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.