother me, but given that most people don’t cycle they might not be so enlightened.

    The peds have it toughest of all trying to navigate Camberwell junction. They should be top priority.

    *If you see anyone start an Internet comment with “To be fair” you know they probably aren’t going to be.

  4. TBH, Gabe.

    TBH, it may be proper festival-mushy underfoot tomorrow at Camberwell Fair, turning up the bones of street drinkers like in the battlefields of Northern France.

    Such rain, 20 hours’ worth nonstop.

    Still, let’s clack the bones together in rhythm to the music, eh? Play football with the skulls! They will grin!

  5. ICYMI, the forecast says it will brighten up tomorrow. The ground is so dry it could absorb 20 hours of rain and still be good for it.

    We’re off on holidays tomoz, which is a bit disappoint wrt the Fair

  6. Thanks for the heads up about the consultation Peter — maybe the council are hoping it will slip under everyones radar. I think the term ‘improvement’ is pretty loose in this instance as they seem to be proposing taking away the limited existing cycle paths!? Also some real missed opportunities such as tiying Artichoke Place and Grove Lane through a shared surface crossing? — and why not make Wren Road accessible from the Morrisons end and then close off the Green end — stop the dangerous U‑turns and move the bus stop down to the wider bit of created pavement!? Looking forward to the fair tomorrow.

  7. A fresh breeze from the north-west but also from an airy and rambling poem by Robert Browning has joined the sun in drying out Camberwell Green.

    In a few minutes, the Fair will begin. 160 years of repression will be over. We can cast off our inhibitions and CELEBRATE THE TRUE SPIRIT OF ALBION ONCE MORE!

  8. The fair is well run and jolly. Security is very professional, the vibe is comfortable. One could be at WOMAD or William Rose, the East-Dulwich vegetarian butcher.

  9. Dawn Penn was as ever fabulous, what a voice, just gets better, more experienced, more voluptuous and expressive as the years roll.

    I thought the whole thing was really well run and relaxed. I hope it becomes a regular, proper-Camberwell event. Well done to the organisers.

  10. Can see the diversion of 185 up Medlar street causing a few issues. It’s really quite tight up there by the lights, not helped by the many cars visiting the church (old bingo hall).

  11. Looking at the plans, I think it would be a good idea to include a cycle path going south along Kimpton Street. I think that would make a big difference to cyclists approaching Camberwell from the north. It would also link up with the new cycle route going south along Grove Lane.

  12. You can’t cater too much for cyclists. They are special.

    Tried to drive to Cornwall today. Both routes M4 and M3 blocked due to massively popular cycle race.

    Bumped into a small race last night by Buck Pal (cycling back to Camberwell from the V&A like you do). Literally dozens of people watching.

  13. Cyclists crowd in front of the cars at the lights at the Green crossroads and take a while to hug the kerb again — some never do. When I ride I always want to hug the kerb to the extent that I’ll sometimes raise one pedal to hug the kerb with my wheels with two inches or less to spare, on bends or going past traffic islands.

    If cyclists don’t get it about living and travelling in London, then they’ll have to be flushed round traffic systems in discrete systems like turds.

    So many cyclists are vain, vague, thoughtless, self-righteous and selfish. They are very often a danger to each other. I dread other cyclists while I’m cycling in London.

  14. Dagmar, your comments could also be applied to motorists, yet they are spared from your vitriolic comments. Did you wake up on the wrong side of your bed yesterday?


    So many motorists are vain, vague, thoughtless, self-righteous and selfish. They are very often a danger to each other. I dread other motorists while I’m motoring in London.

  15. Chaps, chaps, calm down. Motorists and cyclists alike all have the capacity for great turdishness on the roads, that much is certain. As a keen cyclist myself, I know how taken aback I am whenever I do happen to be driving at how invisible and unpredictable the cyclists seem to me on the roads, even when they are staying where they should be.

    I agree that these plans are a missed opportunity for bettering the roads for cyclists (and by extension motorists). Even a well thought out paint job would improve things at this point, let’s hope they make some sort of gesture for cyclists…

  16. Hi All
    In other news…
    Does anyone know what has happened to “Head To Toe” on Camberwell Church Street?
    (This pic is from streetview)
    It is all shuttered-up and has already been fly-postered by the local travelling fun fair.
    Did newly opened Hair Couture and revamped Raffles prove too much for them, or are they preparing for a revamp of their own?
    Any update would be great.

  17. I was cycling to Millwall last night on my ladies’ Velorbis (I won’t lock up my Pedersen anywhere in Bermondsey) when a cyclist pulled out in front of me from a junction, deliberately, from stationary, making me brake and — dangerously — swerve.

    I am a Danish woman who sees life through the subtle nuances of the fifty shades of Skandi grey that are our equivalent of the forty shades of green of Ireland. Long have we been equal and fine of judgement. I therefore let rip with the coarse tautology,

    “You bearded twat.”

