Lost the plot? Shortage of burial spots means Wyre graveyard will be full within five years

For generations, people have taken for granted that a peaceful, grassy spot in their local graveyard will be waiting for them when the time comes to lay a loved one to rest.

By Wes Holmes
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 12:30 pm

But that could all change within just a few short years, as the number of places where people can be buried on the Fylde coast is shrinking at an alarming speed.

As graveyards fill up and churches are unable to expand their grounds as land is sold off to wealthy housing developers, the area is facing a serious shortage of available places to bury its dead, says Reverend Damian Platt, of Christ Church in Thornton.

“We have around 30 to 40 burials in our churchyard per year, and we have 90 to 100 spots left. In five years time, our churchyard will be full, ” he said.

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Rev Damian Platt at Christ Church in Thornton

“We see new housing developments being built, new shops and roads popping up, but one thing we rarely see is new burial grounds.

“When this church was built in 1835, back then, there was land everywhere. It was a very rural area with farms and fields. We had a lot of land for burials.

“Now, as the local area is populated with housing and people, we have no more land around our church.

“In the last 20 years, the demand for burials has gone down dramatically because people have opted for cremation instead. This is why it hasn’t caused a panic. However, there’s still a decent number being buried, and at the current rate we will be full within five years.

“People are still being born, and people are still dying. What are we doing to ensure the babies being born today will have somewhere to be buried in 85 years time? Even people who opt for cremation often are buried. Soon, we won’t be able to do even that.

“Generally speaking, its older people who are passing away. They may have retired here, they may have grown up here. There’s an attachment they have to the area and they have decided decades ago that this is where they want to be.

“We find people put a lot of thought into their place of burial, and that is what’s going to be difficult. In the future, when the churchyard is full, people won’t have that choice.”

The church itself, he said, is unable to resolve the problem alone due to the rising cost of land.

Christ Church currently pays £30,000 a year to maintain its churchyard, and a further £8,000 had to be spent last year for work on some of the 145 trees there.

A Wyre Council spokesman said the borough overall has a ten year capacity for burials before space runs out.

Meanwhile, in Fylde, a recent planning application submitted to the council by Marsdens Funeral Home in Warton called for a new woodland burial ground to be created on land off Cartmell Lane, Lytham.

A planning statement submitted by Eastham Design Associates Ltd on behalf of the home read: “There is a known acute shortage of burial plots within the Fylde area and this burial area will provide much needed supply.”

However, the proposals met with fierce opposition from people living nearby.

David Kirkham, of Westby with Plumptons Parish Council, said: “At the parish council meeting... numerous residents from the area surrounding the proposed site were in attendance. There was a unanimous consensus to reject the proposal by residents in attendance.”

A Fylde Council spokesman said: "At Fylde we keep the matter of burial land under constant review, so as to avoid any future problems. At the present time and for the foreseeable future, there is no problem with burial land at our cemetery and crematorium based in the Fylde."

Meanwhile, in the Blackpool area the existing cemetery at Carleton Crematorium has recently been extended by approximately seven acres as part of a five-phase project to boost its capacity.

An additional 788 burial spaces are to be created in the early stages of the project, with this number rising to 1,500 by the time the extension is complete.

A Blackpool Council spokesman said they had plenty of provision for future burials.’

But Damian said: “We can only extend our existing graveyards so far.

“It’s not just about having a place to have someone buried, it’s about having a place to visit and grieve. It’s a place to come and be still ad remember. It’s an act of remembrance for the loved one who has died.

“How will people grieve if they have nowhere to remember their loved one?”

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