A Banbury cemetery has been given permission to expand after it was revealed the town will run out of burial plots within nine years.
Members of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee approved an application by Banbury Town Council for a change of use for land adjacent to Hardwick Hill Cemetery in Southam Road last Thursday.
The application will expand the existing cemetery to the north across an additional three hectares of land and be located adjacent to the existing crematorium.
Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “More than 7,000 new homes are planned for Banbury by 2031 so with an increasing population, we need to increase the facilities to support them both in life and in death. The information provided by Banbury Town Council showed there are only an estimated 450 burial plots available in the town for general use which means by 2024, there will be nothing left.
“There is an unquestioned need for additional burial sites in Banbury which we recognised in our Local Plan; however what we didn’t do was identity a preferred site. The proposals by Banbury Town Council represent a logical expansion of the existing cemetery which will have minimal impact on the surrounding area and give people the choice to remain in their hometown forever.”
The application refers to three hectares of land which is currently used as grassland but did not specify the number of additional plots that could be created. The proposal also included the provision of additional car parking.
In its application, Banbury Town Council stated the Southam Road Cemetery is now effectively full and all new burials will be located at Hardwick Hill Cemetery. Excluding the specific areas set aside for children’s remains, Muslim burials and cremated remains, it is estimated only 450 plots remain available for general burials.
Currently the plots are being used at a rate of 44.75 per annum but this is expected to increase as the town’s population rises.
In granting consent, Cherwell included a condition that work must begin on the expansion within three years of the date of the meeting.