Plans for a 4,000 plot Muslim cemetery in Catherine-de-Barnes, in Solihull, was rejected by Solihull Council on November 5. But a separate application for a 7,000 plot Muslim cemetery adjacent to this site still has to be determined.
Justin Smith, representing the applicants, Cemetery Development Services, told Solihull Council’s planning committee there was a significant demand from the Muslim community within five to ten miles of Solihull.
The plan received 2,125 letters of support, plus a near-400 name petition.
There were 380 objections.
Solihull Ratepayers Secretary Trevor Eames said there was already adequate burial provision for local Muslims. Councillors unanimously rejected planning permission for the 4,000 plot cemetery.
The proposed plans for 11-acre site in Catherine-de-Barnes village, near Solihull, Birmingham, were resubmitted after withdrawing in March 2014. The developers, Cemetery Development Services, have proposed plans for two neighbouring cemeteries.
The 4,000 burial spaces would accommodate Muslim only plots, in compliance with Islamic tradition, and a further request for an extra 7,000 spaces, would become an adjacent multi-faith cemetery if approved. The site would also include around 90 car parking spaces.
The Muslim community of Birmingham have said they are in desperate need for more burial spaces. Funeral Director, ZUQ Funeral Services, Mohammed Khalil, explained the urgent need for the plot. “The local Muslim population is growing rapidly, but the cemetery Muslims use is mostly Handsworth which is nearly full,” he said.
“Birmingham Council are making some provision but we still need more in the vicinity of the population. Don’t forget, the people who came here in the 1950s and 1960s are now old and dying fast.
“Before, they used to send people back home to their families in Pakistan and Bangladesh. But apparently now all their families are here and they have no-one back home. They are saying ‘this is our country now. We are living here and dying here so we should be buried here,” he added.
But leader of Solihull Council, Councillor Bob Sleigh (Con. Bickenhill), said the needs of local people could be met at the borough’s current plots. “There is no need for this extra site in Solihull. We have identified our population need and made provision for that,” he said.
“This is an extremely large proposal. Obviously people are concerned about the scale of the development and its threat to greenbelt land around Catherine-de-Barnes,” he added.
Both applications will be seen by the planning committee next month.