Proposals to build a cemetery next to the NI Children’s Hospice in Glengormley is likely to have a considerable impact on the integrity of the charity’s services, its Chief Executive has said.

Judith Hill was speaking after representatives from the Hospice met with Newtownabbey Borough Council last week.

The council is currently in the process of searching for new land for cemetery space and the Valley Park on the O’Neill Road is one of the options being explored. The park sits directly below the Children’s Hospice.

“The Council representatives were informed that current proposals for a new cemetery are likely to have a considerable impact on the integrity of the services available at Northern Ireland Children's Hospice located on the O'Neill Road in Newtownabbey,” said Professor Hill.

“Due note was taken of the concerns expressed and Council officers are understood to have agreed to explore further options to minimise the impact.

“Planning is at an early, exploratory stage, so Northern Ireland Children's Hospice will reserve its position until there is greater clarity on the proposals, but would urge that all other potential sites be explored as part of the planning process.”

If the proposal should go ahead it is anticipated that less than one third of the Valley Park would be used as a cemetery and a new play and multi-use games area would be built opposite the Valley Park and on the site between Tobar Glen and Carnmoney Cemetery.

“Council representatives fully understand the concerns expressed by representatives from the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice,” said a Council spokeswoman.

“The Council will continue to consult with the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice to explore all available options for the development of the Valley Park site. The Council would like to reassure the local community that a full consultation exercise, with all key stakeholders, including local residents and park users will also be undertaken should the proposal to develop the cemetery proceed.”