The Camberwell Society

Society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell

Developer gets go ahead to turn Butterfly Walk into Camberwell Lanes


Now that planning permission has been confirmed by the GLA and Southwark Peter Cooke takes stock

To remind readers of the main elements of the development

(also see CQ 203, 205 and 212):

• redevelop the shopping centre which is largely single storey to

six floors with flats above,

• existing retail tenants will remain although the planning officer in his report acknowledges that there will be ‘short term disruption’ to them,

• 101-bedroom hotel and a cinema with two screens for 80 people.

• shopping mall’s roof will be removed, and the mall will become wider with tree planting and a spur off to Orpheus Street.

• two carparks facing onto Daneville Road will be built over and the redevelopment will rise to seven storeys above the ground floor.

• overall, the development will provide 145 new homes of which 51 (36%) are described as affordable.

The GLA and Southwark require that the new housing be car free, apart from disabled parking. GLA consider this reduction of 80% in the existing provision will lead to traffic reduction and healthy streets in line with Vision Zero. Policies have changed from the proposal 30 years ago to build a second level of carparking in the car park.

The GLA report said that the ‘design will make a positive contribution to the street scene, landscaping, and greenery and will improve the appearance of the area.’

Approval requires development to start by 7 March 2026. The applicant does not intend to carry out the development and aims to sell to another developer. Development will commence on the Denmark Hill frontage, then the part occupied by the supermarket and the smaller carpark, and finally the larger carpark at the south-eastern corner.

The planning approval of June 2021 was expected to be ratified in the legal agreement by 28 January 2022. Since then, the new Southwark Plan for 2019-2036 has been issued, which reiterates the policy from 2017, that the ‘south and east sides should be lower rise’. But this is now the highest part of the development at eight floors. So, the Council have confirmed a proposal which is contrary to their own policies.

It is also based on a seemingly inaccurate official statement made to the Planning Committee

Redeveloping Love Walk care home


Richard Donnell, Chair of Grove Lane Area Residents Association urges locals to give their views on this major site

The site at 10 Love Walk, SE5 has been delivering care to local residents since 1912 when a home for ‘invalid women workers’ was established. The present building was developed in the 1960s with a further wing constructed in 1975. Today, the property operates as a residential care home for adults living with physical disabilities and provides 23 bedrooms operated by Mission Care.

The building is becoming obsolete, and a planning application has recently been lodged for the total redevelopment of the site - see Southwark planning reference 23/AP/0330. The proposal is for a much bigger building, rising to 4 storeys or 23 metres high and almost tripling the number of bedrooms to 63, on what is a small, infill site.

Southwark needs more care beds, and the community supports the need to replace the current building with something that delivers 1) a high-quality environment for future residents, and 2) a building which enhances the character of the local area. Sadly, the current proposals do not deliver on either of these counts.

Love Walk and the surrounding areas are low rise and with special historical character. The sheer scale of the proposed scheme creates a number of adverse impacts which go against many of Southwark’s own policies - see the Grove Lane Area Residents Association (GLARA) objection. Other public comments on the application also question the layout and design of the scheme and the quality of experience this will deliver for future residents.

A planning decision is due in June. Public comments are still welcomed. There are already over 120 comments, the vast majority of which object to the current plans and ask for a total redesign. We would encourage the local community to comment and provide your views on this major site in Camberwell. Contact us on

Doing the Lambeth walks


Want to immerse yourself in local history? Alison Rae suggests becoming a Lambeth tour guide

During lockdown I discovered Herne Hill and Brixton. And found a working windmill, a walled secret garden, amazing murals, commemorations of the uprising of 1981 and more. Ashamed that I knew so little of an area so ridiculously close I signed up to a Lambeth tour guiding course. It enabled me to develop my public speaking, immerse myself in local history, hear about future developments and receive an accreditation.

Lambeth guides started two years ago and is the only such organisation south of the river. Tutors really know their stuff. They gave presentations on local industries, pleasure and leisure, public art, local government, housing, and health provision – the NHS is one of our largest employers.

Classes run from September to June at Morley College, an easy bus ride from Camberwell. The fun Saturday morning training walks include Streatham to the south, Clapham to the west and Lambeth and Kennington to the north. SE5 is represented with project work about Denmark Hill, a walking circuit around Myatt’s Fields and a focus on music hall and performers who lived around Coldharbour Lane. We were grateful to the staff at Lambeth Archives for a special evening opening, just before they relocated from Minet Library, their Knatchbull Road base for 133 years to a new purpose-built archive building at 18 Brixton Hill.

