At Sandwell Council's meeting on Tuesday, the chamber was split on the issue of making an exception to its local plan and build the graveyard on part of Powke Lane Open Space – with 35 councillors in favour, 25 against and three abstaining.
The authority said Sandwell is running out of plots in existing facilities, including Rowley Regis Crematorium near the proposed site, and would have to stop accepting new burials within four years, insisting Powke Lane was the best option available.
Residents who use the beauty spot left the meeting in tears but said they had already contacted the Secretary of State requesting the plan be "called in".
The Friends of Powke Lane Open Space group launched a campaign against the plan when it first emerged last year due to concerns about the loss of a valued facility, harm to wildlife and impact on traffic and road safety. A petition against the proposal has collected around 1,200 names to date.
Planning permission was granted in October 2018 and full council had been recommended to seal approval the following month.
But it was withdrawn after councillors demanded alternative sites be looked at before coming back to committee this week.
After the meeting Calvina Hayes, chair of the Friends’ group said: “We have contacted the Secretary of State’s office and requested a calling in of the planning application.
“Hopefully this will take it back to the planning stage where an independent planner will be employed by the government. This is not the end of the fight.”
Fellow group member Lynda Leddington said: “I am absolutely devastated. That land is so precious and important to so many people and to the wildlife.
“We need to keep striving to improve mental health but If they keep taking what bit of green space we have got left, there will be nowhere for the people of Rowley Regis to walk.
“Walking in that space and coming back into your house after, you feel 100 per cent better than when you left whatever your troubles are.
“And what do we say to our children today? We’ve done nothing to help improve the environment and knocked down trees to build burial plots? I am sorry but this is just not on and the council are wrong.
Marilyn Slater added: “Powke Lane is more like a conservation and it’s really lovely to see the wildlife. There are badgers, foxes, the migratory birds we get are amazing and in spring there are a lot of bumble bees there which are in decline.”
Councillor Bob Lloyd, cabinet member for inclusive economic growth, said the issue went to a safer neighbourhoods and active communities scrutiny board in February and concluded that this was the “best option available to the council”.
Councillors including ward member Kerrie Carmichael, who has supported residents in their fight against the plans, Liam Preece, Bob Piper, Peter Hughes and Julie Webb voiced strong objections over the loss of the green space.
But Councillor Maria Crompton said: “In all of this, I haven’t heard anyone having any thought for the families that may want to bury their loved ones. They may feel that is what is good for them.
“If they can’t do that where they live in Rowley, they would have to go over into Dudley which will cost them twice as much because they have crossed the border.
“What about if it was your mum, dad, brother, sister or – god forbid – child and you wanted to visit their grave and pay your respects? Why should we take that away from those people?”