West Adderbury Residents Association (WARA) recently emailed its members about whether space in Adderbury cemetery is running out. Adderbury Parish Council immediately issued a statement contradicting this (see below) and dismissing WARA’s claims as “completely without foundation”. According to the Parish Council, there are 290 burial plots available and so the cemetery has capacity for the next 50 years.
So where did WARA get this crazy idea that usable space in the cemetery was running out and that new land would need to be found in the near future?
Well….they got it from Adderbury Parish Council.
In May 2016, the Parish Council gave its full support to a planning application for a single house off Horn Hill Road (16/00619/F), next to the Friends’ Meeting House and outside of the residential settlement boundary defined in the Adderbury Neighbourhood Plan. This application came with the promise of a small piece of community land at the rear of the current cemetery.
In the Parish Council’s letter of support (see below), the Parish Council Clerk stated that:
“The Parish Council welcomes the proposed offer of land for an extension to the existing cemetery. The PC will need to find further cemetery space in the near future (probably within 10 years) as the existing cemetery is becoming short of useable space“.
You can read this letter for yourself on the Cherwell District Planning Portal.
So in 2016 the Parish Council told Cherwell District Council that “probably within 10 years” (i.e. by 2026) further cemetery space would need to be found.
Policy AD21 of the Adderbury Neighbourhood Plan (which runs to 2031) also identifies “securing land for use as a cemetery” as a priority infrastructure project.
The planning application for a single house west of Horn Hill Road was eventually approved under application 17/00588/F. The Decision issued by the District Council explicitly states that:
“The land proposed for community use … in association with the Friends Meeting House, hereby approved, shall not be used for the purpose of burials, without the express planning permission of the Local Planning Authority”.
The reason for this piece of land being unsuitable for burials is the high water table and nearby springs. As many West Adderbury residents will know, this high water table often requires graves to be pumped out just prior to a funeral.
But according to the statement just published on the Parish Council website, we have 290 available plots and there is nothing for us to worry about.
So which is it? Are we running out of usable cemetery space in West Adderbury, or do we have 50 years’ supply? Does this include cremation plots? Single plots? Double plots? Does it depend upon residents’ willingness to spend eternity in waterlogged graves? If we are all to be cremated then presumably there is a limitless supply.
Has the Parish Council investigated the possibility of using the small piece of community land as an extension to the existing burial ground? Have they discovered that burials here are possible, or are they still banned from using the land for this purpose?
WARA believes that an investigation was undertaken in 2019, but to date no information has been made public by Adderbury Parish Council. WARA believes that residents of West Adderbury have the right to make plans for the future, and to be able to decide where their last resting place should be. At the request of some of its members, WARA have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Adderbury Parish Council to try to discover the reality of the situation regarding burial capacity.
It is unfortunate that the Parish Council’s response to this request was to accuse WARA of making false statements (i.e. lying), rather than publishing whatever information has been revealed by last year’s study. It is rather sad that WARA has come in for such public abuse and ridicule from the Parish Council, simply for asking a question on behalf of its members about the public burial ground.