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Will new year see Church agree or reject Southwark’s destruction of cemetery woods and graves?

06 January 2017

Any day now, the Diocese of Southwark is to agree or reject Southwark Council’s applications to destroy woods and graves in the Camberwell Cemeteries. Local campaigners are fervently hoping that they will act to protect nature and the graves.

Last January, Southwark applied for Church permission called faculty, to clear acres of trees – many on One Tree Hill – and mound over thousands of graves for ‘new’ burial plots in Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, East Dulwich and Honor Oak.

In February, Southwark went ahead without Church permission and cut down two acres of Underhill Road Wood, a Grade 1 SINC.

After an unprecedented 800 objection letters, the Diocese said it would decide in September to agree or reject the Council’s applications. It is now January.

How long will the chainsaws hang over beautiful One Tree Hill and Underhill Road Wood?

All this destruction, just to keep burying people in inner London.

But it’s the tip of the iceberg of what Southwark is planning.

Southwark’s horrific goal is the mass exhumation of graves on an industrial scale.

In 2012, Southwark decided to dig up thousands of people’s remains to resell as ‘new’ burial plots.

People buried in these temporary graves are also to be dug up and resold, on a rolling programme of exhumation, burial and exhumation. This is the test case for all municipal cemeteries in Britain.

A three-pronged programme of destruction is currently underway:

One Tree Hill – up to 60 trees including 10 English Oaks to be cut down in The Glade next to One Tree Hill Nature Reserve. 145 burial plots – less than nine months’ burial – on an impossibly steep, slippery one-in-five slope. Southwark’s own independent barrister slammed the plans.

Cllr Wingfield, responsible for burial policy, must be embarrassed at the destruction on such a historic landmark hillside. He is still denying to Friends of the Earth that The Glade is even on One Tree Hill.

Underhill Road Woods – 2 acres of beautiful Grade 1 SINC woods cleared without Church permission for 700 burial plots over thousands already buried there including 6 Commonwealth War Graves. 10 acres of woods are still slated for felling.

Cllr Wingfield responsible for burial policy has now said Southwark is to ignore residents’ views and apply to take The Old Nursery Site for burial against six months of public consultation. Three more acres of beautiful greenspace next to Honor Oak Park station, promised for community use, to go for burial plots.

2017 must surely be the year that Southwark stops destroying nature, history and beauty for the sake of inner London burial and listens to all its residents.

Residents saying trees shouldn’t be cut down for burial plots.

Residents saying people’s graves should not be destroyed for ‘new’ burial plots.

Residents calling to save the Camberwell Cemeteries as 100 acres of Memorial Park Nature Reserves, with respect for the dead and woods, playing fields, allotments and green spaces for the living.

Underhill Road Woods

Above: Beautiful Underhill Road Woods, 12 acres of woods and graves in Camberwell Old Cemetery – a Grade 1 SINC.

Below: The beautiful Old Nursery site, Camberwell New Cemetery: 3 acres of hedgehogs, bats, butterflies, owls and more to be dug up for sterile standard burial plots as ‘there is no demand for woodland burial’, against public consultation results.

Old Nursery site, Camberwell New Cemetery
sterile standard burial plots

The view from The Glade, Area D1 in Camberwell New Cemetery, on One Tree Hill – when is a hill not a hill? When it is in Southwark.

The view from The Glade