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Gordon Henderson MP backs plan for Natural Burial Ground in Eastchurch

By Chloe Holmwood

Plans for the Island’s first natural burial ground have been revealed.

A proposal to convert a plot of land in Eastchurch Road, Eastchurch, near Kingsborough Manor, has been submitted to Swale council.

As well as being a final resting place, the site would feature a garden of remembrance and a parking area.

Land off Eastchurch Road, Eastchurch could become Sheppey's first natural burial ground
Land off Eastchurch Road, Eastchurch could become Sheppey's first natural burial ground

MP Gordon Henderson, who is one of the directors of Sheppey Natural Burial Ground Limited, the company behind the plans, said: “For a very long time on Sheppey there’s been a shortage of burial space.

“People are unable to be buried here any longer as all current burial grounds are full up.”

Mr Henderson, who used to be a trustee of what was the Halfway Conservative Hall – now the Sheppey Islamic Cultural Centre in Minster Road – said money had been left over from the sale of the hall.

MP Gordon Henderson is behind plans for a natural burial ground in Eastchurch
MP Gordon Henderson is behind plans for a natural burial ground in Eastchurch

“We as trustees wanted to utilise that money for the good of the community,” he said.

“One of the ideas we came up with was to do something ourselves.

“We looked around for a suitable site in to which we could have as a burial ground so that people on Sheppey, and particularly older residents who have lived here all their lives, would be able to be buried on the Island.”

Mr Henderson said he found the piece of land, which is owned by SW Attwood and Partners.

A seating area at Deerton Natural Burial Ground near Teynham
A seating area at Deerton Natural Burial Ground near Teynham

The company, registered at the Attwoods’ New Hook Farm in Lower Road, Brambledown, also wanted to do something to help the community, Mr Henderson said, so together with Havill Funeral Services formed Sheppey Natural Burial Ground Ltd.

He added: “I have much hope that if the council approves the application, within a couple of years Islanders will be able to be buried on the Island.”

Mr Henderson said there was only one other natural burial ground in Swale – Deerton Natural Burial Ground, near Teynham.

Deerton Natural Burial Ground near Teynham
Deerton Natural Burial Ground near Teynham

Natural burials are considered a more eco-friendly way of being laid to rest.

Biodegradable coffins and caskets are used, with the body returned to the earth in a matter of years, and no headstones or memorials mark the graves – markers can be used but they are designed to decay after a couple of years.

“I think this is a win-win situation,” Mr Henderson said. “People can be buried but at the same time we can protect the environment.”

To view or comment on the plans, click here and search for 17/506527/FULL.

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