SAVE SOUTHWARK WOODS OBJECTIONS
PLANNING APPLICATION 15/AP/3185 - AREA Z CAMBERWELL OLD CEMETERY
1. SSW RESPONSE TO PLANNING OFFICER’S REPORT TO THE PLANNING COMMITTEE OF 29/09/2015 AND MISREPRESENTATION OF APPLICATION 15/AP/3185
DESCRIPTION OF THE APPLICATION:
PLANNING OFFICER’S REPORT
Remediation and remodelling of part of the cemetery close to Underhill Road; drainage works; the laying out of new access paths and associated landscaping.
This misrepresents the application as it does not mention the main intention which is to facilitate the creation of new burial.
Southwark Council’s own Application Form 6, Dated 5th August 2015 signed by Strategic Director of Environment and Leisure, Deborah Collins, describes it more accurately as:
“Brief Description of the Proposal
Development of burial space in Camberwell Old Cemetery (Area Z)”
However, the public description on Southwark’s planning website does not mention the application is preparation for new burial:
“Remediation and remodelling of part of the cemetery close to Underhill Road; drainage works; the laying out of new access paths and associated landscaping”
Again no mention of creation of new burial.
The full Application Form does however mention that this application is for new burial:
“A scheme of ground remediation, including selective clearance and felling, decontamination and remodelling of un-authorized tipped material, importation of construction materials and capping, laying out of access paths and drainage, burial areas, boundary treatments, planting and nature conservations measures over an existing area of public burial within Camberwell Old Cemetery”.
But the most bizarre description comes in the final paragraphs of the Planning Officer’s report:
42. Many of the comments received suggest that this proposal does not make allowance for burial for members of all faiths. This application is not for the use of the site for burial as discussed above and access to the remediated site would be available for all members of the community. Burial provision for all members of Southwark's community was considered within the council's Cemetery Strategy which includes provision for burial for all faiths.
Please see below for Religious Discrimination issues.
This is a consistent attempt to misrepresent the application to the public and to statutory consultees.
This application 15/AP/3184 is to create the site access necessary for the related application 15/AP/3185 to develop 2.5acres of Grade 1 SINC woodlands for new, discriminatory burial, and to excavate and reprocess in these same woods 4,000 tonnes of illegally dumped construction material, and truck a further 8,000 tonnes of rubble off site over many months. 15/AP/3185 applies for access for up to 25 lorries per day, up to 50 twenty tonne truck journeys to and from the site.
This application facilitates that access and its enormous negative environmental, social and economic impact.
2. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
The Planning Officer misrepresents the true potential impact of this proposal on Transport:
The impact on highways has not been assessed and cannot be said to be ‘limited’, the claim is unfounded.
Southwark Council has not carried out a Transport Impact Assessment on the area.
Southwark Council has not consulted the local community on potential impacts of huge and lengthy site traffic access allowed by this application on air, noise and water pollution, traffic burden or road safety, in order to comply with Key Issue for Consideration 11. b: “The impact of the development on the amenity of nearby residents.” Over 560 objections have now been received - mostly from very local residents extremely angry at this proposal.
Risks from these impacts have not been assessed.
3. NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK
This material consideration of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is relevant in that the 3 identified roles that the planning system should perform mentioned are not addressed by LBS’s current proposals:
3.1 ECONOMIC ROLE UNDER THE NPPF:
Information provided by the Council effectively shows that the cemetery is on average losing money and is being subsidised by the crematorium. The current plans will therefore increase the subsidy required. There are no ‘value for money’ comparisons or a cost benefit analysis.
NPPF planning guidance states that authorities should ensure that sufficient land of “the right type is available in the right place”. The use of this land as a cemetery is not the right type/right place as Southwark is a built up and polluted borough. Leaving the area as the green space that it is would be beneficial in terms of economics (as mentioned above i.e. it will not need to be subsidised by the taxpayer) and in social and environmental terms (see social and environmental sections below).
COSTS AND COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS
No ‘Value for Money’ Assessment or Cost Benefit Analysis with alternatives
LBS has not carried out a ‘Value for Money’ assessment – its first ‘Fairer Future For All’ promise to residents.
This application facilitates destruction of Grade 1 SINC woods without any detailed financial assessment or Cost Benefit Analysis with alternative proposals repeatedly put forward by the Burial Strategy Stakeholder Group and SSW.
No CAVAT Assessment of Ecosystem Services
Ecosystem services are currently supplied to residents by these trees and Grade 1 woods. Southwark Council has refused requests by the Cemeteries Friends Groups, Save Southwark Woods and the Burial Strategy Stakeholder Group to carry out a CAVAT (Capital Asset Value of Amenity Trees) assessment.
This application has no CAVAT survey or iTree assessment to understand the existing value of these Community Asset woods, their benefits to residents, and the benefits to be lost through this application.
Southwark Council has refused to explore healthier, cheaper, fairer options for returning Area Z to public use, such as natural capping of Area Z with clay at a fraction of the £1.3M cost estimate (LBS 2012 figure) for these works.
No financial costings, breaking ‘Value for Money’ promise
The figure of £1.3M is merely a cost estimate from 2012 – no detailed financial assessment has been made for this application.
Southwark Council does not know how much this application will cost.
