News Roundup: Things to See and Do

Time slipped away from me before I could promote this year’s Camberwell Free Film Festival. It’s halfway through already, but you can still see some great films between now and Monday.

The Southwark Community Action Network are organising a petition in support of reopening Camberwell station. If you want to help, you can print a copy and pass it round your local networks for signing.

Camberwell Arts are running another Open Studios event, on the weekend of 16th-18th June. If you’re an artist, maker or creative with a studio in the area, and want to take part, the deadline for applications has been extended to 10th April.

Camberwell Fair is back this year, and back on the Green after taking place in Burgess Park in 2016. It’s going to be a two-day event, on 22nd and 23rd of July. If you want to be involved in the organisation you can get in touch with them now; official applications for stallholders and performers will follow soon.

Finally, local coffee roasters and social enterprise, Old Spike, opened their new café, bar, and roastery, Spike+Earl, last weekend. It’s in the old Town Hall on Peckham Road and was such a success on the first day that they ran out of food for the weekend. A great spot to get some afternoon sun.

Rail news: Denmark Hill & Camberwell

Network Rail have released a new set of reports related to their long-term planning process, which looks at the UK’s rail network over the years to come. There are a few interesting details in there related to Denmark Hill and the mooted Camberwell station.

First of all it’s notable that Denmark Hill has been marked as one of the stations with highest priority for funds to relieve overcrowding—anyone who uses the station at rush hour will know this is badly needed.

The main issues identified are congestion on the platforms, stairs and interchange footbridge, and at station entrance / exit gatelines, both in the morning and evening peaks.

Some of the ways they’re looking at to ease congestion are by adding additional gates to the existing entrance/exit; building a new entrance onto Windsor Walk; and encouraging better use of the footbridge. This latter point could be done by relocating the station entrance nearer to the footbridge; by lengthening the platforms to terminate services closer to the footbridge; or by simply covering the footbridge.

By implementing the proposed interventions, it is anticipated that there will be reduced queuing at the bottom of the platform access staircases and decongestion at the main gate lines, with improved passenger safety and reduced passenger walk times.

Obviously some of those are going to be more practical—that is to say, cost less—than others. Whatever changes are made, they are to be “considered for delivery by 2024”—but hopefully well before that.

As for Camberwell station, the report notes that TfL and Southwark council have made the case for reopening it as an alternative to the Bakerloo extension (which, in case you haven’t heard, will be going down the Old Kent Road instead). TfL are working on a business case, supported by Southwark’s Area Vision development plan.

The report notes that impact on timetables on the rest of the line would have to be considered, as well as requiring an updated capacity study in case of crowding. Also, the existing platforms (what’s left of them) don’t currently support the needed 8-car length, and would need to be capable of possible extension to 12-car length in the future.

TfL’s initial Business Case is expected sometime this year. Meanwhile, Harriet Harman and Helen Hayes have written to transport secretary, Chris Grayling, in support of the project:

The reopening of the station would come as much needed relief to residents of Camberwell, who have suffered from poor transport links for years. The proposal is supported by nearby King’s College Hospital… from whom constraints in local public transport create significant issues in getting staff, patients and visitors to the hospital.

If you want to hear more about the station reopening project, you should head along to the Camberwell Community Council meeting on Thursday, 30th March, 6.30pm, at the Employment Academy on Peckham Road.

News roundup: Camberwell Fair returns, the Green reopens

Quite a lot of the local news now happens on Twitter, and I sometimes forget that readers of this blog who aren’t also there miss out on some things. So I’m starting a semi-regular roundup for all those people, starting with this one.

Monday (4th July) night is the 10th anniversary AGM of the SE5 Forum. There will be food from Love Walk Cafe, music by Camberwell Community Choir, and appearances from the leader of Southwark Council, Cllr. Peter John, and the London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark, Cllr. Florence Eshalomi. It’s at Cambridge House, Camberwell Rd., from 6.30pm.

The owners of the ridiculously popular Frank’s Cafe, in Peckham, are hoping to take over the former Club Couture premises at the foot of Camberwell Grove. There’s a public meeting to discuss the proposal at the Camberwell Arms at 6.30pm on 7th July; I’d imagine the influential Camberwell Society will have something to say.

The Green is set to reopen on 16th July, with a community launch event running from 12pm to 5pm, and an afterparty at the Tiger with DJs from Rat Records.

