Video: Playing field will not become a cemetery

Plans for a new cemetery in Ifield have been quashed after soil tests proved burials there would be too costly.

After looking at more than 40 sites within the borough, Crawley Borough Council put forward Ewhurst Playing Fields as a possible site for a new cemetery when Snell Hatch in West Green is full.

Now, after full soil tests costing £38,000, the Environment Agency has said the water table at the playing field on Ifield Road was too high and if it were used for burials, each would have to be encased in concrete costing £1,500.

In addition, they would only be suitable for single depth, but not double depth burials.

Therefore the council is now looking elsewhere, but time is running out.

As of last week, at Snell Hatch there were just six plots for Muslim burials, seven to eight years in the Church of England area and seven years for the Roman Catholic Church. A new site for a cemetery must be identified and acquired by April 2016.

Director of community services Phil Rogers will present a report to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on November 11 and Cabinet on November 13 fully explaining the progress to date.

He will recommend that Ewhurst should be discounted as a site and the cabinet allocates £35,000 to pay to extend the Muslim burial area at Snell Hatch into what is currently the depot for grave digging equipment.

Moving the depot to the car park area will enable another 86 plots to be added to the Muslim section, which will extend the life of that area by around four to four and a half years.

He told the Crawley Observer: “In Crawley we have got a real problem because we are a small borough with huge pressure on land supply, but also we’ve got a sub strata of Wealden clay which presents us with a real problem.

“We have got enough space in the Muslim section to last us until April, but it’s touch and go and we are up against it.”

He explained that there has been increasing number of Muslims choosing to be buried here over being repatriated to India or Pakistan.

If cabinet members agree with his recommendations it will take just six weeks to get the area next to the current Muslim burial site ready to use.

Mr Rogers said: “We have a team of contractors on stand by.”

In his report released on today (Friday November 1) Mr Rogers sets out all the sites which the council has looked at over the past eight years, the reasons why they have been discounted and full progress on what is being done now to find another site.

Read the full story and reaction to the report in next week’s Crawley Observer.