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Shortage of Space - Part Two

Shortage of burial space: an ongoing problem

The shortage of space for burial has been of continuing concern. Victorian legislators had assumed that individual burials would remain intact indefinitely.

The Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884 established the principle that no new buildings or developments were to be constructed on disused burial sites, unless to extend existing places of worship.

A further measure, the Open Spaces Act 1906, allowed disused burial grounds to be maintained and used as public spaces. This responsibility is now exercised by local authorities, although the management of many closed churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds has been handed over to local trusts.

Contemporary context

Reuse of graves has been under consideration for some time as a means of addressing the problem of shortage of space for new burials.  In limited circumstances, legislation already allows London burial authorities to reclaim and reuse old graves. Calls have been made for the law to allow local authorities to reuse existing graves elsewhere.


Page last updated 1st May 2014