Deforesting and Developing Camberwell New Cemetery / One Tree Hill



The land is designated Metropolitan Open Land which pretty much has the same protection as Green Belt. Some uses are allowed in MOL including cemeteries.

I am not aware of anyone attempting to promote the space as an Asset of Community Value which would make it immune from any form of development except for its existing lawful use.


As I understand it Asset of Community Value would only prevent the sale of the land to another organisation. It wouldn’t prevent a change of use.


29 September 2016 We are waiting for word from the Church of England giving Southwark Council permission to finish work on Part 2 of Cemetery Works - digging up Area Z in Camberwell Old Cemetery and Part 3, cutting down dozens of trees in Camberwell New Cemetery on One Tree Hill. It should be any day now and our guess is they will allow them to continue.

Last year, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries applied to the Council to be an Asset of Community Value for the 10 plus acres of woods Southwark Council is cutting down in Camberwell Old Cemetery (off Woodvale and Underhill Roads). It was rejected by the Council. We were a bit naive then!

Right now dozens of trees on the side of One Tree Hill are earmarked for graves on the 1 to 5 slope. ( How many older people are going to be slipping in the muddy hillside when trying to see their loved ones?) All for only 140 graves in a borough of 300,000 residents. The trees are not in nature reserve but they are still on that hill and make up the wooded area. Please ask the Friends of One Tree Hill to speak out.

And the Old Nursery site (Part 4 of the works) has fewer trees and would make a suitable sports pitch. It is steps away from Honor Oak Park Train station - maybe Lewisham Council can buy it and keep it grave free? We are waiting on Southwark Council to hold a meeting regarding the site.

Sign our petition to preserve the graves and nature (and sports fields and allotment) of the cemetery.

Our website
(not just saving the woods but the sports grounds, graves, allotments and the heritage, too)


It didn’t solve the problem, it just moved it. “Re-use” means cutting down trees in the Old Cemetery, digging up or mounding over graves, removing the history and the heritage and the beauty of the old graves, and stopping the land from returning to nature. We want Southwark Council to preserve the playing fields, allotments, graves and woods forever.


The results are in:

76% of locals who responded are firmly against the proposals. Will Southwark Council listen?


As a result, the council are proposing some alternatives:

Any of these seem reasonable?


I think that is the response to the previous consultation that resulted in the current proposals.

ETA: but some better ideas in there that could be revisited.


It’s all a bit unclear from their website, but I followed the link from this page:

I think the changes are tweaks to the PDF I linked in my last comment


The PDF’s version history:


Yes you are probably right (ETA, indeed you are as I see from your cross post). The report is dated August 2016 so it is prior to the latest consultation results. The woodland burial option seems the best option though not necessarily the best for the site in my view (the existing concrete could be re-purposed for a community use and the grassland extended). Would make a lot of sense for the rest of Camberwell Cemeteries!


The reason why they build more graves is simply that they can sell about £1k per grave – which is a nice easy way to raise money.


If only it were as simple as that. The reason why they need more space for this is that the council have opted to provide all burial for residents within the borough (even though only a minority choose this), and, as the law stands, they cannot reuse any of the space in the Camberwell Cemeteries as they are specifically excluded from the legislation which would have allowed that. Yet, still they pursue a strategy which relies on future re-use, but now London-wide for private burial. Meanwhile, the upshot is we lose woodland and, in this specific case, green space that was earmarked for community use. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and all for short term gain it seems.


We, Save Southwark Woods (Now Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries) proposed making the 10 plus acres of woods and old graves in Camberwell Old Cemetery an “Asset of Community Value”. As it is the Council who decides whether a place or thing is an AOCV, they rejected our application. It is the same with Tree Protection Orders - it is up the Council to make those orders, and they can change them at their whim, as they did in the Old Cemetery. I believe this to be correct.



If you do not want trees on One Tree Hill cut down for burial, or the Nursery site wasted on burial, we are MEETING at 2pm tomorrow Sunday 9th October

Main Entrance on on Brenchley Gardens.
Camberwell New Cemetery Gates Brenchley Gardens, SE23 3RD

We will walk to the woods on One Tree Hill and then down to the Nursery site.

This is urgent.


Hey @LewisSchaffer, how did the meeting go this afternoon? Is there anything we can do to help?


As a possibly relevant note: older trees capture carbon at a higher rate than young trees:


That, is a fascinating find @ChrisBeach, thanks. We need to temper this with native deciduous trees which probably do not capture anything during the winter. Very valuable for the ecosystem though.

It is also worth noting, as this is a particular local problem, that trees help absorb NOx and particulates (grassland helps too):


You would think the council would promote a “natural” burial where the deceased is in a biodegradable casket which form the nutritional system for a tree planted on top of it. Seems like a win/win to me. Obviously the amount of people dying does take up space so not going to be a do all and end all.


“Have your say on my plans”


Yes saw that. AFAICT, the plans only involve cutting emissions. An important step but no mention of trees or greenery - am I missing something?