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Southwark Council starting work without Church permission?

24th January 2016


Today, Save Southwark Woods wrote in urgency to the Diocese of Southwark and the Church Commissioners, amid fears that Southwark Council may be starting work - without required permission from the Church of England.


Southwark Council has applied the the Church for permission for the first phase of plans to fell over 10 acres of woods and dig up or mound over every grave over 75 years old at the Camberwell Cemeteries, for NCP Carpark style burial for resale.


The first phase concerns felling dozens if not hudreds of trees and mounding over 48,000 public or paupers' graves and Commonwealth War Graves at Camberwell Old Cemetery for 740 new private plots for resale, and driving a road up historic One Tree Hill and fell up to 60 trees, for less than 8 months burial.


Save Southwark Woods and 10,000 suppoter want to protect and rewild the cemeteries, with respect for the dead and their monuments and 100 acres of Nature Reserves and woods for the living.


The Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark, who has the power to refuse permission based on over 700 individual objections

received, has agreed to meet SSW representatives this Wednesday.


But Southwark Council appear to be preparing to start work at the Camberwell Cemeteries - before the Church has even given permision. Trucks are arriving - and already driving over graves to access the Grade 1 SINC woods site.


SSW asked Chancellor Diocesan Chancellor Philip Petchey to obtain commitment from Southwark Council NOT to proceed with any works included in their faculty aplication for planning permission - without receiving permission.


Residents' fears are not foundless.


Southwark Council felled all the trees in the Camberwell Orchard - the day before the Public Meeting to discuss the site's future.


If allowed to go ahead, these works would include clearing two acres of Grade 1 SINC habitat woods at the Old Cemetery, forever mounding over 48,000 graves of London's poor for 740 graves, and clearing as many as 60 trees and driving a road up One Tree Hill eastern slope - for less than 8 months of private burial.


Save Southwark Woods' letter to Philip Petchey is below, copying in Southwark Council Leader Peter John, burial Councillor Darren merrill, the Diocese of Southwark, Church Commissioners, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and supporter Bianca Jagger.


SSW is also awaiting a response from Harriet Harman to their request to meet.



Dear Diocesan Chancellor Petchey,


URGENT: Church permission for works at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries


We are extremely concerned.


Thank you for agreeing to meet representatives of Save Southwark Woods this coming Wednesday, and for your promise via Richard Hastings not to proceed with permissions for works at Camberwell old and New Cemeteries until meeting with us and also going through the due process allowed to over 700 hundred residents' objections to the Diocese.


However, Southwark Council appears to be assuming the Church of England's permission, and ploughing on with works preparation, including preparing to create works access and driving over graves 'in the way' (see photo attached).


In the case of the Camberwell Orchard, Southwark Council felled all trees the day before a Public Meeting to decide its fate.


The applications currently before you as you know include the clearing of undergrowth and creating works access and roads. These works require your permission.


They also include the felling of dozens, if not hundreds, of trees on Area Z in Camberwell Old Cemetery and Area D1, One Tree Hill in the New Cemetery, and mounding over 48,000 public graves.


There are also Commonwealth War Graves in the middle of the Old Cemetery site.


I am copying in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Church Commissioners, as well as local MPs Harriet Harman, Helen Hayes, Jim Dowd and Vicky Foxcroft, and Save Southwark Woods supporter Bianca Jagger who has also offered to meet with you.


Will you please give your promise to communicate with Council Leader Peter John and Cllr Darren Merrill, copied in, to ensure that works will only be carried out once and if the Church gives its permission?


Please also confirm receipt of this email.




Blanche Cameron

for Save Southwark Woods

Southwark Council's disrespect for the dead: a child's grave waterlogged and driven over by works access vehicles at Camberwell Old Cemetery