Camberwell: Buzzy and bohemian

Vibrant and village-like, Camberwell boasts a thriving arts and social scene, beautiful period homes, an abundance of green space and a new KFH branch at its heart.

30 April, 2024

An artsy spirit has long defined the south east London community of Camberwell in Southwark. That’s largely because it’s been home to the Camberwell College of Arts since 1898 – a respected institution whose notable alumni include everyone from renowned British artist Howard Hodgkin to musicians Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd.

Bursting with personality, there’s a self-contained, unconventional swagger to Camberwell that no amount of development has dulled. And it’s this individualistic magnetism that still draws artists, actors, musicians and the creatively inclined to SE5 today.

KFH has long had established branches in neighbouring postcodes, but now it has its own dedicated branch on Camberwell Church Street.

KFH Sales Director for south east London Julian Peak explains why the time is right for a KFH branch in Camberwell: ‘We have a good presence in Camberwell already because we're market leaders in surrounding areas like Kennington, Clapham and Peckham,’ he says.

‘This branch will strengthen the market around that area. When you open a branch, you need to know it's the right time for the market, and the right time for your brand in a particular area. That time is now.’

Julian believes that Camberwell holds its own when compared to the vibrant postcodes of Peckham, Brixton and East Dulwich. ‘Camberwell is culturally diverse and it’s a cool place to live, so it has a younger demographic than neighbouring Peckham,’ he says. ‘It’s probably one life phase behind nearby East Dulwich, with prices around 15% lower.’

Granted, Camberwell has no tube station, but at just three-and-a-half-miles away from central London, it’s a quick 20-minute commute into the West End on one of the many bus routes, it’s just 11 minutes from the nearby Denmark Hill station into London Victoria, and it’s an eight-minute cycle to London Bridge through Elephant and Castle.

Camberwell: Buzzy and bohemian - Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

Homes with history

From smartly appointed Victorian houses and spacious semi-detached Edwardian homes, to the imposing Georgian piles on the tree-lined Camberwell Grove, and the tall, Edwardian terraces on Addington Square - Camberwell enjoys a wealth of period architecture. A short distance away in Denmark Hill, you’ll find 1930s detached and semi-detached properties, as well as Art Deco apartments in Ruskin Park House on Champion Hill.

Camberwell Lettings Branch Director Clement Edewor extols the virtues of SE5’s rental market. ‘Camberwell offers renters an extreme amount of choice, ranging from large, beautiful Georgian properties to new build modern apartments and quirky warehouse conversions,’ he says.

Clement learned the fundamentals of being a lettings agent when he began working for KFH in 2016 in what was then the brand new Catford office, and he was immediately hooked. Having grown up in the Peckham area, he then transferred to KFH Peckham Rye where he rose to become Assistant Branch Manager, and most recently, he’s been at the helm of the Forest Hill office.

‘I can’t wait to inject my energy and passion for property into this new and exciting Camberwell branch,’ he adds. ‘With the tremendous growth in the area, it was only right that we give our clients a branch of their own. Camberwell is home to a diverse mix of people. You have commuters taking advantage of the easy cycle routes and transport links into the city, and you have an injection of youth and an international presence thanks to the University of the Arts London (UAL) close by,’ he says. 

Camberwell: Buzzy and bohemian - Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

Camberwell offers renters an extreme amount of choice, ranging from large, beautiful Georgian properties to new build modern apartments and quirky warehouse conversions.

Creative Camberwell

‘The rich cultural scene can’t be ignored,’ says Clement. Camberwell has a number of art galleries, theatres and creative spaces attracting people who appreciate art and culture. There is indeed a thriving arts scene. Adjoining Camberwell College of Art is the South London Gallery – one of the country’s leading contemporary exhibition spaces that showcases internationally renowned art.

There’s also the Blue Elephant Theatre for drama, dance and comedy, an annual Camberwell Arts Festival, the Camberwell Fair that brings together music, culture and people on Camberwell Green, and an impressive series of concerts at Jazzlive in the the crypt of St. Giles church– a favourite haunt of London’s leading jazz musicians since 1995.

