Locals are in uproar at the proposal by Dumfries & Galloway Council of the creation of a new cemetery on what is currently an agricultural open field of over 10 acres to the north of the A780 Castle Douglas Road on the western edge of Dumfries.
Fiona and Allan Gibson who have lived on Castle Douglas Road in Dumfries for over a decade are very angry at the proposed new cemetery the local council are wanting to develop in the field surrounding their house. The farmer who owns it is selling it to the council pending planning permission going ahead which will be decided by councillors in the next couple of months at the planning committee.
The land is beyond and to the west of Dumfries & Galloway Golf Club. The new cemetery is to be developed in two phases to include c. 43 burials a year at a depth of 1.8m. A new access from the A780 Castle Douglas Road is required and a car park of 118 spaces is proposed.
Fiona said “We moved here for the semi rural location and for the fantastic views of the golf course and countryside, then completely out of the blue in November we received planning application with 21 days to object.
We personally would never consider buying a property next to a cemetery, but we are having it forced upon us.”
The new plans would include tree screening which would block all scenic views entirely to obscure the cemetery. To modify the field would include installing a expensive 12 foot fence to try to prevent stray golf balls from hitting visitors and their cars as well as reducing the speed limit on the busy Castle Douglas Road to get the proposed car park entrance visibly which is situated on a hidden dip on the road.
Residents have approached the council a couple times previously to reduce speed limits for the safety of young children living there, but both times were told it would not be possible due to the A780 being a trunk road and the expensive costs to do so and sadly would take a fatality to get it considered.
A large car park is proposed which residents fear will encourage unsociable behavior at night. Allan Gibson who runs his fencing business from his home has concerns due to the frequent machinery noise that would impact funerals taking place with chainsaws and tractors running.
Allan said “A cemetery should be a peaceful eternal resting place and it certainly won’t be with a commercial yard so close by and golfers enjoying a game, which the council should take into consideration when choosing this site.”
There are major concerns that this is the wrong location given the use of an agricultural open field which is detached and separate from the edge of Dumfries (separated by the Golf Course) for the development of an urban use with public access. The proposed access is onto a road which has a national speed limit (60mph) and this raises concerns regarding the speed of traffic on the road conflicting with vehicles safely entering and exiting the car parking, particularly given the dips in the road.
Cemeteries have an environmental impact due to the burial of bodies in the ground and can negatively impact upon ground water (which has to be protected). Therefore this is an inappropriate site given its slope and the existence of a burn at the foot of the slope. The development will introduce traffic and members of the public into a countryside area close to a golf course. The adjacent golf course use clearly conflicts with the peace and quiet expected for a cemetery use.
Dumfries and Galloways Council’s figures show there is 15 – 30 years capacity within existing cemeteries in Dumfries at current rates of burials.
A spokesperson for the council said “We need to forward plan for buriel space in the Dumfries Burgh to ensure there is sufficiant local provison in the future. Finding suitable land for cemetry provision is becoming extremely difficult.”
“The Council has identified a site-on Castle Douglas Road for the new cemetery and a proposal has been submitted for planning permission and is currently being considered. We are consulting with the interested parties on this proposal”
“We have undertaken a feasibility study of the sites around Dumfries, including Heathhall, Dalbeattie Road, Maxwellton High School, Maxwelltown Industrial Estate and Waterside Road, Cargenbridge. This work has included desktop studies and on-site ground investigation to determine suitability of the prevailing ground conditions.”
“Most of the sites have proven to be unsuitable for various reasons including adverse ground condition, problematic access, land contamination and high water tables. All of these factors have resulted in the Castle Douglas Road site emerging as the most suitable. This is now the preferred location”
“We hosted an information event on January the 28th. During the event we discussed the proposal for the new Dumfries cemetery, answered questions and gave the opportunity for the public to provide feedback.”
“Views from the event will be taken into consideration and the findings reported back to the design team developing the proposals”
The proposed cemetery at this location conflicts with the council’s own planning policy strategy for the following reasons:
- the site is an unallocated site beyond and separate from the settlement boundary of Dumfries;
- the proposals cannot make use of existing infrastructure, therefore significant works and expense will be required to develop it here;
- the proposals do not promote the efficient use of land;
- the proposals do not make travel smarter, but is unsustainable in travel terms as in order to access the site the private car is prioritised over pedestrian, cycle and public transport;
- there are no opportunities for visitors to the cemetery to link their trip;
- the proposals make use of Greenfield undeveloped land over previously developed brownfield land, which should be developed within the settlement of Dumfries.