Showing posts with label southwark council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label southwark council. Show all posts

30 April 2012

Honor Oak Rec's future

Southwark Council have published their Cemetery Strategy, which will go before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 8 May 2012. The meeting will be held in the Ground Floor Meeting Room G02A at 160 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2QH.

According to the Executive summary, the Strategy considers a range of options addressing short, medium and long term provision of burial space, and focusses on the Camberwell Old Cemetery and Camberwell New Cemetery.

The ‘immediate’ options presented to cabinet have been considered and are being developed alongside and as part of the ‘short term’ options proposed in this report. These include recently decontaminated land at the old Honor Oak Nursery site, as well as an area of old public (or common) graves in the south of Camberwell Old Cemetery which requires to be ‘topped up’ with soil to enable it to receive burials. A wooded area of virgin ground in the west of Camberwell New Cemetery is similarly proposed to be taken forward.

In addition further burial is proposed for the remainder of the old nursery site and for a second area of public graves that had previously been ‘topped up’ in the north of Camberwell Old Cemetery. These proposals also include capacity for Muslim burials.

‘Medium Term’ options from 2022 onward include the re-use of unmarked public graves older than 75 years old (and in most instances nearly 95 years old) in consecrated parts of Camberwell Old and Camberwell New Cemeteries. This would be subject to church permission (a ‘Faculty’) and any remains encountered would be re-interred and recorded in a consecrated grave adjacent. This has been approach has been successful elsewhere, notably in the City of London Cemetery.

In addition, in the medium term, it is proposed that rights to private graves older than 75 years could be cancelled under the provisions of an Act of parliament of 1975. Unused space in that grave could then be reclaimed for burial, or alternatively, if the grave is set within consecrated ground, the grave could be re-used subject to a Faculty. In these instances memorials would be selected and where appropriate restored and reinscribed.

The whole process would require the adherence to a Conservation Management Plan bespoke to each cemetery. Reclamation of graves along with the restoration/re-inscription of memorials has also been successfully implemented at the City of London.

Other measures proposed in the medium term include development of mausoleum sites in Camberwell Old and Camberwell New Cemeteries and the remediation and use of a disturbed area of ground (currently being investigated) in the north west of Camberwell Old Cemetery.

According to the Strategy report, medium term options potentially provide space until 2040 depending on burial rates and delivery of space. However, the Council has been noticebly inaccurate in its previous estimates. Long term options proposed include the re-use and reclamation of both private and public graves, mainly in Camberwell New Cemetery.

There are, however clouds on the horizon.

Firstly, whilst other authorities in London may re-use private graves in areas that are not consecrated (under the provisions of Acts of parliament of 1976 and 2007), that same provision does not extend to Southwark on account of the way the 2007 Act is drafted. This needs legal clarification and/or a change in the law to remedy and it is proposed that Southwark should pursue that matter in the short and medium term.

Secondly, most areas of Camberwell New Cemetery do not become ‘old’ enough for re-use until at least 2045, by which time all the short and medium term options will have been exhausted.

The Strategy report proposes taking up a third of Honor Oak Park to bridge this gap, whilst retaining the football pitches and substantively enhancing the remainder of the Park. (See page 65 of Strategy Report)

The Strategy report recognises that this is likely to be unpopular and, at this point in time, it is not an option preferred by the Council. The Strategy therefore considers it essential that the Council should also conduct a review of Nunhead Cemetery to ascertain whether there is any scope for limited reclamation/re-use in conjunction with restoration. In addition, the Council should work in partnership with other London authorities and seek to secure alternative burial space, (potentially also including natural burial space) by way of an additional landholding.

We appreciate that this is a sensitive issue and that the land was originally purchased for use as burial plots. However, although a lot of the area had been developed by the time the New Cemetery was purchased in 1901, significant further development has gone on as evidenced by the large number of 1930's houses nearby. We must, therefore, keep the pressure on to ensure that the amenity provided by Honor Oak Rec is not lost to future generations.

24 January 2009

Honor Oak cemetery used as fly tip

The following report was broadcast by the BBC on 21st January

An investigation is underway after a south London council discovered that three cemeteries were being used to illegally dump building waste.

Southwark Council said what appears to be large amounts of builders' demolition rubbish has been deposited.

The three cemeteries are Camberwell Old, Camberwell New (known as Honor Oak) and Nunhead.

Council officials say some of the cemeteries now have contaminated soil, but no graves have been affected.

Annie Shepperd, chief executive of Southwark council, said the fly-tipping first came to light in December 2007.

"As soon as the council was aware of the scale and nature of the activity taking place we notified the appropriate regulatory body, the Environment Agency, which is now carrying out a criminal investigation into the events leading to the building material being deposited without permission."

Ms Shepperd said the areas used for burials are unaffected, but other, vacant land on the sites are now the subject of an industrial clean-up operation after contaminated soil was detected.

"No graves will be disturbed by this but when material is being removed areas of the cemetery will not be accessible to the public."

It is unclear how long the dumping has been going on, but the council said waste was found "well under the surface".

"This material appears to have been processed and dumped at our cemeteries as part of alleged criminal activities by individuals intent on avoiding landfill charges and for their personal gain."

The council has begun civil proceedings in the High Court against a company named Brixton Tipping Service Ltd, its owner and a former manager who worked for the council.

Brixton Tipping could not be reached for comment.

A council spokesman said the former employee was past retirement age and has since taken his retirement.

The Environment Agency investigation is ongoing, a council spokesman said.