Green light for new £2.1m cemetery in Larne
Planning permission for a new £2.1m cemetery in Larne was approved at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday morning.
The new 15-acre site consists of two fields, opposite 382 Old Glenarm Road on the right side of the road towards Ballygally.
It is expected to be able to facilitate almost 4,000 plots with capacity for 25 years.
It is anticipated that there will be 180 burials annually with a maximum of three per day and a “gap of 90 minutes between funerals”.
McGarel Cemetery at Old Glenarm Road is already at capacity and Greenland Cemetery in Craigyhill will reach capacity in nine years.
The new cemetery will include a memorial garden, 140 parking spaces, public toilets including a Changing Places facility for disabled users, a staff building with access to the site by a new right-hand turning lane at Old Glenarm Road. A bus stop is included in plans.
A decision on the application had been deferred in March to allow for a site visit to take place.
The council’s head of planning Paul Duffy told the meeting that the cemetery is being developed as a “long-term strategy”, noting a “general shortage of burial capacity in the area”. He added that “an over-riding need has been demonstrated”.
He reported five objections to the proposal.
Planning consultant Gemma Jobling said that an objector who lives opposite the site has expressed concern about the potential impact on his property and surrounding area.
She suggested a potential for an additional 300 vehicle movements in the vicinity per day with “large volumes of cars arriving at the same time”, which she said, would prevent her client from turning into his property. She also noted that noise impact has not been assessed.
She pointed out that Translink has not agreed to a new bus route to the cemetery site and currently “only those with a car can get there”.
She also noted the “natural heritage impact” of the loss of 240 metres of roadside hedging.
Committee vice-chair Coast Road DUP Councillor Angela Smyth asked if more people would not be affected by noise if the new cemetery is located in an urban area.
The consultant suggested that the impact would be greater at the proposed location where cars would stop along the road with engines running.
“This has not been assessed. It is unusual that something like this would not have a noise assessment. Our client has a legitimate concern,” she stated.
“It is a different context to an urban setting.”
In response to a query from Knockagh Independent Cllr Bobby Hadden, Mr Duffy said that planners had consulted with environmental health which had not asked for one and had never received a noise assessment for funerals.
Bannside DUP Cllr Tom Gordon asked about the anticipated usage of the cemetery. He was advised that it is a “long-term project for 25 years” and “based on 180 burials per year”.
Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Robert Logan remarked that it is “not something that is going to happen next week” before proposing that the committee accepts the officer’s recommendation to approve the application seconded by Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Cllr Keith Turner and approved by the committee.