Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Developer could be asked to help out with burial land

Developer could be asked to help out with burial land

A DEVELOPER may be asked to help with a shortage of burial land.

The plots at the Reading cemetery off Henley Road, Caversham, are being used up faster than expected so the borough council has to find alternative land.

It says there are “limited opportunities” to expand the site and it expects to run out of space by 2029.

One option is to open discussions with the new owner of Caversham Park, which was sold by the BBC earlier this year after being on the market for four years.

Beechcroft Developments wants to convert the building into flats for the elderly and a care home.

The site borders the cemetery so no major infrastructure would be needed to use the land for burials and the council says the site has the right geology. Other options include:

Seeking other potential sites in the borough.

Having discussions with neighbouring councils about acquiring land together.

Identifying land within a
10-mile radius of Reading to provide at least 40 years’ worth of burial space.

The council’s policy committee was due to discuss the issue at a meeting yesterday (Thursday).

The Henley Road cemetery was recreational land when it was bought in 1924 for the purpose of burials.

In 2015, the council agreed to convert recreational space within the site into 1,376 burial plots but these are being allocated faster than anticipated. It also discussed the possibility of using allotment land, originally purchased as burial ground adjoining the cemetery.

Now officers are concerned that the 3.7 hectares of land at Caversham Park would be expensive to buy and would only provide less than 20 years’ capacity.

In 2015, a ground investigation survey found there was no risk to groundwater or controlled waters.

The allotments at the Henley Road cemetery would provide 2.65 hectares of land and 14 years of burial ground, assuming all wooded areas could be cleared.

It is the largest allotment provision in the borough with 121 out of 123 plots in use and 192 people on the waiting list.

By comparision, there are half as many allotments in Emmer Green and 186 people on the waiting list. However, the council is unlikely to consider using the allotment land as the move would be unpopular and there is no suitable alternative.

Council officer Isabel Elgar says: “This is an important land holding for the council that was originally purchased for the purpose of burials. Therefore consideration of using this land for burial provision in the future should be revisited if and when appropriate.

“Securing new land for burials, particularly if natural burials are an option, will contribute to both the council tackling climate change and investing in green infrastructure.”

Beechcroft Developments intends to submit a planning application to the council for an undisclosed number of homes by the end of the year after carrying out public consultation.

More News:

POLL: Have your say