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Burials on private land

Burials usually occur in cemeteries or churchyards, however some individuals choose to be buried in private land, such as farmland, or private gardens.

Farmland

These areas tend to be away from residential housing and therefore should not pose any threat to neighbours or the general public.  Planning permission would normally be required for a limited number of burials (especially when the deceased are related to the property owners).  If burials of unrelated persons are to take place or the number of burials is to be unlimited, this situation could possibly be seen as a change of usage. In this case you should contact planning for advice.

Private Gardens

The garden of a privately owned property is also a possible choice for burial.  There are several factors to consider:

If numerous burials were planned the local planning authority would need to be consulted as the principal use of the garden would have changed.
Neighbours would no doubt be concerned about any burials taking place in close proximity to their homes.  Although they would have no legal right to object the social implications should be considered.

The value of the property will be affected by a burial within its ground.  

Consideration should also be given to the long-term effects of such a  burial: if you wish to move in the future, would you wish to exhume the body and take it with you?  You would need a licence and should consider the views of the next of kin and the property owner. There may be upset if such an action should be considered.

Guidance

No laws prohibit a burial in private or unconsecrated land, or requires a coffin or service.  A place of burial without fences or gravestones is not a cemetery in planning law and "subject to restrictive covenants can be established by any person without statutory authority, provided that no nuisance is caused" (Charter for the Bereaved).

The body of the deceased must be buried in such a manner that any part of the coffin is three feet below the ground. We advise that you contact the local environmental health department and Environment Agency to tell them of the burial.

Contact should be made with the local utilities companies concerning any pipes or cables that may pass through the intended burial area.  In general, it is advised to avoid being within 250 metres of any well or borehole or 10 metres of any standing or running water.  Note that animal carcasses in a field normally have to be buried 250 metres from any human-consumption water supply, 30 metres from any other spring and 10 metres from any field drain.

A suitable site should have no water at the bottom of the grave when first dug. 

You would need to create a burial register to comply with Statute Law.  This can simply be a notebook containing details of the deceased and preferably a simple map highlighting the location of the burial.

You would also be issued with a certificate for burial (issued by a coroner or the Registrar of Births & Deaths).  The detachable section of this would need to be completed and returned to the registrar.

If you are considering a burial in private land, you may wish to consider arranging the funeral without employing a Funeral Director.  For assistance in making such arrangements, please contact us.

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