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Plans for new Greater Norwich cemetery turned down - because it's not needed

Earlham Cemetery

Earlham Cemetery

Plans for a new Greater Norwich cemetery in Drayton were turned down by Broadland councillors today - because they said it was not needed.

Councillors were also told that an average burial plot at the proposed new site at Canhams Hill, Bradshaw Road, off Reepham Road, would cost about £3500.

Capacity at Earlham cemetery in Norwich will run out by 2013, and in a report to the council officers accepted the need for a new burial ground.

But Broadland councillor Tony Adams told the meeting he understood from Norwich City Council that capacity at Earlham could be extended.

Mr Adams said: “Norwich city is looking into reopening graves over 100 years old, which would extend Earlham’s life between five to 10 years.

“Hellesdon is also actively seeking new burial ground of its own, and if suitable land is found, then where would the demand for this cemetery come from?”

Mr Adams recommended refusal of the application, as per the officers’ recommendation, but amended to add that the need for more burial land was unproved.

Eleven councillors voted to refuse the plans, but four voted against, including councillor Ian Graham, who asked: “Cemeteries don’t get built overnight so when is a good time to start thinking about a new cemetery? In the past when councils reopened 100-year-old graves there was hell to pay from relatives of the deceased.”

The application was put in by Simon Woodbridge, owner of Canham Hill Cemetery Ltd and former leader of Broadland District Council. He has previously declared an interest on the issue and is not a member of the planning committee.

The council heard from Lionel Wilkinson, Drayton parish councillor, who said that each plot would cost about £3500, compared to £496 for Norwich city residents at Earlham.

“There has obviously been a large profit zone put in there,” he said.

Mike Derbyshire from agents Savills spoke on behalf of the applicant, and said the scheme was a £5m investment that would serve the area for the next 100 years.

Meanwhile, Hellesdon parish council held an extraordinary meeting on June 14 where the plans were recommended for refusal.

Plans for the new cemetery on agricultural land and woodland included a gathering hall for funerals to be held, a cemetery office, parking facilities and waiting rooms for families.

Officers had recommended refusal on the grounds that the site was outside the settlement area, and there was no need for a permanent caretaker to live at a house on the site to ensure security, as the applicants wished.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: “We are looking at ways to maximise the available burial space at Earlham and Rosary cemeteries that will also allow us to maintain the quiet dignity of both areas. Part of this involves looking at options for graves that were purchased more than 100 years ago but that have never been used.”

The Evening News has previously revealed how there is an increasing lack of cemetery space in the Norwich area. What do you think? Write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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