Alternative sites for a new cemetery are to be explored following a heated campaign by residents opposed to the use of Ewhurst Playing fields.
And, while Crawley Borough Council will continue to investigate whether the use of the Ifield site is feasible, it has acknowledged that others area – including outside the borough – are being examined.
The council will discuss the results of a ground survey with the Environment Agency. The survey – to find out whether the ground was suitable for burials – included an assessment of the water table.
Cllr Ken Trussell (Con, Maidenbower), Cabinet member for Environment, said: “It has been extremely challenging trying to find a suitable site for a new cemetery, and in reality no perfect site exists.
“We’ve had lots of feedback from residents, including 1,300 responses to the cemetery element of the Local Plan consultation and a large petition at Full Council against building a cemetery at Ewhurst Playing Fields.
“We need to take stock of this feedback, along with statutory bodies like Sport England and the Environment Agency, before making any further decisions.”
The news was welcomed by Mick Deacon, of Ardingly Close, who organised a 1,339-signature e-petition opposing the original plan to use Ewhurst as a cemetery.
But he added: “I would ask why they didn’t do this in the first place. They voted against the petition and the motion prompted by the petition which asked them to do what they are doing now. They didn’t listen to residents. They were saying ‘it’s the only site we can use and the only site available’. It was all twaddle.”
Officers are also looking into the possibility of increasing capacity at Snell Hatch.
Conservative Group leader Cllr Howard Bloom (Con, Southgate) said: “We can possibly extend the life of Snell Hatch by a couple of years by changing the use of some of the land. It’s not a promise, but it’s something we could do that gives us more flexibility and some breathing space.
“We are not in the business of upsetting residents who are passionate about protecting green space.”