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Redbridge Muslim cemetery owners hope planning appeal will guarantee burial spaces for years to come

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 July 2016

Mohamed Omer founding member of the Gardens of Peace cemetery with the graves behind him.

Mohamed Omer founding member of the Gardens of Peace cemetery with the graves behind him.

Archant

Owners of a Muslim cemetery are hoping to win a planning appeal to ensure they do not run out of burial spaces in the near future.

Gardens of Peace which owns two sites – one in Elmbridge Road, Hainault, and another at Five Oaks Lane, Chigwell – warned in 2013 that the cemeteries would soon be full up.

The charity is hoping to convert land at Oak Farm, Maylands Fields, Harold Wood, for use as a Muslim burial ground with 10,000 plots, but planning permission was refused by Havering Council in 2015.

At the public inquiry at Havering Town Hall last week, Gardens of Peace spokesman, Mo Dedat said: “The growth of Muslims in Redbridge and the growth of the Muslim population in general are both factors which contribute to the demand for an increase in Muslim burials.” He explained that it is the only charity in London which gives Islamic burials without compromise – as soon as possible after death, in virgin ground and facing Mecca.

Peter Mitchell, a grave digger for 30 years, said: “People are still looking for a place to go when they die. This is their home.”But Havering Council’s barrister Isabella Tafur said the development would harm the “openness” of the borough’s green belt. She added that land in north east London, particularly in Haringey or Enfield, would be more suitable in terms of proximity to meet the needs of Redbridge residents and those in other boroughs. Craig Howell Williams QC, who represented Gardens of Peace, said Havering Council had initially taken a positive approach to the plans but then refused the application “without debate”.

Farouk Ismail, one of the charity’s trustees, argued the Harold Wood area was only 30 minutes’ drive from Redbridge and other boroughs like Tower Hamlets.

Planning inspectors will visit the site on August 1 before the decision is referred to the secretary of state.


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