Protesters to air grave concerns over beauty spot cemetery plan

OBJECTIONS to plans for a new Huddersfield cemetery will be voiced today as protesters attempt to prevent the major development going ahead.

Members of Kirklees Council’s Cabinet will debate whether to agree submitting a planning application for a new cemetery costing more than £846,000 at Hey Lane, Berry Brow.

A report says a new cemetery is needed as current burial grounds are expected to be full within the next two years. If councillors agree to the proposal, a full planning application will be drawn up.

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But objectors say there are many reasons for arguing against a cemetery at Hey Lane including problems of decent public transport, access difficulties and traffic congestion.

Members of Kirkburton Parish Council also say there are good reasons why a new cemetery should not be sited there.

Angela Royle, the clerk to the council, said members were anxious for other, alternative sites be explored which would be “more easily accessible, and hospitable to the mourners”.

She added: “The area is particularly special being in very close proximity to Castle Hill which is of great historic and archaeological interest.

“It is also an area of natural beauty and because of its position high up overlooking Huddersfield and surrounding areas, the significant amount of development required to bring the site and roads up to the required standard would be totally unacceptable.

“All such development would impact on a very large geographical area, since it is so high up and the area is visible for miles all around Huddersfield.”

Sandra Murphy of Farnley Tyas was equally concerned about the impact of a cemetery on the area. She said: “This is a beautiful area of green belt and it is inappropriate to use the land for a cemetery particularly when it is overlooked by Castle Hill, a historic landmark and an area that attracts visitors to Huddersfield.

“I use the road past Castle Hill from Almondbury nearly every day and this will probably be the most popular route for a cortege to approach the cemetery.

“The road along Northgate in Almondbury already poses a traffic problem due to the cars parked opposite the church entrance and this has been particularly noticeable during the recent roadworks.”

Richard Salvini, of Honley, claimed it would be a “great shame” if the development were given the go-ahead.

He added: “This is one of our most beautiful areas around Huddersfield, completely unspoilt and overlooked by Castle Hill. It is rural, with narrow roads, limited public transport systems and in winter time the weather conditions are harsh and exposed. There is much anger that a site is being considered in one of our most beautiful locations around Huddersfield. It is not just the immediate local people who feel this but those that travel from other parts of the town and beyond and enjoy the facilities and walks. The impact on this particular area will be dramatic and very damaging to the countryside here. There must be more suitable locations elsewhere within Kirklees.”

But the report says Almondbury and Lockwood cemeteries are nearing capacity.

The site at Hey Lane is around nine acres, allowing for approximately 7,500 burials. There are currently 120 burials a year at Lockwood, Almondbury and Kirkheaton, but this is predicted to rise to about 200 per year by 2015 because of increased death rates and religious preferences for burial over cremation.

The proposal, if it is approved and goes to planning officers, would include a car park, landscaping, access roads and storage area, as well as a Muslim burial area, infant burial area, and seating.

Coun David Sheard said: “This site was identified as the most suitable from the numerous site investigations we did, and it is becoming more urgent as we will run out of burial plots in two years if nothing is done.”