Disused Whitby football pitch could be used to provide extra graveyard

A disused football pitch could be used to provide an extra graveyard in Whitby as space for burials in the town is running out.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 1:51 pm
The disused football pitch on Larpool, Whitby, which could be used as an extra cemetery space.
The disused football pitch on Larpool, Whitby, which could be used as an extra cemetery space.

Scarborough Council has produced a report into the cemetery provision in the borough as it warns that existing sites could be full within the next four years.

In order to address the problem a derelict football pitch in Whitby has been identified, though councillors have been warned that securing the site will not be easy.

In her report ahead of the council's Lives and Homes Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting next week, legal director Lisa Dixon wrote: " The council’s current cemetery sites at Larpool (Whitby), Woodlands (Scarborough) and Lawns (Filey) are estimated to reach full capacity at different times.

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"Based on current burial rates and number of available burials plots for each cemetery, it is estimated that Larpool and Woodlands will have reached full capacity in the next four years and Lawns cemetery in the next six to eight years.

Dean/Manor Road cemetery has already reached full capacity."

A number of sites in Whitby were looked at with the council initially favouring one near to Whitby Abbey, though the potential cost of archaeological works made it too expensive.

The one now under consideration is what the council has called an "under used" sports field off Larpool Lane and Larpool Drive.

One issue for the authority is that Sport England is likely to oppose the loss of the football pitch but Mrs Dixon says the council can seek to overcome the problem.

Her report added: "As far as the council is concerned the main potential risk is the fact that the land is designated a 'football field' and so any proposals to remove such a facility is likely to attract an objection from Sport England.

"Informal discussions with the council’s Sports Development manager have revealed that none of the local football teams play on this field and in practice it is unused as a sports facility.

"Furthermore, in 2019 it was announced that Eskdale School in Whitby had been awarded a grant from the Premier League, the FA and Government’s Football Foundation, to install a new floodlit 3rd Generation (3G) artificial grass pitch .

"This facility was built and opened earlier this year and will be used by not only a number of local football teams, but also hired on a casual basis, by other local groups."

The council's recently published playing pitch strategy said that the Larpool field was not a "sustainable option" due to the lack of changing facilities and that the pitch slopes from one side to the other.

Mrs Dixon says the council has a "strong case" to put forward if Sport England objects.

A site to the north east of Woodlands Cemetery in Scarborough, currently used by grazing animals, has been identified for expansion of that site.

In Filey, land to the south of the Lawns, which is managed by Filey Town Council, is considered the best option.

All three parcels of land are owned by Scarborough Council.

The total cost of developing the three sites for burials is estimated at more than £1 million and planning permission would be required for the change of use of land.

The overview and scrutiny committee will be asked to consider the options and provide feedback on the proposed sites when it meets on Wednesday next week.