The Federation of Synagogues has been given planning approval by Barnet Council for a new 7,400-plot cemetery in north-west London, with final sign-off now in the power of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Barnet’s decision on the 11-acre Edgwarebury Lane site was taken at the Council’s Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday evening, and marks the next stage in the Federation’s long quest to move into a major Jewish catchment area.
Following a protracted 18-month negotiation, the Federation finally bought the former Camden Sports and Social Club site in 2014 for £1.6 million, and submitted plans for approval, which were initially approved but then subsequently amended.
The land has been unused for almost a quarter of a century and is described as “in a deep state of neglect”. It is next to – but separate from – an existing Jewish cemetery jointly owned by the S&P Sephardi Community, West London (Reform) Synagogue, Liberal Judaism and the independent and progressive Belsize Square Synagogue.
Avi Cohen, property manager at the Federation, welcomed news of the approval from the Barnet meeting, but said there was still a long way to go.
“We were very pleased to get the approval and appreciate the councillors’ support for the proposed alterations to the buildings and layout from the previously approved cemetery design. We believe that this will assist the Federation to fulfil the needs of the Jewish community within the boundary of the Borough of Barnet.”
He added: “We now await sign-off from the Mayor of London before we can proceed. We anticipate that it will take around six months to complete reports and preliminaries before construction can commence, and around a year to complete that once started. It may be early 2020 before the cemetery is operational.”
The land is located in the Green Belt, which might concern Khan, but the Federation said it was bounded by developments on all sides. The Federation’s plans include buildings with a prayer hall and associated Tahara facilities for preparing the deceased for burial, plus admin offices and workshops.
The Federation received a financial boost two years ago when it sold 20 acres of spare land in its Rainham cemetery in Essex for £8.3 million. The 109 acre site was consecrated in 1939 with plans for 50,000 plots but shifting demographics mean that only 60 percent of the land is used.