The people of Southwark have spoken: 76% of local residents surveyed by Southwark said they are against using open space at the base of One Tree Hill for new burial.
Over the summer, Southwark asked residents for their views on plans to use a 3-acre brownfield site known as Area B in Camberwell New Cemetery next to Honor Oak Park station, for 1,000 new burial plots.
“The majority of respondents oppose the use of Area B for burial and instead would prefer the site to be developed into a green open space for community use." (page 8)
Only 4% supported the council’s plans in full, and only 17% supported some aspect of the plans, such as biodiversity planting.
As a survey respondent said:
"I don’t think inner city green spaces should be used for burial plots, we need playing fields, woods, allotments etc."
This is the first time since 2011 that Southwark has asked residents their views about a cemetery project before making a planning application. The report shows what the people really want.
“There is a strong desire for Area B to be developed into some form of green natural open space.” (page 8)
And this is an abandoned brownfield site and car park.
Imagine if people had been surveyed on clearing two acres of woods in Camberwell Old Cemetery, cut down in February?
Or about the oak trees - eight of up to sixty trees about to be felled on One Tree Hill?
People want inner city woods, nature reserves, parks, allotments, playing fields - but not burial plots.
There is no public clamour for inner city burial.
If Southwark ignores residents and forges ahead with using the site for burial, they will be riding roughshod over residents’ views.
“As the message from Southwark’s own survey is so clear, we want a change of use from burial to natural green space,” says Blanche Cameron from the Save Southwark Woods campaign by the Friends of Camberwell Cemetery.
“Southwark must respect its residents’ responses and not use it for burial.”
As for Southwark’s wider cemetery strategy, based on felling ten more acres of woods and digging up all old graves for ‘new’ burial plots, the report states:
“The council should engage a broader group of residents about its Cemetery Strategy and the implications of the strategy.” (page 8)
This is a national issue. All inner city cemeteries, their nature, history, woods and graves, are at risk. Woods are the lungs of London - and every polluted city in the UK.
FOCC/SSW demand all work for new burial on this site and all sites stop immediately, and Southwark make the Camberwell Cemeteries inner city Memorial Park Nature Reserves.
What a great opportunity that would be.
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
In a nutshell:
Trees, woods and green spaces are too valuable to be used for burial plots - we need more woods and trees not less, for health and well-being and climate change adaptation
History and heritage are vital to our understanding of ourselves, our past and our future
Burial over the dead is not an option for many - and discriminates against many residents' burial needs. Plot buyers are not being told 'new' graves are over the dead
The history and heritage of those buried and their families must be respected and preserved
Fair burial provision is available on the edge of the city at a fraction of the environmental, financial and social cost
Save our woods and graves and make them Memorial Park Nature Reserves, with respect for the dead and history, woods, allotments, playing fields and trees for the living.
Above: The 3-acre site next to Honor Oak Park station that Southwark want to use for 1,000 burial plots. Residents have spoken out overwhelmingly against using it for burial and instead want it used for natural green space.
Below: The destruction of two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods felled in February at Camberwell Old Cemetery, and below that, some of the beautiful ten acres of woods, graves and memorials still under threat from Southwark's chainsaws and diggers. The Friends of Camberwell Cemetries want the 100 acres of woods, nature, allotments, playing fields and meadows protected as Nature Reserves.