Will residents of Acle have to be buried as far away as Norwich?
- Credit: Archant
Residents of a Norfolk town could be forced to bury their loved ones in a neighbouring village or even Norwich as cemetery space runs out.
Acle Parish Council is in a race against time to extend the village cemetery, which has been used since 1950.
Parish council clerk Pauline James said they were no longer reserving burial site, adding: 'This is a very emotional issue. People have a strong desire to be buried where they have lived and next to family members and we are trying to provide that.
'If we don't get this matter sorted out it means we will not have space to bury anyone here and families will have to start looking for burial spots in other villages or even in Norwich.'
The existing cemetery has enough capacity for the next two to three years before alternative arrangements would have to be made.
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The period left is based on the historical average of six to 10 burials a year.
The council wants to extend the cemetery by an acre but since 1997 formal attempts to do so have not materialised due to an impasse between the council and the owner of a piece of property next to the cemetery.
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Although the Broads Authority planning committee recently again unanimously approved the council's application to extend the cemetery and nearby playing fields, Mrs James cautioned that this was just a 'step' in the right direction.
She said the council still needed to be granted a compulsory purchase order (CPO) from the Department for Communities and Local Government before it could buy the land.
'It makes sense to extend it as we have the existing infrastructure in place already,' said Mrs James.
She said the new cemetery would be accessed via the existing road, parking was already available and access to the new site would extend through the existing cemetery.
'We have been waiting since February last year to hear if the CPO will be granted and there is still no indication of when that will happen.
'The cemetery is for the people of Acle, not the parish council and we are getting quite anxious to sort this out.'
Acle resident Antony Cox said that after 22 years living in the village he had no desire to be buried anywhere else.
The 72-year-old said it was important for 'religious' reasons that he be buried and not cremated.
He said: 'I am a Christian and want to be buried for religious reasons. But it's also a practical thing. If this extension is not granted, where will my children bury me if it can't be in Acle?
'It is going to be a very distressing time for them as it is, and they are not going to want to be hunting around for grave sites at other villages.
'And anyway, I don't want to be buried somewhere else, I want to be buried here. What about families from here who have to bury loved ones? If you had a young son or daughter that passed away you would want somewhere to come to remember them.
'I just can't understand the objections people would have to extending the cemetery.'