At the Cabinet meeting of 19th June 2012, Southwark Council Cabinet agreed the cemetery strategy based on this ‘Public Consultation’ which has informed their actions ever since. However the Cabinet agreed Southwark Council officers should explore buying burial space outside the borough:
“7. FUTURE OF CEMETERIES SERVICE
Resolution 7: That officers explore further the procurement of burial space outside the Borough.”
This has never been done, especially in a comparative way against the costs of Southwark Council’s current unfair and costly proposals.
The reason given by Cllr Darren Merrill was that this would require investment in a private company. This application is part of proposals to invest millions in private contractor companies.
Kemnal Park Cemetery
There is a cheaper, fairer, healthier burial solution for Southwark Council that would provide burial for all faiths in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and Southwark Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.
Southwark Council could follow in Tower Hamlets' footsteps and invest taxpayers’ £5M capital (currently to be given over to private contractors) in multi-faith burial provision at Kemnal Park Cemetery in a few miles away – purpose-built with planning permission from the GLA.
£5M would buy around 5 acres of land at Kemnal Park, equating to 4,000 burial plots, 8,000 interments.
This could provide 20 years or more of burial at current burial rates.
Southwark Council proposes spending £5.2M for less than 4 years of burial.
This investment could also provide burial for people of all faiths as they have Orthodox Muslim and Jewish areas and other provisions such as green burials.
The burial plots invested in could be leased to Southwark residents or others – or given away free, as that is effectively what Southwark Council is proposing, by preparing to simply write off capital costs of £5.2M.
Current demand for burial
(figures supplied under FOI by Southwark Council)
Southwark admits capital costs, estimated at £5.2M, will never be recouped. SSW estimates total capital costs are much higher as the £5.2M figure only includes this Phase 1 of the whole burial strategy, even though the figure has been promoted until recently as the total cost.
No total costings for the whole strategy have ever been produced and Rebecca Towers, Parks & Open Spaces Officer, admitted in the Overview & Scrutiny Committee September 17th that Southwark Council has no idea how much the total burial strategy would cost.
SSW estimates it is in the tens of millions – potentially £30M or more.
There are currently three revenue streams to the Cemeteries:
•Burial plot leases (25 and 50 years)
•Interments (burial itself, two or three per burial plot)
•Cremations (sometimes accompanied by burial of the ashes)
Sales of burial plot leases to non-residents and their interments are allowed, at around three times the price Southwark residents pay. Burial plot leases make up about 10% of the total number of sales, and around 20% of sales revenue.
Southwark’s figures for last year 2014 are below:
Southwark Council projects continued sales of around 200 burial plot leases and around 400 interments per year. They say that as above this generates around £1.1M annual revenue, and say this contributes to the cost of maintaining the cemeteries.
An investment in burial space at a cemetery such as Kemnal Park would generate revenue that could still maintain the cemeteries to the same degree, if not more so, as burial could also be provided for residents such as Orthodox Muslim or Jewish residents, currently discriminated against as a result of their religion.
5 acres for £5M at 800 plots per acre = 4,000 plots (8,000 interments)
Even if these 4,000 plots were only sold at £1,500 they would generate revenue of £6M.
This revenue could be reinvested in the purchase of more land, or spent on other vital services.
Southwark Council currently proposes to write off this enormous capital cost of £5.2M – effectively throwing away taxpayers’ money for unfair, unjust and destructive proposals for less than 4 years’ burial provision that will discriminate against a huge number of residents requiring burial, because of their religion.
Exhumation of graves and costs
A recent housing application for a Churchyard in Surrey proposed exhuming 1200 graves, which would have cost approximately £3M (Church Commissioners refused the application).
Southwark’s proposals are far more extensive.
Southwark says that current proposals will deliver a ‘sustainable’ burial strategy, i.e. endless, recyclable burial provision, but the enormous cost to achieve this is not included in Southwark Council’s £5.2M estimates (from 2012) for this Phase 1.
Southwark Council seems to have become less keen on the euphemistic term of ‘reuse’, exhumation or desecration of old graves – perhaps as the enormous costs have become clear, or because of its huge unpopularity.
The value of trees and woodland
It is now widely recognised and understood that trees and woodland have a huge value – financial, social and environmental – to people, neighbourhoods and communities for a multitude of reasons.
Southwark has not assessed the value of these woods and trees, saying they only value assets when they sell them. This indicates they have not carried out a financial Impact Assessment or cost benefit analysis on their proposals.
In 2008, using a method called the Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT), Islington assessed the free ecosystem services value of Highbury Fields trees at £44M annually to the borough and the city, such as urban cooling, filtering air pollution, increasing mental and physical health, improving local business etc.
Southwark has a history of undervaluing or not valuing woods and trees. For example, when the Heygate Estate was sold to LendLease, Southwark Council valued the 450 trees (urban forest) on site at £700,000. Residents campaigned to save them, carrying out a CAVAT study arriving at a figure, validated by the Forestry Commission, of £15M. That’s £15M worth of annual benefits and services to Southwark residents and businesses.
Southwark Council has not valued Southwark Woods for their triple bottom line benefits – environmental, social and economic, and relating directly to guidance under the NPPF planning policy.
SSW community volunteers carried out a tree study and a baseline CAVAT assessment which valued Camberwell Old Cemetery Woods at a minimum £22M per year to Southwark in free ecosystem services (air and water filtration, cooling, flood risk alleviation and so on).
