Fancy a game of football? “Just use your local cemetery” says Co-op funeral directors.

The Heart of England Co-ops plans to develop Oakfield Recreation Ground [1] in Rugby took an embarrassing turn when Save Oakfield, a local community group formed to oppose the plans, revealed that the Co-op’s planning application suggests that 11 a side footballers should simply use a local cemetery should the at-risk field be developed into sixty dwellings.

This assertion from the Heart of England Co-op and their Chief Executive Officer, Ali Kurji, is made all the more exasperating as one of their core businesses is providing FUNERAL SERVICES with one of their funeral parlours neighbouring Oakfield Rec.

The claim is made on the Co-ops Open Space Report [2], a document which they created to support their notion that Oakfield Recreation Ground isn’t needed by the community. On page 22, figure 16, of their Planning application [2] we can see that the Co-op use a map to demonstrate the outdoor sports facilities within 1 kilometre of Oakfield Recreation Ground. Each alternative facility is indicated by a pink spot (see map).

However, with the landmarks accurately labelled, it would appear that the Heart of England Co-op is way off target with its suggestion.

Save Oakfield committee member Mark Norton commented “Are we expected to trespass on the suggested private sites, including a cemetery?”.

Save Oakfield committee member Richard Joy concluded “It is astonishing that a document which is so important to the Heart of England Co-op’s planning application should be so littered with inaccuracies and planning violations.

It’s one thing for them to suggest a local primary school should be accessible to all members of the public as some kind of replacement for Oakfield, but for a company of funeral directors to suggest that the loss of a full sized football pitch could in some way be mitigated by the existence of a cemetery truly beggars belief.

I think they should have asked the work experience kid to have conducted this research as they would have done a far better job.

Croop Hill Cemetery aerial map – copyright Google Maps.