Busy Camberwell in south London is no longer one of those secret, neglected neighbourhoods isolated for want of a Tube station.
The arrival of the London Overground at Denmark Hill station in December 2012 with trains to Shoreditch attracted a younger set, who use the so-called “Ginger line” to take them to work in the City and nightlife in Peckham and the East End.
The district has two major hospitals — King’s College and the Maudsley — and an art college, part of the University of the Arts London.
It also has one of the capital’s loveliest streets in long, tree-lined Camberwell Grove, its Georgian houses climbing a steeply rising hill.
Camberwell has long enjoyed an arty reputation. Camberwell Arts, a well-supported local arts organisation founded in 1994, puts on an annual festival and organises open artists’ studio events.
In the Eighties, Camberwell was where the Young British Artists hung out. Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Sam Taylor-Johnson were all students at Goldsmiths when the Fine Art course was based in a former convent building in the Myatt’s Fields area.
Estate agent Brett MacDougall, from the local Hunters branch, says people are discovering that Camberwell is now one of the best-value locations in Zone 2. “The area has greatly improved in the 10 years I have worked here and families appreciate the parks and the improving schools.”
The town centre clusters around Camberwell Green, where Southwark council recently spent £11 million on a new library, better landscaping and a new children’s playground. In the surrounding streets, modern flats are replacing old industrial sites.
Three-and-a-half miles south-east of central London, with Walworth and Elephant & Castle to the north, Peckham to the east, East Dulwich to the south and Brixton to the west, Camberwell traditionally attracted lawyers, journalists and artists. Today it’s the choice of young City professionals.
Long-term residents include comedian Jenny Eclair and actress Jenny Agutter, while the Victorian poet Robert Browning was born and brought up in the parish of Camberwell.
The property scene
Georgian houses characterise Camberwell Grove, Grove Lane, Addington Square and Camberwell New Road. Elsewhere, there are early Victorian flat-fronted terraces and later Victorian bow-fronted terraces.
Grove Park features large red-brick Edwardian semis, while the Myatt’s Fields area offers a mix of terrace and semi-detached Victorian and Edwardian houses.
Ruskin Park House in Champion Hill is a well-managed private estate of 241 flats ranging from studios to three-bedroom homes, built in the Fifties by London County Council.
Many new flats are being built locally, and Camberwell has a large number of estates of social housing.
Four large developments are either completed or in the pipeline in the area around Camberwell Green:
Camberwell on the Green is a Frasers Property development of 101 flats, including nine for shared ownership, in Camberwell Road and Camberwell Passage. One-bedroom flats start at £446,000; two-bedroom flats at £619,000 and three-bedroom flats at £600,000, all ready to move into in January. Call Marsh & Parsons on 020 7358 6088.
Triangle Court has 31 flats, including eight affordable, in Camberwell New Road from developer IDM. Six homes remain, with two-bedroom flats from £535,000 and three-bedroom flats starting at £650,000. Call 020 7739 1650. The ground-floor commercial unit has been let to PureGym.
The Gallery in Camberwell Road is a Peabody development of 66 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats which will be ready to move into in 2018. Twenty-four affordable flats will include 13 for shared ownership. Prices are not yet released. Call 020 3828 4089.
Wing is a development, just beginning, of 164 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats in Camberwell Road from housing association Hyde New Homes. Flats are being sold off-plan with one-bedroom homes starting at £380,000 and two-bedroom flats at £550,000. Call Colliers on 020 7487 1710 or visit wingofcamberwell.co.uk.
Away from Camberwell Green, Elmington Green in Benhill Road is the latest phase of the regeneration of the Elmington Estate. The development has 224 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and three- and four-bedroom houses and will launch next month. Call Bellway on 01689 886431.
Help to Buy is available on one-bedroom flats at Camberwell on the Green (as before). Help to Buy and shared ownership are available at housing association Family Mosaic’s Canvas development in Havil Street and Southampton Way. Call Hastings International on 020 7378 9000 or Family Mosaic on 020 7089 1315. The latter will have more shared-ownership flats at Bellway’s Elmington Green development. Contact Family Mosaic, as before.
There are 25 shared-ownership flats at Wing by Hyde New Homes (0345 606 1221).
The presence of two hospitals and an art college means Camberwell has an active rental market with students and medical staff keen to live in the area. Three- and four-bedroom former local council flats are particularly popular with student sharers. Estate agent Brett MacDougall of Hunters says Camberwell hasn’t attracted large “buy-to-let” landlords. “Most of the landlords on my books have one or two properties, even the largest only has six.”
There are families who have lived in Camberwell for a generation. However, Brett MacDougall says making the move from a flat to a family house is often a financial leap too far and can force growing families to look beyond the area.
SE5 is the Camberwell postcode.
Camberwell Grove, Grove Lane and Grove Park. Estate agent Becky Munday from Munday’s says she is often rung up by house hunters who are only looking for a house in Camberwell Grove.
Up and coming
Munday recommends the Georgian houses in Camberwell New Road. “If you don’t mind living on a main road they are significantly cheaper than houses in Camberwell Grove.” MacDougall recommends the roads off Southampton Way, an area which is fast regenerating.