Southwark Council has no assessment of the potential devaluation of these triple bottom line assets by their applications, despite repeated requests from key stakeholders and the community.
3.2 SOCIAL ROLE:
The guidance states that strong, vibrant and healthy communities should be supported and that the built environment should reflect the community’s needs support the community’s health, social and cultural well-being.
The community’s needs are not being reflected here as there is no provision at all in the plans for Orthodox Jewish or Muslim burial needs.
Planning Officer’s Report:
“42. Many of the comments received suggest that this proposal does not make allowance for burial for members of all faiths. This application is not for the use of the site for burial as discussed above and access to the remediated site would be available for all members of the community. Burial provision for all members of Southwark's community was considered within the council's Cemetery Strategy which includes provision for burial for all faiths.
This is blatantly untrue that this application is not for burial, as the proposal descriptions on the first page of these objections show.
“Community impact statement
46. In line with the Council's Community Impact Statement the impact of this application has been assessed as part of the application process with regard to local people in respect of their age, disability, faith/religion, gender, race and ethnicity and sexual orientation. Consultation with the community has been undertaken as part of the application process. Other than the issue access for people for mobility imparements discussed above, no adverse impacts are expected as a result of this scheme.
“Human rights implications
49. This planning application engages certain human rights under the Human Rights Act 2008 (the HRA). The HRA prohibits unlawful interference by public bodies with conventions rights. The term ’engage’ simply means that human rights may be affected or relevant.
50. This application has the legitimate aim of providing remediation and remodelling of an existing cemetery. The rights potentially engaged by this application, including the right to a fair trial and the right to respect for private and family life are not considered to be unlawfully interfered with by this proposal.”
These statements in justification of this application above are untrue.
This application supports, reinforces and extends religious discrimination in the council’s burial provision, as none of the burial provision would be accessible to Southwark residents of Orthodox Jewish or Muslim faiths, who also require burial
As a community group and Southwark Burial Strategy Stakeholder Group member, SSW highlight here the serious legal implications of this planning application by facilitating new burial:
•Proposed planning applications reinforce and extend existing religious discrimination in unequal burial provision, based on faith
•Failure to meet Southwark Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010
•Failure to comply with the Human Rights Act 1998
Southwark council policy states: “We aim to ensure that people who have died in Southwark can be buried or cremated within the borough.”
(Bereavement Services webpage, October 3rd 2015)
See also extract from Southwark Council’s own document, “Southwark Council’s approach to equality: delivering a fairer future for all” (page 6) see below.
Burial is a requirement of Orthodox Muslim and Jewish religions, and the Equality Act 2010 protects all people’s rights to practice their religion, without disadvantage.
Most Southwark residents (around 77%) choose cremation. Therefore, although Orthodox Muslim or Jewish residents are currently only around 10% of Southwark’s total population, they represent as much as 40% or more of those residents requiring burial, whose religious burial needs you are currently charged to represent.
The Census 2011 showed that 8.5% of Southwark residents were Muslim, 0.3% Jewish. In spite of this, Southwark Council significantly failed to consult in any meaningful way between 2011 and 2012 with all faith groups in the borough, especially those for whom burial is a religious requirement.
As a result, this planning application facilitates new burial which discriminates against Orthodox Jewish and Muslim residents, and possibly other faiths.
In fact Southwark Council’s 5 year old Burial Strategy Equality Impact Assessment (Appendix D) states explicitly:
“The shortage of burial space has meant that cemetery space allocated for Muslim burials has been exhausted. This means that residents observing Islamic funeral rites and requiring graves prepared in adherence to Islamic law, must seek internment [sic] outside of the borough.”
Yet the next sentence in the same box states:
“The burial strategy will allow the council to better meet the needs of the Muslim community and other religious / faith groups.”
In addition, Southwark Council’s Equality Impact Assessment makes no mention of consultation or potential negative impact on residents of Orthodox Jewish or other faiths.
This application continues to force these Southwark residents to provide for their own burial privately, outside the borough, while paying through taxes to subsidise burial for other faiths.
The Equality Act 2010 requires councils to eliminate discrimination, not to reinforce and extend it, and to provide for all residents, without disadvantage because of religion.
Through this application, Southwark Council has failed to meet its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Act, exposing it to risk of legal challenge.
Southwark Council’s planning applications for multimillion pound investment in new burial would reinforce and extend existing religious discrimination.
This application as shown is for the explicit purpose of new burial that will discriminate against residents because of their religion.
Southwark Council is failing to meet its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010:
Page 6 of “Southwark Council’s approach to equality: delivering a fairer future for all” available on the Southwark Council website at:
“The Public Sector Equality Duty
The Equality Act 2010 has a Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). This consists of a “general duty” and a number of “specific duties”, which set out in more detail what the Council is expected to do to meet the “general duty”. Under the General Duty Southwark Council must in the exercise of its functions have due regard for the need to:
• Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act;
• Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it
• Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
In practical terms this means:
• Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics
• Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people
• Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
“Humans Rights Act 1998
As a council, we will believe that citizens can become stronger through the practice and respect of human rights with the belief that all citizens in Southwark are treated with fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy. The Humans Rights Act 1998 aims to give greater effect to rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). We will comply with the Human Rights Act when providing services or making decisions.”
