2nd Jul, 2022

Muslim cemetery plans before planners for the fourth time

John Carlon 21st Feb, 2020

PLANS for a Muslim cemetery in Catherine-de-Barnes could be rejected by councillors.

The Birmingham Muslim Foundation, based in Small Heath, wants fields in the village to become a burial ground.

Officers at Solihull’s planning department have recommended the planning committee reject the proposal, for the fourth time.

They say the cemetery application before councillors is identical to other applications, the foundation does not own the site, and it would be ‘unacceptable’ to allow the burial of bodies next to an outdoor dog-training centre.

Planning officers also say burials could harm ground water conditions affecting a site of special scientific interest nearby.

As the Observer reported last year, the scheme for a 7,000-plot cemetery has been submitted three times previously.

Developer Dr Alam Shah said the site will help to fulfil the burial shortage highlighted within Solihull Council’s bereavement strategy.

The first application was withdrawn and the second was refused in October 2014 on a number of issues highlighted by the planning committee including highway safety and pollution of controlled water in the area. It was also refused because it did not meet the very special circumstances to build on the green belt.

In 2015 the third application was refused by the planning committee on the grounds that it was ‘inappropriate development within the green belt’, causing harm to the area, character and openness of the locality in the area, and traffic concerns.

Now the planning department is citing similar concerns, though it acknowledges a cemetery would be permissible in a green belt site.

But a 64-space car park is too big, they say.

Hampton-in-Arden parish council also opposes the application – it said “the borough [has] 25 years’ worth of burial space which is now down to 18/19 years. There is sufficient provision to meet local needs for the foreseeable future although it is recognised that it will be necessary within the next five to 10 years to secure some additional burial space.”

Thaqwa Cemetery Ltd said: “There is no designated Muslim community cemetery within a 45 mile radius of Birmingham or Solihull, and Muslims’ cultural and religious requirements not being met by other providers.

“Hence, there is a need for an independent Muslim cemetery. To serve the community we purchased a suitable plot of land on Catherine-de-Barnes after consultation with Solihull Council which confirmed this area of green belt land is suitable for cemetery development.

“As all the rituals will be conducted in the mosques, there will be a very minimal requirement for car parking. The prayers are offered at mosques where friends and relative gather to pay their last respect. Burial takes place after this service at a mosque.

Traditionally, very close relatives accompany the body to the graveyard where burial is conducted by very small group of men. Due to this reason there will be a small number (approximately seven to nine) of cars accompanying a body at any time.”

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