A SEARCH is underway to find a site in Bradford large enough for a cemetery to serve the city until at least 2050.

Councillors have been told that any new burial site would likely to be on the outskirts of Bradford – as it was highly unlikely officers would be able to find 10 hectares of greenspace lying unused in the city.

Bradford Council is currently part way through a new bereavement strategy that began in 2016.

Oakworth Crematorium was modernised and refurbished last year, and a new crematorium in Heaton is expected to open this summer to replace the ageing Nab Wood Crematorium.

And another new crematorium will be built in Bierley to replace the ageing facility at Scholemoor.

The strategy also requires new space for burials – as many of Bradford’s cemeteries are either full or reaching capacity.

Around £6m is expected to be spent on increasing cemetery capacity in the coming years.

Phase One of the work was an extension of the existing Muslim burial ground at Scholemoor Cemetery, which was completed in 2020.

The second phase is the extension of Bowling Cemetery onto an unused patch of neighbouring land. The work, which will include creating new pathways, access routes and drainage work, is expected to cost around £2m, and will start in Autumn.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The empty space that will become the extension to Bowling CemeteryThe empty space that will become the extension to Bowling Cemetery (Image: newsquest)

However, this expansion is only likely to provide an extra five to six years of cemetery space.

To provide burial space beyond this date, the review calls for the “development of a major new cemetery to deliver long term capacity beyond 2050.”

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee.

Project Manager Andy Ross said the Bowling Cemetery expansion should create around 2,000 burial spaces – enough provision to last five or six years.

Because of this, officers were looking for a large green site in the District that would be used once the Bowling extension is full.

He said the Council wanted to focus on one new cemetery site, rather than setting up multiple, small scale cemeteries across the District.

Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) asked if officers were looking at sites within the city, as ideally any major new cemetery would be close to the families that would visit their loved ones there.

Mr Ross said: “Trying to find an area large enough in the inner city would be very difficult.

“If anyone knows if there is 10 hectares of green space available let us know.

“We’re doing a search of areas in the District, and we’re now looking at places outside population centres that could provide adequate provision for the next 15, 20, or 25 years.

“We don’t want to put up two hectares here and two hectares there – we need it to be a large site.”

Bradford Council recently submitted a planning application for the extension of Bowling Cemetery.

The Council bought the land that is now Bowling Cemetery in the 1880s, but a section to the North West of the site has never been used for burials.

It is this site that will be used for burials if the new application is approved.

It says: “The proposed development is responding to burial requirements and opportunities. This site is a proposed extension of the existing cemetery as a site appropriate for burial, this gives local residents a local burial provision and thus avoiding the necessity to travel long distances to memorialise deceased friends and relatives.

“The proposal will meet a clear need for local provision especially for the Muslim community.”

It says the work to the cemetery will include biodiversity improvements.

Referring to the design of the extension, the application says: “The design of a cemetery can play an important role in easing the emotional experience of mourners through the immediate and longer-term bereavement process.

“A carefully designed landscape can provide comfort, peace and even inspiration in terms of creating a sense of hope for the future.

“Design development has been informed by the site’s rural and tranquil location and its immediate proximity to the existing cemetery. Its landscaping has been designed to provide a subtle yet valuable addition to the locality in terms of increasing the traditional hedgerow / woodland features and enhancing ground-level biodiversity with species rich grass mixes.”

A decision on the application is expected next month.