Clacton-on-Sea: Twinned with Camberwell

Camberwell sits in the middle of the London Borough of Southwark. Clacton-on-Sea is in Tendring, Essex.

In the recent EU referendum Southwark was the 14th most Remain part of Britain, whilst Tendring was the 14th most Leave area in the country.

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Clacton-on-Sea: Twinned with Camberwell

As someone who loves Camberwell, and the EU, I see and hear the arguments and reasons why places like Clacton wanted to leave the EU but I don’t necessarily understand them. I live a very different life in an inner city neighbourhood to coastal town in Essex.

 

How did people in both areas come to their decision to leave or remain? How did our country become so divided? Is there a way to heal the divisions and respect the other’s decision?

Camberwell: Twinned with Clacton-on-Sea. Populated by giants.

I’d love to find out.

This is not an exercise in trying to change people’s mind.

This is not an exercise in blaming the other side of the debate for the result.

I am organising an exchange visit with people from both towns to visit our respective neighbourhoods.

I am looking for LEAVE voters from Clacton and REMAIN voters from Camberwell who would be willing to share their experiences of their lives, why they live where they live, their jobs, their friends and neighbours,

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their attitude to politics and politicians, and why they voted the way they did.

I would love to organise an exchange trip where myself and others can show you around my beloved Camberwell, show Clactonites the sights, meet some wonderful people and hopefully residents of Clacton can host some Camberwellians in their home town and show off what is best about their corner of Essex.

I want to understand more about the lives of people outside the London bubble and hopefully people from Clacton would like to find out a bit more about us! This may not make either of us change our minds, but would hopefully help heal the differences between the two sides and respect the other’s decision.

Camberwell Green

As a photographer, I would like to photograph and film the people involved and document the discussions so hopefully you would be happy to be involved in this process.

I am planning to organise the trips sometime in July and August, (and hopefully have a lovely time by the sea if the sun ever comes to visit!)

If you have any questions, please get in touch. You can email me on hello@​photosbytomtom.​com or call me on 07939 250935.

Thank you and see you soon in Clacton-on-Sea / Camberwell!

Tom Leighton

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Doing Good, Getting Involved, and Getting Coffee

Two new cafés are joining the burgeoning Camberwell scene, and both offer a social benefit as well as liquid refreshment.

The first is Brewbird, in the former Sun Pizza premises on Havil St. It’s a lovely venue, bright and airy and plenty of seating. I dropped in this week, and can confirm that the coffee is good. Brewbird is the social enterprise arm of the amazing St Giles Trust, and helps ex-offenders and at-risk young people with skills and a vocation, so is worth your support even if you’re not a coffee-lover.

This Saturday (16th January) we’ll be joined by Lumberjack, opening in the former House premises (70 Church St.). Lumberjack are the trading arm of the London Reclaimed employment charity, and train young people in crafting furniture from reclaimed wood and materials. They also sell cakes, and coffee from the Old Spike roastery in Peckham—itself a social enterprise helping local homeless people.

All in all, coffee’s never done so much good for everyone. We should feel proud to have them.

Further changes coming soon: there’s some work underway in the former Safa (22 Church St.), no idea what’s going in there (update: two commenters say that Oregano Leaf pizza are moving there); across the road, the former library is now two vacant units which I’m sure will be snapped up; and The Bear (on New Road) is under new management, which if I’m not mistaken is the team from The Fox in Haggerston. Look forward to seeing that lovely freehouse back on its feet.

If you’d like to be more involved in broader changes to the area, Southwark have a page on their site dedicated to public consultations (here are the currently open consultations for SE5). One that they’re keen to get opinion on at the moment is updates to the play area in Brunswick Park. If you have children and live in the area, they’d like you and your family to fill out a very brief survey to help them plan the changes.

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!

Local Clicktivism

A couple of recent petitions that I’ve been asked to promote:

We want physically segregated cycle lanes on Albany Rd & Thurlow St and Dutch standard prioritised protected crossings for cyclists/pedestrians at cycle route junctions, in the Aylesbury Estate plan — with the recent cancellation of CS6, better provision for cyclists on the back streets becomes more important.

We call on Eric Pickles, to investigate allegations of governance failure, poor financial management and potential fraud at the London Borough of Southwark, relating to the sale of the Heygate Estate — not directly about Camberwell, but it’s just down the road and has also cost you money from your taxes.

Update: A public consultation on the proposal to extend the Bakerloo Line South — via either Old Kent Road, or a new Camberwell station.

Update: Here’s another one, calling for fairer flight paths to and from Heathrow — Camberwell is one of the affected areas.

If you know of any more, email peter@​camberwellonline.​co.​uk or tweet @camberwellblog.