London

Campaigners fear Honor Oak Park could become cemetery

Residents fear a south London green space could be used as burial space by the local council.

Honor Oak Park Recreation Ground was bought by Southwark Council as burial ground in 1901, but has since been used by the community as a park.

More than 900 local residents have signed an online petition to urge the council to keep it as a park.

The authority said its cemeteries were nearly full and using the land was one option but no decisions had been made.

'On borrowed time'

A campaign called Save Honor Oak Park Recreation Ground has urged the council to retain the park as an "open public green space" and to look at long-term sustainable plans for burial.

The council said it was granted planning permission for the change of use for part of the ground in 1991, which was subsequently fenced off and has been used as cemetery since January 1992.

Campaigners fear the rest of the park could also be turned into a burial ground.

Fran Swan, one of the campaigners, said: "They (the council) are implying that we are on borrowed time there and they have surrounded the area by graveyards."

The council said the land had not been used for cemetery purposes since 1901 because "burial space had not been exhausted elsewhere".

Image caption Campaigners want the land to remain as a community park

A statement said: "Our cemeteries are nearly full.

"We will continue to create burial space where we can, through the use of any remaining virgin ground (not much) and are looking at the re-use of common graves, but this won't solve the long-term problem."

The council added that converting the park was one of the options as space outside the borough would cost residents up to three times more.

Councillor Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling, said: "The council is currently formulating its options on the shortage of burial space, which will be taken to cabinet in due course, following which there will be full public consultation prior to any proposals being implemented."

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