Balham Mosque for Orchard Cemetery

Introduction

This year marks 50 golden years since the inception of Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre. Having been established in the early days as a basic prayer facility for local Muslims, over the years the organisation has developed into a fully functional  educational and community institution and is often referred to as one of the bigger mosques in the country.

The Trustees and Management committee have worked relentlessly to deliver their vision of creating an organisation that is with the community from birth to death. This vision has given the Trustees the drive to invest in Tooting Islamic Centre, to create the Al Risalah Education Trust, under the supervision of whom there are now a total of 5 schools, from Nursery to Primary to Secondary, that all provide Islamic Education as the underlying ethos.

Background

In 2005, the Trustees undertook the purchase of the 36-acre plot at Orchard Playing Fields in Anerley. Aspirations were to develop a sports academy and housing facilities for the elderly, a cemetery for the South London Community and additional youth activities & services. In advance of the necessary consents, this was allocated to provide outdoor activities for the community and has since been used primarily for celebrating the annual community Fun Day.

Why Now?

Of course, the pandemic has caught the world by surprise. However the marked factor of concern has been the high death rate among the Muslim population – this has primarily provided the catalyst to addressing the desperate shortages of burial space for Muslim burials in South London.

Over the past couple of years, Balham Mosque has engaged proactively with local councils who operate the cemeteries covering our catchment (Lambeth, Wandsworth & Merton), to understand how the land capacity will meet demand over the coming decades. Unfortunately, the results of this engagement have been unsatisfactory. We have been advised that in London in particular, there is no new land available for burial plots and the capacity at existing cemeteries is rapidly running out. Quite apart from this, year on year changes to council budgets has meant that the satisfactory upkeep of graves, as well as the ability to support the timelines for a Muslim burial can be severely restricted. However, it must be acknowledged that they try and  accommodate us as much as possible but there are times when they simply cannot.

Options for the Community

Currently the Community has two primary options. One is to purchase a burial plot at the time of death from the local council at the chosen cemetery and the alternative is to use a private cemetery. Either way, the costs are exorbitant. In the absence of dedicated space for Muslim burials provided by the council - something which we believe is fast approaching – it is likely that those not using private cemeteries will be buried in common grave sites/areas that are open to any faith. This is a serious concern.

Our Plans

Since the pandemic, plans to develop a graveyard for the South London Community have been accelerated. Balham Mosque took the proactive decision to apply for planning permission from Bromley Council to provide a cemetery/burial facility. The plans expect to combat the severe shortage of space in surrounding cemeteries within London, including at Blackshaw Road, where Balham Mosque had previously purchased numerous plots to ensure there was sufficient burial space for bereaved families from within the Balham Mosque congregation in particular. As of current estimates, the project will include the development of a cemetery that can accommodate 5,000 burials, a car park, redevelopment of existing buildings and the development of a Peace Garden. Planning work and engagements with the necessary consultants, including architects and transport specialists to provide depth for the planning application have already been undertaken. The 5,000 burials spaces should meet the needs of our community over the next 15-20 years.

Under our plans, the existing building on site are to be repurposed and renovated for visitors to use when visiting the graveyard during the week and weekend in the day time. The Peace Garden is expected to provide a space for reflection as well as an architectural feature for the cemetery. We expect to operate as a Community project and therefore on a non-profit basis and hence providing a service at the best possible value & price.

So far, our engagements with Bromley Council have been positive and our concerns as raised are acknowledged. We are fortunate that the foresight provided by our Trustees has given us exclusive access to a plot of land that is a greenfield site in a metropolitan area, the likes of which are no longer available. This gives our planning application additional chances of success.

Funding

We are now raising funds to bring the vision of our Trustees and Management Committee, The Orchard Cemetery, to life.

Our scheme enables the community to get involved by donating £500 per individual or family to become a founding member of the cemetery. We hope to collect £100,000 to help pay for the initial application costs that include plans, drawings, ecological reports and various other consultations. In addition, we will be able to progress developing this facility immediately, once the planning permission is approved.

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  • Anonymous 
    • £200 
    • 9 mos
  • Zeeshan Ahmed 
    • £9 
    • 9 mos
  • Siraj Mohamed 
    • £5 
    • 13 mos
  • Hajj Mohammed X 
    • £2,350 
    • 15 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £950 
    • 19 mos
See all

Fundraising team: arshad daud (3)

Umar Valimahomed 
Organizer
Raised £1,380 from 10 donations
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Balham Mosque 
Registered nonprofit
Donations eligible for Gift Aid.
Learn more
Arshad Daud 
Team member
Raised £1,370 from 5 donations
Maryam Tayub 
Team member
Raised £730 from 4 donations
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