REVISED plans to transform a disused golf club in Henley into a natural burial ground have been branded ‘Disneyland for the Dead.’
Cemetery Development Services (CDS) applied for permission to build a woodland burial ground on a site at Liveridge Hill towards the end of last year.
But having withdrawn the scheme in January, developers went back to the drawing board and have since pushed forward with new plans to create a county park.
Under these plans, the site – which would be known as Arden Country Park and Burial Ground – would become an open space offering wildlife trails, a children’s play area and an educational building for schools and local groups to use.
The natural burial ground would then form part of the overall scheme.
But David Hadley fears the proposals could spell disaster for the town and its residents – arguing the natural burial site is not required, it is an inappropriate use of greenbelt land and is unsustainable.
And he took the opportunity to voice his concerns during a recent public consultation event attended by more than 30 locals – the majority of whom were against the plans.
But despite the levels of public opposition, managing director of CDS, Justin Smith, maintains the development was the best possible use of the land.
He told The Observer: “The development will encourage people to visit the site for country walks and see local country crafts and skills.
“We aim to promote these activities and it would be disappointing if the town’s representatives stop this derelict landscape being improved for the betterment of wildlife just because they have a personal issue with natural burial.”
He said he believed the business plan was sustainable and the area would be enhanced in such a way as to improve biodiversity and encourage wildlife.
Mr Smith insisted full consultation had been undertaken with Warwickshire County Council and the burial ground would have very little visual or environmental impact as well as helping to create jobs.
But Mr Hadley hit out and urged townspeople to oppose the plans.
He said: “The developers have launched a website telling us Henley badly needs more woodland walks and a children’s play area amongst the burials but in reality, the plans are nothing more than Disneyland for the Dead.
“The developers have threatened to appeal if the proposal is declined, saying the client has deep pockets.
“We all know councils do not want to have expensive court cases but Henley residents have very deep pockets too and we will be fighting them all the way.”