The site comprised former agricultural land just outside a village and a house that would be replaced with a remembrance hall and car park. The burial ground would be extensively landscaped to create a nature reserve. The inspector noted that national green belt policy includes burial grounds as a potential exception to restrictions on inappropriate development, provided the openness of the green belt is preserved.
She observed that the site was well screened by mature tree and hedgerow boundaries and separated from open countryside by a motorway. In her view, it made only a limited contribution to openness. Careful positioning and orientation of memorials could ensure its visual openness, she reasoned. She also held that the introduction of memorials and burial plots would be insignificant in terms of built form and negligible in terms of impact on spatial openness, particularly given proposed restrictions on the size of grave markers and memorials, spacing and landscape enhancement.
The council accepted that the remembrance hall would not harm openness because it would be smaller than the existing house and occupy a similar footprint. The inspector held that the car park next door would be well screened and intrinsically linked to the development, so it would not be inappropriate. The council objected to the location of the burial ground, but the inspector observed that it was not unusual for developments of this type and a travel plan secured by condition would help mitigate private car use.
Inspector: Rebecca Norman; Written representations