Last year Camberwell was overlooked as the preferred site for the proposed Bakerlook line extensions, which will now run to Lewisham along the Old Kent Road. Although this was a blow to Camberwellians all may not be lost… This meeting discussed the growing campaign to reopen Camberwell Station!
- Chris Deacon – Thamesreach
- Cllr Keiron Williams – Chair of Camberwell Community Council
- Mark Mihajlovic – Local Resident
- Caroline Hough – SE5 Forum
- Tom Leighton – Local Resident
- Robert Jamieson – Community Southwark
- Ian Redding – Community Southwark (notes)
Campaign to Reopen Camberwell Station
Robert introduced discussions on this item, focused upon developing a more active and inclusive community campaign to support this proposal. It is noted that the site is included amongst developments in the latest version of the New Southwark Plan.
Key issues arising from the discussion that followed were:
Station Business Case
- The Community Council were strongly in support of this proposal, and would be happy to see the local communities campaigning in support of a new station;
- TfL were producing a business case, with help from the Council, which it was hoped would be completed before the end of March: not known how strong that case is likely to be, and it is understood that there are national models the merits here will be compared with;
- There is support at top levels in both TfL and in Council;
- But …. Network Rail/Southern have remained unconvinced up to now, reckoning that the cost of opening the station (approx. £40m) will not be justified by the potential benefit to local people & businesses;
- However, if they did agree a new station could be in place by 2025.
Caroline– time-tabling believed to be a problem for rail companies as the fast run down Elephant & Castle enables other delays on route to be caught up with. Mark – whatever the business case says, it is important we understand the key ingredients used to make that case; and how this compares to the local circumstances. Tom– it is recognised that there is a need to get people into Central London quicker from Camberwell, as currently causes major hold-ups travelling South to North: Ian added that by road only route is Camberwell Road/Walworth Road to Elephant, and Camberwell New Road to Oval and Vauxhall is not a relevant option as it is blocked by volume of traffic most hours of the day. Robert – Camberwell needs to be able to present a “stronger offer” than is made now. Mark – having it designated a Town Centre for planning purposes would be a positive step, and would also make it easier to designate local centres such as West Camberwell to include in plans.
Other Relevant Factors
- Caroline – It is believed that models used to justify transport planning, and other town planning too, are based primarily on retail issues: this presents the wrong perception of Camberwell which has a number of public institutions based here, such as Camberwell Arts College and many schools; Two of the most important hospitals nationally, which handle over 900,000 outpatient day appointments each year; Including all patients and their visitors this number exceeds 3 million per year; Denmark Hill is the only station nearby but also a major commuter inter-change between buses and rail services; Some car parking available but otherwise reliant on public transport (i.e. primarily buses)
- Robert – frequent complaints about buses being overcrowded and people being subjected to long delays between parts of road with bus lanes; the London Overground (ginger line!) has outgrown its expected success with 7.5 million journeys through Denmark Hill station each year compared to the predicted 4.5 million;
- Caroline – the helipad at King’s is reckoned to save 50+ lives per year by its ability to get critically injured patients to the hospital quickly; but how many more lives might be saved if ambulances and paramedics were able to get to injured/ill patients more quickly, and then on to hospitals?
Wider Travel Pattern Issues
- Tom– There needs to be a proper co-ordinated transport strategy that considers all issues in the area, not just Camberwell Town Centre.
- Chris – There are always problems with people trying to get to Thamesreach’s Training Centre for meetings, workshops, lectures, etc.; invariably people are late.
- Mark – There needs to be a study that can report back on how people actually travel through Camberwell, why, and where are they going? Car travel and ownership dominates planning yet it is only one part of a much bigger picture, as well as using up lots of precious space.
- Robert – Yet public transport is often at breaking point, including Denmark Hill station platforms being closed on occasion due to the dangerous volumes of people already waiting.
