Setback for Town's Cemetery Provision

Burial site; Houghton Regis; cemetery

  • On Monday this week a Houghton Regis Town Council committee met and concluded that a site owned by Central Bedfordshire Council in Houghton Regis would not be suitable for the town's needs as a cemetery. The Council will continue to search for other sites and to present these for initial consideration to CDS in due course.

Land at Grendall Lane, north of Houghton Regis Chalk Pit

A report to the Council relayed back to the New Cemetery Sub-Committee said that contractors CDS had 'thoughts and concerns'.

These  'thoughts and concerns' amounted to:
  • the northern half of the site being unsuitable under current statutory guidelines for a cemetery.
  • the steeper southern sector of the site would be too steep without remedial work for burials to take place.
The contractor suggested that to mitigate the issues of de-watering there was the possibility of introducing water pumping systems etc, and these works might cost up to £1m with ongoing costs, and yet the likelihood of getting approval for such a scheme would be low.

To mitigate the issues of the steepness of the slope, the contractor suggested land raising and sourcing earth from local development schemes, pointing out that 'planning would be more difficult to obtain and would be the key issue'.

The report also suggested that the contractor could be asked to seek out other land in Houghton Regis Parish for a cemetery at a cost of between £6000 - £10000.

The report to the committee is available here.

The land being considered is situated on Grendall Lane, beyond the Thorn Turn household waste recycling centre and the CBC Highways depot.

The Town Council committee was formed to try to come up with land that might be used for burials. Land suitability for burials has to meet strict criteria laid down, especially by the Environment Agency. One area offered was land owned by Central Bedfordshire Council at Grendall Lane.

Currently, Houghton Regis Town Council advises that there is no further space within the cemetery at Cemetery Lane for new body burials. Instead, it offers a Garden of Remembrance with a variety of options for ashes entombment in this area.

The Council is also working to try to find alternative land. Last July the Committee engaged a consultant to drill trial boreholes at the Grendall Lane site at a cost of between £13,750 to £16,750.

Houghton Regis Independent Councillor, Tracey McMahon, was one of the first to react to the decision to not proceed with Grendall Lane. In a post to her Facebook Page Tracey wrote, “Devastating news for any Houghton Regis residents that were hoping to be able to bury their loved ones in their own town!  

“... Grendall Lane (the ONLY site available, the ONLY site half suitable, and the ONLY site to be GIFTED - as in FREE FROM CBC!), HRTC Lib Dem councillors overwhelmingly voted with their group leader, rather than with the resident's interests...  to cease the project, and pay the cemetery consultant AGAIN to go and look for alternative sites, having had an explanation from the consultant that land is at a premium and that the landowners would be holding out for developer offers (housing land being more costly than agricultural/business, or cemetery!), and it would be unlikely that we'd be able to afford it 

“... So now we're back to square one, having already paid for boreholes, and consultants, within touching distance of getting a new cemetery that would serve the old town as well as the new, with a population explosion expected to exceed Dunstable and be the largest town in Central Bedfordshire, with nowhere to bury our dead!”

CBC's Cllr Pat Hamill also commented on his Facebook Page, “[I] had been asking CBC officers to assist Houghton Regis Town Council by identifying suitable land for a new cemetery given the amount of development this town has had to absorb.  

“I did say that the land off of Woodside Link should have gone alongside the investigations for Grendall Lane so two options were available but the council chose one path to go down in their wisdom. The land near the Frogmore area was suitable according to a CBC officer who suggested preparation to the land is all it would take in his opinion. 

“Houghton Regis residents should have a burial site and if Grendall Lane is an option regardless of cost and restrictions, it seems the only logical way forward.  To just wander on for another 10 years hoping to source suitable land is not a plan.”  

HRND asked the Town Council to comment. We were advised, “the council have decided to issue press releases through our own social media channels only and will do this later today / tomorrow.”

Earlier on Houghton Regis News Desk

Search for "cemetery" on Houghton Regis Town Council website