Camberwell offers a healthy mix of housing stock suiting all budgets

The South London Gallery today and Camberwell Green in the past

When I lived in Camberwell, you only walked across Burgess Park in broad daylight, picking your way through litter and dog muck. It's great to see what a fat cheque of around £8 million can do for 140 acres of parkland. These days Burgess Park houses a cool café, a supervised adventure playground (with free entry), a go-kart track and designated barbeque areas for summer gatherings. Not only has Southwark's largest park been done-up, but neighbouring Elephant & Castle is in the midst of a massive facelift providing a pedestrian-friendly shopping centre, residential housing and updated transport hub.

What kind of high street?
Two busy main roads slice through Camberwell's centre; one leads up towards Elephant & Castle, the other strikes across from Oval to New Cross. Camberwell's busy junctions bring with them numerous retail opportunities; at its heart is a shopping mall (with Morrison's supermarket) while each road leading from Camberwell Green is buzzing with chemists, shoe shops, grocers, newsagents and mini-marts. Walworth Road is another high street in itself - crammed with shops that include an M&S, Iceland and a rather good street market at East Street.

Camberwell's pubs can be particularly good, if you nose around you'll also find some exceptional cafés. Try House (a gallery/café) on Camberwell Church Street,Cool Cats' Café on Southampton Way or the ultra-brilliant No.67 - the independent café/bistro inside The South London Gallery.

Camberwell's housing stock and residents
This is a large area and Camberwell's ward boundaries aren't best placed for the census data I normally use to check housing and demographic make-up. The obvious area to use is Camberwell Green Ward, but this doesn't include the best of Camberwell such as Camberwell Grove, Grove Lane and Myatt's Fields. Likewise, the alternative ward choices don't include Camberwell Green. Essentially, the centre of SE5 is mostly made up of flats/maisonettes (a whopping 4,759 flats/maisonettes and 708 bedsits) with only 69 detached homes, 146 semi-detached and 434 terraced houses in total. This changes in the posher conservation areas outlined above, with Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane both offering exemplary Georgian and Regency townhouses (some of the finest south of the River) while Myatt's Fields is crammed with sprawling Victorian homes fringing a beautiful central park.

Crime in Camberwell
..appears to be dropping. Have a look at the Metropolitan Police Department's latest crime statistics for Camberwell Green. Crime figures increase along Coldharbour Lane, in East Walworth and towards Oval - facts which won't surprise locals as these are notorious troublespots.

Where to buy in Camberwell
If you've got the cash to splash, then head for Brunswick Park, Myatt's Field, Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane - they all fall within conservation areas and are certainly worth buying in, if not near to. Buyers looking for something more affordable can explore Champion Hill where you'll find ex-local flats, an attractive, modern development at Langford Green and a huge Deco development (Ruskin House) whose apartments are definitely worth viewing. Anything close to the Green, Camberwell Church Street and off Peckham Road is also good, while the estates off Southampton Way offer the most value for money.

Camberwell's highlights
It would be strange not to mention the much-loved Camberwell Arts Festival, well-known jazz nights at The Crypt, St Giles Church or the acclaimed South London Gallery found next door to Camberwell College of Art.