“What is to prevent the sites from being built-on in the future?” – This is one of the most frequent questions we are asked.
The quick answer is:
- Our natural burial grounds have no potential for property development, but they do have long-term value as pasture
- They are held on a 99-year lease that restricts the use of the land to natural burials and grazing
- The Planning Authority’s permitted use of the land is for natural burials
- Planning Authority is exceptionally unlikely to approve any application for change of use where burials exist
- Each new burial adds to the complexity and cost of any future development and to the security of the site
- Legislative procedures that need to be followed for each proposed exhumation require strong justification
- Exhumation costs are likely to prohibit development – only major civil schemes such as HS2 can bear these costs
- Our burial grounds have a long-term, sustainable future as pasture
There is no likelihood whatsoever that any other development will take place at the sites we have selected. The burial grounds are protected from future development in several ways:
Local Authority planning permission
The local planning authorities have granted permission for the land to be used as a cemetery. Any other land use would require an application to the planning authority for development. Such an application would be very unlikely to receive consent.
The burial grounds usually lie within Green Belts, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, or have Historic Monuments that are protected by law.
The grounds often form important landscape features, which the landowners and local authorities wish to protect. for example, Hundy Mundy is part of the historic Mellerstain Estate. It is located on a ridge in the middle horizon when viewed from Mellerstain House. The Tower is precisely on the axis of symmetry for the house, terraces, lawns, avenues and lake – it has been leased as a woodland burial ground specifically to preserve the designed landscape.
No development potential
We are rarely offered land that has any other development potential – those avenues have usually been investigated and rejected before we are given the opportunity to appraise the land for natural burial.
Long leasehold interests
We have long leasehold interests in the land, which means that no other development can take place on the land during the term of those leases.
A complex and expensive exhumation process
Each and every burial within the burial ground secure the land for the future. The process of applying for the exhumation of each individual grave is complex and involves the next of kin, the burial ground operator and the Secretary of State (Sheriff in Scotland).
On top of this, the practical cost of the exhumation of individual graves is considerable. The difficulty of this would prompt any prospective developer to choose any other nearby piece of land instead – the economics would also be prohibitive.
Is our pre-purchase safe?
“What happens if the company goes bust?”
The answer is that we have built the business on a very low risk, financially robust model. The company has no major borrowing, outgoings are low, the burial grounds are future assets for the landowners and are designed to be economically sustainable in the long-term. The cost of grave-digging and administering the burial is covered by charges that are payable at the time of a burial or interment, which means that the company is not storing up debts for the future.
“Wouldn’t it be safer as consecrated ground?”
No, because consecration does not offer long-term security as land can easily be de-consecrated.
“What happens when the owners retire or die?”
The answer is that the business has been set up as a limited company. Shareholders will appoint another director to continue to run the company.