The on-off plans to reopen Camberwell station in South London are back on again after the government included the station in a list to be considered for reopening.
The Ideas Fund has a modest pot of cash to spend on investigating if railway assets closed in the 1960s could be opened again — and the funds are mainly to support investigating how and when such openings could occur.
Included in the latest list of 50 bids for consideration is Camberwell Station.
Camberwell Station sits on the line just to the south of Elephant and Castle, opened in 1862, but closed to passengers in 1916 and entirely in 1924.
It does, however, sit in a patch of London notably lacking in railway connections, and over the past decades, there have long been talks of either including a station on the Bakerloo line extension at Camberwell Green or reopening the mainline station again.
There have been a number of reports looking at the economic case for reopening the station, but they have all tended to find no overall benefit. Yes, it’s good for local residents, but the value impact of slower journeys due to the additional stop for people further out of central London more than wiped out the value benefit locally.
These days transport upgrades look at the wider economic uplift, so if the area were to see a gain, such as more housing or jobs, then that would help — but the reports found modest gains in an area lacking that many opportunities for redevelopment, even when spread over a 60-year timeframe.
The only opportunity, which anywhere else would be ideal is that TfL owns two large blocks of land which could be developed to around 400 homes (although the City Island Development density suggests that could double if they can build taller than the Carter Jones report implies).
The difficulty is that those sites are currently bus garages, most of which would almost certainly need to remain, with a podium built above — reducing the height of available living space for sale.
Even with local buses already being converted into electric, it wouldn’t be the most ideal place to live.
The other difficulty would be fitting a modern roughly £40 million station into the space occupied by the older smaller station. A TfL study looked at the rebuilding needed, and can just about fit a station into the space available, but said it would require “a complete reinstatement and modification of the track and platform infrastructure at viaduct level”.
Clearly the proposal that’s been submitted had enough merit to get it onto the long-list. Whether it makes the short-list won’t be known until the Autumn, and even then that just means funding is released for more reports to see if they can find a way of making the case for reopening the station a viable one.
The reopening of Camberwell Station has a long way to go.