News round-up: Camberwell box park, Camberwell Fair and more

Lots of things to talk about, not least the news that Camberwell could be set to turn into hipster central! Let’s start with that.

Camberwell Yards

There’s a chance that Camberwell will get its own temporary retail / entertainment space made of converted shipping containers, similar to Pop Brixton, The Artworks Elephant, or the Boxpark that’s so beloved of the hipsters in Shoreditch and, er, Croydon. Camberwell Yards, as it’s called, is mooted to be on the smaller area of the car park behind Morrisons in Butterfly Walk.

Map showing Camberwell Yards, just off Daneville Road
The proposed location of ‘Camberwell Yards’

There are a planned 14 shipping containers around a central communal area. The intended uses are:

  • Four containers for food and beverages
  • One container for local community use
  • Eight containers for local businesses
  • One container for WC
  • A central communal area for flexible use, e.g. a pop-up cinema
Indicative layout of Camberwell Yards
14 Container units surround a communal area
Sketch of the Camberwell Yards development
An artist’s sketch of how the area could look.

It’s fair to say that reaction on Twitter to this news has not been entirely positive, with much muttering of gentrification and hipsters. I’m not entirely against the idea myself, although I think the key word used in the description above is local. How will businesses be judged to be local? Who will decide? How will that be enforced?

If this brings new people to the area and gives support to truly local businesses, then yes it’s a positive move. If all it does is bring people in who stay only in the box park, don’t get out and see more, and in fact attracts custom away from existing local businesses, then no, it’s not a good thing.

Notices up on the former HSBC building state that there will be a public consultation about this on Thursday, 20th July, from 3–7pm, in the old bank itself. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make this. If anyone is planning to attend, do please get in touch and send me a report.

Update, 28/09/17: the plans have been scrapped.

Camberwell Fair

A reminder that this Saturday, 22nd July, Camberwell Fair returns to the Green. The fair is

a celebration of the diverse people, culture and community of the local area, and will feature 2 top quality music stages, 40 market stalls, food, bars and games.

Entry is once again free, although may not always be; the organisers are crowdfunding to raise £3,000 to cover their costs and keep it free in future. If you’ve enjoyed the fair in the past, or plan to this year, consider chipping in a few quid to support; it’s not entirely selfless, you can get some goodies in return for your donation.

Camberwell Grove Railway Bridge

If you live in East/South Camberwell, you may be affected by the ongoing closure of this bridge. The latest news is that it will cost at least £17,000 to strengthen the bridge to support vehicles up to 3 tonnes, plus the cost of works to ensure that heavier vehicles can’t cross it; or at least £1,000,000 to strengthen it for vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Some people want the bridge reopened, others want the closure made permanent. If you have an opinion, Southwark Council want to hear it.

The Bower

More crowdfunding news, this time for a new gallery, bookshop, publishing studio, and cafe—in a converted toilet block in Brunswick Park. The Bower will

host a series of exhibitions and events and produce books with artists and writers by Publication Studio London on site. In addition to this, The Bower will provide a much needed cafe service to the park, serving freshly made coffee, tea and refreshments, all from local suppliers.

If you’d like to see a better use for the old WCs, you might consider sending them a few quid towards their £10,027 (very specific) target.

Nape & Rock Oysters

A quick thanks to Cannon & Cannon for inviting me along to their Oyster Summer Session at Nape on Sunday. Fantastic Jersey oysters from &Rocks, and great wine from Nape themselves. Good to see the place nice and busy, it’s a very welcome addition to Camberwell and a local business that deserves support. And I’m not just saying that because I was given some free oysters.

Two plates of oysters, one raw, one cooked
Raw oysters with lemon, and grilled oysters with chipotle

Camberwell Green

And finally, the revamped and refreshed Camberwell Green has been awarded a Green Flag, “the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom”. It’s a pleasure to walk through there now, and great to see it so well-used in the nice Summer weather we’re having. Wish more people would pick their litter up after them, though.

