Long Time Coming

There’s so much to talk about and I barely have a spare hour in which to devote to compiling it all. As always, volunteer contributors always welcome. Anyway, what’s going on?

First and most obviously there’s to be a by-election in Brunswick Park ward
after councillor John Friary resigned over some quite disturbing allegations. Allegations which the local Lib Dems seized on shamelessly, distributing a quite nasty attack leaflet which they obviously knew would be contentious as their name appeared on it only in the tiniest lettering possible. I think it should be borne in mind that Mr Friary is innocent until proven guilty, and capitalising on the allegations is quite revolting. Kate Heywood definitely won’t be getting my vote.

Lots going on in terms of regeneration. NickW has put together this fantastic map of developments in SE5 in the next five years, which is great work. I didn’t know about many things, but the big project over in Myatt’s Fields was a real surprise. The plans to develop Burgess Park have been approved, and there’s more good news as Camberwell Baths are due to reopen on February 28th.

As some of you have already seen, Southwark Council have proposed relocating an 8,000 square foot prefabricated building, currently in Bermondsey, to the plaza in front of the Magistrates Court. This would involve removing some of the trees and part of the orchard that’s down there. The Camberwell Society have responded, saying that the idea is good but the building far too large for the available space.

Their full response is in the latest Camberwell Quarterly, which also has a nice article on the fire that all-but destroyed Denmark Hill station 30 years ago, and another on the Camberwell House Asylum (which later became the registry office, and is soon to become student accommodation).

On the subject of history, I bought myself a copy of the new book Camberwell Through Time, which shows historical photos of local spots compared to their modern-day appearances. Really interesting, and I recommend you pick a copy up yourselves.

I could write more, but I won’t. Don’t forget, volunteers are very welcome.

Camberwell Town Hall update

New proposals for Southwark’s town halls could bring benefits for Camberwell

The latest (18/11/2010) edition of the Southwark News contains further information on the proposals which potentially could bring benefits to Camberwell.

In brief (and as previously described) the council intends to maintain council assembly meetings at the town hall in Camberwell (approximately 8 times a year) but shift virtually everything else to the new offices in Tooley St.

The council is looking to get a “public sector partner” to take over the town hall as its offices. Its not clear if it has anything in mind but this could be Veolia or other contractor or something exciting like the ballet which would bring real benefits to the area.

An exciting development for Camberwell would be the proposal to develop a new pavillion near the Magistrates’ Court on Camberwell Green — this would house a new library, community facilities and some customer facing council services.

The cabinet report suggests that this new building (or possibly shifting the existing pavillion building located currently next to Bermondsey town hall) could be used as a way of regenerating the local area, opening up Camberwell Green and creating a focus for Camberwell town centre. This plan however is at an early stage.

These plans would offer much for Camberwell making the Green a central point again. In an ideal world this area could be further enhanced by reopening Camberwell railway station/ building a dreamed of Camberwell tube station to offer real improvements and to bring a sense of place to Camberwell Green. At the very least they could work with Transport for London to make it less dominated by the big four/ six lane roads. However dont hold your breath — any plans passed this year are likely to take several years to implement and station options are on no to-do lists of which I know.

These proposals are set to be discussed at the Cabinet on 23 November 2010 — further information can be found in the Cabinet papers (agenda item 10, page 106 onwards)

We live in hope!

Council plans reorganisation of town halls — opportunity for Camberwell?

According to the latest issue of the consistently excellent weekly Southwark News the leader of Southwark Council Peter Johns has confirmed that the Council is set to sell off the three town halls it owns — in Walworth, Bermondsey and of course the main one which is still used for its originally built purpose in Camberwell.

The situation of having three town halls arose in 1965 when the current London Borough of Southwark was created bringing together the former metropolitan boroughs of Bermondsey, Camberwell and Southwark. The Council is now considering selling the town halls off as none are fit for purpose, all requiring substantial investment which, in the current spending squeeze, the resources for which the council does not have.

According to the News the Council will publish its decision on 23 November when it has been finalised by the Cabinet. The story seemed to suggest that the Camberwell town hall could be retained for some council functions such as the main council meetings dependent upon uses being found for the other accommodation on the site.

So what does this mean for Camberwell?
I see a threat to camberwell as well as an opportunity.

This could be bad for Camberwell — the loss of Council employees and their spending will be detrimental to local Camberwell shops, bars and restaurants. Worse thing would be conversion to flats or other private use.

Or it could be beneficial for Camberwell — a real opportunity. If the town hall building could be given over for community/ arts use it could really improve the area bringing something of benefit to local people. Retaining the council assembly function in Camberwell is also to my mind essential for Camberwell.

So what can we do?
I suggest that readers of this blog in Southwark engage their councillors (list of email addresses on Southwark site) to ask what they as individuals think of the proposals and suggest that the impact of any proposal for the future of the town hall on Camberwell must be looked at and community / arts use prioritised.

Camberwell Village Hall update

Dear all,

This is a quick new post. Basically, we have had a fantastic response so far and we have had about 600 people sign a petition to object to the change of use of the Bingo Hall to a church within a week. Most of these people come from Camberwell and most people are upset that there has been little or no consultation with people from Camberwell, and also that there is are no guarantees that the building will be available in any meaningful way for the community. There is a lot of rhetoric in the planning application about serving the community but it doesn’t amount to a “hill of beans” as some wise chap once said (Humphrey Bogart I think). In other words, it’s hot air and there are no guarantees that they will help or facilitate access for community activities.

On top of this the plans allow for a seating arrangement for 1500 people, with around 450 cars being used, if the place is at capacity, to bring them here. This most certainly is against planning regulations.

Add to this the loss to the local economy since there are no guarantees that the money generated by the church will stay here, and the fact that a lot of the potential congregation will not be local and you start to see that there is no way that this planning application should be allowed.

The Camberwell Village Hall Campaign has written its objections which you can see here. There are three parts, with parts one and two below. They are long, but there is much to object to!



So what can you do?

In theory, the consultation period has ended, but according to the head of planning at Southwark and the planning officer, it is still possible to send your representations to them. Here is a link to the Camberwell Village Hall campaign. In it you will find all the documents and information you need to make more objections to the change of use and letters you can send to planning. The quicker you do it the better and the more of you who do so the better too.


There is also a petition you can sign which is at


Thank you everyone who has helped so far. I think we have a very strong case and hopefully soon we will have a building that the whole community can use.

New Southwark leader sets out his priorities for the borough

Southwark Council Leader and South Camberwell Councillor Peter John has set out his vision for the borough.

The full cabinet has also been announced including several Camberwell Councillors.

See the Southwark website for full details

Also see the website for details of Camberwell Community Council

How this vision translates on the ground in Camberwell remains to be seen…

Update by Peter: For reference, here’s the Labour party Vision For Camberwell by Cllr. Wingfield as well.