Cemetery proposals rejected

Plans to expand Edgwarebury cemetery have been rejected after environmentalists said that it infringed on the green belt.

Belsize Square Synagogue, one of the four Jewish communities that use the site, have said they have less than a year’s worth of space left at the cemetery in Edgware and are deeply concerned about the decision.

Councillors at Barnet voted against the expansion this week, which sought to take over two fields neighbouring the current site, after hearing representations from the local branches of the London Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Environmentalists said they were “delighted” by the decision after telling the committee that the plans were visually detrimental, did not preserve openness, and would ruin the homes of bats and rare falcons.

Keith Conway, a board member at Belsize Square, has been running the cemetery project since 2002.

He said that the new fields would have provided more than 6,000 new burial plots and would extend the life of the cemetery for another 60 years.

He said: “We are very disappointed about the decision and concerned because of the shortage of time.

We cannot find another site in Barnet. We are now taking advice on what to do next. The options are to submit a renewed application, which could be smaller, or appeal. But we are worried that time is running out.”

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of the Liberal movement, which also uses the site, said: “This decision is regrettable. We had made extensive efforts to meet the requirements, including tree protection and ecological considerations.”

Despite recommendations to approve the plans by the planning officer, four councillors voted against the expansion.

Two councillors abstained and only one, Edgware councillor Darrel Yawitch, voted for the plans.

Clive Cohen, vice-chair of the London Wildlife Trust Barnet group, said: “We’re delighted it has been rejected and that the nature conservation has been protected.

“There are less sensitive areas outside this area they could use and they could also make better use of the existing cemetery.”

    Last updated: 12:58pm, October 15 2009