Also Page 6, “Southwark Council’s approach to equality: delivering a fairer future for all”, published August 2015, Southwark Council
INSUFFICIENT ASSESSMENT OF OTHER NEGATIVE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
Plannign Officer’s report: “Environmental impact assessment
19. This application is not EIA development because it is not a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 development as defined in the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2010.”
This is a considerable scheme covering 2.5 acres proposing the removal and processing of 12,000 tonnes of material, and the destruction of in Grade 1 SINC woodsand trees. An Environmental Impact Assessment should certainly have been carried out.
Camberwell Old Cemetery is an Air Quality Management Area, a water sensitive site and unfortunately for families of those buried there, suffers repeatedly from waterlogging of old and new graves.
Air and water pollution
This application enables development that will create enormous air, groundwater and noise pollution, detrimental to the health and wellbeing of residents
This application has no Environmental Impact Assessment to assess the impact of air, water and noise pollution to be created on residents or loss of ecological value
The impact on removing 12,000 tonnes of material and numerous trees and undergrowth will be enormous on local air and water pollution and potential flood risk.
This application has no Road Traffic Assessment to assess the impacts of this development on and risks to roads, road users and pedestrians
Flood risk and Waterlogging of old and new graves
Southwark Council has carried out no detailed work in association with Environment Agency officers over the whole of the last year to assess the negative environmental impacts of this development.
Planning Officer’s Report: “40. It is important to note that this application is not for the use of the site for burial or indeed as a cemetery as this is an established use. Nonetheless, the site is underlain by the London Clay formation which is an aquiclude- a stratum that prevents the flow of water through it. Thus, any groundwater within the site will not migrate to the chalk aquifer from which the abstraction point draws its water. The Environment Agency have been asked for comments on this application and while their written comments have not yet been received, they have advised orally
that they have no concern with respect to groundwater.
“44. A sustainable drainage system is proposed to ensure that surface water is attenuated across the site. It would infiltrate into the topsoil and would be collected at intervals along the slope by shallow surface drains. Two soakaways are proposed which together would deal with surface water drainage, including1:100 year storm events.”
This is just not good enough to rely on a soakaway, when removal of 12,000 tonnes of compacted soil and rubble, and 2.5 acres of woods and trees have been removed.
Flood risk will be increased, also by the presence of a thick layer of clay when a soakaway is proposed for drainage.
Area Z lies at the bottom of a long slope from the Upper Norwood to Crystal Palace ridge. Camberwell Old Cemetery has a thick layer of underlying clay close to the surface which already is having impacts, with waterlogging on the recently created 1,000+ new burial plots along Woodvale area (2013).
Gardens and houses along Ryedale Road directly on the slope beneath Area Z already suffer from regular flooding from the Cemetery.
Removal of 12,000 tonnes of material, trees, woods and undergrowth will increase this flood risk.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 5.12 FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT
“Development proposals must comply with the flood risk assessment and management requirements set out in the NPPF”
No flood risk assessment has been done. The loss of trees increases the risk of flooding in general in specifically in this case as it the site is in natural spring area.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 5.13 SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE
“Development should utilise sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) unless there are practical reasons for not doing so, and should aim to achieve greenfield run-off rates and ensure that surface water run-off is managed as close to its source as possible”
The natural sustainable draining provided by the trees will be lost, increasing the runoff to the street and stain on the drainage system.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 5.14 WATER QUALITY AND WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
“A.b Protect and improve water quality having regard to the Thames River Basin Management Plan.”
These plans risk contaminating the water supply and reducing the water quality. The site is a natural spring area, the sites regularly floods during the winter meaning
Misrepresentation of Area Z as a so-called ‘toxic’ waste pile:
Sustainable development implications
This application proposes the destruction of 2.5 acres of Grade 1 SINC woodlands, excavating and reprocessing in the woods 4,000 tonnes of illegally dumped construction material, and truck a further 8,000 tonnes of rubble off site over many months.
This application is based on the mistaken claim by Southwark Council Southwark that these 12,000 tonnes of material is ‘toxic’. And therefore need removing or reprocessing on site. But out of LBS’ 60 test pits for contamination of the material, only 1 found any evidence of contamination in the whole pile (Southwark Council’s own ground contamination survey).
This is why no toxic or even hazardous materials are actually listed in the Toxic Materials section on Southwark Council’s application.
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Therefore, there is no need for wholesale redevelopment of Area Z, with its implied loss of Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services and benefits, as well as impact on flood risk, air quality, mental and physical health.
Reduction of Ecosystem Services
The application proposes removal of trees and undergrowth essential for existing ecosystem services such as reducing flood risk and air and water quality.
Many trees are missing from the plans which misrepresent the true number of trees to be felled. All trees over 75mm girth at 1.5meter height should be shown. LBS has only shown trees over 150mm, as Southwark Council’s Tree Officer Gary Meadowcroft stated at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee: “there are too many to count”.
Access to clean air, environments supportive of mental and physical health and well-being, and access to wild nature are also included in Equalities legislation, as an essential right to all people.
This Grade 1 SINC wood is in an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and Southwark is one of the poorest and most polluted boroughs in London, with hundreds of early deaths every year well documented from heat stress and air pollution.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 7.14 IMPROVING AIR QUALITY
“Be at least ‘air quality neutral’ and not lead to further deterioration of existing poor air quality”
Southwark Council’s application would facilitate considerable increase in air pollution as detailed above.
