Croydon Council may have to reuse existing graves after plans to bury the town’s dead outside the borough were rejected.
Tandridge District Council rejected plans from the council to build extra graves at the Greenlawn Memorial Park in Warlingham.
Croydon is set to run out of room to bury its own dead this year and as a result hoped to add an extra 7,000 burial spaces in Warlingham which would have lasted 58 years.
Tandridge District Council rejected the application after concerns it would cause harm to the green belt land. There were more than 200 objections to the scheme.
Croydon Council is considering appealing the decision.It is also exploring the possibility of re-using graves in Croydon which would mean a change in policy.
Reusing graves means digging up remains which are more than 75 years old, burying them further into the ground, and burying new bodies on top. The council would require the family’s permission of the existing grave to do this.
It puts the council in a difficult position as last year Tony Brooks, the council’s director of public safety, said after an extensive search no other suitable sites could be found within Croydon.
He said in October there was an estimated 12 months left until the borough ran out of room.
Mr Brooks had hoped the council would have been on site this year with the new cemetery being available to Warlingham residents as well.
A Croydon Council spokesman said: "Croydon is disappointed with the decision.
The question of burial provision for both Croydon and Tandridge is a serious one, and we will be giving careful consideration as to what our next steps might be.
"We’ll continue the current practice of reclaiming graves and undertake further research into the number of graves that can be reclaimed.
"We will explore the possibility of reusing graves although this would require a new policy to be agreed."
Piers Mason, chief planning officer at Tandridge said: "We refused the application as the council considered there were insufficient very special reasons to grant permission for the use of this land as a cemetery, given that it would cause significant harm to the open and undeveloped character of the Green Belt."
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