Council continue discussions on new cemetery in Mid & East Antrim
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been urged to give provision of a new cemetery for Carrickfergus “high priority”.
The direction was made behind closed doors at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee last month.
Councillors have asked for alternative sites which had been suggested at an earlier stage in proceedings to be reconsidered.
They were told by the director of Community that a report will be brought to members in January once a further tier of testing at the proposed site outside the town has been completed.
Burial capacity at Victoria Cemetery in Carrickfergus is estimated at 12 years, after a new section was added.
Elected members have already been told that historic monuments have been found on land earmarked for the new Carrick cemetery at Trooperslane Road and “significant work was to be carried out to map out exactly the extent to which the site would be suitable for burials”.
A report to council in January 2021 stated:
“This work became complicated because of a number of historic monuments within the site and this required the input from an archaeological expert.”
As a result of this work, it has emerged that one third of the 104 acre site, 36 acres, have been found to be “unsuitable for burial” due to the presence of a gas pipeline and 20 acre “buffer zone” around the water course which had been expected to reduce the purchase price by approximately £0.5m.
The committee was told in the report: “It was important to identify all those issues prior to commencing negotiations with the landowner as this significantly reduces the value of the land.”
Councillors were also told that 14 acres of land had been tested previously by the legacy Newtownabbey Borough Council. No problems were reported at this section.
In November 2019, Mid and East Antrim’s Policy and Resources Committee recommended that the local authority commences discussions and negotiation with the landowner to agree a purchase price for 104 acres of land at Trooperslane Road.
However, TUV councillors Matthew Armstrong and Christopher Jamieson and Ulster Unionist representatives Robin Cherry MBE and William McNeilly, all from Ballymena, objected to the committee’s decision.
Cllr Armstrong suggested the purchase of a smaller portion of land.
Knockagh DUP Councillor Peter Johnston proposed that council investigates the potential of developing surplus land as park land.
The committee also agreed to council officers commencing further discussions with Antrim and Newtownabbey and Belfast Councils to
determine potential “buy-in” to the development of such a project.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council reported that from the start of 2021, there were 770 graves remaining in Victoria Cemetery, 340 graves remaining in Larne Cemetery, 104 in Islandmagee Cemetery, 228 in Ballycarry New Cemetery, 175 in Glenarm Cemetery. Ballymena Cemetery has burial capacity for 26 years and Ballee, 50.
In Carrickfergus, there were 226 burials in 2020; 220, in 2019; 221 in 2018; 207 in 2017 and 216 in 2016.