Planning Application for land adjoining Crossbones Graveyard

Joint Venture, a partnership between Transport for London (TfL) and the developer U+I, have submitted an application for a development at Landmark Court, the land adjoining Crossbones Graveyard. The application is available to view on the Southwark Planning Register (Ref: 19/AP/0830) – on that page, you can click on the ‘comments’ button to comment on the proposal.

Comments can be submitted to Southwark Council until Friday 19 April. (The Council may accept comments after that, but best to have them in by then.) You can access all the documents on the Planning Register. U+I have included a link and key documents on their own website

The developers, Joint Venture, have consulted with Friends of Crossbones and other local people. The planning application makes clear that Crossbones Graveyard will be protected and enhanced as a Garden of Remembrance. The shrine in Redcross Way will also be protected. Friends of Crossbones have made the case that Crossbones must not be treated simply as a generic Open Space, but as a special case, entitled to specific protection as:

  • a protected graveyard and memorial garden
  • an historical, cultural, environmental and community asset
  • a sacred space of spiritual significance to many people

In your own comments, you may like to mention your connection with Crossbones, why the shrine and the garden of remembrance are important to you and the wider community.  You might mention how Crossbones has evolved as:

  • a DIY, wild garden of remembrance for ‘the outcast dead’ who’re buried in the Crossbones Graveyard, and is especially dedicated to sex workers and other outsiders
  • a sanctuary in the heart of the city, a place for people to remember those buried there and their own lost loved ones, and to reconnect with the past
  • it’s NOT a blank canvas – any proposed improvements should be judged on whether they really enhance what is already here, rather than imposing a ‘top down’ vision. Such innovations should respect the history of the graveyard AND the more recent works to reclaim it as sacred ground.

In our discussions with Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST), the charity that currently manages the Crossbones Garden, it was agreed that we’re all free to comment in our own words on anything we support or object to – AND that it’s helpful if our key messages are broadly the same:

1. Crossbones Graveyard is a destination and a sanctuary not a thoroughfare. We strongly oppose the proposal to install a new entrance gate in the middle of the north side railing, which would seriously impact on the character of the Garden of Remembrance. The garden is designed as a walled space, a sanctuary in the heart of the City, to be entered via the beautiful ‘Goose Wing’ entrance on Union Street where visitors are welcomed by wardens. People taking short-cuts through the garden, via a new gate in the  north, would disturb its peace and tranquillity.

2. Crossbones is deserving of proper stewardship. TFL/U+I/Joint Venture are responsible for maintaining this important cultural, community and spiritual heritage site. TfL as freeholder is responsible for the long-term stewardship of the site as a protected graveyard and memorial garden of historic and cultural importance. The planning application should make clear that Crossbones Graveyard is an exceptional case – NOT simply ‘other open space’ – and is NOT to be used as an amenity for the adjoining development.

3. Joint Venture should issue a long term lease for Crossbones Garden of Remembrance to match the lease for the adjoining development (299 years / in perpetuity) and agree an associated management agreement with BOST which reflects Crossbones importance as a heritage site.
The lease for the adjoining Landmark Court development will be 299 years. There is concern that BOST has so far been offered only a 25 year lease to manage the Crossbones Garden. This gives no guarantee for the longer term future of the garden, and makes it difficult for BOST to raise additional funds.

4. Funding should be assured throughout the life of the lease for site supervision (wardens) and maintenance. If any of the above comments, suggestions or demands resonate with you, please include them in your comments (in your own words). Please do what you can to help ensure that Crossbones will continue as a garden of remembrance and shrine to the outcast, dead and alive.