Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by Carterton Town Council (CEM 15)


  Carterton Town Council is a burial authority for the purposes of S214 of the Local Government Act 1972 with a power to provide and maintain a cemetery whether inside or outside the parish. Since its creation in 1985, the Town Council has maintained a Cemetery at Black Bourton to the south of the town. In response to the need for a new cemetery, the Town Council began searching for a new site in 1990. This note summarises the Council's efforts which are still continuing and draws the Inquiry's attention to the problems that have been encountered.


  Carterton is the second largest town in West Oxfordshire with a population of some 14,000. The population of the town is rapidly expanding with more than 1,000 new homes being built in the NE corner of the town over the next six to eight years.

  A civic cemetery was purchased by the Parish Black Bourton in 1937 when Carterton was a community within the then much larger parish of Black Bourton. This cemetery lies behind St Mary's Parish Church in the village of Black Bourton to the south of town. In 1985 Carterton and Black Bourton Parishes split and the burial ground was, by Order, transferred to Carterton Town Council. The cemetery covers approximately 0.5 acres and there have been some 500 burials and ashes interments since 1946. In recent years the number of burials in each year has ranged from 6 to 23 with an average of 11. The average number of ashes interments over the same period is seven.


  In 1990 the Council resolved to purchase a new site for a cemetery. The aim was to provide a site of between three and four acres to provide sufficient space for burials for a period of about 100 years. Ideally the new cemetery would be within the boundaries of the town to provide easy access for residents. Given that the ground conditions and in particular the level of the water table and the depth of the soil are crucial, the Council sought the advice of the then National Rivers Authority on several parcels of land already in the ownership of the Council. The upper geology of the Carterton area comprises a series of limestone and clay sequences which tend to give rise to a perched water table in the limestone and the NRA advised that much of the land in the Council's ownership was unsuitable because of the ground conditions

  The Council also had discussions with a private developer about an area of land on the southern edge of the town which was unsuitable for housing because of the noise from the aircraft at Brize Norton. However the only suitable access route involved the purchase and demolition of a private property and the Town Council did not feel it could justify such expense.

  Between 1992 and 1997 the Council investigated 15 other possible sites, details of which are set out in Annex A. None of these proved feasible for a variety of reasons including unsuitable ground conditions, planning objections, poor access or the unwillingness of the landowner to sell.

  In 1997, the Council reconsidered the sites already explored including the need for possible compulsory purchase and also decided to look at land further afield. It was this review that lead to consideration of a site at Alvescot


  In 1998, the Town Council held discussions with the owner of land at Oakeys Barn at Alvescot, about one mile to the south west of Carterton. Trial holes suggested that the land would be suitable ground and the Environment Agency were content for part of the site to be used as a burial ground with ashes interments in those areas with shallow soil. West Oxfordshire District Council felt that the site was "visually very open and located in a relatively isolated rural location" and advised that if the cemetery were to be located at this site, they would wish to see it designed in conjunction with an extensive strategic landscaping scheme which would help to assimilate the cemetery and give some screening and shelter.

  The Town Council appointed landscape design consultants to carry out an impact assessment and to prepare proposals to accompany the Council's planning application for a cemetery at this site. Vehicular access was identified in consultation with the highways authority. The planning application was submitted in January 1999. The West Oxfordshire planning officer recommended approval of the application but in April 1999 the Planning Committee refused the application on the grounds that "the cemetery would represent an incongruous urbanising influence in an . . . area of open countryside . . . and could set a precedent for further urban developments". The Town Council appealed against this decision and on 23 December was informed that the Planning Inspectorate had dismissed the appeal on the grounds of the visual impact that a cemetery would have.

  The cost of the appeal, excluding the cost in terms of staff time, amounted to a little under £3,000.


  In addition to seeking to identify a new site for a cemetery, the Council has also been trying to purchase an area of land to extend the existing cemetery although, because of the limited space available, this could only be a temporary solution. Over the years the Council has approached the owners of the land adjacent to the cemetery but this has proved largely unsuccessful. One parcel of land is occupied by a public house which has recently changed hands. The current owners of the premises have indicated that following the successful outcome of a recent planning application to extend the building, they might be willing to sell the Council a parcel of land to the rear of their property and this is now being pursued. If this sale were to go through, it would provide sufficient space for burials for about 20 years.


  Despite a search lasting ten years, the Town Council has made no real progress towards providing a new cemetery for Carterton. The Council has set aside funding of £60,000 over a period of years and remains committed to finding a site which is accessible to the residents. The extension of the existing cemetery will provide a short term solution. In the longer term it seems that the best option may be to press West Oxfordshire District Council to identify, in the local plan, a cemetery site within the NE Carterton development area.

Annex A


  1.  The Orchard—Trial holes revealed high water level.

  2.  Lane's End—General conditions the same as site 1.

  3.  Willow Meadows—Land owned by the Council. Trial holes dug in 1997 revealed shallow rock.

  4.  Alvescot Road (site a)—Not favoured by West Oxfordshire District Council Planning Officer.

  5.  Alvescot Road (site b)—Not favoured by West Oxfordshire District Council Planning Officer.

  6.  The Warren—Rock. MOD used explosives in 1960s to build their balancing reservoir there.

  7.  Sunset View—Owner not prepared to sell.

  8.  The Dell.—Council owned land. Rock.

  9.  Shilton Road—Not favoured by the West Oxfordshire District Planning Officer.

  10.  Trencherwood Land—Access problems until such time as the new road to the A40 is constructed.

  11.  North of the Football Club—Unwilling Owners and access problems.

  12.  Allotments—Owned by the Town Council. Known to be wet ground with a high water table.

  13.  Kilkenny Lane (West)—Owner not prepared to sell and poor access.

  14.  Country Park—Access problems until such time as the new road is built. Planning Officer is unwilling to introduce other land uses into the Country Park. Access and timing problems.

  15.  Kilkenny Lane (East)—Owner not prepared to sell.

November 2000

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