Holy Cross Churchyard extension: Update.

The existing Churchyard at Holy Cross is available to any resident of the Sarratt Parish, but the graveyard is filling up. Spotlight readers will recall that, in order to continue to meet the needs of future generations in the village, a piece of land was generously donated through The Friends of Holy Cross, for an extension to the Churchyard. This needs Planning Permission, but our initial  Application in 2019 had to be withdrawn to allow time for the technical issues required by Hertfordshire County Council and The Environment Agency to be addressed. The PCC asked a number of consultants to tender for the following:

1)         Ground Penetrating Radar survey of the new area, to determine whether there were any significant archaeological features, especially the potential for previous burials from Romano-British settlement.

This was carried out by Wessex Archaeology who reported no significant features. Hertfordshire County Council may ask for an exploratory trench to be dug across the site but having reviewed the report data, the PCC are hopeful that this will not be required.

2)         Tier 1 and Tier 2 groundwater assessments. These are designed to assess ground conditions, underlying bedrock, water sources, levels and flows; and potential seepage into aquifers or rivers. The aim is to greatly reduce any risk of water contamination from graveyard sites, and are a requirement of the Environment Agency.

Where ground risks are high and/ or there is a large number of burials, further assessments, flux modelling, and monitoring over some years can be required, some prior to the graveyard coming into use.

The PCC appointed The CDS Group, who are cemetery specialists, to carry out this work.  Their task involved desk-top geological assessment and a visit to site to carry out a number of trial holes. Their comprehensive report indicated that the site and potential number of burials only present a low-to-medium risk, so the PCC are hopeful that the Environment Agency will not require significant further (extremely costly) modelling, monitoring and delay.

This hasn’t come cheap: to date Holy Cross PCC have expended in excess of £7,000+VAT on the application and the two reports; but as both reports seem positive, they do provide grounds for hope that our Planning Application submitted last month will prove to be successful. We’ll keep you abreast of developments and let you know if the Environment Agency require us to carry out further work.

If you’d like more information, the full reports and other documents are available on the Three Rivers Town Planning website. The reference is 20/1216/FUL.

Bob Shearer,

Holy Cross PCC