16th Sep, 2019

Fight goes on against Muslim burial ground in Solihull borough green belt

Felix Nobes 5th Aug, 2019

OBJECTIONS have been raised to plans for a Muslim burial ground in Catherine-de-Barnes – submitted for a FOURTH time.

Solihull Council planning chiefs have turned down previous applications for the Catherine-de-Barnes Lane site – citing inappropriate development on the green belt.

But, as we reported last month, the applicant behind the scheme Thaqwa Cemetery Ltd has returned – seeking permission to build a 7,000-plot cemetery.

Solihull Ratepayers Association has now outlined a number of concerns about traffic, accessibility and the scheme’s size.

The applicant claims there is a need for a dedicated Muslim-only cemetery in Solihull and a shortage of burial plots for the faith.

Documents compiled by the Cemetery Development Services on behalf of the developer state the proposed site will help to fulfill the burial shortage highlighted within Solihull Council’s bereavement strategy.

But the association claims there is no unmet need in Solihull, with Muslims well catered for in the region.

It argues that most of the people using the site would come from Birmingham.

Secretary Trevor Eames said: “Solihull Ratepayers Association recognises the importance to cater for the cultural needs of the Muslim community and other faiths but it is also clear these can be catered for best by larger dedicated burial grounds on a regional basis.

“While numbers of ethnic minorities within the borough may be increasing particularly among the younger generation there is not an unmet need at the present time that can justify the level of provision being proposed by this application at Catherine-de-Barnes.

“The scale of that burial ground would very much depend on its viability to meet a demand from outside the borough that can be better met for the foreseeable future by existing and consented provision elsewhere.”

Muslim-only burials for Solihull residents are offered at Widney Manor Cemetery and at Woodlands Cemetery.

Mr Eames claims there is already ‘very low demand’ from Muslim families using the graves provided at Widney Manor.

The council expects Woodlands Cemetery to be full in five years and has been seeking an extension to the site for several years.

The first application was withdrawn and the second was refused in October 2014 – with the third rejected a year later.

This was due to concerns about highway safety, harm to the area and pollution.

It was also refused on these occasions because it did not meet the very special circumstances to build on the green belt.

No date has yet been set for processing the planning application.

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