A PET cemetery which proved controversial among residents during its planning has officially opened.

Piper, a much-loved beagle that was killed in a traffic accident, was the first pet to be placed in the West Hoe pet cemetery, based on land near the human cemetery in Bishop’s Waltham.

As previously reported, plans for the cemetery received ten letters of objection prior to a Winchester City Council planning committee meeting last month in which no-one spoke out against the scheme, and it was unanimously approved.

Concerns ranged from fears a precedent would be set as there are currently no other pet cemeteries in the Winchester district, to fears it would create upset as it was near to the human cemetery.

Sophie Buckland, of New Road, Swanmore, said: “I strongly object as I have several members of family laid to rest in cemetery. I don’t think animals should be laid in the same place.”

Georgina Kempster, of Windmill Lane, Bursledon, added: “I think it’s morally wrong that you should consider having pets laid to rest at a long-standing cemetery for humans.

“If this type of thing is needed in the area, another site should be found.”

The West Hoe Cemetery, which is jointly managed by Bishop’s Waltham and Swanmore parish councils, opened the pet cemetery as it claimed there was a local demand following discussions with the South Downs Natural Burial Site at East Meon.

Robin Howe, chairman of the West Hoe Cemetery Management Committee, said: “Just as non-residents can be buried in the conventional cemetery, the Pet Cemetery will also be similarly available for use by those from our neighbouring villages.”