- Mark – A proper strategy would include all effects of transport …. Cycle sheds, spaces, and lanes; controlled parking zones and car parking; “frozen” nature of some routes as a consequence; loss of spaces for wider community access due to private vehicles.
Building the Campaign
- Robert– seems self-evident that having a station brings legitimacy to Camberwell being rightly designated a Town Centre: what kind of information would be needed for campaigning? How would you put together an open letter petitioning the local population to give their support to this?
- Caroline – An SE5 Forum sub-group had got the Chairs of both King’s and SLAM to write to TfL lending their support to improving the transport links for their patients, visitors and students; both being amongst the top teaching hospitals in their respective fields of expertise. There were also many personal interest stories that could be drawn upon to illustrate the problems currently faced, but how do you get local press interested to include these, or even to “take up the cause”?
- Tom – There are lots of people and organisations who have a stake in this, and who have clients/customers affected; but what they don’t do is work together to form a stronger voice. Potentially a role here for SE5 Forum to become more active in the role of an umbrella group?
- Robert – needs to bring all of this intelligence from active people together, and make it widely known to local communities to encourage involvement.
- Ian – Don’t forget that Southwark HealthWatch might also have useful information, opinion and data from patient users groups on the transport problems in Camberwell.
- Mark – Will need to get people to agree upon common principles, because people will inevitably have different perspectives and easier if focused upon principles. Must seek to engage a wide and healthy mix of views. Also, need to reflect upon engagement with neighbourhoods in Lambeth who suffer the same transport access issues, and overcome the border mentality that Camberwell faces. Robert reaffirmed that we must not be precious about areas, but focus upon the issues; as so many potentially have a stake.
- Keiron – With this as an item on the next Community Council agenda in mind, it would be good if someone could be invited to speak who has expertise in transport issues, who understands and can communicate the issues about introducing new stations, and can explain the finance & other values that are used to inform decisions on whether to build a station or not. There will be issues to consider from the results of the TfL study, which might help determine whether there needs to be a campaign or not. Assuming there is, the CC meeting could be the platform to launch the campaign.
- Caroline – It could also give us a more co-ordinated and coherent voice with which to present the case to Mayor Khan.
Wider issues concerning latest draft of New Southwark Plan
- Mark – Camberwell being designated a Town Centre is going to be key to the transport/station changes, but also to Camberwell having a real identity. The current “dead zones” not featured/included in the NSP visions statements then have the potential to be designated Local Centres, which will help their cause to have their needs better reflected. Currently West Camberwell is ignored, or considered only good for Housing; East Camberwell is becoming regarded as Peckham; South Camberwell is largely forgotten about entirely: there is a fixation on the Town Centre only.
- Caroline – Camberwell increasingly missing in policies/strategies about South London which is crazy given the importance of King’s & SLAM.
- Robert – if they badged themselves as being in Camberwell that would help hugely, as would be recognising Camberwell in their official addresses (as per the campaign).
- Robert – Should we be encouraging local residents to respond to proposed development sites now set out within the latest version NSP, especially with 12 sites being listed this time?
- Chris – Visions statement needs to reflect the aspirations of the whole Camberwell community; how do we support local businesses and employers to be engaged too? Similar issues about getting people out to meetings such as today’s where important issues are being discussed that they really ought to be engaging with.
- Caroline – Individuals will inevitably respond, but what we need is to encourage a collective voice too. There needs to be increased awareness that some things need to change, and build momentum of local communities towards this.
- Mark – There are other ways to engage; people won’t always come out to meetings, but making better use of technology to get views and input has to be one of the ways forward.
- Ian – Report in Friday’s Evening Standard about foreign corruption and money laundering having an effect on housing development in Central and South Central London, including two sites in Southwark.
- It seems 80% of the housing on the sample developments had been sold by developers to foreign buyers; which questions whether they can be addressing the acute need for housing in London.
- Also begs the question about whether this is isolated practice or is common, and does it affect the huge drive to build more and more housing across the borough.
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