Council plans continuation of Woodland Burial Trust
People who have reserved plots at a woodland burial site in Durham City are being reassured that they will still be able to be buried alongside their loved ones.
Durham County Council has agreed to honour arrangements made by the Woodland Burial Trust (WBT), regarding the site next to South Road Cemetery, before it was liquidated.
The council agreed a 125-year lease with the WBT, a Community Interest Company, to run the site as a natural burial ground in 2014.
The WBT developed the site and received membership payments from individuals who paid various amounts for affiliation, to reserve a plot or to reserve a plot and pay for future interment.
However, in December 2016, the organisation was wound up following a series of problems and responsibility for the site reverted to the council.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We know that the local community, along with many of those previously involved in running the site, is keen to see it continue to operate as a natural burial area. We are very pleased to announce that this will be the case, led by the council with significant community input. The site will be fully operational as soon as all of the burial records are accounted for, a process that should be complete soon.
“We are well aware that a number of people have paid to reserve a plot and they are unsure about the arrangements for the future. We are pleased to provide assurance that previous commitments made by the Woodland Burial Trust will be honoured.”
The authority is also looking at opening the site up for new interment requests once checks on the site’s burial records have been finalised and is in discussions with former WBT members about their possible role in supporting the site in the future.
Stephen Hare, from The Friends of Durham Woodland Cemetery, said: “We are pleased the council has taken action to honour the agreements made by the WBT and are committed to supporting its efforts.
“Operating as a friends group, we will do all we are able to ensure the woodland burial site is able to continue to operate.”
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