Accessibility is also included in Equalities legislation. Access to these cemeteries is not easy for those with mobility issues. The route between the two cemeteries is steep, and a service at the Chapel in CNC followed by a burial in COC requires cars between the two for attendees (the bus runs but only every 15 minutes or so but not all the way to COC). This has already resulted in an increase in traffic since new burial provision at COC.
NO JUSTIFICATION OF NEED
Burial is a borough wide issue, not a local issue. Reduction of green infrastructure, natural space and benefits are a borough-wide issue, not just a local issue.
This application has no justification of need nor public mandate.
No council is legally obliged to provide burial, let alone within its borough boundaries as:
•It can destroy valuable ecosystems to create sterile and sanitised, lawned landscapes
•It locks up land for the next 100 years, preventing it being used for other community uses or benefit
•9 out of the 13 inner London boroughs provide some or all of their burial out of borough
•Tower Hamlets council this year bought multifaith burial land at Kemnal Park Cemetery in Bromley, 5 miles from these cemeteries and part of the solution SSW proposes for LBS
No Public Consultation
There has been no full Public Consultation of residents on this application and its impacts.
The consultation almost five years ago now was about a different site and completely different proposals, surveying mainly Lewisham residents, and mentioning trees only once, and not at all in the survey
•Only surveyed a few hundred local people – burial demand and the burial strategy is a Southwark wide issue, as is ownership and degradation of natural assets
•Did not consult all residents around the cemeteries themselves, contrary to council claims
•Focused attention on developing Honor Oak Recreation Ground for new burial plots
•Gave no detail on financial, social or environmental impact
•LBS chose to survey 2793 Lewisham residents by letter (593 responses) but just under 1,000 Southwark residents (330 responses), ostensibly because the cemeteries and Honor Oak Recreation Ground are on the Lewisham boundary
•Only 51% said they would prefer to maintain burial provision within the borough – without any information on the potential impacts this would have on high-quality woodland and its many benefits to people’s health, wellbeing and climate resilience.
•A few public meetings took place with different groups, involving a further 110 people, still entirely unrepresentative
•No detailed discussions with other faiths who would be excluded by these plans
•Only mentioned in the ‘small print’ the possibility of developing burial space at COC and CNC
•No mention of the scale of redevelopment of Grade 1 SINC woodland or virgin native woodland now proposed
The survey also asked what their primary use of the cemeteries was for – 65% said social or recreational use – far above burial or visiting buried relatives.
No representation of full burial need within the borough
Religious groups who require burial have not been properly and actively engaged and consulted with.
Public opposition to these plans
Almost 10,000 people now object to Southwark's plans for the Camberwell Cemeteries, over 3,500 of whom are from Southwark, and over 1,200 from Peckham Rye Ward.
HISTORY AND CONSERVATION
Camberwell Old Cemetery contains the graves of around 300,000 Londoners, the vast majority in common or paupers’ graves, due to the poverty and squalor of London in the Victorian period.
Burials largely ceased in COC around the end of the 1940s, until very recently. Area Z has never been used for modern burial.
•Excavating many hundreds of private graves over 75 years old and removing their memorial/grave stones for either ‘cleaning and reinscription’ or disposal
•Mounding over or excavating the common/paupers’ graves of hundreds of thousands of London’s Victorian poor
COC should be preserved as a site of special conservation and historical importance, as well as great environmental value.
As the cemetery stands it has a significant heritage and cultural role, with a huge amount of local history that will be wiped out by the development. If the Council were to take a different approach this could be a historic cemetery, like so many others seen in London, with tours of the relevant monuments/graves etc.
The wild nature of the area is a rare landscape in London and confers numerous health benefits as the established woodland improves air quality and the area could also be beneficial for mental health as it is a serene natural environment.
Southwark Plan Policy 3.15 states:
“Conservation of the Historic Environment”: “Planning proposals that have an adverse effect on the historic environment will not be permitted. This includes trees that are protected by TPOs.”
Evidently this is why the woodland level TPO has been removed, without consultation or engagement with the community, as Southwark’s own Woodland Management Plan states it should.
Although, the trees now proposed for felling are no longer subject to a TPO, until very recently all of the trees at COC were protected by a woodland TPO. The placing of a woodland TPO on the trees (along with the SINC and MOL designations) does demonstrate that the Council did place a real value on the cemeteries as places of nature and this should not be disregarded now because it is expedient for the Council’s discriminatory burial plan to do so.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 7.8 HERITAGE ASSETS AND ARCHAEOLOGY
“New development should make provision for the protection of archaeological resources, landscapes and significant memorials. The physical assets should, where possible, be made available to the public on-site.”
“Boroughs, in consultation with English Heritage, Natural England and other relevant statutory organisations, should include appropriate policies in their LDFs for identifying, protecting, enhancing and improving access to the historic environment and heritage assets and their settings where appropriate, and to archaeological assets, memorials and historic and natural landscape character within their area.”
