A COMMUNITY cemetery has expressed its frustration at red tape blocking its ability to help ease the pressure on burials at the district’s other cemeteries.

The work to create Keighley Community Cemetery is not fully completed but it has offered to begin burials at the site, as Covid-19 has increased the number of deaths in the district had put added pressure on burial grounds, it claims.

However, following the contentious approval of the plans in 2015, a number of conditions were put in place for the site and the developers have had to jump through a number of hoops.

It’s owners Michael Ainsworth Design Partnership have said that conditions around planting of trees and other foliage on the site, required in the conditions, have not yet been completed which legally mean it cannot open, but has asked for Bradford Council to show some leniency to allow burials to take place.

Bradford Council said there isn't any added pressure on burials due to the pandemic, and once all conditions are met it can open without risk of enforcement.

MADP said it has been told burials are permitted but it could face enforcement, and is concerned that if this were to happen it would add further grief to mourning family members.

Michael Ainsworth, owner of Bingley-based MADP, said: “In these unprecedented times we are ready to help alleviate pressure on council run cemeteries.

“It is well documented they are under immense strain with the increase in number of burials.

“We have tried without success to engage with the local authority to obtain interim approval for the use of the site.

“With close to 1,000 letters in support or our latest application there is a strong indication that the general public want to be able to use the site immediately.

“We are contacted on a weekly basis by people looking to bury loved ones in the site, as its clear to the public that the works appear complete.

“Unfortunately we are in a position that we want to open formally and offer a service to the public in these unprecedented times, but are being thwarted at every turn.

“We were told on site that we could start burials, but we may face enforcement, and that this could bring negative press as well as hurt for the families of those buried.

“This puts us in a position where we are concerned to bring the cemetery into operation.

“Planting has not been completed due again to struggling to get a definitive view on alterations to the planting scheme.

“Taking advice from those supplying the plants it's been identified it is not the right time of year to finish the planting and seeding.

“We don’t feel that the planting being complete should prevent the use of the cemetery.”

The cemetery plans had been fiercely-contested five years ago when they were approved. The site is based on the old Braithwaite Edge quarry near Keighley Tarn, which had been allocated as green belt land.

It was the first application for a new cemetery in the district since 1928 in Clayton, and will have capacity for more than 2,000 graves at the multi-faith facility.

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: "Planning permission for the Keighley Community Cemetery was granted subject to conditions.

"When those conditions have been complied with, the cemetery can begin to operate without risk of enforcement action being taken.

“There is no suggestion of a shortage of burial space in the Bradford district due to the Covid-19 pandemic."