Grendall Lane As Cemetery Site Would Be High Risk - Council Seek More Options

Report by Alan Winter
The New Cemetery Sub-Committee of the Houghton Regis Town Council met on 1st February 2021. You can watch the proceedings here:

The Council have had an initial assessment made by The CDS Group (Cemetery and Crematorium Development, Open Space Design and Environmental Solutions) of land at Grendall Lane (between the Chalk Pit and the Thorn Household Waste Recycling Centre). 

This land at Grendall Lane is owned by Central Bedfordshire Council and has the potential to be developed.  The Town Council have no land of its own that would be suitable for a cemetery.

The Town Council do have a Garden of Remembrance at Cemetery Road. This area is within the cemetery and offers the above ground interment of ashes in vaults. 

A full report about the CDS findings was considered by councillors on 1 February. This points out that groundwater protection is a statutory requirement for all cemetery sites under the Water Resources Act.

The Environment Agency(EA) have laid down strict guidelines for the development of new cemeteries which include that graves should not hold any standing water when dug, there should be at least 1 metre between base of grave and water table; more if the soil has high infiltration rates. Also, graves should be at least 250m away from wells and potable water supplies. If the ground was waterlogged and pumps were used to discharge "grey" water directly or indirectly from a grave area into surface it would be an offence under the Groundwater Regulations 1998. Also, there should be no burials within 10 meters of land drains.

Google Maps: Grendall Lane site is under consideration

The Grendall Lane site site has been found to contain active land drains and the depth to groundwater beneath the site is potentially too high to allow double depth burials, according to the report to the Council, which continues, "it is unlikely that the EA would consider this site suitable for burials without significant further assessment and remedial work." The report ends, saying, "Our view is that this site remains as high risk and that serious consideration should be given to reviewing other potentially more suitable sites in the local area."

Following discussion, the committee resolved to note the findings of the interim report, to confirm the completion of the assessment; to seek feedback from the Environment Agency in due course; to explore with CDS a shared use option of allotments and a cemetery and thus a smaller red line location for a cemetery; to explore with Dunstable Town Council options for a joint facility; to look to CBC for further options in nearby villages to look for further options.