Council bosses insist Norwich cemetery space issue is not a grave matter

Earlham Cemetery. The city council has insisted they are not running out of burial space there. Photo: Steve Adams

Earlham Cemetery. The city council has insisted they are not running out of burial space there. Photo: Steve Adams

Council bosses have insisted the city is not running out of space to bury its dead and that there are enough burial plots in Earlham Cemetery for at least 38 years.

For the past three years, Norwich City Council's bereavement services team has been 'actively pursuing' measures to make sure all the available burial space in the city's main cemetery is identified and used to its full potential.

As reported, the city council, which also owns Rosary Cemetery in Thorpe Hamlet, is also surveying each and every grave - some 40,000 - to make sure they are safe.

And that sparked a question at a recent city council meeting, about whether the cemeteries were running out of space for burials.

The question was asked by Sally Button, Labour councillor for Bowthorpe, and answered by her colleague Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety.

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He said: 'At present, most burials involve the re-opening of family graves and therefore the requirement for new burial plots is always far less than the total number of burials.

'Currently, around 92 new burial plots are required each year and this figure has remained constant since 2010. At the end of August this year, 3,580 new burial plots had been identified within Earlham cemetery, so assuming that current burial rates reamin constant, there is a minimum of 38 years of new burial plots currently known to be available.'

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Mr Kendrick added that there were also 32,000 burial spaces available in what are known as 'common graves' - graves which have not been purchased.

He said: 'Most of these graves were originally dug to a depth of nine feet and can therefore accommodate up to four body burials.

'Many of these have only ever been used for one or two burials and therefore a considerable amount of burial space is also available in these graves.'

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