The cemetery in Whitwell Road was opened in 1857 and enlarged in 1919 when Reepham Parish Council (as it was then known) purchased land to extend it. The cemetery has both consecrated and unconsecrated sections for burials and also space for the interment of cremated remains.
The number of new graves requested each year varies considerably: many people now choose to be cremated, or to be buried outside Reepham. While it is difficult to anticipate how many people might wish to be interred in the cemetery in the future, it seems likely that Reepham will run out of burial space in the next five to ten years. For this reason the Town Council is reviewing the provision of burial space and the possibility of looking for new space for a cemetery.
Reepham Town Council has the power to provide burial space, but it does not have an obligation to do so. Many parish and town councils do not provide space: residents wishing to be interred find space in cemeteries outside their parish, in woodland burial areas or a crematorium. Indeed, this is the case for many Reepham residents who are not buried in the cemetery nor have their cremated remains deposited there.
It was agreed at its meeting in June that the Town Council should explore options for increasing the amount of burial space in Reepham. As part of this process, the Town Council is consulting with Broadland District Council planners, particularly with an expert on the process of developing a new cemetery, and with local landowners. This is necessarily a slow process and the Town Council is keen to keep people informed and to consult with them on the options available.
One source of delay is the Local Development Framework timetable: Broadland is not expected to make a decision on possible sites for housing development until early 2014. Until this decision is made, it is difficult to know what land may be available for a cemetery and what the cost implications may be.
Even if and when land is available, there will be several planning steps to go through; not least will be a requirement to check the suitability of the land, its security and accessibility. These will all take time and involve the Town Council in costs.
In the meantime, it has been suggested that the Right of Burial in the cemetery is restricted to Reepham residents (and people who lived in Reepham in the previous five years). This would reduce the demand for space slightly and extend the period before the space runs out.
Currently, non-residents may purchase space, but at a higher cost than residents. This ensures non-residents make some contribution toward the costs of running the cemetery, which are paid from local rates and, therefore, borne by all Reepham ratepayers. Many people have already purchased the Right of Burial in the cemetery and it is not suggested there should be any change in the arrangements for these.
Cllr Anne Woollett and Jo Boxall (Town Clerk)