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Southwark council is planning 6,000 new burial plots crammed in to Southwark Woods in South East London, including a Victorian approach reusing thousands of decades-old graves right in the heart of Southwark Woods for new burial plots. They are also planning to develop new plots on virgin woodland at Camberwell New Cemetery.


There are no ‘woodland’ burial plots planned anywhere, as ‘they take up too much space’.


At last night’s Public Meeting, Save Southwark Woods, the campaign group started three weeks ago by local residents to resist these plans, called for a full and formal Public Consultation on the proposals and the future of Southwark Woods in Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries.


The meeting hall at the Honor Oak Baptist Church was filled to the brim, standing room only with approx. 120 people, some people even had to be turned away.


For the first time many people were to hear Southwark talk through their plans to bring in the diggers, pull dozens of mature trees out of the woodlands, cram in 6,000 new graves, and lay tarmac access roads for funeral vehicles.


Iris Penny and Kathy West from Save Southwark Woods presented, calling for these woods to be declared the Local Nature Reserves they really are. They gave the vision: in 25 years’ time, when people look back to judge Southwark for their actions, they will see either the incredible natural legacy they created of wild woods, or the swathes of sterile rows of burial plots, that stand where the wild woods once were.


Blanche Cameron from Save Southwark Woods asked the panel of speakers from Southwark council “Do you know why all these people are here? It is because their voices have not been heard. We support  the residents who fought and saved the Honor Oak recreation ground from your plans. But these people also really care about these woods and want to protect them. They have not been asked whether they want them developed. Give people the formal consultation you promised!”


Save Southwark Woods have gathered a lot of support in three weeks – over 400 Southwark residents’ signatures, and 2,600 online so far, and counting, as well as a growing support base from local and national organisations and groups. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that the residents have not been formally consulted and in part to the fact that these plans are so out fo date in their thinking. We understand the value of greenspace and woodland now, and fight to preserve it because it makes the difference between a polluted and ugly city, and one where nature flourishes and provides us with all its free benefits – cleaning the air.


Lewis Schaffer, American comedian and co-founder of Save Southwark Woods called for a 100 Acre Wood in Zone 2 – Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries (if saved and managed as woodland), Nunhead Cemetery and One Tree Hill.


For Save Southwark Woods, this is just the beginning. The council will be applying for planning approval for this development next and comments from the public engagement exercise are due in by 20th February to local councillors and [email protected] Officer for Parks and Open Spaces.


Interestingly, the public has had to fight to retain each one of these valuable and beautiful woodlands over the years. Now, the time has come for the Battle of Southwark Woods!

Camberwell Old Cemetery woods by Save Southwark Woods


Southwark knows where the bodies are buried...And they want to dig them up!

Press Release 3

12th February 2015



For more information and images, contact campaign co-ordinators:


Blanche Cameron: [email protected] 07731 304 966

Anne Stanesby: [email protected] 07847 390 398



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