A major new cemetery with more than 130,000 grave plots has been approved in Sydney’s southwest after burial spots hit record lows and were being sold online for tens of thousands of dollars.

By Sascha O’Sullivan
The Australian
July 16, 2019

NSW’s Independent Planning Commission has ordered the Sydney Western City ­Planning Panel to approve the cemetery application in Varroville, near Campbelltown, amid pressure from religious groups feeling the pressure of the shortage.

The cemetery will be built on greenbelt land between Camden and Campbelltown, but its ­proposal had faced a backlash from heritage groups that said it could change the character of the area.

The Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust has won ­approval to build the cemetery after pushing for the site since October 2017.

Chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Vic ­Alhadeff said the decision to ­approve the 136,000 burial plot cemetery was a win for religious communities concerned by the “critical” shortage.

“This is a very positive outcome for the Jewish community, which has reached a critical shortage of cemetery space,” Mr Alhadeff said.

He said cemetery space was due to run out in as little as five years, and the Jewish community was concerned over affordability of grave plots as well as the shortage.

Some Sydney-based grave-plots sell for as much as $15,000 on online market places such as Gumtree.

The Varroville cemetery was approved by the Independent Planning Commission because of the concerns over space.

“(The development) will ­address a need for additional cemetery space … and is in proximity to identified urban growth areas and transport options,” the commission’s decision said.

“The potential impacts to … the environment have been minimised through site design.’’

NSW Labor MP for Campbelltown Greg Warren had campaigned against the dev­elop­ment over concerns to conserve the green space.

He said he remained opposed to the development of the greenbelt land and said there were ­better areas for the cemetery to be built.

“I acknowledge the concerns (of religious groups) and I am certainly sympathetic,” Mr Warren said.

“For me, this is about geography and location.

“There are other areas around which wouldn’t have ­imposed on an important green space.”

Mr Warren said there were areas south of Campbelltown that would have been more ­appropriate for the cemetery.