Railtrack recently had a planning application turned down and now are appealing. They want to build a mass of portacabins 4 storeys high, on a site which some would call sacred. The site was a burial ground for hundreds of years, for the paupers and prostitutes of Southwark. Roman remains and artefacts were also discovered by the Museum of London.
The numerous objections from local people and those interested in this golden opportunity to turn the site into a public garden, with the possibility of a community space, achieved a result and the two applications were refused. NOW we need to object again.
If you feel strongly about this site you can send a letter of objection quoting the following reference: APP/A5840/A/1096744 to
The Planning Inspectorate, Room 1222, Tollgate House, Houlton Street, Bristol BS2 9DJ by September 17th.
The reasons that the application was turned down were:
1 That the site is within the central area of community need (UDP Policy R1.1) and
2 This this application was considered to amount to the over-development of this site in a conservation area
The reasons should still apply to the new application and may be quoted in your objection.
Thank you for any support you can give to saving the site for a more socially useful purpose than creating a portacabin city, and to fight this unwelcome development by companies which have no interest in investing in the community in which they trade.
Finally, Danny McArthy, Deputy Mayor and councillor for the site is very keen to support the campaign, so no harm in contacting him either.
I have mixed feelings about this - Railtrack have to have their site office somewhere - they may be an unpleasant company, but on the whole I want to see our rail infrastructure improved (so long as Borough Market is properly protected, of course).
I'm not saying that I do not agree that other uses of the site would be more appropriate, but it's important to separate out the issues (the importance/significance of the site), rather than a general protest against big business.
I was reading the posters in Union Street this afternoon - I agree that the artist's impression isn't too attractive, though.
James I agree in part. I'm not totally against building on the site. Railtrack does own the land and it's inevitable that they'd wish to develop it. But we are in a priority zone (over development & community need), and this is an opportunity for developers to work with the community to achieve mutually beneficial results. This is a large site - the graveyard is comparatively small. The community would be more likely to support Railtrack's plans if they were to see some benefit - a patch of open space and possibly a small community centre would achieve this.
Many of the people involved in the campaign do so because it's a sacred space, not because they're anti-Railtrack. For the last 4 years we have held a candlelit procession to the site on Halloween night, sung songs and thrown small offerings through the gates. This is not a recent event - even the security are used to us and last year even seemed to enjoy our ceremony.
I read last night that Lord Brabazon in the last 1800s was doing the same thing - trying to prevent the site being built on.
Sadly I suspect that Southwark Council may not have the funds to fight Railtrack's appeal to the Department of the Environment. The best we can hope for is some amendments to the proposal resulting in equal benefits to them and us.
Metropolitan Public Gardens Assn (were helpful to us and peopel like this may not be able to do much but write a good letter). Along with CPRE, London Historic Squares and Gardens and others.
A good vicar or two. Particulalry if the land is owned by the Church Commissioners.
The protection issue caused the Lambeth to have the strongest network of Friends of Parks groups in Britain. I don't know if Southwark has a Parks Forum, but other similar groups often know people who willl support.
Sarah - many thanks for the info and I'll look into those addresses. At the moment we're getting people to write letters supporting Southwark Council's decision to reject Railtrack's application. If we win that one then some of the organisations will be able to help with alternative ideas for use of the space.
JoJo - if you'd like more info and are in the area you can go to the site. It's at the junction of Redcross Way and Union Street, SE1 off Borough High Street. You can't miss it as it's PLASTERED with campaign notices and skull and crossbones images! Or you can email [email protected]
There will be a www.savethecrossbonesgraveyard.com site up soon, currently under construction - like most of north Southwark!
There will also be the annual Halloween of Crossbones on October 31st - a Southwark Mysteries performance, followed bya candlelit procession to the graveyard, and most likely a party after that! Send us your email address if you'd like an invite, when we've got a venue.
You might like to know that Railtrack have already identified an alternative site for their offices (further towards Waterloo) on a site they already own (London Underground actually own the Redcross Way site) and which has no objections from locals. They were pursuing two simultaneous applications through the planning office (which I think is a bit cheeky) and I have a letter from them which says they actually prefer the other site anyway.
The Redcross Way application has more to do with getting the temporary application through to set a precedent (as temporary means anythign up to 10 years!) so that London Underground can thn build a permanent office in the same location with little additional planning authorisation.
Both companies are really not interested in the site or the local community.
Kate - we at the Ragged School have been responsible for all those posters around the site (and have encountered some pretty unpleasant people trying to stop us from doing it). Thanks for the support, if you have any ideas on how to continue to build support please e-mail [email protected]
Shilen said: "Railtrack have already identified an alternative site for their offices "
I suspect that the alternative site is at Ewer Street. This is the site of, um, an unmarked graveyard, as discovered in about 1990 by some workmen who were renewing the concrete floor under two of the railway arches when they came across about a skull. Suspecting foul play, the police were called in. The police called in a pathologist. He called in an archaeologist. I think about 200 skeletons were eventually unearthed and dated to some time after the Black Death but before WW II (such precision!). I think the bones were reburied elsewhere (but only two of the arches were excavated).
It appears that when the viaduct was built (1840's?) the contractors came across the graveyard, said nothing and moved the graves which were in the way of the piers, resulting in a lot of the bodies being reburied standing up and bones just jumbled up together very close to the surface..
There are no local residents at this site to object (apart from the above-mentioned deceased) so I would not expect too much opposition.
I fear that the rejoicing about Railtrack not desecrating graveyards may therefore be premature.
I'm sorry that I'm not more precise, but I am sure the local studies library of history society may be able to fill in the details.
Zoodle (who thinks that there are already more than enough skeletons in Railtrack's cupbord)
what exactly is the ragged school? I live in the Maidstone Mews and know where you are (and I've seen your jeep), I just don't know what you are. I went to your website but it just had a TalkAny voice saying the site name and a yellow background, but no content - would be interested in finding out more.