MAJOR flooding and the coronavirus crisis has led to talks over the safety of a planned expansion of a cemetery to stall.

Worcester City Council said its discussions with the Environment Agency (EA) over its objection to two planning applications concerning Worcester Muslim Cemetery off John Comyn Drive have been put on the backburner because of serious flooding in February and the refocussing of services in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The two planning applications concern retrospective permission for part of the current cemetery which, if approved, would pave the way for a huge 785-plot expansion.

The Environment Agency has objected to both applications due to major concerns over the safety of the land and possible water pollution.

The environmental body has not changed its stance on the cemetery expansion and maintains alternative locations should be found.

The application was submitted at the start of September last year and the site has been in use since 2005 without the correct planning permission.

The plan had been earmarked for a decision in December but was delayed due to the EA’s objection. At the time, Worcester City Council said it was in discussions with the EA over its objection.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “We have received a planning application from Worcester City Council for the retrospective change of use of burial land at the Worcester Muslim cemetery on John Comyn Drive in Worcester.

“The Environment Agency has objected to this application as we do not consider the location to be suitable for use as a human burial site due to the high risks to groundwater and human health.

“We would like the applicant to consider other more suitable alternative locations for the purposes of human burials where there are no groundwater risks and we are prepared and ready to work with Worcester City Council in identifying alternative sites or solutions.”

A spokesman for Worcester City Council said: "The council, as the planning authority, is in discussion with the applicant and the Environment Agency about the two applications relating to the cemetery at Perdiswell."

Council planners said the cemetery required the correct planning permission before plans for a 785-plot extension could start.

The council said planning permission was first granted for the cemetery in 1978 and renewed in 1983.