A Hertfordshire council is asking residents whether they would prefer to be buried or cremated ahead of a proposed cemetery expansion.
Allum Lane Cemetery in Elstree is close to capacity. Hertsmere Borough Council has launched a survey as part of its plan to compulsorily purchase next-door land.
Draft council budget papers show the expansion plans could cost £588,000 in the 2023/24 financial year, funded using money put forward by housebuilders and developers.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed Allum Lane Cemetery could run out of space by the end of 2024.
Seven councils with 11 cemeteries in Hertfordshire reported their graveyard land supply could be completely exhausted within the next two decades if they cannot prepare new ground.
Launching the Allum Lane Cemetery consultation in January 2024, Cllr Parveen Rani (Lab, Borehamwood Kenilworth) said: “Many of us have plans or wishes in place for when we die and we’d like to hear your views about burials and cremations in our borough.
“Whilst cremation is widely preferred nowadays, there is still a significant minority of residents who, for religious, cultural or personal reasons, would either prefer or require burial in a grave.
“In some instances, private sector cemeteries are used, but there is still demand for burials in Allum Lane Cemetery.
“To extend it we would need to compulsorily purchase neighbouring land which is in the green belt which is an acceptable use under planning regulations.”
Cllr Rani added: “As we explore solutions to accommodate the diverse preferences within our communities, your input is invaluable so we hope you will take a few moments to complete our survey.”
Residents can respond to the consultation using Hertsmere Borough Council’s surveys portal: https://hertsmere.civilspace.io/en
Elsewhere in the county, Welwyn Hatfield approved Local Plan 2016-2036 in October 2023, which safeguards land to expand Hatfield’s The Lawn cemetery.
The authority will need new burial space by approximately 2028. Bishop’s Stortford Town Council expects to run out of space by 2036. The authority has taken its case to Parliament, asking lawmakers for permission to extinguish burial rights and disturb human remains to free up space.
London’s burial authorities, including Harrow, Barnet and Ealing Councils near Hertsmere, already have similar powers. They can disturb human remains in private graves older than 75 years to deepen the plot, which frees up space for additional burials.