Families of the deceased should be able to extend their exclusive right of burial (ERoB) in graveyards, a Three Rivers District Council committee has agreed.

The Hertfordshire authority grants century-long leases when burials take place, which gives family members the right to be buried in the same plot, if there is a space, or to place a memorial.

But following a request from "customers" at its cemeteries, Three Rivers District Council's Policy and Resources Committee has agreed to let families extend their ERoBs by up to 50 years.

Some Hertfordshire authorities are struggling to find cemetery space, and one council has taken its case to Parliament in a bid to secure new powers which could let them re-use plots after 75 years.

Papers for a committee meeting, which took place in Rickmansworth on Monday, November 13, read: "At the current time, once the 100 years has lapsed, there is no policy to cover any form of extension. Once the 100 years has lapsed, the ownership and responsibility of the grave passes back to the council.

"The council is then responsible for ensuring the safety of any memorial, including the costs of any work needed to make the memorial safe. Once the last ERoB issued in the relevant cemetery has lapsed, the council could reuse the land, however, this is a sensitive issue.

"At Chorleywood Road Cemetery, which is closed for new ERoB, however, interments can still take place if there is space in existing graves, the last ERoB was issued in 1994 and therefore in 2094, in the absence of a new extension policy, revert to the council at that time.

"Woodcock Hill Cemetery is the cemetery the council currently uses for new interments. The first ERoB was issued in 1951, but obviously, at this point, there is no way of knowing when the last 100-year lease ERoB will be issued."

The report notes: "The council has recently received an enquiry from a grave owner whose ERoB at Chorleywood Road lapses this year and who would like to extend the lease. Therefore, an ERoB extension policy and relating fees need to be considered by members."

According to the report, Three Rivers District Council would charge 50 per cent of the full ERoB resident fee at the time it is required.

When the Local Democracy Reporting Service ran a probe earlier in 2023, it found 11 Hertfordshire cemeteries could run out of space within the next two decades. This included Brent Council's Carpenders Park Lawn Cemetery in South Oxhey, with around 10 years of space left.

Allum Lane Cemetery in Elstree is due to run out of space by the end of 2024, and Watford Borough Council's two cemeteries at Vicarage Road and North Watford have roughly 13 years remaining.

Bishop's Stortford Cemetery also has roughly 13 years left and the town council, with help from East Herts Council, has taken its case to Parliament. It has asked lawmakers for special powers to extinguish burial rights after 75 years and disturb human remains to create space, after a case-by-case consultation.