Royston cemetery search described as a 'monumental blunder'

PUBLISHED: 17:15 13 July 2016 | UPDATED: 17:15 13 July 2016

Rod Kennedy

Rod Kennedy

Archant

The quest to establish a cemetery in Royston has been "a monumental blunder", according to a town councillor.

In February 2012, Royston Town Council settled on land at Wicker Hall to create a new cemetery, after fears the two existing cemeteries would be full to capacity in less than 10 years.

But, four-and-a-half years later, the designs - which had been completed - have been shelved after the Environment Agency deemed that Wicker Hall lies in a groundwater source protection Zone 1, which means you can’t build a cemetery there.

Town councillor Rod Kennedy said: “The whole thing has been a monumental blunder from day one. The main problem is the amount of time it has taken.

“I have no objection to a new cemetery, but it has to be a suitable site. I have always opposed the Wicker Hall site. You don’t put a cemetery next to Royston’s main water supply.”

He added: “Four-and-a-half years down the line from when the cemetery was urgently required, one has to question the urgency.”

The council is now looking elsewhere for a site and Cllr Kennedy has made a number of suggestions, including land off Newmarket Road, Baldock Road, south of Newmarket Road and Barkway Road.

He said: “Councillors need to start with open minds and consider all those sites which have potential.

“The town council needs to be realistic. We cannot be expected to develop a large scale cemetery - a small burial ground should be our aim.”

Town clerk Susan Thornton-Björk said: “The town council had obtained planning permission for the proposed cemetery site at Wicker Hall. The time taken was to make sure the council could comply with all the conditions set. However, when the Environment Agency undertook a remodelling of groundwater source protection zones, it put the whole site from Zone 2 into Zone 1. No burials are allowed in Zone 1, consequently the project had to be stopped.

“The town council will continue to look for another site and welcomes all suggestions so they can be investigated.”

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