The Southwark Cemetery Stakeholder Group voted on Saturday to reject Southwark’s plans to destroy the Glade on One Tree Hill in Camberwell New Cemetery.
Representatives from the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, the Save Southwark Woods campaign, the Camberwell Cemeteries Working Group, Brenchley Gardens Tenant Management Organisation and other local groups denounced plans to buil burial plots on some of the last remaining virgin land in Southwark’s cemeteries.
The Glade, known as Area D1, is a half-acre Site of Importance for Nature Conservation bordering One Tree Hill Nature Reserve, with one of the best views in London. Hedgehog colonies, bats, owls and many other rare species live, feed and breed in this beautiful, tranquil place.
But a year ago, desperate Southwark Council gave itself permission to lay tarmac access across paupers’graves to reach this unfeasibly steep site.
For 145 burial plots – just nine months of burial plots – Southwark intend to fell up to 60 trees including eight English Oaks, at a cost of over a quarter of a million pounds.
“Southwark Councillors are desperate not to seem incompetent,” said the Chair of Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, Blanche Cameron. “If Councillors don’t destroy the Glade for burial plots, they will run out of burial space and would have to explain to residents why they hadn’t invested in burial space out of borough.”
Southwark has also hired an independent barrister to chair Cemetery Stakeholder Group meetings – so local Councillors don’t have to face their constituents?
“For decades, Southwark has spent millions destroying greenspace and now acres of woods for inner city burial. In 2012, they agreed to dig up all graves over 75 years old to resell as new burial plots.
“Yet Southwark has never consulted relatives and even denied it on television and in the press, because they knew people would be horrified. The One Tree Hill Glade is to buy time until 700 plots over 48,000 paupers’ graves in the now chainsawed two-acre Underhill Road Wood in Camberwell Old Cemetery become available.”
The Church of England has final say as the One Tree Hill Glade is on consecrated ground. The Diocese of Southwark is due to make its decision in days.
But the Stakeholder Group has voted against the proposals – will Southwark Councillors listen?
The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries are calling on the Mayor of London and others to stop Southwark taking inner city green space and woods for burial plots – and make Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries Memorial Park Nature Reserves, like Nunhead, Highgate and many other London cemeteries.