Plans for a new ecological graveyard for Elie House have been blocked amid road safety concerns in north-east Fife
An eco-cemetery has been stopped in its tracks by members of the North East Fife Planning Council due to a ‘substandard’ access road.
A. Stephen, based in St Monan, Carpenters and Funeral Caters, has submitted a planning application to Fife Council for a change of use to the farmland and walled garden at Elie Estate.
The concept of an eco-cemetery is to provide an alternative to the “traditional” burial ground, with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of burials and providing a peaceful natural area for burials to take place. The cemetery would have provided the natural burial of coffins and ashes
A small area of the site was historically used for burials, and the entire site was dedicated when Ely House served as the Abbey of St Mary Reparatrice, from the 1950s to the 1980s.
It is estimated that between six and ten burials would have taken place annually. The council did not object to the plans in principle.
The planning report stated that “a small establishment of this kind would be deemed to be compatible with the historic use of the site”. “The nature of using the proposed ecological cemetery would suit the natural/rural site, and there is a demand for this type of service.”
However, the plan was eventually canceled due to driver and pedestrian safety concerns.
The Eli home and proposed eco-cemetery are located on a narrow private access road. It is 6.5 meters wide at its widest point and less than 4 meters wide at its narrowest point.
The transfer was consulted on the request and raised serious concerns that could not be resolved.
“The proposal will increase the number of vehicle trips through a substandard, no-passage private entrance along the entrance at the northern end of the district that already serves more than 30 homes and businesses,” said the consultation.
“As such, any increase in this substandard access would be at the expense of road and pedestrian safety.”
Moreover, the transportation team said that visibility is limited at the courtyard intersection, and that increased vehicular traffic “will harm drivers of all vehicles and pedestrians.”
Councilor David McDiarmid (Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, SNP) defended the development, but was told there was no way it would be allowed to go ahead.
“We all know that a cemetery might be something we’d like, but there isn’t a good legal mechanism for that,” said Johnny Tebb, one of the organizers of the meetings (Tay Bridgehead, LDP).
The council’s legal advisers explained that fixing the access problem was a “technical impossibility”.
The committee’s report stated: “There is no reasonable planning mechanism that can be implemented to restrict the number of vehicles entering/exiting the site via the existing substandard access.”
Planning permission was eventually denied, but the proposals received strong reaction from community members during the process.
The Council received 28 letters of objection and 35 letters of support. The St. Monan and Abercrombie Community Council also supported these proposals.