Warning over Horspath graveyard plans

A conservation group has warned Oxford City Council it should not go any further with plans for a new graveyard without consulting it.

The council has been drilling boreholes near the site, in Oxford Road, Horspath, to see if parkland could be used for new burial spaces.

But the Oxford Preservation Trust has a restrictive covenant on the land which could prevent its use as a graveyard.

The group said it was not told about the work being carried out on the land.

The council has previously warned that the city would run out of burial space within the next 10 years if new sites are not found. It confirmed it was carrying out in-depth analysis at the Horspath site.

A spokesman said: "This includes borehole ground water testing over a six-month period covering winter and summer months to give further certainty as to ground conditions."

This work is expected to be completed in the summer.

But the land being examined by the council is in Shotover Country Park, which was given to the city in the 1950s by the preservation trust.

Its director Debbie Dance said: "We would want to be really careful that nothing jeopardises Shotover."

She added: "We had no idea about this at all until it appeared about 10 days ago."

Oxford City Council said it was looking at four possible cemetery sites in Marston and two sites near Oxford Road, in Horspath.

A spokesman said: "It is important that steps are taken now towards developing a new site because of the lead-in time that will be required.

"To develop a new cemetery site from starting the planning process to being ready for the first burial normally takes three to four years."

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