Council losing “the plot”?

Horton Estate Cemetery 1971

Is Horton Cemetery in Epsom about to be condemned for good by the Borough’s own Burial Authority?

In a rushed special meeting of Epsom and Ewell Borough Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee on 5th May, Councillors will be asked whether to impose a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) against the private property speculator owner who has totally neglected for 40 years this burial ground of 9000 patients of the former five psychiatric hospitals of Epsom.

In a Council Officers’ Report,  Councillors have been advised that the compensation payable to the owner will be in the region of £1/4 million. The valuation is based on the market value of “woodland”. The Report advises the owner will mount legal challenges against a CPO, leading to more expense for Council taxpayers.

Sheila Berry and Honorary Alderman Alan Carlson, former Mayors of Epsom and Ewell and now trustees of the Friends of Horton Cemetery, a Charity requesting the CPO, in a joint statement said: “If the owner gets the correct compensation a high value does not make it more likely that he will challenge a CPO than a low value.” On the valuation, they state: “We have expert advice from both a chartered surveyor and a lawyer that the comparison with “woodland” values is erroneous. The Cemetery is unique and is subject to a wide range of legal restrictions rendering it virtually worthless as a land asset. There is no development value and no possible income value due to these restrictions. We hope the Councillors on 5th May will not be discouraged by this misleading Report in pursuing a long-overdue intervention. A CPO is necessary to rescue the Cemetery from oblivion and belatedly show respect to 9000 souls who died in our Borough.”

You can attend the Council committee meeting on Thursday 5th May at 7.30 pm in The Town Hall, The Parade, Epsom or online.

UPDATE 6th May 2022: Marked as 4th on the agenda for the Strategy and Resources Committee of the Council on 5th May 2022, the item was declared withdrawn by Chairman Cllr Colin Keane. We understand that the Council will revisit the matter later in the year.