FGP130121 Appendix 6 Cemetery next Steps 21

Additional Burial Space – Next Steps
Additional Burial Space – Next Steps
January 2013
The space in the current cemetery will be exhausted in 2017. If we wish to continue to
provide for burials in the immediate vicinity of Bishop’s Stortford additional cemetery
space is essential. The process (requiring planning consent and environment studies,
construction and a period of time to allow new planting to reach an acceptable level of
maturity) will take several years to complete and accordingly it is essential that this
matter is progressed with some urgency.
A study of options was been carried out in late 2011 to identify the plots of land
(whether owned by the Council or not) which could be considered. Several options were
rejected on the grounds that the owners are unwilling to sell1.
Our own site at Rye Street, which would be suitable both visually and in terms of access,
is unsuitable on environmental grounds. Two sites only (both just outside the
boundaries of the Town) emerged as serious contenders. These are the site to the east
of Hallingbury Road and south of the recently re-opened allotments, and an area to the
rear of Thorley Church. The Hallingbury Road site is owned by this Council. The Thorley
site is not.
It is clear that only Hallingbury Road offers adequate space in the longer term, however
the possibility to develop the Thorley site in addition (either in parallel or first) remains
interesting and offers potential benefits to the Council.
In January 2012 it was RESOLVED that both sites would be pursued at the current time.
The Chief Executive has moved the matter forward on this basis.
In Jul 2012 an allocation of reserves was made bringing the total reserve set aside for
future burial land to £100,000, a figure which it is hoped will prove adequate to fund the
initial development required.
Negotiations were pursued with the owners of the Site adjacent to Thorley Church and in
parallel the necessary preliminary environmental studies were commissioned.
Initially the owners of the land were willing to engage2, subject to the agreement of the
management of Thorley Church itself (who also have a requirement for burial land and
with whom the landowner is closely associated). After some discussion the management
of Thorley Church concluded that their preferred option was that they should not to own
burial land. They are supportive of a Cemetery on the land developed by Council. They
are willing to offer use of the church car park free of charge, in return for a concession
that the burial fees for residents of the civil parish of Thorley who are also church
parishioners would be reduced to the same figure as that charged for Bishop’s Stortford
Residents. The Chief Executive considers that this could be acceptable to this Council
Compulsory purchase powers exist they are available only as a ‘last resort’ when all
other options have been exhausted, which is not the case to date.
Although the landowner, who is a farmer, made it quite clear that in general terms they
were looking to buy land not sell it.
Additional Burial Space – Next Steps
(subject to review clauses should the population of Thorley parish change significantly)
as the number of people who would benefit from this concession is rather small.
Discussions continued with the landowner. It was clear that there was a mismatch in the
advice which the landowner was receiving and that which the Chief Executive was
receiving as regards the value of the land. This remains unresolved however a
mechanism was proposed to resolve it. A point was eventually reached where, to
progress matters further, a full environment survey was required at a cost of
approximately £3000. At this point the Chief Executive sought some form of
commitment from the landowner prior to incurring this expenditure. After some further
discussion it became clear that the landowner had become less enthusiastic about the
sale, was not keen to pursue it at the present time and was unwilling to enter into any
commitment, even in principle, which would provide sufficient certainty to justify Council
expenditure. No further engagement has taken place and, for the time being therefore,
we have been forced to discount this site.
Hallingbury Road
An environmental survey has been commissioned and completed and our advisors have
consulted with the Environment Agency. In summary, there are some matters to be
attended to and burials will only be possible on the southern parcel of land (the Northern
part is affected by disused gravel workings which have been used in the past for landfill).
We have been advised that the matters to be attended to are not particularly onerous
and that this appears to be a viable site.
The next step is to draw up a detailed design and submit the planning application. The
cost for this is £5000. In addition there may be fees for specialist services (eg
topographical and archaeological surveys) if any of these prove necessary. Once
planning is obtained a full programme of construction can be planned and quotes sought.
The Chief Executive recommends that:
1. Council resolves that, unless a material change in the availability of a more
suitable plot of land occurs, a new cemetery be developed at the Hallingbury
Road Site subject to obtaining the necessary planning permission.
2. The necessary steps be taken to obtain planning permission for the development,
expenditure to be funded from the reserve established for this purpose
3. The Chief Executive be authorised to take such steps as are necessary to secure
the development in time to ensure continuity of the provision of a burial service
for the residents of the Town, provided that the cost of development can be
contained within the reserve allocated.
4. Should the reserve allocated be insufficient to the matter will be brought to
Council for consideration at the earliest practical opportunity.
Additional Burial Space – Next Steps
These notes on the sites, provided in an initial briefing to Council given in 2011, are
repeated here for convenience.
Hallingbury Road
Already owned by BSTC
Approximately 3.5ha (120 years) of land available and suitable for burials.
Slightly remote from town and the only access which Essex Highways will permit is via
Jenkins Lane.
Despite the slight remoteness Daniel Robinson think that it would make a perfectly
acceptable location.
Approximately 150m of access road, car park and buildings are potentially required
There is no adverse impact on the allotment land which can continue as such untouched.
Thorley (rear of Thorley Church)
1ha (36 years) may be for sale with the possibility of an option on a further 0.61ha (21
Farmland is valued locally at £25,000 per hectare, vendor has been advised to ask for
(and currently is asking for) £62,000 per hectare.
We would be required (by vendor) to allow Thorley Church to use the space for burials.
Conditions are to be negotiated.
We would almost certainly be allowed to use the existing (church) car park and there is
no need for an access road. The Church and the St Barnabas Centre will reduce our
need to construct buildings which might possibly be limited to storage and toilets.
Daniel Robinson view the site as prime burial land for which there is very high
(unfulfilled) demand. They believe we may experience a significant growth in the total
number of burials we handle each year (reducing the lifetime of the site, unless we open
both sites and charge a premium price for Thorley).
Additional Burial Space – Next Steps
Hallingbury Road