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Dear Peter John: Will your £5M+ plan create graves accessible to Southwark residents of all faiths seeking burial?


Save Southwark Woods campaigners have today written to Southwark council leader Peter John, asking him to confirm whether these ill-conceived plans will offer burial provision for all Southwark residents seeking burial, regardless of their faith?


Southwark council has plans to spend over £5M digging up over 10 acres of Grade 1 wild woodland and hundreds of old graves at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, the Southwark Woods.


The already buried will be dug up or covered over, for 4,800 sterile new burial plots which it is feared may not suitable for all burials including orthodox Islamic or Jewish burials.


Southwark’s website says “we aim to ensure that people who have died in Southwark can be buried or cremated within the borough.”


But these costly new graves would be in a Church of England cemetery, on top of the dead and in ground already holding hundreds of thousands of paupers. As such SSW fears they may not meet the requirements of some faiths that require burial.


In a meeting on 25th March with SSW representatives, in an attempt to justify the council’s costly and destructive plans, Parks and Open Spaces officer Rebecca Towers said “we believe this is an equalities issue as much as anything else”.


SSW fears these plans will fall short of equality in burial provision. This is just one more reason why these environmentally and socially damaging  plans must not go forward.


Tower Hamlets council this year bought multi-faith burial land at Kemnal Park Cemetery, less than 5 miles from Southwark Woods. This was to create burial provision for all their citizens while protecting Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park nature reserve. [See press release 30th March: “Tower Hamlets buys multi-faith burial ground at Kemnal Park Cemetery”].


Southwark has the opportunity to offer burial provision for all citizens seeking it, and create a fantastic 100 acre nature reserve at Southwark Woods, with a multitude of social, environmental and financial benefits for generations to come a wonderful legacy for the council.


And Southwark could naturally cap the so-called ‘Area Z’ – Grade 1 woodland subjected to years of illegal dumping of thousands of tonnes of construction waste – preserving it as the woodland it has become.


On July 8th SSW will present the petition supported by over 7,000 citizens to the council assembly, to declare Southwark Woods nature reserves, along with the many practical reasons why this project cannot go ahead.

Camberwell Old Cemetery woods Grade 1 SINC


Dear Peter John: Will your £5M+ plan create graves accessible to Southwark residents of all faiths seeking burial?

1st June 2015

1 Cam-Old-Cemetery photo credit Grey Lipley