Tears as Rowley Regis Cemetery and Crematorium given go-ahead

A huge new cemetery looks set to be built to provide ‘much-needed’ burial space after councillors backed the project – despite an 800-name petition against it.

Rowley Regis Cemetery and Crematorium
Rowley Regis Cemetery and Crematorium

Campaigners were left in tears as Sandwell Council’s planning committee gave the green light to plans for the new cemetery to be created opposite Rowley Regis Crematorium, on green space next to Powke Lane Industrial Estate.

The proposals will now go before the full council later this month when a final decision on whether to approve the scheme will be made.

Deborah Smith, 57, who lives near to the site, branded the council’s decision ‘disgusting’ and said she would consider moving if the space is turned into a cemetery.

Ms Smith said she walks her dogs, seven-year-old Lenny, a Labrador, and five-year-old Ralph, a cocker spaniel, on the site every day and would be forced to move if that were to change.

Speaking after the planning committee meeting, she said: “I am disgusted by it. My biggest concern is it is in the centre of several housing estates and the diversity of the people that use it is extensive.

“You have got dog walkers, kids, in the summer we have toddler groups that are using the site. It is a really sociable place.

“We got more than 800 signatures on paper and online. If this goes ahead I am going to have to move house.” The proposed site is just a short distance from the Rowley Regis Crematorium, which recently underwent a £1.3 million revamp.

Documents submitted with the application said the site would include site remediation works and a widening of the existing access of Powke Lane. Works would also see the erection of an office building with toilets and an operation yard, the creation of a car park and associated works including CCTV, lighting and landscaping.

But concerns were also raised about the safety of Powke Lane during the meeting by campaigners and councillors.

One campaigner said: “It is not safe at all. The way they come down that hill, they absolutely bomb it down.

“My husband used to work at Water Tech, which just next to where the proposed bit is, my husband was trying to go into the parking spaces there and he did not quite make it.

“My husband had to be cut out of a van here. It is not safe at all and we get lots of big vehicles going down there as well.”

Another campaigner, Calvina Hayes, said: “A lot of accidents that happen there are not even recorded and a lot of them are not even reported to the police.”

Supporting campaigners arguments, councillor Julie Webb said: “Over the past five years, there have been three fatal accidents on Powke Lane, the last one being a lady who was crushed, and a motorcyclist who got killed there as well.

“I fear for the pedestrians coming out of the crematorium. It really is a fast road.”

Speaking after the meeting, campaigner Ms Hayes said: “I am disappointed, but it has still got to be approved by the full council so we are not giving up.”

The final stage of Sandwell Council’s decision will now take place on October 16.

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