The New Southwark Plan: Area Vision for Camberwell

The New Southwark Plan is Southwark’s strategy for regeneration across the borough up to 2033. The plan has been in development for a few years now, with much of the work to date covering the future of the borough as a whole. This week saw the release of the Area Visions and Site Allocations [PDF] — details of the development opportunities in each major area.

We, of course, only care about Camberwell.


In total, the plan for Camberwell offers the potential for some 1,920 new homes, many new or repurposed small business units, and even a few new public open spaces.

Central to the plan is the reopening of Camberwell Station. There’s a lot of residential development in the rest of the plan, so avoiding congestion on existing services is necessary. The plan says that a feasibility review with TfL is still ongoing, although it wasn’t mentioned in the most recent business plan [PDF], and I’ve heard they’re ‘lukewarm’ on the idea.

Photo by Megan Whewell.

The area around the station would be much regenerated. There could be 395 new homes on light industrial land near Warner Road, and the site currently occupied by the Royal Mail sorting office and the Camberwell Bus Garage (both would probably be retained in some form). Directly opposite the new station entrance there’s proposed to be a new public space surrounded by shops, cafes, or bars.

The railway arches around the station would be ‘transformed into a vibrant cluster’ of businesses including ‘leisure, retail and employment uses’. This is part of Southwark’s broader plan for the Low Line, a series of walking routes that follow the principal railway lines through the borough. In our case, they would go from here to Bankside, via the Walworth Road and Elephant & Castle. This would create many new spaces for small businesses in the area.

The Abellio Bus Garage, on the north side of Camberwell New Road, has also been marked as suitable for redevelopment, with scope for 325 new homes and a small public space near Camberwell Road. There’s a question mark over whether this and the main bus garage would remain, but I’d imagine they would in some form — I don’t know where else all the buses would go.

Two local business parks in the area are mentioned. The Valmar Trading Estate, off Valmar Road, should keep half of its small business floorspace along with some 80 new homes. But it’s the Burgess Business Park that could see the biggest changes, with almost 500 new homes on the site — although, somehow, expanding the footprint of small business space available.

Very big changes could be afoot in the very centre of Camberwell, as Butterfly Walk and the Morrison’s car park area are up for redevelopment. While shops and a supermarket should be retained, some 340 new homes and a 2,000m² new public space could be built there.

As well as the area around Camberwell Station Road, there are two other main regions marked as suitable for development. The first is along Camberwell Road, around Wyndham Road / Bowyer Place, where the Iceland site and the Wesson Mead precinct (where Zeret Kitchen sits) could support some 160 new homes between them. The other area is to the east, around Lomond Grove, which could see some 115 new homes.


I should be clear at this point that this is all just Southwark’s preferred option, and the plan may not come to pass in this way. That said, it’s interesting to see where their current thinking lies. If you’re interested in knowing more I suggest you look through the document yourself, and perhaps consider keeping an eye on the forthcoming public consultation.

The new Camberwell Library has landed…

…and what a lovely space it is too!

Whatever you thought about the demolition of the old orchard and the total lack of real consultation about the library (Bad. There wasn’t one.) now that it is here, I think it’s well worth enjoying it.

Camberwell Library

Something that surprised me somewhat was that all the books in there are new. Apparently this is not unusual, and eventually a few of the books will be brought over from old library, but the rest will be distributed to other libraries, or sold. [Update (12th Nov): I’ve now been told this may not be the case. Will check and get to the bottom of this on Friday.]

The selection books is much wider than before, I got rather excited by the selection of art books that I otherwise could not afford.

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There are a lot of events on both during the day, and in the evening, including some talks from well known authors at one end like Lionel Shriver this evening and Stella Duffy in a few weeks time, and (ahem) me somewhere beneath that!

I went to the talk by Dorothy Koomson which was well attended and very interesting but you must email southwark.​libraries@​southwark.​gov.​uk to book most of the talks. Having said that, the Dorothy Koomson one was theoretically fully booked but not everyone turned up, so you may be able to wing it!

