Landscape-led project from a 25 year masterplan

Planning - Historic Environment & Townscape

LB Camden - Highgate Cemetery

This project was also worked on by Lucy Markham who is a Partner, specialising in Planning - Historic Environment & Townscape.

Key information

We are planning and heritage advisors to Highgate Cemetery. Highgate is among the world’s finest examples of the picturesque garden cemetery. The Cemetery is a grade I Registered Park and contains over 80 listed mausolea and monuments; it is also within Metropolitan Open Land, which limits new development. A 25-year masterplan prepared by Hopkins Architects and landscape designer Gustafson Porter Bowman will provide a café, improved ticketing, and new educational and archive spaces. The masterplan will improve operation facilities to provide new office space, gardener’s compounds and volunteer facilities, and conserve its listed buildings and mausolea.


The Cemetery faces multiple challenges. Trees are damaging the monuments and are diseased (Ash Die Back), so they pose a risk to health and safety. The facilities are inadequate, with office space crammed into the grade II listed former Nonconformist chapel and the Anglican chapel in multiple uses, restricting its original purpose for quiet contemplation. Ticketing is provided in unattractive temporary booths with inadequate W/Cs and no other visitor facilities. Gardeners’ facilities are inadequate, with equipment stored in a subterranean tunnel and shipping containers and limited welfare spaces. The listed buildings and mausolea are in need of urgent repair and long-term maintenance work. The 2022 Act has enabled the reuse of graves, so the requirements of grave owners need to be balanced with those of visitors. The planning challenge is accommodating new buildings in a heavily constrained site, where burials prohibit new buildings in the majority of the Cemetery, and the quantum of development will be scrutinised because of its effect on the MOL and heritage assets. The landscape works to improve the drainage, paths, replant trees, and improve biodiversity, which will be implemented over 25 years, which is difficult to deliver in conventional planning timescales.


We recommended early engagement with LB Camden and the Greater London Authority to agree on the principle of new development in the MOL. We are collaborating with the Trust to produce a Statement of Need to justify the specific quantum of development required. We secured a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) with LB Camden to secure timely advice on the approach to the application and feedback on the emerging design. We have also led early engagement with Historic England, in joint meetings with Camden, and produced a Statement of Significance, building on the work of the previous Conservation Plan, to understand changes to the listed buildings to justify the proposed alterations. Articulating the heritage benefits of the scheme will be key to its success. There are obvious heritage benefits, such as the restoration of the pinnacles to the chapel and conservation work to the listed buildings and mausolea, as well as reversing later alterations to the former Nonconformist Chapel and reinstating public access. More broadly improved public access will enable more people to appreciate this special historic place and secure its long-term future both as a burial ground and visitor attraction.


We secured LB Camden and the GLA’s early agreement on the approach to justifying new buildings in the MOL, which is now being developed through the Statement of Need. We agreed with LB Camden that the application would be for full planning permission and listed building consent, with conditions allowing the phasing of the landscape works. The PPA enabled rapid agreement with the Council that the urgent works to the listed buildings and mausolea and access works to the vaults did not require a listed building consent. The application submission is anticipated in September 2024.

Waltham Forest Town Hall

Planning - Historic Environment & Townscape

London Borough of Waltham Forest

Next project
View project

View all projects