New Places to Eat, a Local Identity, and a Plan for the Area

Second post of the year! I’m getting giddy! As I was writing this I realised that I’ve just missed the 15th anniversary of this blog; I wrote my first post on 1st July 2004. Wow! I would say ‘time flies’, but it doesn’t always.

Anyway, here’s a round-up of some of the more interesting things that have happened recently.

Nandine & More Flour to the People

A couple of new eating establishments have opened. More Flour To The People! is a bakery, cafe, and pizzeria on Coldharbour Lane. If bread is your thing this is the place to go; lovely home-baked loaves for sale, nice brunch options during the day, and very generous and tasty pizza in the evenings. Well worth a visit.

And Camberwell favourites Nandine have opened on Church Street in the former Queen’s (and very short-lived Fat Phil’s). With the new premises they have a full kitchen so can really go all out on the food, and it’s delicious; sweet and spicy and generous. Mostly small plates for sharing, although the kebabs and chicken wings are really big. They have an alcohol license now as well, with a small but well-selected wine list and a few local beers. I think this place is exceptional, and all the feedback I’ve seen has been incredibly positive too.

Also coming soon to Camberwell are New Cross favourites, The London Particular. They’ll be opening in the old Town Hall on Peckham Road soon.

Camberwell Identity

A sign reading “Camberwell” painted on a wall
Lionel Stanhope’s Camberwell sign, Camberwell New Road

The image shown above (and at the top of this page if you’re not using a mobile) shows the new mural on the railway bridge on Camberwell New Road. It’s painted by Lionel Stanhope, who’s responsible for similar murals across South London, and the colours were chosen by pupils at Sacred Heart School.

The mural is part of a new Camberwell identity project by SE5 Forum, Camberwell Society and Camberwell Arts with the community and businesses. Its aim is “to bring to life Camberwell’s unique, vibrant identity and make everyone feel proud of Camberwell”.

The Camberwell identity group is currently raising money to install raised lamppost banners along Denmark Hill; the Mayor of London has pledged to match donations up to the target amount, so please contribute if you can.

Camberwell Area Plan

The Southwark Community Action Network recently held a public consultation for ideas to improve the area. The boards that were shown are all online [PDF download]. There’s a lot to talk about; here are a few things that stood out:

  • Six major new housing/social developments are planned: Camberwell Lanes, on the Butterfly Walk/Morrisons car park land; Respublica, an arts/co-working/shared living space on Valmar Trading Estate; the Camberwell and Abellio bus garages; and the Magistrates Court on Camberwell Green North area.
  • Three public space projects, with better walking routes including part-pedestrianisation, at Windsor Walk, Camberwell Station Road, and the Wilson Road crossing of Camberwell Church Street.
  • A widened Camberwell Green with shared walking and cycling space occupying the existing third south-bound lane, and a ‘super-crossing’ with all-green phase, like at Oxford Circus, to make it easier to cross the junction.
  • The ‘low line’ walking route from the former Camberwell Station along the railway arches to Medlar Street, eventually linking up arches all the way to Bankside.

Some of these ideas are new to me, and some have been carried forward from 2017’s Area Vision for Camberwell. It seems from the boards that the reopening of Camberwell Station is still hoped for despite TfL’s previous lack of enthusiasm.

There’s a lot contained in here so I urge you to take a look for yourself and email camberwellplan@​southwark.​gov.​uk with your feedback.

Showing My Face

The Peckham Peculiar recently ran a special edition focusing on Camberwell, which had an interview with your humble author. I don’t usually talk about myself much here, but after 15 years running this blog I was quite proud.

TfL say there’s no business case to reopen Camberwell station

TfL have released their business case for the reopening of Camberwell station, which says that despite the benefits it would bring to the area, it doesn’t justify the cost.

After a long delay, TfL have released their business case for reopening Camberwell station, and the verdict is:

A reinstated National Rail station at Camberwell would deliver local benefits but in overall terms would not be a good use of public funds at this time.

So that’s a no.

It seems that, despite being the best option of all proposed transport changes (including an enhanced bus service, better walking and cycling options, and a tram), the scheme would benefit Camberwell but not enough to justify the cost.

The decision would appear to hinge largely on: 1) that proposed redevelopment around the area wouldn’t bring enough new housing; and 2) the negative impact of an extra stop on the journey times of commuters to and from Kent. To which I would reply: 1) what about all the new homes that are currently being / have already been built around the Green; and 2) who cares?

Local politicians who campaigned for the station reopening are obviously disappointed. Harriet Harman MP said:

Deeply disappointed TfL not planning to reopen Camberwell Station! No tube, packed buses and very dangerous overcrowding at Denmark Hill & Nunhead stations. Solution urgently needed before an accident happens.