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Dorothy Koomson Talk

Talks and events over the next month or so. Click on the photos to get full size images.

A full list of events is on the library website here: Camberwell Library Website.

The Children’s section of the library seems to be very, very popular. There were about 50 kids and parents there the other day for a storytelling session.

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A very well attended storytelling club for toddlers.

The library itself is mostly on one floor, but upstairs there is a long bench where you can work and study, with sockets for laptops.

Upstairs Study area

There librarians have also brought in exhibits from the Cuming Museum relating to Camberwell, and also pictures of Camberwell are being put up from the Southwark Art Collection.

A real (not live) Camberwell Beauty, A Samuel Jones jigsaw and old map of Camberwell.
The Camberwell Palace, which used to be on Denmark Hill where Butterfly Walk is now.
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Who knew Camberwell had a toll gate once?
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A tablet to commemorate men signing up to fight in WW1 in Camberwell.

Some thought has also gone into the outside areas. The trees in front of the Magistrates Court now sport some really nice little bird boxes!

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I also love the welcome to Camberwell vinyl at the entrance to the library. If you look carefully, you’ll find a lot of Camberwell institutions, including the Art School, St Giles, and even Sophocles and Crusons!

The Camberwell Cartoon.

Which brings me nicely to a plug for a talk I’m doing this Friday 13th November at 7.30pm. [Updated 1311 to correct the time)].

I was rather chuffed to be invited to do a talk on my photography series 36 Reasons To Love Camberwell. Unlike the other talks you don’t need to book, just turn up.

There will be a short question and answer session about the original project by the Head Librarian, Mark, and me. Then we’ll be opening up the floor to everyone and discussing the changes around Camberwell in the last few years, and those changes coming.

I’m going to update the series, and the discussion will form the basis for new photos and eventually a new book some time next year.

So please come along. It would be lovely to see you all, and while you are at it, you can have a look around this fantastic new edition to Camberwell.

36 Reasons

Many Changes to Camberwell Green

Some changes are coming to Camberwell Green from this month. The long-awaited new library is set to open on the 4th November, somewhat delayed after unspecified ‘contractual issues’. The former library will close on 31st October, so there’ll be a few days without a library.

New Camberwell Library

But before that, work begins on the transformation of the Green. From 5th October until sometime next year the Green will be closed while the changes – part of a wider £11m regeneration of the area – are undertaken. The full plan [PDF] is available online, and you can compare old with new in the image below.

A satellite picture of Camberwell Green alongside a plan showing changes

The big change will be moving the playground from the East to the North side, enlarging it in the process. There will be feature walls around four major entrances, and a long wildflower meadow will be planted along the West edge (near Camberwell Road). The South will remain largely unchanged.

Just outside the Green, there will be a new pedestrianised area on the North East corner by the new library, and the South East corner will also be pedestrianised and made into a permanent ‘market square’ — hopefully this will allow them to also serve cooked or ready foods. While the Green is closed, the market will move to Datchelor Place, outside the Pigeon Feed.

Across Camberwell Road to the West, the new ‘Camberwell on the Green’ development has gone on sale. There are 96 new flats, with prices starting from an eye-watering £446,000 for a one-bedroom. On the ground floor of the development, on the East and South sides, there will be a number of new shopping units.

All in all, there’s going to be a new look to the Green over the next year.

As a minor postscript, Southwark have announced that all shop units in the new development, and existing units from the Green to the junction with Coldharbour Lane in the South, and to the Hermits in the East, have had change of use rights from A1 to A2 withdrawn. In a nutshell, that means they will not be allowed to change use to become “financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) and including estate and employment agencies” — although they could still become pretty much anything else.

Help crowdfund the Coal Line

My Camberwell friends, I may have a part of the cycle solution (certainly to Millwall, Dagmar) – 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 rooftops 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 across South Camberwell to Greenland Dock where Sustrans are planning a new bridge to Canary Wharf. The campaign needs to get out to a wider audience so if any of you know of someone who might be interested please forward the website to them.

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