PART of a city cemetery has finally been granted planning permission after a year-long delay paving the way for a large expansion. Worcester City Council’s planning committee unanimously backed retrospective plans for part of Worcester Muslim Cemetery at a meeting on Thursday (November 19).

City councillor Allah Ditta had asked for permission for part of the cemetery off John Comyn Drive in Worcester to be used for burials despite it being used since 2005.

Councillor Pat Agar said the cemetery was important for the city’s Muslim community and needed to be approved.

“I think the problem now is that we are where we are, and we need to regularise the situation wherever it came about,” she told the city council’s planning committee.

“However unfortunate that might have been at the time, it would be even more unfortunate I think if we didn’t approve this application.

“The key to it I suppose is that the Environment Agency has said that the hydrological and water situation is fine and they have no real concern about it anymore and it has been sorted out.

“As well as that, because it is green space, it is quite a peaceful area and an appropriate use I think, of the land.

“Altogether I think this is an such important amenity to the community that we really should approve it without further delay.”

A decision over the retrospective plan has been delayed for almost a year due to a number of “major” concerns raised by the Environment Agency which had said the land was unsuitable for human burials.

At the start of the year, the Environment Agency said it was concerned about possible water pollution and had called for alternative locations to be found.

The Environment Agency said the site, used as a cemetery since 2005, was unsuitable for human burials and did not meet its standards for groundwater – and raised concerns on at least three occasions dating back to 2008.

The body removed its objection but asked for several conditions to be put in place to ensure no more burials near water or flooded areas

The council said planning permission was first granted for the wider cemetery (just not the portion in the latest application) in 1978 and renewed in 1983. The city council said the cemetery needed the correct planning permission before plans for a 785-plot extension could be decided.

Planning permission paves the way for an expansion of several hundred plots, a new pavilion and a peace garden which has already been put still awaits a decision.

The cemetery would be extended in three phases if the plans were approved.