Harriet Harman MP

The point about overcrowding at Denmark Hill is very salient; with no solution expected until April of next year at the very earliest (and even that date has no degree of certainty), and recent news of reduced bus services, our transport links are worsening.

Councillor Kieron Williams picked up on this:

Very disappointing news, Camberwell needs better transport, rail has to be part of long-term answer, as a council we will continue to work with local residents, hospitals, businesses, SE5 Forum to make that case.

Councillor Kieron Williams

One possible cause for hope is that the business case notably excludes the local hospitals, King’s and Maudsley, who employ thousands and help many, many more. Perhaps this could be used to persuade TfL to take a second look, and that’s certainly reflected in the reactions of Helen Hayes MP and Councillor Johnson Situ:

It is very disappointing that the business case does not appear to have given any weight to the critical transport issues facing staff at Kings and the Maudsley. This is a serious flaw in the government’s methodology which means that the business case for Camberwell Station must be reconsidered.

Helen Hayes MP

We firmly believe that including the use of the station by hospital visitors would make a significant difference to the outcome of the business model, and it should be reviewed.

Councillor Johnson Situ

What this means for Camberwell in terms of Southwark’s area vision is yet to be known; a large part of the regeneration of the area around Station Road seemed to be contingent upon the reopening of the station. Hopefully we can get some clarity on that, and even more hopefully perhaps the business case can be reassessed with our local hospitals and healthcare services in mind.

You can read more about this story on the website of the Southwark Community Action Network, who’ve been active in this campaign since the start.

Free Film Festival, Camberwell Union, the Grove Bridge, Wine, and Bikes

Camberwell Free Film Festival is back for another year. Starting on Thursday 15th, there will be a free screening every night (bar one) for the next ten nights—plus a special bonus (more on that in a sec)—at diverse venues across the neighbourhood.

I can personally recommend Ben Wheatley’s fun shoot-em-up Free Fire (showing at Cycle PS) and John Carpenter’s capitalist-critique alien invasion film, They Live (at The Cambria), and am looking forward to seeing the much-heralded growing up tale The Florida Project (at The Crooked Well) and the hand-painted animated biopic Loving Vincent (at Cafe at the ORTUS), but there’s plenty in this line-up to cater to everyone.

The bonus feature is The Shed at Dulwich, in which VICE journalist Oobah Butler managed to make a non-existent restaurant into the highest-rated on Trip Advisor—and then decided to open it for one night only. It’s a short film with two screenings at The Phoenix on Sunday 18th, each followed by a Q&A.

The full line-up of the Camberwell Free Film Festival is online, and there are posters and leaflets at selected venues around Camberwell. Most (all?) films are first-come, first-served.

Other News

Plans have been (re-)submitted for a huge new housing and mixed-use development on the site of Burgess Business Park. Camberwell Union promises 505 new homes (35% affordable—although that’s already being disputed as ‘not viable’), new streets and public realm, and mixed commercial, creative, and retail units (including a microbrewery). You can see the developer’s brochure [PDF], and follow or comment on the planning application by searching for reference 17/AP/4797 at Southwark’s Planning Search (which really should provide shareable URLs).

The former Nape site, on Church Street, looks set to reopen under the name Good Neighbour. Same owners, new management, from what I can tell from their licensing application. @foodstories on Twitter says there’ll be “a wine bar, sharing plates, mini pizzas, and music downstairs” but I haven’t seen any confirmation of that.

The bridge on Camberwell Grove looks set to remain closed for a while yet as Network Rail have said it requires further strengthening work before Southwark can start their reopening work—sometime in the Summer. The bridge should reopen in more or less the same scheme as before it closed, pending a longer-term reevaluation.

Update On 14th March Andy Pryor on Twitter let me know that he’d “got a letter from Southwark and Network Rail saying the works on Camberwell Grove bridge are set for 14th May — 2nd August, due to reopen to vehicles under 3 tonnes on 3rd August”.

Finally, while there’s no news yet on getting Santander bike docks in Camberwell, it seems Southwark have decided on a multi-operator model and will allow dockless bike-sharing operators Mobike and Ofo to begin placing bikes in the borough. Camberwell and Rotherhithe have been earmarked as the areas of initial focus.

Camberwell Yards ‘box park’ plans scrapped

Plans for Camberwell Yards, the box park / container village project proposed for the area behind Butterfly Walk, have been scrapped. An email sent to some local residents says:

As you are aware, we have been working on this project for most of the year and have gone through extensive public and tenant consultations.