3.3 ENVIRONMENTAL ROLE:
LONDON PLAN POLICY 2.18 GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: THE MULTI FUNCTIONAL NETWORK OF
GREEN AND OPEN SPACES
“The Mayor will work with all relevant strategic partners to protect, promote, expand and manage the extent and quality of, and access to, London’s network of green infrastructure. This multifunctional network will secure benefits including, but not limited to, biodiversity; natural and historic landscapes; culture; building a sense of place; the economy; sport; recreation; local food production; mitigating and adapting to climate change; water management; and the social benefits
that promote individual and community health and well-being”
As it stands the cemetery is biodiverse and its wildness supports many kinds of nature. The established and establishing trees assist by taking pollution out of the air. As stated, these cemetery is in an Air Quality Management Area.
Over 60 years, around 12 acres of valuable woods have grown up – almost a third of the cemetery’s 37 acres. Camberwell Old Cemetery is now registered as a Grade 1 Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), due to its high quality woodland and occupants – 3 species of bats, stag beetles, owls, green woodpeckers, hundreds of plant species etc.
This planning application will not minimise waste and pollution, as per requirements of the NPPF but will extend it, and will increase pollution through the development works and the increase of traffic flow to the area.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 5.3 SUSTAINABLE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION:
Will increase net CO2 emission of the buy removing an CO2 absorption area. 5.3.C.a
Will increase urban heat island effect - 5.3.C.b and 5.9
Will increase the risk of flooding to local houses and the area in
general, as per 5.3.C.f
Does not promote or protect biodiversity and green infrastructure. As per 5.3.C.i
LONDON PLAN POLICY 5.9 OVERHEATING AND COOLING
“Major development proposals should reduce potential overheating”
This application would increase the urban heating by the loss of this woodland habitat.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 5.10 URBAN GREENING
“B The Mayor seeks to increase the amount of surface area greened in the Central Activities Zone by at least five per cent by 2030, and a further five per cent by 2050.”
This application is contrary to the London Plans on urban greening as it would reduce it.
NATURE AND LOSS OF NATURAL BENEFITS (ECOSYSTEM SERVICES FROM GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE)
The cemetery itself has the following designations:
• Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)
• Green Chain Park
• Metropolitan Open Land (MOL)
• Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)- Grade 1
• Had (until very recently) had a woodland TPO
Southwark Plan Policy 3.28 Biodiversity: Developments will not be permitted which would damage the nature conservation value of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. The digging up of this area will damage the conservation and nature value of this SINC.
Why has Southwark Council not published the London Wildlife Trust’s report commissioned and due for publication in July? This has always been claimed to be a key document by Southwark Council, yet it has never been produced for scrutiny, or consultation.
Southwark Council also committed to carrying out a Bat Emergence Survey which has also not been done.
Indeed, in a Stakeholder Group meeting, Rebecca Towers merely stated that Southwark Council would commit only to the minimum legal requirement regarding recommendations from the initial Bat Survey by Huma Pearce.
Works to trees
Strategic Policy 11 of the Planning Policy team’s core strategy states that Southwark will “protect woodland and trees and improve the overall greenness of places”.
It is difficult to see how these proposals in any way protect the woodland that has undoubtedly come into being in this area.
Southwark tree Officer Gary Meadowcroft stated at the Overview & Scrutiny Committtee meeting on 17th September 2015 that not all trees were shown on plans as they were too numerous to show, and that only trees over 150mm girth had been counted as trees.
These are Grade 1 SINC woodlands, Metropolitan Open Land on the Green Chain Walk and should be protected to safeguard and preserve their existing ecosystem services as Green Infrastructure, recognised by the London Plan, for benefits to mental and physical health, climate change adaptation, flood risk reduction, air and water quality and recreational, cultural and bereavement recovery services.
The woodland and wooded areas in both cemeteries are home to hundreds of species, and are used by borough residents and visitors for many social and environmental reasons, including mental health group picnics and meetings, children after school, walkers, runners and so on. The woodlands and trees especially provide many health and climate benefits, especially air pollution (this is an Air Quality Management Area) and access to wild nature (rather than managed parks) which is an innate need for humans and has proven mental and physical health benefits.
Southwark Council has not consulted with Natural England on these applications.
The burial provision this application is designed to facilitate will last less than 4 years. Further green space will then be required.
Many trees are missing from the plans – presumably to hide the true number to be felled
More worryingly, Southwark Council has just varied the Group TPO for COC to a series of smaller group TPOs/individual TPOs, enabling them potentially to start felling any time now some of the hundreds of trees, from mature trees to younger stands of ash and hazel. LBS claim this is ‘sensitive coppicing to increase biodiversity’ but the woodlands are already incredibly biodiverse, and this is obviously a justification to clear woodland for burial space.
The London Plan sets targets for trees, for a range of benefits to London facing issues of air quality, storm water management, urban overheating, lack of sufficient access to nature and more.
The Mayor of London’s Vision 2020 also sets a target, to achieve 25% tree cover of total land area by 2020 (currently running at about 12%). This is a big task and Southwark’s proposals seem to contravene it.
There are other policies on trees, woodland and so on UK, London and Borough based. Southwark also set one of its 10 Fairer Future Promises in 2014 to be a Greener Borough, along with Value For Money.
