NEWTOWNABBEY Borough Council has pledged to retain the same amount of recreational space in its plans to build a cemetery in the Valley Park.
In response to concerns from the public about the proposals to site an 18.5 acre burial plot in the park, the council issued a statement this week.
It read: “The council has been proactively seeking suitable land for a cemetery in the borough for a number of years without success.
“Currently it has enough space at Carnmoney Cemetery to accommodate burials for the next 18 months.
“If a suitable site is not found soon for a new cemetery, new burial sites available within the borough will only exist in Ballyclare and Rashee cemeteries.”
It continued: “Consultants have been appointed to determine whether, or not, a portion of land at the Valley Park is suitable for a cemetery.
“It is anticipated that less than one third of the land at the Valley Park would be used as a cemetery.
“The council’s aim is to use and improve the total space available in the Valley Park and to accommodate existing users.
“To this end, the nett amount of usable space for recreational purposes will be retained and the current facilities will be improved.
“If the proposal to develop a cemetery proceeds, the council will relocate the existing play area in the Valley Park and has committed to building a new play and multi-use games area across the road from the Valley Park and on the site between Tobar-Glen and Carnmoney Cemetery.”
The Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, which neighbours the park, has expressed concerns at the cemetery proposals and urged the council to consider other sites.
The council statement continued: “Importantly, council representatives fully understand the concerns expressed by representatives from the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.
“These concerns were discussed at a meeting with Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice last week. The council will continue to consult with the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice to explore all available options for the development of the Valley Park site.
“The council would like to reassure the local community that a full consultation exercise, with all key stakeholders, including local residents and park users will also be undertaken should the proposal to develop the cemetery proceed.”