Kenthurst couple to fight Catholic Diocese over cemetery bid

An aerial view of the area.

An aerial view of the area.

A Kenthurst couple is fighting to stop the construction of a cemetery and parish next door to their property, saying it would have a “devastating effect” on their family.

Mrs Guo – who did not wish to be named in full –  received a letter late in July alerting residents to the development application – submitted by the Parramatta Catholic Diocese – for a parish and cemetery at 20-21 Annangrove Road.

She said she was “shocked and angry” to hear a burial site was planned for the land about five metres from her fence and in sight of St Madeleine’s Primary School.

Mrs Guo said she was convinced the value of their home would depreciate if the development went ahead. She and her husband made a submission to the council arguing against it.

“Allowing a cemetery to be built five metres away from our family home clearly violates our fundamental human rights of enjoying our family home,” she added.

Residents and other community members have been invited to discuss the plans with Diocese representatives apparently eager to allay concerns. 

Concerns raised include fears St Madeleine’s pupils will be negatively impacted by the sight of burials at the cemetery; and the belief Annangrove Road is too narrow and congested to handle further development.

“I sit in the traffic that is related to this Catholic school at the end of the day,” Kellie-Stewart Keen wrote on Facebook. “Some days the traffic is banked back to the round-a-about on Kenthurst road! And now you want to add funeral services which will stop all traffic in both directions.”

“I agree that death is the cycle of life, however, watching a grave being dug by a bobcat is not something I would want my children subjected to while at school,” Emma Comito said.

But not all are opposed. “Oakhill has its own cemetery for the brothers,” Michele Murdocca said. “I’m sure it wouldn’t be built in the way of the schools, [it’s] more for the parish. They need a bigger church there and have been pushing for funds for many many years. It’s part of life and won’t hurt children to see [it].”

For Mrs Guo, the concerns go beyond traffic woes.

“It’s cultural. As a Chinese person, to live five metres away from a graveyard is totally against my heritage beliefs, my cultural beliefs,” she said.

She is confident there will be enough public opposition to quash the bid by the Diocese, who intend to use profits from the cemetery to fund construction of Kenthurst Parish at the site.

“I’m sure we will be successful,” she said.

“Our objection is very strong, very clear. The church proposal is purely for financial gain and not for serving the community.”

A statement from the Parramatta Diocese on Monday said the establishment of a new parish on Annangrove Road had been “a passion of the community for 30 years.”