Councillors are seeking an “urgent review” into a proposed major new cemetery after “site investigations have shown that at least one-quarter of the site is unsuitable for burials”.

Councillors David Whipp and Chris Church of Pendle Council want the executive board to review and discuss the proposed new cemetery in Nelson after it came to light that the initial scheme, which was supposed to cost £1.4million, will now reportedly cost the council a whopping £4.4million to develop.

It is also believed that following site investigations - which were not carried out before the land off Edge End Avenue and Halifax Road in Nelson was purchased in March 2023 - at least one-quarter of the site is unsuitable for burials, taking the number of proposed burial plots from 6,000 to 4,700.

In a full council meeting, to be held tomorrow (Thursday, March 21), Cllr Whipp will put forward a motion, to be seconded by Cllr Church, seeking “there be an urgent review of the proposed cemetery provision in Nelson with a view to containing costs within reasonable amounts, and that this review be reported to the council’s executive at the earliest opportunity”

READ MORE: Pendle council buys land for major expansion of cemetery

In the agenda notes for the full council meeting, which is being held in the council chamber at Nelson Town Hall at 7pm, Cllr Whipp will ask for the executive board to discuss why it was agreed in September 2022 to purchase land for a new cemetery in Nelson without the benefit of site investigations or environmental studies.

Cllr Whipp also wants the executive board to discuss why the cost of developing the cemetery has now risen from £1.4m for more than 7,000 plots, to £4.4m for around 4,700 plots, the equivalent to almost £1,000 per plot.

Pendle Council purchased the land, between Nelson and Brierfield, from Lancashire County Council on March 13, 2023, for £840,000, without any surveys being conducted on the site.

READ MORE: Have your say on plans for a new cemetery in Nelson

It is believed that the then-leader of the council, Councillor Nadeem Ahmed, assured the council that the inclusion of £1.4m in the capital programme for the cemetery was for “purchase and work”, and the creation of the cemetery would increase burial spaces in Pendle from 1,100 to more than 7,000, providing 70 years of burial capacity.

Subsequent site investigations have now shown that at least one-quarter of the site is unsuitable for burials, while an additional £2m has been included in the capital programme for the cemetery’s development, with a further £1m being required in future, taking total expenditure to £4.4m, equivalent to almost £1,000 per plot.

In July 2022, the local democracy service reported that plans to create the new cemetery could result in burial fees being increased by at least £160.

A concerned resident told the Lancashire Telegraph: "Now investigations have been partially undertaken, at least a quarter is unusable, with I suspect much more being problematic as three springs run through the area. 

"It is so problematic, planning permission has been refused previously.

"Estimated costs are running at £4.4million, up on the original estimated £1.4million.

"The number of plots has reduced from 7,000 to 4,000, a cost of approximately £1,000 per burial plot.

"In these times of austerity, residents are concerned about crucial services such as social services, care of older people etc. not literally, 'pouring money down the drain', on unsuitable, unsustainable planning developments."

The meeting will be live-streamed and can be accessed via the following link: