Inquiry opens into proposed Harold Wood Muslim cemetery

A man pays his respects at a grave in a Muslim section of a cemetery. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A man pays his respects at a grave in a Muslim section of a cemetery. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A public inquiry into controversial plans for a cemetery near a golf course in Harold Wood opened yesterday at Havering Town Hall.

Members of the community opposing plans, to open a Muslim cemetery at Oak Farm, Maylands Fields, Harold Wood, packed the council’s chamber.

Representing the applicant Gardens of Peace, Ilford, Craig Howell Williams QC, said although the firm has two sites in Redbridge, it will run out of burial space in three to five years.

“[Muslims] need to bury the dead as quickly as possible and need to face Mecca,” he said.

“This appeal relates to the charity’s aim to continue to serve the Muslim community.”

If the plans are agreed, the burial area will provide up to 10,000 burial sites.

Mr Howell Williams argued the designs ensured that the open nature of the site would be retained alongside key countryside characteristics.

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He said the charity’s pre-application discussions with the council were initially positive.

But, the committee report “recommended” that permission be refused.

Representing Havering Council, barrister Isabella Tafur said the “special circumstances” that would justify such a development on green belt land had not been established.

She added: “The appeal site is an agricultural field. If it is allowed it will be in use seven days per week, with five burials per day and hundreds of visitors.”

For more on the story see this week’s Recorder

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