Cemeteries are completely unique spaces in a city’s environment, combining architecture with landscape, wildlife with people, silence with reflection. They are memorials to the dead and the past, Bristolians of years gone by, that serve an essential and present purpose to the living.
These spaces touch everyone’s life in some way and serve as a constant reminder of those that they loved. Burials, and the lasting memories they provide, are landmark events for those who are grieving a loss. Everyone deserves to be able to give their loved ones a fitting burial and to have a space, if they want it, to come to remember them.
That’s why we have taken important steps to expand the existing South Bristol Cemetery and Crematorium, onto land that has been allocated for its expansion since the 1960s. This will include 1,500 adult and 260 baby burial plots, new memorial plots, associated roads, footpaths, and more key infrastructure to support this.
Bristol City Council owns eight cemeteries across the city, from South Bristol to Greenbank, Canford, and Arnos Vale. They are beautiful spaces that offer a break from the busy city and time to reflect and remember. But their capacities are limited, part of the finite 42 square miles that make up our city, which has increased by 48,000 people since 2008.
Council cemeteries, including South Bristol Cemetery, need more room. So, we are acting now to ensure residents from across the city, of all faiths and none, have the space and opportunity for burials in the city.
The proposed expansion entails enough land to cover 25 years of ongoing burials in Bristol, including vital space for a diverse range of faith burials to address community needs alongside an adjacent area for infant burials. This is a necessary decision to make and the correct one.
We are able to enact this expansion now, thanks to a long-sighted agreement between the Council and Yew Tree Farm. In May 2021, council officers met with the farm, providing a generous temporary grazing agreement on the land beyond the scope of the initial expansion set to take place over ten years, in the knowledge that some of that land would be claimed back for the necessary burial expansion.
The current proposals are to use less than ten percent of the land currently used (without tenancy) by Yew Tree Farm. The Council is presently in direct discussions with Yew Tree Farm on granting a long-term lease for the remaining 90% of grazing land. The council has continued to engage the small farm during the application process.
Similarly, officers have taken steps to submit a robust set of flood monitoring and ecological assessments, including a new wetland pond habitat, new hedgerows, and tree planting. These measures will ensure a rich bio-diversity is maintained across the site, supporting local ecology to continue to thrive.
This application is vital step in the city’s future. In years to come we can be proud that the council’s foresight to protect space for our cemeteries, ensured that we could continue to meet demand. Proudly maintaining them as special places, close to the hearts of residents for generations to come. It’s important that we take decisions that look to protect the long term future of Bristol, and I hope that the Planning Committee will do so today.