RESIDENTS are continuing to oppose plans submitted by Blackburn's Issa brothers for a cemetery in Oswaldtwistle.

When the plans for the 84-acre cemetery were revealed by the Lancashire Telegraph in October, residents rallied together at a community meeting to see how to go about opposing the plans which were not publicly available at that point.

The plans were released earlier this week on the Hyndburn Council planning portal with the proposals for 35,000 burial spots — 25,000 more than The Garden of Peace in London, which is currently Europe's largest Muslim cemetery. 

There would also be more than 600 parking spaces on the land off Blackburn Road, near West End Business Park, in Oswaldtwistle.

Conservative councillor for St. Andrews ward, Cllr Peter Britcliffe said: “Whilst I am not against a cemetery, as an Oswaldtwistle councillor, I think it is in the wrong place and it is taking up one of the last greenbelt areas in that vicinity.”

Labour councillor for St Oswald’s ward, Cllr Chris Knight said: “As with everything of this nature, you need to get the information — as much information as possible — and then you can base an opinion on the facts.

“I have had quite a few residents contact me expressing concerns, some have mentioned that speeding is an issue.

“I spent some time earlier this week reviewing the plans myself to get an understanding to what is being proposed — it looks like it is quite a big development.

“My primary concerns are with regards to the traffic in the area. I have worked with the local police force about traffic monitoring and I have seen the speeds some people can travel on that stretch. It’s a big concern.”

A petition against the plans was launched which has received over 3,100 signatures in a month.

Residents have however been reminded that they will need to submit their views on the plans to the council by email or post should they wish to oppose or support the application.

The residents also held a meeting which was attended by hundreds of people and community groups have been created on Facebook.

A statement on behalf of the Issa Foundation says the ‘need for Muslim burial plots within the North West of England has become critical, a situation made worse by Covid 19. The proposal is a matter of public interest for the Muslim community and is of strategic importance for the North West area.’

County Cllr for Accrington West and Oswaldtwistle Central ward, Cllr Munsif Dad said: “This is an application which has recently been submitted so the only thing I can do is encourage people to air their views through the appropriate channels which is the Hyndburn planning channel.”

Reacting to the news on social media, Andy Newton said: “Why does it need to have space for 35,000 burials?

“Is this going to be a cemetery for the whole of the North West not just Blackburn, Accrington and the local surrounding area?

“If that’s the case, there will be permanent congestion. If they want a separate cemetery it doesn’t need to be as big if its only serving the surrounding area.”

While Jacqueline Mary added: “Surely a graveyard should be for all of the community.”

The plans are available to view on the Hyndburn Borough Council website planning portal.