London coronavirus mortuary to become wildflower habitat

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A temporary London mortuary used to store bodies at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic is being dismantled to make way for a new wildflower habitat.

The site, opened in April at Wanstead Flats in east London, was one of six emergency mortuaries set up to deal with deaths.

But as the death rate has fallen, the four-acre site near Epping Forest “will be reseeded with native species” and expected to open to the public next summer, said the City of London Corporation, which owns the land.

The temporary mortuary was set up at the height of the pandemic (Victoria Jones/PA)
The temporary mortuary was set up at the height of the pandemic (Victoria Jones/PA)

Graeme Doshi-Smith, chair of the corporation’s Epping Forest and commons committee, said: “While coronavirus is likely to still be with us for a long time and we mustn’t be complacent, the removal of the mortuary is a welcome sign of the green shoots of normal life beginning to return to our open spaces.

“In the weeks to come, our teams will be preparing the soil before sowing the land with a wildflower seed mix, including seeds collected from nearby areas of the forest.

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“When it has grown, the grassland will provide a rich habitat for visitors and wildlife to enjoy, and will mark out a lasting, natural reminder of those who lost their lives to coronavirus.”

The site will be seeded with wild flowers including sheep’s sorrel, ox-eye daisy, common knapweed and heather, as well as grasses including fescues, bents and rare heath grass and mat-grass.

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