Covert Camberwell


A discreet entrance in a quiet residential street in Camberwell leads to a world of espionage and eavesdropping, reports Ray Molony

The entrance to 113 Grove Park is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it discreet. And you get the impression the 30 occupants of the numerous industrial-style buildings on the site are very happy about that.

Curious locals prying past the gates and railings are met with the glare of a guard in a 24-hour security hut.

Not what you expect in a quiet and leafy conservation area.

Known officially as Denmark Hill Wireless Station, 113 Grove Park has been a Metropolitan Police communications centre since 1975.

And for many years it played a key surveillance role for the security services in two world wars and a Cold War.

Its role in national security started as far back as 1916, when a nursing home on the site was requisitioned by the War Office.

At some stage afterwards, it became a Government signal intelligence collection facility known as a ‘Y Station’ when these were set up during the First World War.

After the war, the records indicate that it reverted to a nursing home, this time for the Metropolitan Police.

By the early 1930s it was back in action as a listening station and police operators at the site are said to have been the first to intercept transmissions between Berlin and Moscow.

During World War II, it continued to collect enemy radio traffic and messages, the most important of which were passed onto the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire for analysis.

During the Cold War it was a joint listening station for MI6, MI5 and Special Branch, intercepting telephone calls and other transmissions.

Today, the Metropolitan Police describes the activities at 113 Grove Park as ‘telecommunications and technical support operations that are core operational activities’.

113 Grove Park isn’t the only site in Camberwell that has been home to secret police operations. The HQ of a clandestine unit of the Special Branch was once housed above this Turkish supermarket on Camberwell New Road. From the nondescript top floor office, agents of the covert Special Duties Squad (SDS), formerly the Special Demonstration Squad, launched ‘black ops’ against organisations which it deemed to be undermining the state. Controversially, some undercover police officers infiltrated political groups by entering into relationships with women members. They used false names, and even fathered children, disappearing when their tour of duty was over.

An official inquiry into the activities of the SDS is ongoing.

Investigating the origin of the Grosvenor Estate


Chris McGachy is finding out who built and who lived where he does

It started when I came across an old image of a neighbouring house. The entrance was set off with a huge porch, with substantial pillars and rounded arch windows to the side. I have lived in Grosvenor Terrace for 20 years. I knew the building had been cannibalised into two flats in the 1990s. But it must have been grand once.

That was the spark. After I retired, I began to investigate in earnest. I knew that the Grosvenor Estate, situated across the road from Burgess Park, was developed in the decade following the opening of the Grand Surrey Canal in 1811. There is only one other building like the one whose photograph I had come across. I live in it. Both buildings are on the same side of the street. On the other side – the north side – is the terrace. It backs on to John Ruskin Street.

I believe these two buildings were built in the mid to late 1800s. Earlier work by a local taxi driver, Stan Miller (now deceased), suggests that the original estate included the grand four-storey town houses on Camberwell Road that face Burgess Park.

There were some oddities that intrigued me. Urlwin Street, the next street to the south of Grosvenor Terrace, has a building with a stone plaque on which is inscribed Grosvenor Street. The house numbers run consecutively, not odd on one side and even on the other. A Victorian Ordinance Survey map shows Grosvenor Terrace was originally called Brunswick Terrace.

With the help of Southwark archivists at John Harvard library, I got down to studying more than a century of rate books, from 1790 to 1910. I think Philip Urlwin is the key to the story. He was buried in St Giles’ in 1856. His will shows that he owned the land now occupied by the Grosvenor Estate.

I’m interested to find out more about him and ownership of this land in the early 1800s. Philip Urwin was in partnership with George Arams. They bought land from Thomas Cope and William Emmett. Maps of the area between 1800 and 1850 would be useful.

This area has never been properly documented, perhaps because it borders both Walworth and Camberwell. It is now in SE5, but the streets were part of St Mary Newington Parish, which was traditionally Walworth and is now designated SE17. It ran south as far as Bethwin Road, which was originally called Avenue Road.

By studying the rate books and cross referencing with census records, I have been able to date and match the original numbering for most of the houses. The present numbering dates from 1891. Residents of streets of the Grosvenor Estate included sculptors, church-organ makers, attorneys, and music hall comedians.

With a bit of help from local experts, I believe I can put together a comprehensive history of the Grosvenor Estate. Anyone interested can contact me at

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The Camberwell Society was formed in 1970 and is the recognised amenity society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell.

The Society’s objectives, as defined by our constitution, are: to stimulate public interest in Camberwell, to promote high standards of planning and architecture in Camberwell, and to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in Camberwell.

We are a charity and raise money for local charities. In the past we have raised money for Southside Rehabilitation Association, St Giles Trust, Cambridge House, the CamberwellCommunity Choir, the HollingtonYouth Centre and the Camberwell Arts Festival