Crowborough burial site plans uncertain

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Plans for a natural cemetery in Crowborough could fall foul of Wealden District Council’s ‘seven kilometre’ rule.

The Town Council had bought 13 acres of land at Summersales Farm in order to create two cemeteries, a ‘green’ one and a conventional cemetery.

But a District Council spokesman told the Express: “With regard to the proposal for extending the cemetery in Crowborough and providing an expanded natural burial facility, one of our planning officers discussed the proposal with the Town Council in December.

It was felt that there would be no problem with a well-argued case for an extension to the town’s current burial ground for the use of townspeople.

However a proposal to offer a natural burial facility to families nationwide could lead to an increase in traffic from other parts of the country to Crowborough and it might have a detrimental affect on attempts to protect the Ashdown Forest from a continued increase in nitrogen deposits from motor vehicles.

Increasing nitrogen deposition is a cause of eutrophication which will damage the Forest’s ecology.”

Natural burials give families who do not want a traditional cremation or burial, the chance to place bodies in biodegradeable coffins and decorate the area around with plants, flowers and trees.

The only other natural burial sites at present are near Hassocks in West Sussex, Brighton and Hastings.

A scheme to create one in Possingworth Lane, Waldron was turned down by the council several years ago for fears it was an inappropriate scheme for a country location and could cause traffic problems.

But with the existing Crowborough cemetery in Herne Road set to be full in five years, the town prioritises creating a new one, which would have capacity for 2,500 bodies.

Town Clerk Philippa Hewes said: “We still have quite a long way to go - it’s just a field at present.

“What we would very much like to have is a natural burial ground as well as a traditional burial site.

“We will be talking more closely to the planning department as there are restrictions due to our proximity to the Ashdown Forest. We will take the traditional site forward as a first phase as that is more pressing with the existing cemetery nearing capacity. Ideally we would love to have both traditional and natural burials, for which there is great demand.”