Cemetery extension in Luton expected within 3 months - but may only last 15 years

Current burial space at Vale cemetery is predicted to run out in June
Vale cemetery in LutonVale cemetery in Luton
Vale cemetery in Luton

Extra burial space is expected to be available in Luton within three months, but it may only last a further 15 years, a meeting heard.

A survey in 2018 estimated a time line before Luton Vale cemetery and crematorium runs out of land for burials, according to a report to the local authority’s overview and scrutiny board.

Based on the yearly average figure per year, it would take up to seven years before this happened, said the report. “It’s anticipated the Vale will be full by June 2024.

“Deaths and burials increased during the pandemic, with the available land being greatly reduced. The council has acquired land for the new Vale extension next to the current site in Stopsley, which is due to be operational by May.

“This land is in the greenbelt and planning permission has been granted for its use as a cemetery. Aspects which won’t be allowed at the new site are encroachment outside of a designated plot, and items which are potentially a health and safety issue or flood risk.”

LBC’s service manager operational street scene and bereavement services Alex Greene said: “We’ve held several drop-in sessions with stakeholders and residents, and listened to the feedback which is included in the proposals where possible.

“The recommendations to executive take into account maximising capacity at the new Vale, the need to reduce the risk of flooding, to preserve the greenbelt character of open space and to recognise the desire of mourners and visitors to personalise loved ones within their grave plots.

“The space was 8,200 initially, but family requests for full kerb plots reduce it to 7,500 plots. It would have lasted 20 years, but that’s been revised to between 15 and 16 years based on predicted death rates.

“No signposts or gravestones will be placed at the natural burial area. If more space is needed, we’d look at everything from flowerbeds to parking areas.”

Liberal Democrat Stopsley councillor David Wynn, who chairs the board, asked: “Are you sure the regulations being proposed will be acceptable across the community?”

Mr Greene replied: “What we’re proposing is similar to what happened at the old Vale, apart from taking into account health and safety factors.

“People were putting in mattings because of the mud and flooding. That developed from artificial grass to tiles, which contribute to the flooding because it isn’t natural drainage and to the health and safety risk of slips, trips and falls.”

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks said: “If you wander into the Crawley Green Road cemetery and look at the grave of John William Green, a well-known local brewer and pub owner who died in the 1930s, there are 11 people buried in it.

“There are family members of all different levels. I don’t see why we don’t take advantage of the opportunity to get maximum use out of the limited number of graves which will be available.”

Mr Greene added: “The Crawley Green Road site isn’t under the council’s remit. We’re trying to maximise all the space. With every extra footpath we’d lose 20 burial plots.”

Councillors agreed to support the operating regulations.

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