A controversial bid to build a cemetery in Oswaldtwistle with 35 000 burial plots is set to include plans to accommodate people of all faiths and backgrounds and will be considered in January.
A proposal to build a cemetery with 35 000 burial plots on land south of Blackburn Road was submitted last week to Hyndburn Council by the Issa Foundation.
The cemetery, which has been planned in response to an increased demand for Muslim burial space, had been proposed for 35,000 burial plots for those of Islamic faith, based on an estimated figure of between 175 and 350 burials per annum for the next 50 to 100 years.
The plans for the site, on green belt land near West End Business Park include the development of a cemetery, prayer pavillions, funeral parlour, an administration block, works and ancillary compound with landscaped memorial gardens and associated car parking.
Images of the proposed site are in planning documents submitted as part of an application to Hyndburn Council by the billionaire Issa brothers. As part of the plans for the site to the south of Blackburn Road, 663 car parking spaces, including seven for disabled users, will be created.
Now the Issa Foundation has said that while the plans were aimed at the shortage of Muslim burial plots in the area, the site will accommodate those of all faiths and backgrounds and meet the needs of all communities.
The plans have gathered a range of reactions from local residents, councillors and businesses, with petitions being launched for and against the plans.
A petition opposing the plans has gathered more than 3000 signatures, while one in support of them has also been launched, amassing over a thousand supporters to date.
Councillor Josh Allen, conservative councillor for Immanuel Ward at Hyndburn Borough Council, said the plans had been submitted on November 19 and that he had heard the proposed cemetery, originally specified as a Muslim cemetery in the planning application, would now be multi-faith and open to people of all faiths.
Councillor Allen said: “They have submitted a planning application for the cemetery and it will be reviewed by the planning department, and go to the planning committee in January - around January 19, I think.
“The planning team will go through the details on the planning application and the councillors will debate the matter.”
He said there had been disadvantages and advantages raised by many residents, adding: “Many people are stating that it’s bad for road conditions, on Blackburn Road, water drainage is an issue that people have brought up, along with potential for pollution and environment issues, green belt space; there are sheep on there."
Concerns had also been raised about the impact on any wildlife in the area, he said.
However, he also said some residents were in favour of the plans, with people pointing out that existing facilities could run out of burial plots, and others welcoming the green aspects of a cemetery as preferable to any potential housing development in future on the site.
He added: “The way of life is that people do have to die, and eventually, we will run out of space. That said, more and more people are opting for cremation, these days, which reduces the need for burial plots.
“Many people are against - it’s up to the planning committee. The thing that many residents struggle to get their heads around is that the planning process is not down to likes to dislikes.
“If an application meets the protocol, it can be approved. It’s not just whether people think it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
Highlighting that many factors would be considered by the planning committee before a decision was made, he said they would consider aspects like pollution, traffic management, basic construction, development issues and green belt.
He added: "On the other hand, eventually, with how the economy works, a lot like that is quite valuable for housing developers.
“A lot of residents have asked, is it better to have a cemetery, which will be green, or a housing development, where you will be looking at your neighbour?”
Paul Cuthbert, of local business Print Trade Suppliers Ltd based in Oswaldtwistle, echoed that concern, saying that he thought the cemetery could be a positive feature.
Mr Cuthbert said; “That’s a lot of people. But they would use the land for something eventually because money talks, doesn’t it?
“I’m from Bury and we’re losing a lot of green belt. There’s a lot of brown sites, and it’s so much cheaper to build on green belt.
“All the places I used to walk and play in as a kid are now houses, and yet there’s no infrastructure for roads.
“They will put another four thousand houses in an area, but there’s no infrastructure for new roads.
“I know money talks. So in that case, when you look at it from that side of things, maybe it is better to be somewhere like that, and at least it still stays green.”
However, some residents have taken to social media to voice their concerns about lack of infrastructure to support the facility.
Rebecca Berry commented: “It should only take into account people who live in the area. I am not bothered about a cemetery being built in general, but Hyndburn doesn’t need it and it shouldn’t be plonked next to people’s houses and primary schools etc. “
She added: “It’s too big for the area they are proposing and there isn’t a need.”
But Dale Rimmer commented: “All this is doing is stirring ill feeling.”
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