We have received a huge amount of interest and positive support for the project where the majority felt that this would be a beneficial addition to Camberwell.

At the end of an extensive reach, where we have also undertaken various surveys and reports including Transport and Noise Reports (following consultation of the Community) in order to support a planning application for this temporary project, we had hoped to submit the application for planning during September.

Unfortunately, our discussions with one key Tenant has proven to be unsuccessful as they feel that the project will not be compatible with their operation.

Therefore, it is with regret that we have to inform you that we will not be proceeding with this exciting project.

We would like to take this opportunity to all the people who attended the Consultation, and to all those people who have shown interest, co-operated and supported our team in endeavouring to get this project off the ground.

It’s fair to say that not everyone was behind this idea—some with reason, others less so—but I would have liked to have heard more about the plans, so it’s a shame this didn’t progress a little further.

More info if I get it.

A safer Camberwell Green; Camberwell Station; and Camberwell Yards

Before I get started with the latest news round up, a quick word of apology for some misinformation in my previous post. I read about the proposed Camberwell Yards temporary development (more on that later) and saw it described as ‘box park’, which I (mis-)understood to be the actual Boxpark rather than a similar concept. To be clear: Camberwell Yards is a box park rather than the Boxpark. I corrected my post shortly after publication, but some people had already read it and reacted to it before my correction was made. For that, I’m sorry. And from now on, I’ll be referring to it as a container village.

Now, on with the news.

Safer Camberwell Green

This week TfL opened a new public consultation on their proposed changes to Camberwell Green, aimed at making it safer after it was named as one of 73 junctions in London with unacceptable collision records. You can see the main proposals in the images below, or download a PDF for higher resolution.

Many of the proposed changes involve widening pavements—especially welcome for bus stop L outside London Food & Wine on Church Street—and pedestrian crossings. The traffic islands to the north, east, and south of the Green junction will be slightly shifted and expanded to accommodate the new wider crossings.

More substantial changes include the traffic lights at the junction of Church Street with Grove Lane / Artichoke Place, which will be removed and replaced with a signal crossing some 15m west, nearer Sophocles. The signal crossing at the junction of Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street will be moved north, nearer to Butterfly Walk (this was originally announced a few years ago).

There will be a new signal crossing on Camberwell Road, from the mouth of Camberwell Passage to the Green. This will involve moving bus stop E 35m to the north.

The bus stop on the corner of Vicarage Grove and Church Street will also be moved some 9m west, sort of opposite Lumberjack, to make it safer to turn left—especially for cyclists.

Cyclists will also benefit from changes to the Green junction, with early release lights and 5m advanced stop lines (which I can tell you from experience are barely obeyed by a not unsubstantial proportion of motorists). There will also be two-stage right turns for cyclists turning right onto Denmark Hill or Camberwell Road.

Finally, there will be a new cycle lane on Church Street heading west across the Green junction.

Map of proposed changes to Camberwell New Road
Camberwell New Road and west of Camberwell Green

Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Church Street
Camberwell Church Street and east of Camberwell Green

Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Road
Camberwell Road and lower Denmark Hill

Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Green junction
Camberwell Green junction

I think these are pretty decent proposals, but I look forward to hearing what everyone else thinks—and hope that if you have strong feelings about any of the changes, you let TfL know before 3rd September.

Camberwell Station

Southwark News have reported that the report into the proposed reopening of Camberwell Station has been pushed back by a few months, with a TfL spokesperson saying of a meeting between Network Rail, TfL, LB Southwark:

They’ve decided it needs a bit of extra work. It was a consensus of opinion between the three at the meeting. It will take a couple of months. Then it will need signing off again.

An article in a recent issue of Future Rail magazine, The Fight For Camberwell, has some interesting background on the reopening campaign, not least that Denmark Hill station saw some seven million passenger journeys in 2015–16—almost double the number from 2010-11.

Camberwell Yards

Southwark News also have a little more information on Camberwell Yards, the container village proposed for the small car park / loading bay behind Morrisons.

The reaction I’ve seen on Facebook & Twitter has been mixed, with many against it on principle because “it’s gentrification”. Which, to me, isn’t much of an argument because we don’t have any idea yet of what’s going to go in it, and the idea that ‘container village = gentrification’ smacks of dogma.

As an idea of what it could do for the area, the new Peckham Levels—set to open in the former car park above the cinema on Rye Lane this October—will host 70 businesses / organisations, of which 75% are from Peckham itself, and a further 10% from across Southwark. One of those businesses is our own Nandine, the Kurdish cafe on Vestry Road.

If the (much smaller) Camberwell Yards also supports local businesses in that way, I wouldn’t be against it at all.