Shops, cafes, restaurants and homes to be built in shadow of Crossbones, ancient burial ground for London’s poor

A shadow over the future of an historic burial site will be lifted by a nearby development – but locals are fuming about the impact on their homes and say they have not been properly consulted.

Landmark Court, in Southwark Street, Southwark will have 36 homes – half “affordable” and a third social rent, and 200,000sqft of offices and shops.

The scheme should safeguard Crossbones Graveyard and Memorial Garden, a post-medieval burial ground next door.

But Living Bankside chairman Amir Eden said: “Many residents in the Park Street area were not consulted.

“Many are ethnic minority and pensioners. This is a grave error. This planning application does not have a comprehensive equalities impact statement – including how traders at Borough Market will be affected.

“It is also deeply disappointing that Southwark council’s planning department asked for a mixed development rather than just residential. Has the commitment to affordable housing has been disregarded?

“There will be impact on the light of residents of Cromwell buildings and the four residential properties north of it. The application lacks community benefits. There is space for more homes.”

The scheme, designed by architect Allies and Morrison, was passed at a virtual planning committee on June 15, turning the site near London Bridge railway station and Borough Market into a rival cultural and social hub.

It has been planned to be lined with a mix of shop sizes, cafés, restaurants and market stalls and it is hoped it will create 1,850 jobs.

There will also be a community garden and play space, and cycle parking.

Crossbones, closed in 1853, holds the remains of some 15,000 people and has become a garden of remembrance dedicated to those on the margins of society.

Crossbones development

TfL and developer U+I will work with Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST), Crossbones Forum and the Friends of Crossbones on a management plan, including longer opening hours and funding.

U+ I chief development officer Richard Upton said: “This site has been a blot on an otherwise vibrant and successful high street, but now we can bring forward a development that will stitch the streetscape back together in a master plan that reinstates the medieval lanes and yards of Southwark.

“Crossbones is one of London’s extraordinary hidden places. Our plans ensure it will not only be preserved, but enhanced, so that more Londoners can discover its history and honour those on the margins of society.”

TfL acquired the Landmark Court site more than 25 years ago for the construction of the Jubilee line extension.

John Constable, who has led the campaign to protect the burial ground as a site of historical and cultural significance, said: “Crossbones Graveyard is important to the people of Southwark and beyond – it has become a pilgrimage site for people from all over the world.

“TfL bought the land as part of a compulsory purchase for the extension of the Jubilee Line in the 1990s, and cannot abdicate responsibility for it.

“TfL have a duty of stewardship to protect the graveyard and maintain it as a garden of remembrance for the 15,000 poor people who were buried there.

“Crucially, we want to make sure that it will not become a show garden for a private development.

Cross Bones is first mentioned by John Stow, in his A Survey of London (1598), calling it a ‘single woman’s churchyard’ in Southwark.

It is thought to have been an unconsecrated graveyard for prostitutes, who were known locally as ‘Winchester Geese’ because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work within the Liberty of the Clink.

By 1769 it had become a pauper’s cemetery servicing St Saviour’s parish.

Pictured top: A shrine at the Crossbones burial ground

 


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