14 February 2011

Save Honor Oak Recreation Park

Honor Oak Recreation Ground is under threat again as Southwark Council faces pressure to provide more burial provision. Southwark council runs several current and closed cemeteries including Nunhead Cemetery, Camberwell Old Cemetery and Camberwell New Cemetery, but according to Southwark councillor James Barber, there was only a year's supply of spaces for burials last September. As a result, Southwark's officers have put forward two options to provide more burial spaces.

The first option is to reuse common graves once they have obtained Home Office approval – this involves adding two foot above the current plots (which are only 4 foot deep). Their initial thoughts are to use concrete blocks to add the required extra height, but this would be contrary to Southwark’s climate change strategy as concrete manufacture is carbon intensive. This option would give another 10-12 years of burial plots.

The second option is to use an adjacent sports playing field (Honor Oak Recreation Ground) giving another 25 years of burial plots. This is what they claimed when they took part of the Rec in 2000.

Friends of Honor Oak Park Recreation Ground are asking a series of questions of local councillors and have started a petition at petitionbuzz.com, but time is short as Southwark are due to make a decision this month. Sign up now to voice your concern.

Lack of burial space is not a new problem for Southwark. In the 1850's, the parish of Camberwell was having difficulty finding space for burials in its churchyards. The Camberwell Burial Board was established to find a solution to the problem, which they did - in 1855. The board bought 30 acres of meadow land and established it as the Burial Ground of St Giles, Camberwell. Camberwell New Cemetery was founded in 1901 in order to provide more space and was opened in 1927. By 1984, 300,000 burials had been carried out at the cemetery. The majority of burials now take place in the New Cemetery.

When you buy a grave in one of Southwark's cemeteries, you buy the 'exclusive right of burial' for that particular grave and this lasts for a period of 50 years. At the moment, anybody can buy a plot, although the fee is greater for those who are not or were not residents of the borough. Some religions prohibit the reuse of graves, but the Diocese of Southwark advises that while the reuse of graves within a period of less than 75 years is likely to cause distress and offence to the living, as well as appearing disrespectful to the dead, the reuse of graves as soon as 75 years have elapsed after the most recent burial should be encouraged, not least so that those presently arranging a burial are informed of what is likely to happen in the future. Rather than planning for re-use on a grave-by-grave basis, there is merit in seeking to bring larger areas into re-use as part of a coherent plan.

  • Contact, email or write to your local Lewisham or Southwark councillors. Tell them how you feel about the loss of open space, how you use the recreation ground and what it means to you.
  • Sign the petition at petitionbuzz.com.

On a side note, Southwark has spent a lot of time and money cleaning up the illegal dumping of building materials near Honor Oak Park station. This cleanup has taken over 18 months and will finally be resolved with the planting of new trees and bushes. This area is only expected to accommodate one year of burials.


Anonymous said...

At the cemetery where my relatives are buried in Germany you buy leases in 10-year periods. You can of course buy a lease for a 100 years ahead, but most pre-pay for far less. If you pay for 10 years and don't renew, the grave then gets reused. There's no suggestion that this it being 'disrepectful'. After all, you're really only leasing the space to put the headstone ... everything else returns to the earth. 75 years is a purely arbitrary figure. We shouldn't let this nonsense deprive the living of a precious green space.

Anonymous said...

So called Honor Oak Park is designated London borough of Southwark ground for Southwark burials. That has to be undisputed. Just because locals of the neighbouring London borough Lewisham have taken it over for so long doesn't mean that Southwark locals of the London borough opt Southwark can't reclaim it properly for the loved ones they require burial space for which is sorely needed.

Anonymous said...

WHAT A CHEEK! that borough of Lewisham users of neighbouring borough of Southwark's spare burial ground known as 'Honor Oak Park' which is reserved for Southwark's departed loved ones has been effectively stolen off Southwark residents to which the burial ground actually belongs?


Southwark residents have every legal right to claim the extra burial ground for departed loved ones that is now urgently needed. You Lewisham 'thieves' have plenty of your own green space to kick a ball on or for your dog walking muckery.

Anonymous said...

So called ‘Honor Oak Recreation Park’ is historically designated London borough of Southwark ground for Southwark burials. That has to be absolutely undisputed in law. Just because locals of the neighbouring borough Lewisham have taken it over for so long doesn’t mean that Southwark locals for whom the ground really belongs can’t reclaim it properly for the loved ones they now require urgent burial space for.
Additional burial space is sorely needed while so many cemeteries are now full. In any case, when ever I pass by the ‘disputed space’ all I see are dog walkers with their mutts off lead in an empty landscape.
Sorry Lewisham – it’s time for you to use your own green space rather than Southwark’s to do your dog dumps on. And, if you don’t mind please create your own recreation ground on your own spare cemetery land.