Oxford

Row over Oxford football pitches proposed for cemetery

Five Mile Drive recreation ground
Image caption The Five Mile Drive recreation ground borders Wolvercote cemetery

A proposal to build a cemetery on a recreation ground in Oxford has prompted an angry response from people who play football there.

Six youth football teams use Five Mile Drive recreation ground in the north of the city.

Campaigners say the council should prioritise the living over the dead.

However, the council says its cemeteries will run out of space in five years and it is still putting together its shortlist.

Campaigners have put together a petition of 500 signatures opposing the plans to turn the recreation ground next to Wolvercote Cemetery into a graveyard.

'Real disaster'

Vice-chairman of the Summertown Stars football team Roger Parry, said it would be a "real disaster" for the club.

"We'd be losing two pitches and we'd have to reduce the teams.

"The boys and girls from north Oxford and beyond, we'd be turning them away."

Richard Lawrence-Wilson is leading the campaign to stop the cemetery being built on the recreation ground.

He said building graves on the playing fields would not give Oxford enough space for its cemetery requirements, according to the council's planning reports.

'Priority to living'

"Within a short time the city would be looking for more burial space - but our children and grandchildren would never get their playing fields back," he said.

"We urge the city council to give priority to the living, not the dead, and to preserve and enhance Five Mile Drive recreation ground as a sports facility and public open space."

A spokesman for Oxford City Council, said: "We are still in the process of evaluating the shortlist of options to meet the need for future burial space.

"We anticipate that this work will be completed within the next few months."

Green space at Hill View Farm, Old Marston, and two sites at Horspath have also been assessed as possible burial spaces.

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