Green and pleasant

As close as Camberwell is to central London, it’s blessed with green spaces. The largest is Burgess Park, a huge patch of recreational green that boasts wild flower meadows, a BMX track, fishing lake, café, sports pitches and the Chumleigh Gardens almshouses.

‘Camberwell is one of the few south London locations boasting three major parks,’ says Camberwell Sales Branch Director Anthony Finn. ‘Burgess Park, Ruskin Park and Myatt’s Fields Park attract people from neighbouring areas such as Peckham, Dulwich, Elephant and Castle, Kennington and Oval.’

Anthony is no stranger to south London or to KFH. He joined the Peckham Rye office in 2014 and worked his way up to Sales Branch Director of the Canada Water office. He has seen the potential of Camberwell since 2016, when he created a business plan as part of an assistant manager’s training course. ‘We had to choose an area where KFH didn’t have a branch to show how the office would fit the network and how I would make it a success. I chose Camberwell and I was awarded for my business plan by the company directors. I have spent most of my life in and around the area, so it’s like coming home. Camberwell excites me as it is one of the emerging areas of south east London.’

He insists there’s a property in Camberwell to suit every type of buyer. ‘From first time buyers to upsizers, downsizers, lifestyle changers and young families looking for their forever home, Camberwell has it all. You can find a compact, one-bedroom, top floor flat or a 5000sq ft detached period home in the Camberwell Grove and Camberwell Green conservation areas.’

Camberwell: Buzzy and bohemian - Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

From first time buyers to upsizers, downsizers, lifestyle changers and young families looking for their forever home, Camberwell has it all.

Eat, drink, shop

It’s this cultural diversity and creativity that ensures a rich mix of eateries, independent shops, coffee bars, pubs and delis. Camberwell Church Street and Denmark Hill are at the postcode’s lively heart.

Get your coffee fix at The Lumberjack café - a social enterprise that supports young people into work. Tuck into Xinjiang dumplings, noodles and stews at Silk Road. Enjoy the warm hospitality and Greek classics at the family-run Vineyard Taverna, a fixture on Camberwell Grove since 1974. Enjoy traditional bangers and mash, craft beer and a friendly welcome at The Sun of Camberwell.

Do your one-stop shop for the finest, hyper-local fare at Gladwell’s which is a greengrocer, deli, butcher, bakery, fishmonger, cheese monger, wine merchant and café in one. And pick up Moroccan gifts, fashion, jewellery and home accessories at Eleven.SE5.

Camberwell is chock full of artisanal shops and hidden surprises. ‘I’d advise anyone visiting to wander off the beaten track and explore,’ says Julian Peak. ‘In between the larger streets, Camberwell has lots of great cafés, bakeries and pubs as well as fascinating little lanes like Ribbon Dance Mews and Love Walk. There’s also an amazing, Notting Hill-esque Urban Farmers Market every Saturday morning selling artisan and fresh farm produce.’

Camberwell: Buzzy and bohemian - Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

In between the larger streets, Camberwell has lots of great cafés, bakeries and pubs as well as fascinating little lanes like Ribbon Dance Mews and Love Walk.

A facelift for SE5

Camberwell has also seen some promising signs of redevelopment in recent years, with more in the pipeline.

The council-owned Camberwell Leisure Centre’s Victorian swimming pool has been restored to its former glory, and Camberwell Green got an extensive facelift and a new public library – both part of an £11 million regeneration project.

Looking to the future, there are plans to develop Denmark Hill’s Butterfly Walk shopping arcade into a stylish new six-storey shopping centre with a hotel, cinema and flats above.

And Southwark Council has secured enough funding to give Camberwell Station Road a major facelift – including a refurb of the old railway arches and the creation of a plaza outside the old station building that closed to passengers in 1916.

‘There's a huge amount of investment going on throughout south east London,’ says Julian Peak. ‘And as well as seeing funding for public spaces like the library and the Green, SE5 is seeing encouraging investment in the creative arts too. What’s really exciting about Camberwell is its potential for growth.’

Camberwell: Buzzy and bohemian - Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward

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