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On 8th July, community campaigners will present to the full Southwark Council Assembly the vision to protect Southwark Woods at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, and create a 100 Acre Wood in Zone 2.
The community campaign has earned this constitutional right by gathering over 5,000 signatures to an online and paper petition, since setting up in January to save the woods. In fact, the council can’t believe the campaign has so much popular support (see previous press releases).
Southwark council is currently proposing to chainsaw Grade 1 woodland and bulldoze acres of historic Southwark memorials, to make way for over 4,800 new burial plots.
“These beautiful woodlands and wild green spaces are essential to our communities, for health and well-being, for play and education, air quality, summer cooling and storm water management,” said Kate Slattery, local resident and SSW spokesperson.
“Thousands are now asking Southwark council to declare them nature reserves, with respect for the dead and their memorials, and woodland for the living. We want to achieve in our lifetimes a beautiful 100 Acre Wood in the inner city which is also a memorial to the dead of Southwark.”
The SSW campaign group has also nominated the cemeteries as ‘Assets of Community Value’ under the Localism Act 2011 – the same act used to save Peckham Liberal Club and Nunhead’s Ivy House.
The act is usually employed to save buildings or land of community benefit at risk from private development. But in this case, it is Southwark council itself which threatens to destroy precious woodland, wildness and social heritage.
In 2010, the council registered these two beautiful areas of Metropolitan Open Land as part of the South London Green Chain Walk, detailing the social and environmental benefit they bring to communities.
Southwark now has eight weeks to decide whether to accept the community nomination – or reject it and face calls of hypocrisy.
In the meantime, support for the campaign is growing every day.
Community campaigners to present vision of 100 Acre Wood to Council Assembly
24th April 2015