Burials could be kept in Royston as new 100-year cemetery unveiled

A CEMETERY site which could be used for over 100 years in Royston was today (Tuesday) unvieled potentially signalling the end of the fight to keep services in the town.

The announcement comes after a North Herts District Council mandate which could see burials moved 12 miles down the road to Wilbury Hills Cemetery, Letchworth, if a suitable site can not be found by June.

This will be averted if the town council develops the 1.7 acre Wicker Hall site in Briary Lane.

An anonymous donation to buy the derelict orchard has been given to the body, however it will need planning permission from the district and before that the assent of all town councillors.

Speaking at the meeting which revealed the plans, district and town councillor Peter Burt, said: “I think we have made a very significant step forward and need to make sure absolutely everything is finalised.

“We have identified a plot of land, it’s available and we have got the donation to procure it and that’s the next thing “Then we can bring it in to order... before it is used as a cemetery - but the first thing is to acquire the land.”

The owner of the land has been approached and is willing to sell land to the council for use as a cemetery, with some of the land used as temporary allotments until it is required for burials.

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Royston Town Council will be responsible for the development of the cemetery which is likely to cost between �100,000-190,000.

Which will come from either increasing the authority’s council tax precept or taking out a loan from the Public Works Loan Board.

Or a combination of the two.

A precept increase would be in the region of 3-7p a week for a Band D property.

The people of Royston are currently being consulted on rates increases which council leader Bob Smith says residents support paying for a cemetery in the town, despite money also going to NHDC for statutory cemetery provision.

He said: “It’s fair to report that there is a public consultation going on at this moment.

“It was launched in the beginning of January where we asked the people of Royston five options on the precept, one was cemetery provision.

“That consultation has three weeks to run out, but there has been an overwhelming response in favour of supporting Royston Town Council providing cemetery provision in the town.”

Today’s announcment comes after a year long-search by The Cemetery Working Party, made up of town and district councillors and was welcomed by NHDC.

John Robinson, strategic director of customer services at NHDC, said: “The Working Party set up by the town council have worked extremely hard to get the proposals to where they are now.

“We are pleased with the progress to date and while there are still a number of issues to resolve, we hope their plans make significant headway over the weeks and months ahead.”

The district’s two sites on Melbourn Road have enough space for eight years of burials at the current rate and it is expected the new site will be up and running before space runs out - if the plans proceed.

An extraordinary full meeting of the town council has been called on Monday to agree in principle buying and running the cemetery subject to planning permission being granted.

For the outcome of that crucial meeting check next week’s Crow.