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CABE takes graveyards dead seriously

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CABE has said graveyards must do more to attract living visitors

Poor design and a lack of imagination are making the UK’s graveyards no-go zones for the living, CABE has warned.

The timely report, released on Hallowe’en (31 October), claims the potential health, leisure and environmental benefits of cemeteries are not being exploited due to a lack of design, planning and ambition.

CABE goes on to say many urban burial grounds, often created as open public spaces in the 19th century, offer little to attract anyone other than those visiting individual graves and that new cemeteries in this country ‘are no longer viewed as high-profile design commissions’.

This is contrasted with mainland Europe, where cemeteries are often designed by big-name architects such as Stirling Prize winners David Chipperfield – who is drawing up plans for a plot in Venice’s - and by Enric Miralles, who masterminded a project in Barcelona.

The commission adds that, with graveyards accounting for up to a half of all the green space in some areas such as the London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the UK’s 20,000 cemeteries are a ‘huge untapped resource’.

As a result CABE is calling on local authorities to include burial grounds in their green-space strategies, so that finance can be allocated for horticulturalists, landscaping and visitor centres.

Sarah Gaventa, director of CABE Space, said: ‘Cemeteries should not be considered solely as resting places for the dead, they should be designed with the living in mind too.

‘The great Victorian cemeteries were designed and maintained as beautiful public parks for the enjoyment of all.’

She added: ‘Every local authority should have them in their green-space strategy and ensure that their full value is realised.’

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