The relaunch event is being organised by Camberwell Fair, who are also back with their own event, on 20th August, although this year in Burgess Park. The first acts on the music lineup have been announced. If you’re a local business there’s still time to apply for a stall.

TfL are investigating the reopening of Camberwell Station after 52 years inactivity, reporting that “initial work suggests a station is physically feasible”. The station would be on the Thameslink line. Next steps will be to assess the impact on the rail network and any development plans in the area, and with the rebuilding of the station required, this won’t be happening in the next few years.

And finally, the war memorial to the Surrey Rifles brigade, located in front of St. Giles church, has been awarded Grade II listed status.

This was the news.

Public transport changes

The latest TfL Commissioner’s Report [PDF] has been published, and it contains mixed news for our manor. The bad (depending on your point of view, I suppose) news is that the proposed Bakerloo Line extension through Camberwell is off the table:

We undertook an initial consultation in autumn 2014 on route options for a Bakerloo line extension to the south of Elephant and Castle. Since then we have undertaken further work on a number of alternative routes proposed during the initial consultation. The results of that work demonstrate that the preferred route option for a first phase is from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham via Old Kent Road.

However, there is the promise of compensation for not getting the tube:

Any extension would also be supported by significant improvements to the national rail network in southeast London, including the possibility of a new Thameslink station at Camberwell.

Presumably this would be on the site of the old station, on Station Road — this area has previously been flagged for major development. It’s been mentioned that this would ‘reopen’ the station, but I think it would be a complete rebuild / new build — I can’t see how there’s enough left of the old station (closed to passengers in 1916, to freight in 1964) to be viable.

In other transport news, TfL is consulting on changes to the 436 bus route. It’s proposed that the bus will no longer go on to Paddington after Vauxhall, but will instead go to Battersea (to serve the new developments there). The bus would also reduce in frequency between Lewisham and Vauxhall. To compensate for the reduced service of the 436, the 36 would increase in frequency.

The consultation on this change closes on the 10th of January.

Thanks to London SE1 for the heads-up on the tube story.

On the buses

For the last few months, like many people, my commute to work has been affected severely by the road works at Elephant and Castle. The removal of the northern roundabout and the new north-south cycle superhighway have often created tailbacks all the way back to Camberwell Road. The option of traveling west up Camberwell New Road has also been affected by the road works for cycle superhighway 5 over Vauxhall Bridge. Personally I welcome these developments, but I will be very glad when their construction is finished.

The effect on traffic made me think about the extent to which Camberwell commuters rely on the bus to get to work. Census data from 2011 shows just how dependent we are – out of more than 8,500 wards in England and Wales, the six with the highest percentage of residents in employment who use the bus to get to work is:

Camberwell Green 44.3%
Peckham 44.2%
Faraday 43.9%
Livesey 41.1%
East Walworth 38.9%
Brunswick Park 38.6%

Source: Office for National Statistics, Neighbourhood Statistics, Method of Travel to Work (QS701EW), 2011

In other words, our little area of London is unique in the whole of England and Wales in terms of its reliance on the bus. The reasons for this are interlinked. With the exception of South Bermondsey and Denmark Hill stations, there are no other rail or tube links across the six wards. As with much of inner London, car ownership is low – between 60% (Brunswick Park) and 69% (Camberwell Green) of households do not own a car. Only 7% of commuters across the six wards cycle to work, which compares to upwards of 20% in areas of Hackney (although hopefully this will change once the new cycling infrastructure is in place). By contrast, the bus network is very comprehensive. 15 different bus routes pass through Camberwell Green, which is one more than Piccadilly Circus. During rush hour on Camberwell Road, the interval between northbound buses is usually less than a minute.

Just another reason, if one were needed, why Camberwell is special.

Camberwell’s view of St Paul’s Cathedral Update

In 2014 and earlier this year I wrote about the proposal for residential towers on Park Street near Tate Modern that threatened the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the northwest corner of Camberwell Green. In response to the concerns raised by local residents, the developer reduced the height of the tallest tower by two storeys, and in the summer Southwark Council gave the go-ahead for the project. The new building will still have an adverse effect on the view of the drum of the Cathedral, but the view of the dome should be preserved. It is probably the best outcome we could have expected, so thank you to all those who wrote to the Council to object to the original proposal.

Nevertheless, it will still stick in the craw when the towers are completed, and their top floor penthouses are marketed for their unparalleled views of the Cathedral!