Southwark Council announced last night it is going to ignore six months of consultation with residents, and take another three acres of Honor Oak Park for conventional, sterile burial plots - because of the demands of funeral companies.
Councillor Ian Wingfield announced to the Cemetery Stakeholder Group that, following a recent meeting with funeral companies, Southwark would be applying in January for planning permission for Option 2 on the Old Nursery site - conventional burial plots with headstones.
In six months of consultation, more than three quarters of residents called for the 3-acre Old Nursery SINC site by Honor Oak Park station to be made a nature reserve, woodland, playing fields – anything but burial plots.
Of the burial options consulted on, Option 4 Woodland burial was the most acceptable, followed by Option 3 Meadow burial.
But despite the extensive consultation, after a meeting with funeral companies, Southwark Council has now decided to ignore residents and bow to funeral directors' demands.
Southwark will now turn this SINC - Site of Importance for Nature Conservation - into row upon row of sterile headstones crammed in cheek by jowl - 1,000 conventional burial plots, Option 2.
It is clear where Southwark Councillors’ loyalties lie. With funeral companies, not residents.
“Southwark Councillors are a disgrace,” says Chair of the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries Blanche Cameron.
“What is the point of consulting residents for six months, if you are going to ignore the results and support business interests against people's wishes? It is clear now for all to see that funeral directors run Southwark’s burial policy."
“This is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. Residents want it used for nature or amenity space. Instead it is to be ploughed up and sold off plot by plot for conventional, sterile burial plots with headstones like the 2000 and 2010 extensions - just because the funeral companies say so.”
One thing is now clear: funeral companies decide burial policy in Southwark, not residents.
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Above: The beautiful nature of the Old Nursery site Area B, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation with hedgehogs, bats, owls, pollinators and invertebrates.
Below: Row upon row of sterile traditional burial plots coming to replace nature, against residents consultation.