LONDON PLAN POLICY 7.19 BIODIVERSITY AND ACCESS TO NATURE
“A. The Mayor will work with all relevant partners to ensure a proactive approach to the protection, enhancement, creation, promotion and management of biodiversity in support of the Mayor’s Biodiversity Strategy. This means planning for nature from the beginning of the development process and taking opportunities for positive gains for nature through the layout, design and materials of development proposals and appropriate biodiversity action plans.”
“D On Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation development proposals should: a give the highest protection to sites with existing or proposed international designations1 (SACs, SPAs, Ramsar sites) and national designations2 (SSSIs, NNRs) in line with the relevant EU and UK guidance and regulations3 b give strong protection to sites of metropolitan importance for nature conservation (SMIs). These are sites jointly identified by the Mayor and boroughs as having strategic nature conservation importance c give sites of borough and local importance for nature conservation the level of protection commensurate with their importance.”
“E When considering proposals that would affect directly, indirectly or cumulatively a site of recognised nature conservation interest, the following hierarchy will apply: 1 avoid adverse impact to the biodiversity interest”
“The Mayor’s Biodiversity Strategy 230 sets out criteria and procedures for identifying land of importance for London’s biodiversity for protection in LDFs and identifying areas of deficiency in access to nature. Protecting the sites at all levels, serves to protect the significant areas of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority habitat in London and most priority species. However, protection of biodiversity outside designated sites will also be needed. The Mayor and the London Biodiversity Partnership have identified targets in Table 7.3 for the re-creation and restoration of priority habitats, as recommended in paragraphs 109, 114, 117 and 118 of the NPPF.”
Table 7.3 shows target to increase Woodland habitats by 20 ha by 2020
LONDON PLAN POLICY 7.21 TREES AND WOODLANDS
“Trees and woodlands should be protected, maintained, and enhanced, following the guidance of the London Tree and Woodland Framework”
6. The tree survey has been undertaken by Connick Tree Care, a contracting firm that provides tree surgery work for SBC. This is a conflict of interest and is unusual practice, an independent Arboricultural Consultant should be hired to provide an unbiased tree survey.
Southwark Borough Council adopted a Tree Management Strategy (TMS) in January 2013
•Section 1.3 ‘To increase community involvement and understanding of Southwark’s trees.’ (This is also objective 3).The short timeframes around this proposal and historic lack of community involvement with Camberwell Old Cemetery highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy due to lack of public involvement thus far.
•Section 2.1 ‘Trees play a crucial role in mitigating climate change. Over a year a mature tree removes about 22kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Trees are essential for improving air quality.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Section 2.2 ‘Trees are an important urban wildlife habitat, they provide nesting, foraging opportunities, and cover for birds and predators. Trees provide roosts, commuting routes and foraging opportunities for bats, they also support insects.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Section 2.2 ‘Woodlands provide unique habitat within green spaces and is very valuable ecologically for the wildlife of urban areas.’This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Section 2.3 ‘Most people prefer to live and work in green leafy surroundings. Trees absorb and reduce noise and their cooling effect is especially important during extreme summer heat.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal and breaking of the woodland canopy in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Section 2.5 ‘Trees enhance the property values locally and their aesthetic impact encourages business to locate and people to love in the area and contributes to economic regeneration.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. Local house prices may reduce in value due to the poorly considered proposal. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Section 3.4 ‘Trees of significance report due in 2014.’ Where is this report? Are any trees at Camberwell Old Cemetery listed? This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees which could be of significance especially in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Section 4.5 ‘Inform local residents of significant planned tree felling operations through public notices followed by a REASONABLE period of public consultation, in which the public my voice their objections.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal the alacrity of this scheme highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Appendix 3 ‘A large number of mature and over-mature trees can have significant long term implications for sustainable tree cover and landscape. The council is committed to increasing the percentage of suitable trees based on the principle of ‘right place, right tree’.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Appendix 7- ‘Southwark’s Climate Change Strategy to reduce CO2 by 8.5 per cent by 2011. Part of this strategy is planting new trees and mentions the importance of mature trees removing 22kg of carbon dioxide a year from Southwark.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of 30 healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This is a total of 660kg of Carbon per year lost from Southwark’s Carbon budget. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
•Appendix 7 Climate change; ‘the role of trees and woodlands in urban areas will become more important as climate change makes towns and cities increasingly unpleasant during heat waves. Trees produce oxygen and provide shade. They limit urban heat island effect and intercept rainfall reducing the impact of storms. It is important, therefore, for tree owners to protect the current tree resource, ensuring and where possible, expanded. It is also important that landscape architects and tree managers have regard to the effects of climate change, particularly when selecting new trees for planting schemes.’ This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
The London plan has been adopted by SBC and states: ‘Boroughs should protect, maintain and enhance trees.’
This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
The Mayor of London’s Tree and Woodland Framework states:
1. The existing stock of trees and woodland is managed and maintained to safeguard its value to London both now and in the future.
2. There is an increased awareness of the value of trees and woodlands to the health and wellbeing of all Londoners
3. The contribution of trees and woodland to London sustainability and quality of life maximised.
This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. The existing trees have not been maintained for arboricultural reasons, only health and safety reasons. This lack of tree management has led to Southwark Council neglecting their duties in regards to the Mayor’s Tree and Woodland Framework.
This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
The draft replacement London Plan (2008) policy 7.21 ‘Trees and Woodlands’ states ‘that trees and woodlands should be protected, maintained and enhanced following guidance of the London Tree and Woodland Framework(or any successor strategy). Trees should be retained wherever possible and any loss as a result of development should be replaced following the principal of ‘right place, right tree’.’
