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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 09:48 GMT
Cemeteries should be 'appealing'
A grave statue
Graveyards are traditionally quiet and tranquil places
The organisation which advises the government on the use of public spaces wants local councils to make cemeteries more appealing.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) said cemeteries have a "magical, sacred quality to them".

Spokesman Matt Bell said as open spaces they had "health benefits".

The group also said that local authorities needed to understand the importance of having such spaces.

Mr Bell said: "One of the interesting things is to compare cemeteries to parks, where a lot of these sort of places were designed and laid out in the 19th Century with huge flair and huge investment.

"Over the last few years we've done the same thing with our parks but slightly forgotten our cemeteries and they have a wonderful wild quality to them with lots of benefits to them I think people relish.

"It's not just the ecology and the slight wildness, bizarrely... there are health benefits. You can come here to walk, to relax, to refresh your mind. They're beautiful places."

Public attractions

Rachel Schofield is business development manager at Arnos Vale cemetery, a 45-acre Victorian site in Bristol which has been taken over by a trust.

She said refurbishment work was due to start at the site in January, and would include a cafe.

"We're going to be developing a Victorian heritage centre here, an education centre, family history centre, and volunteer centre."

Ms Schofield said that "hundreds" of people already visit the cemetery, and that a recent campaign to save it had attracted thousands of signatories.

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