PLANS for a 35,000 plot cemetery near the Blackburn-Oswaldtwistle border would be “contrary to heritage and landscape planning policies”.

An environmental report to Hyndburn Council also objected to the planning application “because the proposed cemetery development could pose an unacceptable risk of pollution of groundwater.’

Last October the Issa Foundation, managed by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, revealed plans for a new cemetery off Blackburn Road. The application site covers an area of 84 acres to accommodate a total 35,000 burial plots, which would be accessible to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

The plans include an administration building, ‘funeral parlour’ and caretaker accommodation with a provision for over 660 car parking spaces.

Residents have made their concerns known about traffic issues and they object to any sort of development on the site.

Presently, the main cemeteries in the areas are at Pleasington in Blackburn and Burnley Road in Accrington.

Now an initial assessment by the council’s conservation officer say the new feature ‘is visually at odds with the historic landscape.’

The report adds: “The present visual unity of the Green Belt countryside would be lost and the cemetery would separate the fields of Cow Hill from the surviving fields of Stand Hill.

“The cut and fill of the proposed development would destroy any archaeological or other heritage assets which lie within the boundary of the site. The scheme would divert the two historic tracks, which are public footpaths, and harm the rural setting of heritage assets described above.

“The setting of the listed Knuzden Hall, Knuzden Hall Farmhouse and to a lesser extent, Stanhill Hall would be harmed by the encroachment of the development adjacent to their perimeters affecting views towards and out of the listed buildings.”

It adds: “In assessing the application, the case officer and planning committee will need to come to a judgement as to whether the public benefits of the scheme outweigh the above harm, taking on board the legal duty with regard to the setting of the listed building and other planning issues.”

The initial report says the impact of the proposed development upon the historic landscape would be substantial owing to ‘the very large size of the development site, running the whole length of the green belt and taking in most of the lower fields of Stand Hill’ and ‘the loss of the unified historic character of the saddle landscape’.

An Environment Agency report submitted in December says it ‘objects to the planning application, as submitted, because the proposed cemetery development could pose an unacceptable risk of pollution of groundwater, and it is questionable as to whether it would meet the minimum requirements.’

In e-mail correspondence though the objection is described as ‘very technical’.

The report adds: “The proposal is projected for over 100 burials per annum, which is regarded as high risk in accordance with position statement L3 of ‘The Environment Agency’s approach to groundwater protection. Such proposals will only be agreed by the Environment Agency where a developer can demonstrate through detailed risk assessment, that given the site specific setting and the engineering methods proposed, groundwater pollution will be avoided.”

But it says: “Should this scheme demonstrate that any risks identified can be satisfactorily managed through a method statement we will be able to withdraw this objection.’

The Issa Foundation had said following the registration of the plans that it would ‘continue to work with the various stakeholders to ensure the scheme effectively addresses concerns presented to date’.