The Diocese of Southwark will hold a special hearing to decide whether the council can continue to “mound over” acres of Camberwell Old Cemetery for new graves.
A date for the hearing has yet to be confirmed in June or July, but it follows months of opposition from the Save Southwark Woods campaign (SSW). Over eight-hundred residents have also made objections to the diocese.
SSW accuse the council of continuing to re-landscape twelve acres of consecrated forest, where “tens of thousands” of bodies are buried.
Two acres of woods in “Area-Z” has already been “stripped to bear earth” without the diocese’ permission, and now “looks like a ploughed field” said SSW’s Blanche Cameron.
Blanche said: “This is urban deforestation in an age when we knew how important woods and trees are in an Air Quality Management. We need to respect the graves of those buried here and their families.”
The council hopes to re-landscape the cemetery to create more space for people to be buried in future, as it has raised concerns that the borough is close to running out.
A spokeswoman for the diocese has confirmed members of SSW are invited to attend the hearing, but would not like to comment at this stage.
Councillor Darren Merrill cabinet member for environment and public realm, said he “looked forward to the outcome of the hearing”.