Local residents have reacted with ‘fury’ at plans to turn 11 acres of virgin green-belt land near their village into Britain’s largest Muslim cemetery, which is over twice the size of the present largest, at 11,000 graves.
Sitting on the edge of the West Midlands Conurbation, the charming village of Catherine de Barnes is better known as Catney to locals, but is a stone’s throw away from one of the largest urban areas in the country. For that very reason, local residents seem keen to preserve its character.
The village has its own cricket team and waterside pub, but may soon find the UK’s largest Sharia-law compliant Muslim cemetery built on neighbouring land and, as reports the Daily Mail, locals have expressed their concerns.
The original plans for a 4,000 plot cemetery were withdrawn earlier this year after a flurry of complaints to Solihull council. Local residents, who number only 613, were initially relieved to have staved off the plan, but have now expressed disbelief after the resubmission of the plan by Cemetery Development Services which has more than doubled the size to 11 acres.
The local council are at least showing an interest in the proposal. One Conservative councillor is reported to have told the Mail: “My main concern is that they are building on the greenbelt land”. The Conservative council leader said: “There is no need for this extra site in Solihull. We have identified our population need and made provision for that. This is an extremely large proposal”.
The local Muslim community disagrees, however. A Birmingham-based Muslim undertaker Mohammed Khalil said: “The local Muslim population is growing rapidly, but the cemetery Muslims use is mostly Handsworth which is nearly full.
“Birmingham Council are making some provision but we still need more in the vicinity of the population. ‘Don’t forget, the people who came here in the 1950s and 1960s are now old and dying fast”.
“They are saying ‘this is our country now. We are living here and dying here so we should be buried here’.”