Proposed improvements to Camberwell town centre

Southwark Council have recently begun a public consultation into proposed improvements to the ‘public realm’ around Camberwell Green. There is an overview of the plans in this PDF [3MB], and more detailed maps are available at the consultation website.

In this post I’m going to point out a few of the more obvious changes that I noticed, with comments where I feel them useful. Hopefully in a future post we’ll get some more detailed commentary from Tom Leighton, who’s likely going to be somewhat more critical than I.

Map of Camberwell Green showing proposed improvements

Congestion around the bus stops outside Butterfly Walk has been addressed by relocating bus stop Q (35, 42, 45, 68, 345, 468) from outside McDonalds to the north side of the junction, outside the Green on C’well Rd. The pavement here will be extended to accommodate the extra passengers, and a new pedestrian crossing.

The pavement will also be extended from the corner of the junction where the Tiger sits, up past bus stop P outside Barclays Bank, to Butterfly Walk. Unfortunately, congestion around bus stop L, outside London Food & Wine on C’well Church St., hasn’t been similarly addressed with any pavement changes.

Traffic signals will be changed to allow right turns from Denmark Hill into Coldharbour Lane, and two-way traffic into Daneville Road. The pedestrian crossing near Orpheus Street has been moved further north, directly outside the entrance to Butterfly Walk. These two changes are aimed at making safer the area around Orpheus Street, previously noted as an accident blackspot, and where Esther Hartsilver was killed recently.

Sadly, there seems to be little further provision for safe cycling around the area. Small exceptions include a short cycle track turning southbound into Grove Lane, and a small cut-through to the leisure centre from Kimpton Road, where the new entrance to the parking spaces will be.

Another small step to making Camberwell Green junction safer in general is removing the right turn for buses onto Denmark Hill from C’well New Rd. I believe the eastbound 185 is the only bus that makes that turn, so it will be diverted along Medlar St.

There seems to be a preponderance of new taxi bays, for some reason. The bay outside Noodels [sic] City will be moved to outside FM Mangal, and new bays created outside Cruson.

The pavement outside the Hermits Cave will be extended, and the traffic lights outside removed. This is part of some changes that were already planned as part of the Pocket Spaces initiative — and already begun, in the case of Datchelor Place, as The Pigeon Hole are finding to their cost.

Overall I think these are broadly positive changes, although I’m a little disappointed by lack of proper considerations for cyclists — but then, as we don’t even get the TfL rental scheme here, I can only suppose that Southwark aren’t really interested in that.

Camberwell centre to become 20MPH zone

As part of TfL’s plan to improve cycle safety they proposed a 20MPH limit through the centre of Camberwell, which has now apparently been approved. It covers the area between Benhill Road and Medlar Street, along Church Street and New Road, and will take effect from this Friday, 21st March.

Southwark Council have plans to extend this limit throughout the whole borough in the future.

Take the 148 Boris Bus to Camberwell

Just a quick update to relay the exciting news that from this Saturday, 15 February 2014, the 148 Camberwell to White City bus route will be operated by New Routemasters aka ‘Boris buses’. This is the first bus route in South London which will feature the new bus.

The 148 of course is used by many media types as it travels to the BBC — Today Programme presenter and Camberwell resident Justin Webb is a regular user of the service.

Two cheers for the new bus
However as with so many things in Camberwell it seems we go two steps forward, one step back as the Routemasters on this route, according to the SE1 website, will not be operating with an open platform at the back and will not have a conductor on board. This removes one of the main advantages of the new buses for which we as London tax payers are paying a premium.

TfL 148 bus information

New bar, new shops, sad news

Went out for a drink at Communion, the new bar below Angels & Gypsies. It’s very beautiful, taking the religion-themed stained glass approach from the restaurant, and with beautiful furniture. The wife and I were the only punters in there, but as it was very early Sunday evening and the place has only been open since Tuesday, I wouldn’t read too much into that (mind you, they might want to work on their promotion, I didn’t even know they’d opened). The house speciality is cocktails, although I just had a beer so I couldn’t comment on the quality. Anyway, looking forward very much to going back again sometime.

For dinner, went to Kalabash, the Cameroonian/Nigerian restaurant on the corner of Camberwell Grove and Church Street. It’s very no-frills and informal; if you go there expecting any kind of service beyond the basics, you’ll be very disappointed. Most of the customers seemed to be friends of the staff, and it was noisy and vibrant. We shared a plate of Chicken DG, a mountain of barbecue chicken with plantain and peppers, accompanied by an extremely hot chilli sauce (which had the chef crying with laughter when she saw me turning bright red after trying it).  It’s not a place to go if you want an intimate occasion, but for good cheap spicy food I enjoyed it.

You may have noticed that there’s a new cycle superhighway being built through Camberwell at the moment, which will go from New Cross to Vauxhall. It’s already paying dividends for the local economy as TWO cycle shops set to open: Sea Bass Cycles is a workshop and will sell refurbished bikes, while PS Cycles, which has an existing branch in Kennington, will also have a cafe. Both are situated on Church Street and will open soon.

Sadly it’s not all good news on the cycling front, as a 60-year-old man was killed in a collision with a lorry on Camberwell Road today, at the junction with Albany Road. No details beyond that, but a terrible tragedy all the same.

Trains, bikes and a tube station for Camberwell?

So continuing on the theme of transport highlighted in the last post there have been several recent developments and announcments on the transport front which will bring benefits to Camberwell.

Denmark Hill Station
The Denmark Hill Station redevelopment is reaching completition with a fancy new footbridge and lifts which, according to the station operator, are set to open in August 2013. You will recall that when the redevelopment started in 2011 we were told it would be completed for Summer 2012 so a year later we are finally nearing the end.

The London Overground services continue to impress and help to put Camberwell on the map. I continue to feel that there has been a missed opportunity to explicitly mention Camberwell in the station signs, the line map or in the title, eg ‘Denmark Hill for Camberwell’ — Denmark Hill is part of Camberwell not a separate place.

Cycle Superhighway 5
Transport for London have published plans for its cycle superhighway 5 which runs from New Cross to Westminster including along Camberwell New Road and Camberwell Church Street. The plans will bring wider benefits to Camberwell with the creation of semi-segregated bus and cycle ways, changes to the junction of Denmark Hill and Camberwell Church Street, widening of pavements and secondary measures such as a 20mph limit. TfL have also pledged to undertake changes to the junctions near Oval tube station and around Vauxhall Cross which will make things safer for cyclists. In its separate cycling strategy TfL have pledged to bring the cycle hire scheme, aka Boris Bikes, Southwards to places like Camberwell.

As I’m sure you are aware our area has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the UK and yet the main roads are dominated by motor vehicles. The beauty of the cycle superhighways is that they can be implemented in a relatively short time — TfL have promised that most of the work will be completed in 2014 and everything will be done by 2015. TfL have ambitious plans to increase cycling across the whole of London: making an area like Camberwell cycle friendly makes it people friendly

And finally a tube station for Camberwell?
Mayor Boris has been busy setting out his vision for transport for the next 20 years in his 2020 Vision document. It includes lots of grand statements about future developments including a pledge to seek funding to extend the Bakerloo Line beyond Elephant to Camberwell, Peckham and further. Whilst only the opening salvo in a bid for Government funding this strategy is an important rallying document- Southwark Council have already pledged £50,000 to carry out a feasibility study for the tube. I dont want to get my hopes up too high ‑they have been talking about Camberwell underground station since the 1930s you will recall–  but I hope this time that funding and political will can be found to make Camberwell tube station a reality.