Residents rally round to block plans for cemetery and chapel in greenbelt (From This Is Local London)
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Residents rally round to block plans for cemetery and chapel in greenbelt in Banstead
Residents are rallying round in a bid to block plans for what some describe as a "humongous" cemetery and chapel in the greenbelt.
Reigate and Banstead Council has received a planning application to create a multi-faith, non consecrated cemetery on 25 acres of pastureland currently grazed by horses in Croydon Lane on the outskirts of Banstead.
The cemetery plans include burial plots, themed gardens linked by paths, a war memorial, water features, a service building for ceremonies and a car park.
The greenbelt site in Croydon Lane on the outskirts of Banstead
The design statement promises to provide visitors with "an experience of beauty and tranquillity" and introduce wildflowers, trees, shrubs and a pond to offset loss of habitat.
It said: "The development of the site is deemed to very much enhance, rather than detract from, the local ecology and provide new habitats."
Cemeteries that retain the openness of the land are generally not covered by the strict regulations governing the greenbelt.
But Daniel Diodato, from Longcroft Avenue, said he was wholly against the plan, has been leafleting neighbouring homes and is planning a meeting for concerned residents on Tuesday.
Mr Diodato said: "It's just not the right place for it. It's a quaint village on the outskirts of London. The last thing we want is something like that. It's completely out of character for a place surrounded by fields."
He also raised concerns about cars as well as funeral hearses coming and going along the already-busy Croydon Lane.
The applicant Anisha Amin, from Balham, has registered a company, Banstead Cemetery Ltd, which would be the operating business if plans are approved.
Justin Smith, managing director of her planning agent Cemetery Development Services, said funeral directors have identified a "desperate need" for a cemetery in the Banstead area because others are full.
He said there were false rumours circulating that it was going to be a Muslim burial ground with a mosque.
He said: "It’s a beautiful site that will cater for all religions. It is an altruistic development.
"The client are not profiting from this. They are providing something for the community."
Mr Smith said people could be buried near those of the same faith, graves could be "personally blessed" and people of no faith were also welcome.
And he said it was definitely aimed at catering for local people although he said it would accept people from elsewhere.
He said: "The cemetery has been proposed due to a local, regional and national need.
"The client wishes to provide a community facility that all faiths can benefit from as well as providing a beautiful memorial park and eco chapel for all to enjoy."
A resident, who asked not to be named, from Woodmansterne Lane, said: "I’m totally against. At the moment I have lovely view, but then it would be a three-storey chapel and the rest that comes with it.
"It would be humongous."
She said everyone is welcome to attend a meeting with councillor Eddy Humphreys at Banstead United Reformed Church in Woodmansterne Lane, Banstead, on Tuesday at 5.30pm.
A council letter, dated April 4, said residents had 14 days to submit comments on the planning application.
See the application, with reference number 14/00440/CU, at www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk.
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