Plans to expand as cemetery nears capacity

PUBLISHED: 11:54 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 May 2010

A CEMETERY approaching full capacity will be expanded to meet demand for the next 40 to 50 years if plans are given the go-ahead. St Albans District Council has submitted a planning application to extend London Road Cemetery on to former agricultural land

A CEMETERY approaching full capacity will be expanded to meet demand for the next 40 to 50 years if plans are given the go-ahead.

St Albans District Council has submitted a planning application to extend London Road Cemetery on to former agricultural land to the east of the site, adjacent to Nightingale Lane.

Space for standard burials is likely to run out in the next five to 10 years but space in the Muslim area of the site will fall short within the next three.

District councillor Sheila Burton, portfolio holder for sport and healthy living, said that the council had been planning for the extension for the past five years because of the urgent need to provide more space.

The council bought the land totalling nearly two hectares some years previously and before it could apply to change the use from agricultural to a cemetery, it had to undergo various tests to prove to the Environment Agency (EA) it was an appropriate site and that burials would not contaminate the water supply.

An archaeological survey was also carried out which uncovered a pit, possibly from Roman times, which contained some residual pre-historical material and a piece of pottery shard. Although this was found to be of relatively minor significance, the pit is likely to be made into some sort of focal point in the new cemetery.

The existing site was dogged with flooding problems for years until drainage work was undertaken. Cllr Burton has given an assurance that an innovative drainage method has been devised for the new land.

She said that because fashions in burials changed, the council would be trying to create as flexible a space as possible with the extension to the cemetery.

There will be standard burial space, a non-consecrated area, an extension to the Muslim section, a special space for child burials and a garden for ashes with various options for scattering, burial or setting in a memorial wall.

Cllr Burton said the council had anticipated an increasing demand for environmentally-friendly "green" burials where there are no headstones and coffins are made of cardboard or ashes are scattered around a tree - but those options would now be retained at Hatfield Road cemetery.

The plans are now out for consultation prior to a decision being made.

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