A farmer fears for his future with an expansion of a nearby Luton cemetery to meet local demand for burial space.
Borough council plans to change the use of farmland west of Butterfield Green Road to provide an additional 8,200 burial spaces have been approved by the local authority’s development management committee.
An attempt to postpone the proposals was rejected by five votes to four, and councilors then voted six-three in favor.
Manor Farm sharecropper Lionel Shaw told the committee on Jan. 5, “Land tenure will economically and operationally affect our farming business.
“The proposal would result in the owner advising us to vacate the land.
“Using Butterfield Green Road will seriously prevent us from accessing our farms, Manor Farm and Whitehill Farm, with tractors and farm machinery.
“Butterfield Green Road is a dead end road and we have no other access.
LBC Planning Officer Sunny Sahadevan said: “The capacity will last for about 25 years. The city’s current space will run out in 2023.
“There is a proposed secure link between the old and the new part of Vale Cemetery and Crematorium.
“The site is in flood zone three, although there is no significant risk of groundwater pollution, but more studies need to be done.
“The key issue is the sensitive location of the site in the green belt and it is an area of great landscape value, with archaeological and historical heritage status. There were 22 responses, all opposing the proposals.”
Stopsley’s Liberal Democrat adviser David Wynn warned of “complete chaos” and called for a better plan, suggesting that four more spans and two yellow lines would be insufficient to solve the traffic problems.
Project design and delivery manager Toby Maloy said the green belt and landscape value area “does not neglect the development of cemeteries.”
He labeled the design “as sympathetic as possible to its rural location, while taking into account its neighbors and the site’s ecological potential.”
Describing it as “an important community asset,” he said: “It limits the amount of hard roads and landscaping.
“Of course, development causes losses. We remove a small hedge to create an access and remove a large part of the meadow for the graves. But much of the site is of low ecological value.
City mayor and Farley Labor adviser Mahmood Hussain asked if other sites were being considered.
Labor Northwell advisor Anne Donelon said: “I am extremely concerned about the parking lot and how smooth the transition will be from chapel to burial site with people who will be absolutely upset and in distress.
“We have to make sure that in the darkest of times, when people are helpless and in emotional turmoil, we can make the funeral of their loved ones less difficult.”
Barnfield’s Liberal Democrat adviser David Franks is still not convinced that drainage measures would prevent “a worsening of local flooding problems”.
He called for “a huge improvement to make sure this doesn’t happen at all” at the new site.
“You can’t face extremes, but I’m not convinced that the 20 or so parking spaces offered here will be sufficient for most funerals,” he said.
But Councilor Hussain said: “There are enough parking spaces near the two chapels. We need them as soon as possible.”