Banstead MP and campaigners hail cemetery plan withdrawal as greenbelt victory

The proposed site in Croydon Lane in Banstead

The proposed site in Croydon Lane in Banstead

First published in This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter - Epsom

An MP, campaigners and residents have hailed the withdrawal of plans for a huge cemetery as a major victory for the greenbelt.

The applicant withdrew plans for a multi-faith cemetery and chapel in Croydon Lane, near Banstead Village, last week after a tidal wave of opposition from residents.

Six hundred people submitted objections to Reigate and Banstead Council arguing that the development would harm the greenbelt with many highlighting traffic issues.

Crispin Blunt MP, who represents Banstead, was one of those opposing what he believes would have been "inappropriate development in the greenbelt".

Mr Blunt said: "My congratulations to Councillor Lynne Hack and colleagues for the way they alerted people to the concerns and ran the campaign.

"My view is the greenbelt is extremely precious and needs protecting. The concern was it was not just a cemetery but a chapel and everything else that goes with it."

When asked about the principle of cemeteries in the greenbelt, he said: "I’m not wild about any greenbelt development but it is one permitted in the greenbelt."

Danny Diodato, who leafleted residents and organised a meeting attended by hundreds in April, said he believes the plans would never have been granted planning permission.

Mr Diodato said: "I’m pleased they withdrew and I hope they won’t come back. If they do we will be ready.

"The majority of people want to protect the greenbelt that protects the village. That’s what makes Banstead a village."

Last week Justin Smith, managing director of planning agent Cemetery Development Services, said there had been false rumours that it would be Muslim burial site and the applicant felt that the press had stirred up "racial unpleasantness".

Dismissing the claims, Mr Diodato said: "It’s got nothing to with that. This is about the greenbelt and protecting Banstead."

Banstead resident Jack Wingate said he had been through the hundreds of objections sent to the council but only a tiny handful supported the plans or remained neutral.

Of the community response, he said: "The planning officer said they have never seen anything like it. It’s big and unusual. It’s rare so many people get together."

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