Unshaved and unwashed

Yesterday’s FT had an article about Camberwell in its House & Home section.

Camberwell suffered badly at the hands of the planners and by the mid 1970s things were so bad that Charles McKean used the area as an example of inner-city blight in his 1977 book Fight Blight. He berated the local council for decades of poor planning decisions, poor traffic management and poor strategy. “It is as though the self-respect of the community had finally crumbled after all these combined assaults, like a man ceasing to shave or wash himself.”

I used to live there

Blog regular TommyD has started a project about the east of Camberwell, the Southampton Way area, which is looking at the area’s history and development. He says:

Last autumn, someone slipped a photcopied newspaper article through our letter box — a story about a group in our neighbourhood deputised to look at regeneration of our ‘forgotten’ corner. I tried to get in touch and did speak to one lady (finally) who seemed to suggest they had run out of time and steam. Odd…they’d not even started. Then, Labour sent a ‘survey’ thorough before the local election asking vague questions again about our little ‘forgotten corner’. They weren’t serious survey questions, clearly intended to look like they were doing something. Maybe so.

I filled out the short survey and attached four pages!  Since, my efforts to find out about the results and what they intend to do have gone cold — perhaps they will pick it up post-swearing in.

In the meantime, I decided to find out the answers of what was happening, etc. for myself.  I’ve now decided to put them on a blog and produce a more robust survey. Eventually, I’m hoping to leaflet the neighbourhood with the blog web address and see if I can stir up some passion.

You can read more about his project at forgotten-camberwell.blogspot.com. If you live in the area, you can take a survey to give him more information.

A couple of stories from the South London Press

First story concerns the latest developments on the Mary Datchelor… er, development. And the news is: the developers and the Camberwell Working Party still can’t come to an agreement. The CWP say:

It’s in a conservation area and a development should play particular attention to the special characteristics of the site.

We feel it fails to respond to the challenges of the area. It’s a classic case of overdevelopment.

St George (the developer, not the saint) say:

We suggest this is a development which should be commended. This site is very suitable for such a development.

Actress Jenny Agutter says:

I would welcome the idea of a development and wish they would find a good architect to create an interesting and habitable building for the people who would move in there.

The second story is a little confusing as it seems to be missing some opening paragraphs. But it seems to concern the removal of community representatives from a Together Action Zone. I’m a little hazy on this issue but I did find this PDF from Southwark Council which says that the TAZ was supposed to be a joint council-community-police initiative to combat anti-social behaviour. Now it will just be a council-police initiative.

Councillor Ian Wingfield — who was in the TAZ as a community member, not a councillor, which confused me at first, said:

The whole thrust was meant to be more community involvement.

It’s a total slap in the face for residents and councillors.

This TAZ has brought the community together and we’ve seen real achievement getting to grips with street drinking.

Another closure

According to a comment, the España Tapas Bar is to close down. I’m very sad, but I can’t say I’m surprised; the times we went there, there were rarely more than one or two other tables. It didn’t help that it was stuck inside the horrible neon-encrusted fascia of the Marbella hotel, and that most of the tables were tucked around the corner so it often appeared empty from outside.

But we’re losing a restaurant with friendly staff and tasty, fresh, organic food — just what I would have thought the area needed. It does seem to be true that if you’re not a pub, you’re going to struggle. Other than Indian, is Camberwell capable of sustaining a restaurant?