  18. 50k is a big amount to be asking for a Kickstarter campaign — I wonder whether that will be reached (Pigeon Hole were after 20k and just made it).

  19. Peter, it is totally natural and instinctive to hug the kerb on a bike. Yes, let the cars pass. I sometimes pull in. Cycling is all about cadence, rhythm, about blending in, working round things, freedom, skill, cunning, not about fixed ideas.

    The government advice is wrong — you never cycle a good distance from the kerb in London. That was written by some beaming committee of moon-eyed do-gooders. Yes, you can wind up the other road users that way, but isn’t that a bit perverse, even a bit pervy?

    In the 1970s there was a great book written about bikes and cycling, called “Richard’s Bicycle Book” by Richard Ballantine. It was really quite profound as well as radical and practical. He would have seen that cyclists are the urban foxes of London traffic today. He would also have been impressed by the measures already taken here and by the new enthusiasm for cycling in Britain — he would’ve been amazed.

    These are contentious times, social media have made it easier. We can be truly horrible to each other at the click of a mouse, at the touch of a button, in the tinkling of a keypad — do people still use mice?

    Anyway, this site has not seen the spitting, spittling, spiteful vitriol and injurious, nasty, sudden, abysmal condemnation and cursing that is common on other social media.

    I think it’s because of you Peter, who seems to have a genuine understanding of how new media work to the good.

    Of course, I’m being deliberately semi-silly about cyclists. But the cycling lobby is shrill and incredibly selfish. There again, this is a lobbying, selfish, moral-market-orientated world and the age of the nuance — once known as commonsense — has been superseded by the ridiculous folly of being “full-on”.

    I remain your humble servant,

    Dagmar Roadottir

    [Some people call me “Dot”, others “Dotty”]

  20. I’ve been sworn at and shoved by pedestrians for ringing my bell to make them aware of my presence; I’ve had to give a few hard glares also when, distracted by headphones, they step into the road without looking. I’ve had the occasional harsh exchange with other cyclists for dangerously ignoring traffic signals, or pushing me into an insecure position. But the few brushes I’ve had with injury – or even, heaven forbid, death – have all been at the hands of careless or uncaring motorists. So I stand my ground, I ride assertively, and I defer only when it’s safe to do so.

    I would be happy if the bicycle became a simple appliance, something which isn’t stigmatic or political. But we’ve a few years to go for that.

  21. Well said, Peter, as ever. For someone so technical that he actually has an old-fashioned trident television ariel secured onto his head, you are infinitely wise.

    “Richard’s Bicycle Book” placed the bicycle exactly in that moral philosphical location, “a simple appliance, something which isn’t stigmatic or political.”

    Funnily enough, since you mention it, I remember the book being sold through a small, old-fashioned, direct-selling, black-and-white press ad complete with coupon and a headline that celebrated


    The ad pulled loads of response, I believe. The booksellers were not happy with this direct-response technique. What was in it for them. The publishers, Pan, were experimenting.

    In those days, cycling was still cranky, a bit “Corbyn”, you know. I have always said that everything about cycling is incredibly boring.

    Except doing it.

  22. My camberwell friends, I may have a part of the solution, (certainly for getting to Millwall) but we need your help! — The Peckham Coal Line is now Crowdfunding through Spacehive. Take part and help this resident initiated project move one step closer to creating an urban linear park that would connect South London. An oasis of greenery soaring high across the rooftop-tops of Peckham on a disused rail siding. A route as useful as it is beautiful, unlocking dormant Victorian infrastructure to connect neighbourhoods and High Streets and people to work.

    More than a park – a vital connection: The 900-meter link will be for walkers and cyclists and will bridge a gap in a wider network of greenways that would run largely traffic free from South Camberwell to Greenland Dock where Sustrans are planning a new bridge to Canary Wharf. We need to get our campaign out to a wider audience so if any of you know of someone who might be interested please forward our website to them: [url][/url]

    …and please support us at our crowdfunding site: [url][/url]






  23. @MrsPBTT A sign in the window of ‘Head to Toe’ says they are doing a refurb and will be back in Sept. Hope so. I love them.

    Cobnuts and damsons being sold at the market on the Green this morning. There was a cobnut rush at 10.00 so I joined in and bought a kilo.
    Cobnut recipes anyone?

  24. Brill, Euse, will circulate this amongst the cognoscenti and left-of-centri. I know the “Guardian” snippet was a little light and loose. The Gavin Rose story is something. I remember how important the adventure playgrounds were round here.

    Any of our readers not into football may be interested to know that they would be if they went to the Hamlet. The quality of the play is astonishingly good, the crowd is properly, populistly and avanti-popololi mixed — indeed, some of them are a bit mixed up — they think they are at a country festival in Tuscany.

