A campaign group is asking anyone who has family members buried in Southwark cemeteries to contact them, to make sure they know their relatives’ graves could be excavated as part of plans to create more grave spaces.
Southwark Council estimates if it does nothing, there will be no burial space left in the borough by 2017, so it submitted plans last year to create thousands of new graves in naturally occurring woodland areas within Southwark’s cemeteries and to reuse existing graves.
But campaign group Save Southwark Woods is concerned few people understand that graves older than 75 years old will be dug up to make room for more burials on top.
“The cemeteries are full and they should be closed and made into nature reserves,” said Blanche Cameron of Save Southwark Woods.
“Family histories shouldn’t be dug up like that. It’s disrespectful to the dead and it means ripping out all the history and heritage of the old graves. Southwark Council’s plans would turn the Camberwell Cemeteries into NCP Car Parks of burial,” added Blanche, who is encouraging anyone who has concerns about the plans to contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Darren Merrill, cabinet member for environment and public realm, said: “Sadly, the SSW campaigners seem intent on misleading residents with false claims about our plans for the cemetery. The facts are: we are not excavating graves nor are we clearing over 10 acres of woodland. The size of the planned burial area in Camberwell Old Cemetery is only 0.6 of an acre. What we are doing is pressing on with plans to meet the shortage of burial spaces in the borough whilst preserving, as much as we can, the area’s natural landscape and biodiversity.”