Mid and East Antrim Council: anger over Department’s cemetery letter

Mid and East Antrim councillors have reacted angrily to a letter from the Department for Infrastructure over a recent decision by the council’s planning committee to approve an application for a new Larne cemetery without prior notification to the Department.

Planning permission for the £2.1m cemetery in Larne was approved by the council’s planning committee last month.

The new 15-acre site consists of two fields, opposite 382 Old Glenarm Road, on the right side of the road towards Ballygally.

It is expected to be able to facilitate almost 4,000 plots with capacity for 25 years.

DUP Alderman Audrey Wales said she thought the letter from the Department for Infrastructure was ‘an insult’ and ‘disgusting’

But now the council has received a letter reminding it that the Department does have “the right to intervene”.

The letter also states: “It is the Department’s view that it would be appropriate to notify the Department in relation to the application by the council for the construction of a municipal cemetery.”

DUP Alderman Audrey Wales described it as “an insult to the members of this planning committee that they can’t make a proper decision. I think it is disgusting.”

Alliance Councillor Robert Logan stated: “It is obviously political interference in the planning decision. This planning committee has always worked on a cross-party basis and we like to pride ourselves on this in spite of the fact, in the council chamber, we disagree on many things but on planning we are all agreed that we do our planning duties to the best of our ability and without any political side to it whatsoever.

“I also am irritated by this call-in by another name.”

McGarel Cemetery, also at Old Glenarm Road, is already at capacity and Greenland Cemetery in Craigyhill will reach capacity in nine years.

The new cemetery will include a memorial garden, 140 parking spaces, public toilets including a Changing Places facility for disabled users, and a staff building - with access to the site by a new right-hand turning lane at Old Glenarm Road. A bus stop is included in the plans.

A decision on the application had been deferred in March to allow for a site visit to take place.

The council’s head of planning Paul Duffy told the meeting that the cemetery is being developed as a “long-term strategy”, noting a “general shortage of burial capacity in the area”. He reported five objections to the proposal,