A PENSIONER has sparked fury by planning to turn his garden into a cemetery amid claims he's trying to cash in on coronavirus deaths.
Alan Whitley, 74, lodged plans with the council to put 200 graves at his Bracken Cottage's garden in Shincliffe, County Durham.
The OAP received interest from a funeral director after a lack of plots in the east of the county.
But locals have complained about a possible increase in mourners' traffic and the impact on events like childrens' birthday parties.
Mr Whitley, who who used to run a hotel and restaurant from the neighbouring properties before converting them into houses, said there would be about three funerals a month.
And he blasted as "awful" suggestions he was trying to profit from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Whitley said: "The amount of disruption it would cause would be quite insignificant if you think when it was a hotel and restaurant, it would be far busier.
"There will be no extra money involved for me. I don't have a licence to bury people, you need some kind of certificate.
"When you get something like the pandemic, not long ago this area, the North East, had one of the highest death rates.
"I just thought it would be nice to have a cemetery. People who have lived in Shincliffe for a long-time might like to be laid to rest here.
"For anyone to suggest we are trying to make money from the pandemic is awful to say."
Mr Whitley insisted: "I have enough money to retire on".
There have been 252 coronavirus deaths at Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, with 3,326 cases.
At least 1,733 people have died with Covid-19 in the North East and Yorkshire, with 15,163 infections.
For anyone to suggest we are trying to make money from the pandemic is awful to say.
One neighbour slammed Mr Whitley's plans in a letter to Durham County Council.
The local resident wrote: "This is a stretch of road which already has a history of accidents and near misses."
Another wrote: "The noise generated by the machinery needed to dig graves and maintain the site and the additional traffic and people on the day of a funeral will significantly disturb nearby residents.
"Access to the proposed cemetery is down a narrow, shared driveway.
"This would need to be accessed by multiple disruption, as visits to grave sides continue after loved ones are buried."
And another wrote said: "A child's birthday party in the back garden, for example, while a funeral is happening literally over the fence, is going to make all parties feel very uncomfortable and upset."
Shincliffe Parish Council has opposed the plans, saying there is "no evidence that residents of Beaumont Court" are happy with the change.
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