Exeter cemetery closes main gates after being used as a 'rat run' by commuters

The gates before they were shut at the Hamlin Lane entrance of Higher Cemetery in Heavitree Credit: BPM Media

An Exeter cemetery has closed one of its main gates in a bid to stop it from being used as a 'rat run' by commuters following road changes in the area.

The main gates at the Hamlin Lane entrance of Higher Cemetery in Heavitree will now be kept locked at all times, except for when there is a funeral.

Visitors arriving by car will still be able to use the St Mark's Avenue entrance as usual.

The small pedestrian gate at Hamlin Lane will also remain open.

The decision has been made by Exeter City Council, which owns the cemetery.

The problems are believed to have been caused by recent road closures and restrictions in Heavitree.

An Exeter City Council spokesman said: “Following a number of complaints and officers reporting back with the same concerns, we have closed one of the gates at the Hamlin Lane entrance to stop vehicles accessing the cemetery as a ‘rat run’.

"Cars had been using the cemetery as a cut-through, speeding and driving off the road onto the grass, which was a real safety issue. Pedestrians can, however, still enter from Hamlin Lane.”

Higher Cemetery Credit: BPM Media

Councillor Rob Hannaford raised the issue at Higher Cemetery at a meeting of Exeter Highways Committee, of which he is a member.

He said: "We have all received emails about the gate closures at Heavitree Cemetery as drivers were using it as a rat run because of all the recent road closures and new restrictions.

"This again clearly underlines the reality that the traffic network across Exeter is very fragile, and it only takes a few small changes, here and there, to have a big impact on the overall citywide traffic flow. We must be careful about unintentional consequences.

"Displaced traffic is now being funnelled on to other local roads, with additional congestion and pollution. Unless and until we have an affordable and reliable public transport network in Exeter, more people will not make the commitment to actually using it, and continue to make car journeys."