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20 ACRE: Burial ground site plan passed

20 ACRE: Burial ground site plan passed

Church Farm on Church Lane, Thurstaston, Image: Google Streetview

Plans for a new ‘natural burial’ site have been approved, amid warnings over a shortage of room for traditional burials.

Wirral Council’s decision means that Steve Ledsham, who owns Church Farm in Thurstaston, Wirral, will be allowed to build a 20-acre burial ground on land at the farm.

Adams Planning and Development Ltd’s (APD) supporting statement, prepared on behalf of Mr Ledsham, explained what a natural burial involves.

The statement read: “Natural burial is a term used to describe the burial of human remains where the burial area creates habitat for wildlife or preserves existing habitats (woodland, species rich meadows, orchards, etc), sustainably managed farmland, in-situ or adjacent aquatic habitats or improves and creates new habitats which are rich in wildlife (flora and fauna).”

The developers argued there is huge demand for such a burial site.

The statement continued: “Interest in natural death has grown as people have become increasingly concerned about the emissions and fuel-use associated with cremation, the use of stone for memorials (often shipped considerable distances from overseas quarries), or the use of formaldehyde for embalming, which has an adverse effect upon groundwater.

“At the national level, there is [an] increasing and currently unmet demand for both natural urn and coffin burials. By 2035, population figures [are] set to rise to 73.2 million, with one person passing away every minute in the UK.

“Burial space in the UK is running out, with natural burial grounds being seen as a logical solution to tackling the increasing demand for burials, and the shortage of urban cemeteries due to development pressures for higher value land uses.”

Church Farm itself is a mixed-use retail and leisure complex that has a restaurant/café, as well as tourist facilities, children’s rides and farm-related activities.

These facilities will not change due to the burial site plan.

The fields that are intended to accommodate the burial site are currently sub-divided into paddocks used for equestrian and dog exercise facilities.

APD claims that this plan addresses several problems with burial provision in Wirral.

The statement read: “The local needs for burial provision in the Wirral area in general is currently being met through a combination of providers including the Council and Local and Parish Churches; however, there are currently a few limited options available to families who wish to have their loved ones cremated remains interred in the Wirral area.

“There is currently no site available on the Wirral that has an option solely for cremated remains to be placed in a natural burial ground environment, all other sites are within a formal cemetery setting.”

The developer was insistent that there will be no particular religious commitment needed to use the grounds.

APD’s document continued: “Whilst it is evident that each of the above sites have their individual charm, they do not offer the same beautiful natural environment as our client’s landholding which offers elevated views and sits above Wirral Country Park, Thurstaston Beach and [the] North Wales coastline where many local people will have fond memories of visiting with their loved ones.

“This natural burial ground will also be open to all faiths, rather than being tied to and limited to certain faiths/religions.

“This new provision will be open to all individuals that wish to be buried in a beautiful environment in a location that is highly accessible by public modes of transport and the private motor car from the various settlements on the Wirral and the wider North West area.”


Words: George Morgan, Local Demcoracy Reporter

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