School site could become new Northumberland cemetery as talks continue

Further discussions have been held about the possibility of building a new cemetery in Belford.

Saturday, 2nd November 2019, 4:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd November 2019, 4:45 pm
The idea of a cemetery in the grounds of the former Belford middle school is being explored.

A parcel of land at the former St Mary’s Middle School, which closed in summer 2018, has been identified as a potential site for a much-needed cemetery.

A meeting has now been held between representatives of site owner Northumberland County Council and Belford Parish Council about a possible community asset transfer which would place responsibility for the wider 2.4-acre site in the hands of the parish council.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, local county councillor and parish council chairman, said: “The county council are offering it to the parish council free of charge as an asset transfer from one public body to another.

“We could ask for the asset transfer as a graveyard but we were recommended to take it on as a field because it is a lot less complicated that way and then decide what to do with it.

“Before we take it on, if we decide to, is come up with ideas of what to use it for.

“You can’t make the whole thing a graveyard because it’s massive so we could look at things like allotments and even a potential site for a new village hall.”

A public consultation would also be held.

Coun Kerry Noble said: “I think this would be an asset to the village.

“It has the potential of a free building plot for a village hall and it’s the land that is one of the big costs for a project like that.”

Coun Reg Carruthers: “We should take it, even if it’s left dormant for five or six years.

“We’re never going to get a gift like this again. We can take it, manage it and see how it goes.

“If it goes ahead, at least people from the village will know they can be buries in the village.”

Outdoor events specialist, Culture Creative, which is interested in purchasing the old school buildings, has no interest in the grounds.

Parish councillors acknowledged that a new access would be needed to a new cemetery on the site.

There is limited space left at the cemetery at St Mary’s Parish Church, although plots are still available.