PART of a city cemetery will be drained and a memorial garden will be created after plans were backed.

Worcester City Council wants to carry out drainage work to part of Astwood Cemetery which is used for Muslim burials following an investigation last year.

The work has revealed the land, which has been used several times since 2001, did not have planning permission for burials and a neighbouring section of the cemetery which has nearly 450 graves also does not have specific permission.

Worcester City Council's planning committee approved the plan for retrospective planning permission last Thursday (October 22) and the council's environment committee gave its approval for the drainage work and memorial garden at a meeting on Tuesday (October 27).

A review carried out by the city council last year found some of the ground at the cemetery off Astwood Road was no longer suitable for any new graves due to flooding resulting in the council wanting to drain the area and build a memorial garden.

The drainage work will cost around £55,000 and take up to a year to finish, the council said, with the memorial garden costing around £25,000 to build.

A council report had revealed 11 adults and four babies had been buried on part of the land since 2001 - the latest of which was in March 2018.

Worcester City Council has said it will no longer be using the land for graves and has set aside a different part of the cemetery for Muslim burials to be carried out.

Mohammed Iqbal, general secretary of Worcester Muslim Welfare Association, said: "As far as the mosque is concerned, we have had no issues regarding burials lately.

"Regarding Astwood Road, the council is aware of flooding problems and is in discussions with families with loved ones buried there already to resolve issues and provide a viable solution.

"A new plot has been allocated for all future burials away from the flood zone as a replacement."

A spokesman for the council said: “Positive conversations with family representatives and local mosques have led to an alternative part of the Astwood site being identified for a Muslim burial area and we will be looking to progress these proposals in the very near future.”

The council spokesman added the application had been made to clear up the issue over planning permission for the cemetery.