Denmark Hill has trains to Victoria (12 mins); London Bridge, (22 mins, change at Peckham Rye); Farringdon (18 mins) and St Pancras (22 mins).
Overground trains go to Shoreditch High Street and Thameslink runs from Loughborough Junction to Farringdon (15 mins) and St Pancras (20 mins).
Fifteen bus routes pass through the town centre. Camberwell is in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,296.
Southwark is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,206.38.
Shops and restaurants
The main shopping street, Camberwell Church Street has a lively mix of mainly independent shops, everything from nail bars to phone-unlocking kiosks to long-standing fruit and vegetable shops and bakeries to newly opened restaurants and coffee shops.
Sophocles, a long-established bakery, and next-door Cruson, for fruit and veg, are Camberwell stalwarts.
Independent coffee shops including Daily Goods; The Pigeon Hole in Datchelor Place which also sells second-hand furniture; Maloko, a creperie; and Lumberjack, which supports young people into work, are newer arrivals.
There are two large supermarkets: Morrisons in the lacklustre Butterfly Walk Shopping Centre off Denmark Hill, and TFC, in Camberwell New Road, part of a now 11-strong chain of Turkish supermarkets.
In Denmark Hill, Pesh Flowers is a south London favourite; GX is a modern art gallery and framers; Cowling & Wilcox is a warehouse full of art supplies, and Love Walk Café has this reference to the poet Robert Browning reproduced on its awning: “A young admirer said, ‘There is no romance now except in Italy.’ Browning thought for a moment. ‘Ah well I should like to include Camberwell.’”.
Off Camberwell Church Street in Grove Lane, the Hill Bakery is a sourdough specialist which also sells farm cheeses and organic wine; Theo’s is a wood-fired pizzeria and the Crooked Well, in a former pub, is a favourite for Sunday lunch. Antic, the pub group specialising in the shabby-chic look, has The Tiger in Denmark Hill and The Sun of Camberwell in Coldharbour Lane.
The best local gastropub is considered to be The Camberwell Arms — it’s in Camberwell Church Street, along with Silk Road, a highly regarded Sichuan restaurant, and Queen’s, a new restaurant from a pair who started out at Brockley Market. The best brunch is available at No 67, attached to the South London Gallery, in Peckham Road.
There are two markets on Camberwell Green: Saturday from 10am to 2pm is a farmers’ market and on Sundays from 10am to 4pm is a street food, arts and craft market. And finally, Fowlds Café tucked away in Addington Square, is a tiny café attached to a long-standing firm of upholsterers of the same name.
Tweets from the locals
@PlanLieberman: @brewbirdCo is an amazing cafe! #LucasGardens is a beautiful secret garden. #BrunswickPark is great for tennis!
@JonFinchSE5: there is a v nice new middle eastern coffee shop called Nandine on Vestry Road. Tasty shakshuka, baclava, mezze etc
@samanthalingdmg: check out @camberwellmkt on the green on wkends, @dailygoodsldn & @thepigeonfeed for great coffees or @StormbirdSE5 for pints, grab pizza from @TheospizzaLDN or check out daily menu specials @CrookedWell
@Retzback_Shaun: #TheKennington pub on #CamberwellNewRoad is one of the best pubs in the area. Across the road from there is the #cablebakery
@topology_london: head to Queens restaurant for amazing food and if you feeling greedy Silk Road Chinese is two doors down.
Camberwell is blessed with three great parks: Burgess Park, Ruskin Park and Myatt’s Fields.
The largest, Burgess Park, is spread over 140 acres and reopened in 2012 after an £8 million facelift. Its facilities include two barbecue areas, a café, a fishing lake, outdoor gym, sports pitches, a BMX track, a world garden in Chumleigh Gardens, around former almshouses, and a community food-growing garden.
Leisure and the arts
The local Camberwell Arts organisation has open studios this weekend, December 9, 10 and 11. Blue Elephant Theatre is a fringe venue with a strong local participation programme, tucked away in Bethwin Road.
Camberwell Leisure Centre in Artichoke Place is the local council-owned and recently restored Victorian swimming pool.
State primary schools with an “outstanding” Ofsted rating are Crawford in Crawford Road and John Ruskin in John Ruskin Street. Rated “good” are the very popular Lyndhurst in Grove Lane; Dog Kennel Hill; Comber Grove; St Joseph’s RC in Pitman Street, and Oliver Goldsmith in Peckham Road.
The highest-rated state comprehensive school is Sacred Heart RC (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Camberwell New Road.
The others, all judged to be “good”, are: Saint Gabriel’s College CofE (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Langton Road; Ark All Saints (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Wyndham Road, and Harris Academy Peckham (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Peckham Road. The Charter School East Dulwich (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Southampton Way is a new school opened in September on a temporary site by Charter School in North Dulwich. It will eventually occupy part of the Dulwich Hospital site in East Dulwich.
The Villa (co-ed, ages two to seven) in Lyndhurst Grove is a popular private nursery school. The Dulwich private schools — Dulwich College, Alleyn’s and James Allen’s Girls’ School — are all close by.