The planning committee today agreed to defer a decision on an extension to the Voe cemetery to give objectors a chance to come up with an alternative site.
Planning officials had recommended approval of the application, made by the SIC, for the existing graveyard adjacent to the old kirk to be extended to the east. This would yield an extra 69 burial plots, known as lairs, enough for around the next 50 years. The proposal also included an extension to the car park and improvements to the access road.
However Delting Commuity Council is opposed to the extension and two letters of objection, one containing a 34-signature petition, had been sent to the planning department. These maintain that the extension would use good agricultural ground and would detract from the unspoiled quality of the area.
Planning official Jonny Wiseman told the meeting that the proposal was seen by his department as a good use of existing infrastructure and the most sustainable way of providing future space.
Burial grounds service manager Jim Grant said the current Voe cemetery would be full in around five years and the development would be consistent with local plans. These state that although the site lies within a local protected area, applications which benefit the community as a whole can be considered.
Mr Grant said the proposed extension would be in keeping with the locality. The plans indicate that the road would have no white lining and dry stone dyking would be used. He pointed out that recent public meetings on the subject had been held poorly attended with no alternative sites put forward, although Delting Community Council had indicated it would suggest a site.
Meeting chairman Frank Robertson said his concern was traffic as a hearse, bus and up to 60 cars could come to a funeral. The landlocked site could pose an “impediment” to the development.
Lerwick north councillor Caroline Miller suggested deferring the decision to give Delting Community Council time to assess an alternative site.
Local councillor Bill Manson said the proposed site was “not ideal” as a deep gully runs down the layby area. A flat refusal to the extension would not be appropriate, he said, as any alternatives may prove unusable, but he proposed deferring the final decision until the last planning meeting of the present council. He was seconded by Ms Miller.