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Policy S7 Burial space


  1. Cemeteries should be protected and the re-use of burial space supported.
  2. When preparing Development Plans, boroughs should ensure provision is made for the different burial needs and requirements of London’s communities, including for those groups for whom burial is the only option. Cross-borough and/or sub-regional working is encouraged where appropriate to identify and address the requirements of these groups and to tackle burial space shortages within the sub-region.
  3. Development proposals for new cemetery provision should be supported. This may include provision in one borough to assist faith groups from another borough facing burial space shortages.

In assessing the requirements for burial space, account should be taken of the fact that different faith groups have different needs for burial provision. In London, the demand for burial space for particular faith groups is not always well matched with the availability of burial space. Some boroughs have little or no burial space available[70]. For inner and central London boroughs, this requires them to seek provision in outer London or beyond. This can cause problems of access and cost which has a disproportionate effect on London’s poorest communities. It also risks undermining community cohesion and social integration. The Mayor favours the principle of proximity as a general rule, but there may be cases where meeting the needs of residents in one borough may require burial provision to be located in another borough. This may require a sub-regional approach to the provision of burial space.

[70] An Audit of London Burial Provision – A report for the Greater London Authority by Julie Rugg and Nicholas Pleace, Cemetery Research Group University of York 2011,available from

The re-use of graves can provide some additional capacity. Both Section 74 of the Local Authorities Act 2007 and Section 25 of the Burial Act 1857 allow for the re-use of graves in certain circumstances and boroughs are encouraged to actively examine the potential that re-use offers them.

Ensuring that community and cultural facilities and services required to meet local needs are planned for and provided is one of the core principles of the planning system. Provision of facilities for cemeteries may not be inappropriate development in the Green Belt or on Metropolitan Open Land as long as it preserves the openness and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it.

When making new provision, boroughs are encouraged to take into account the Mayor’s broader aims for green infrastructure and the natural environment, including, but not limited to, the creation of new parks and open spaces, the enhancement of existing open spaces and natural environments, and the provision of enhanced links to London’s green infrastructure. Woodland or parkland burial grounds can offer broad burial provision as well as wider public access. Amenity provision and environmental enhancements should be encouraged.

Boroughs should continue to make traditional burial provision but innovative approaches to the provision of community burial space, particularly in inner and central London, may also need to be taken. These could include creating public gardens for the burial of ashes on underused pockets of open land, parkland and brownfield land. Such gardens could also offer broader community utility, improved amenity provision and environmental enhancement.