A religious sect has been granted planning permission to create a burial ground in a village near Swindon.
The Family Federation For World Peace And Unification, more commonly known as the Moonies, can now turn a field in Stanton Fitzwarren into a memorial woodland burial site, despite objections from the parish council, the local councillor and villagers.
They said the proposals were too large and would lead to traffic and parking problems in the village. It was also noted that there were natural springs and the remains of a Roman villa nearby.
But planning officers at Swindon Council recommended that the plans be approved because they complied with local development, countryside, amenity and transport policies.
[Councillor Doreen Dart] denied the objections were based on villagers being against the church’s presence in the village.
The Unification Church has a long history in the village, dating back to the 1970s when a local man, Henry Masters, donated his £800,000 South Farm estate to them and it became their centre for training. It hosted many seminars and workshops for the religion’s followers in the UK.
It now owns another 21 properties in the village, which are rented out, along with much of the farmland.