This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
The Southwark Plan/ Local Development Framework was adopted in 2007 and states:
3.28 Biodiversity: ‘Developments will not be permitted which would damage the nature conservation value of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation and Local Nature Reserves, and or damage populations of protected species or priority species identified in the UK, London or Southwark Biodiversity Action Plan’
This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. Camberwell Old Cemetery is a SINC Site Important to Nature Conservation. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
Strategic policy 11 of the core strategy states ‘Southwark will ‘protect woodland and trees and improve the overall greenness of places’. This has not been taken into consideration in this proposal which recommends the removal of healthy mature trees in an urban environment. This highlights the Camberwell Old Cemetery re-development proposal not adhering to Southwark’s own tree management strategy again.
The proposed re-development of Camberwell Old Cemetery goes against strategies on Borough, London, National and European levels. This cannot be allowed to happen and Southwark Council’s narrow minded approach does not take into consideration Londoners as a whole.
A sanitised burial site environment will cause problems for the newly planted trees. Small trees are more likely to succeed while growing in the partial shade of more mature trees. Acute Oak Decline and other pests and disease are more common in trees that are in a green and tidy non biodiverse environment. The mature trees may never be replaced within any timeframe, as the use of chemicals and management practices in cemeteries would reduce their life expectancy. If they were able to mature successfully within 100 years they would be subject to future removal within a cemetery setting.
We strongly recommend that SBC work in accordance with the Tree and Design Action Group (TDAG) as also recommended by the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) of which Southwark has a working link with. The TDAG has produced a document called ‘Trees in the townscape, A guide for Decision Makers’ this should be used by Southwark to manage Camberwell Old Cemetery for the future
· Individual green assets should be retained wherever possible and integrated into new developments.
· Establish tree replacement and compensation measures.
· A favorable presumption towards the inclusion of large canopy trees to be part of policy.
· The role of enhancing urban wildlife.
· The enhancing of ecological resilience to diseases and climate change requires a highly diverse local tree population.
· Trees act as bridges maintaining connectivity for species through an urban landscape.
· Trees influence both physical and mental health of our local communities.
· All trees act as air filters.
· New tree planting loss rates be considered in all developments.
· Big trees are required and smaller trees given the chance to become big.
· Consider establishing a strategic tree partnership or forum.
· Create a community driven woodland.
· Take an asset management approach.
· Be risk aware rather than risk averse.
· Anticipate the impact of changing climate
· Extend the concept of the urban forest from a single borough to neighbouring boroughs.
· Increase the provision of Green Infrastructure
· Allow trees to become veteran trees
· Not to view London’s woodlands in isolation
· Increased property values through urban forestry
The above highlights form the Tree Design Action Group point to there being only one solution which is to retain the woodlands and all trees. A community urban forest with wild nature areas would be a more considered and appropriate step forward for Southwark. This long term view would improve health, wellbeing and economy for all residents and for London as a whole. It will also bring Southwark in line with neighbouring boroughs plans for urban forestry and green infrastructure.
Material issues have not been addressed. This application is a change of use and creates discriminatory burial provision for less than 4 years, while destroying ecological, environmental and social benefit.
This application and related applications 15/AP/3184 and 15/AP/3190 would result in:
•Loss of natural wild places valued for their high quality and benefits to nature and to people, both intrinsically and for climate change adaptation benefits, such as air quality, storm water storage, urban cooling and more.
•Waste of tax payers’ money
•Loss of opportunity for a genuinely fair Southwark Council burial strategy that would provide burial for all faiths at Kemnal Park Cemetery or similar
There has been insufficient exploration of alternative options with better, fairer outcomes for all residents.
SSW PROPOSES THAT SOUTHWARK:
•Assess Southwark Woods using a Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) system to understand its financial value, and using iTree to include its social and environmental value, services and benefits
•Save Southwark Woods as a 100-acre Memorial Park Nature Reserve, with a multitude of financial, social and environmental benefits and opportunities
•Remediate Area Z with a natural clay capping at a fraction of the price and return it to public access as part of the Grade 1 woodland at COC
•£5.2M capital costs will not be recouped under these plans. Follow in Tower Hamlets Council’s footsteps and invest capital in multifaith burial provision at Kemnal Park Cemetery, less than 5 miles away, providing around 4,000 burial plots, 8,000 interments, 20 years’ provision, not £5M for less than 4 years.
These alternative financial choices have never been offered to residents or even explored. When asked at a stakeholder group meeting why the suggestion of capping Area Z naturally had not been explored, they were told “because it’s not in the strategy”.
Southwark council has carried out no cost benefit analysis of alternative proposals such as this, and is ploughing on with its current proposals which lack the financial detail, impact assessments or robust comparison with alternatives to support them.
How will the cemeteries be paid for?
SSW believes that with a more visionary and holistic approach, like other Memorial Park Nature Reserves have done, these sites could potentially generate sufficient revenue from appropriately respectful activities, funding and partnerships to make them self-sustaining.
By doing this, they could also address urgent community issues within the borough, such as obesity, air pollution and health, and provide many additional social and environmental benefits to Southwark and south London residents and visitors too.