    Like the magic, pastoral bike bridgeway in Peckham, real people are beginning to rise up above the plastic people. Perhaps what the country needs as leader is not some posh PR ponce but a modest Geography teacher who knows his way round a good old Ordnance Survey map.

  25. NOISE NUISANCE. The coke people out the back, from 4am onwards — their relationships, their failed relationships, their fun in Aya Napa and Ibiza, shouting it out to whoever doesn’t want to hear it but wants to sleep. You would think heavy coke users would keep it cool, would not wish to invite the knock on the door of the night squad, rat-tat-rat-tat-rat-tat.

    Will shall see.

    Next door, the Eurotrash yuppies with their pots of money, absent-parenting, Asberger’s rock-star dad and shouting shouting SHOUTING kids who, we are told by them in their sort-of-English, have superior manners. They are brought up to be selfish, one of the features of affluenza. What might dissuade these children from lording it over us?

    We shall see.

  26. The coke folks have worn themselves out. But the posh children are giving it posh big time, howling and arguing, bating and hating What can anyone advise? I have thought of recording their animal noises and alpha hooting and playing it back to them over a rigged-up tannoy.

  27. Re cycle lane between Oval and Vauxhall. Cant think what is decent about taking away bus lanes when there are an estimated 98 million bus journeys a year on that route and only 1% of road users are cyclists. There was already a safe bus lane for cyclists on Harleyford Road and now my bus journey has been increased considerably. Also I fail to see how this improves air quality. This road is the main road from Dover to Victoria so we have a lot of heavy goods vehicles as well as coaches who are going to be sitting in traffic for longer.

  28. Dagmar . Re noise nuisance. Was that all the music going from behind the Co — op in Denmark Hill? Do you have the address ?

    I went to investigate but could not get any access. A lot of us rang the noise team so can only presume they tracked them down.

  29. No, other side of town. In my experience the noise nuisance folks are great.

    The coke folks have got it coming — they’ve asked for it. The nouveau-eurotrash are a different kettle of fish. The dad has some sort of Asberger’s and is a curtain-twitcher and teller-offer in the community.

    He is over-anxious about his two small kids, which is why they shout and scream, for release, for some sort of rough and natural expression. He won’t actually let them play or experiment, work their own way round danger.

    He thinks the Dagmarettes are Hell’s Angels, whereas they’re Heaven’s Angels or some sort of Longstocking Moonintroll experience. They’re happy to play well quietly — they do laugh a lot, I suppose, but they don’t bark and row.

    The mum has a full-on career and is not there much. He is sexy dad. I know so many gay dads are are to-die-for paters, they lead the way these days. This man is teaching his kids to be selfish. It’s both repellent and sad to follow this… narrative, year after year.

  30. Dagmar

    The replicants are amongst us and will triumph in the end.

    An old-skool-timer like me (or perhaps you) just can’t compete with their single-minded selfishness.

    Politics won’t save us now but books, films, football and music will see me through to the end 🙂

  31. My more traditional neighbours are great, Euse. We banter in the street, we help each other out, we’re friendly but not nosey or judgemental. That working-class way of life was bang on, wasn’t it?

  32. “Gold’s just around the corner…breakdown is coming up around the bend — Sometimes you have to try to get along dear, I know the truth and I know what you’re thinking” 😀

  33. “Money talks
    But it don’t sing and dance
    And it don’t walk
    And long as I can have you
    Here with me, I’d much rather be
    Forever in blue jeans.”

  34. Hey all, just thought I’d try and rally some 11th hr (well not quite…midnight tonight is the deadline) for Mike and Ollie’s restaurant venture due to open on Church street, 4hours to go to try and reach their target! Just under 9k short at the mo, some great rewards like 10X£10 Dinning vouchers so effectively just buying your meals in advance! Think it would be a great addition to Camberwell 🙂

  35. If I were an interiors person, I’d be down there with a van buying the prints.

    The books, too — the old boy used to charge old Charing Cross Road prices, where he had shops and was an art dealer. I loved that defiance, but was rather shocked by £3.95 for some old tat I knew should go for 75p.

    But there are rooms and rooms of it. His young French assistante put him online, book by book. She was worth going there for, some people thought, not me obviously.

    It is a wonderful place.

  36. For the situationist, life offers fascinating angles that are there to be seen if you are alert enough to look beyond the squares and cubes that are rigidly convenient for the good of the ruling classes.

    One such angle is the view from the lift or preferably stairs of the Peckham Library.

    From there, one may see behind the library a travellers’ encampment complete with an already astonishing pile of refuse — je prefer this word to “rubbish” or “junk” — and one may observe their behaviour, the large men and the fierce women, as they go about their lives.

    This is a must for the dedicated urban philosopher!

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