Our response to Southwark cemeteries plans

As you may be aware there has been quite a lot of activity and protest around Southwark’s plans for Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries. There are many issues around the desire to retain open space and the wish to provide burial space for those who want it.

The Friends of One Tree Hill Committee has responded to the plans, focusing on our remit as a friends group to protect and enhance the OTH Local Nature Reserve. We have attended stakeholder meetings and put in a response that addresses proposed removal of trees and shrubs and replanting along the boundary between CNC and the allotments.

Below is the detailed response we submitted.

Sandy Pepperell, Chair, Friends of One Tree Hill


Comments on LBS plans for Camberwell New Cemetery (CNC) Area D1

Camberwell New Cemetery is a burial site adjacent to the OTH Local Nature Reserve and the Allotments.

The main aspects of the CNC plans that are of concern to us are the widening of the glade next to the boundary with the OTH allotments and the construction of an access path. In particular we wish to comment on what is planned for the boundary so that there is appropriate continuity in the ecology between the two sites.

The plans (available at the Cemeteries office in CNC) state that it is proposed to retain “the wooded feel and nature conservation interest of the area and retaining a wooded buffer to One Tree Hill” (p.7) and “mature trees [are] to be retained where possible”. In addition the aim is to “improve’ the area ecologically.

Concern has been voiced about the extension of the glade area to more than double its current area and to add a new access path. These clearly represent an encroachment on the current rather clear glade with few graves. However, the Friends of One Tree Hill are focused on responding to plans as they affect the LNR. We also recognize that the grasslands which make up any glades are mown regularly, are species-poor and could benefit from re-seeding with native species of wildflower which are local to the area.

There are many proposals that we welcome and some where we would seek reassurance that OTH will not be adversely affected.

  1. We welcome the plans to leave timber from felled trees on the site but wish to see this extended so that none is chipped but transferred into the LNR for log piling and dead hedging if not usable in CNC so that no timber is wasted.
  2. We welcome plans for bird and bat boxes and would ask whether it is possible to include boxes over the border in the LNR?
  3. While we would be concerned about tree removal, we believe the holm oak down for ‘translocation’ should indeed be removed, but for the reason that it is an invasive species which shades out native broadleaved woodland and becomes dominant.
  4. We are concerned about the planting of yews close to the LNR boundary, a species which, while we recognize they are traditional in cemeteries, are not compatible with planting on OTH LNR and may spread there and out-compete deciduous species such as oak, ash, hazel and field maple.
  5. We would wish that shrubs cleared at the boundary could be made into dead hedges rather than chipped, where possible. The Friends could play a role in this management work.
  6. We wish the grassed area to be mowed and raked, with all arising removed, at appropriate times, ideally either once in the autumn or once in the spring, the late summer and finally in the autumn to support an array of bees, butterflies, moths and other invertebrates
  7. Planting should be considered through CNC to complement planting on OTH i.e. native trees and shrubs (oaks Quercus robur and patraea, cherry Prunus avium, hazel Corylus avellana, field maple Acer campestre, hornbeam Carpinus betulus, silver birch Betula pendula, holly Ilex aquifolium, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus,. as have been planted alongside the recreation ground) rather than ornamental ‘park’ trees like London plane, non-native ornamental oaks, and so on. We recognize that native oaks have been planted in the recreation ground boundary with CNC and welcome this management.
  8. We would ask that the species of Hornbeam should be considered and that Carpinus betulus be planted rather than the cultivar ‘Fastigiata’. The hornbeam should be planted close to One Tree Hill so that its poorly-dispersing seeds may enter the woodland stock and establish a typical Great North Wood oak-hornbeam mixture.
  9. We are keen to know how the areas of remaining woodland will be managed in the long-term for the habitats. What work will be done to manage these areas and who will undertake the work?
  10. Any planting along the Honor Oak Allotments-CNC boundary should recognize the two mature/veteran oaks which are present and may suffer from disturbance to the roots from digging for planting.
  11. We welcome to sowing of the grasslands in CNC with a native wildflower mix. However, we are concerned that any attempt to install ‘pictorial’ meadows will miss the point. The listing of bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus is welcome, and other species native to the grasslands include self-heal Prunella vulgaris and red clover Trifolium pratense. It is encouraging to see sensitive considerations made here in the Cemetery plans.

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