UNCERTAINTY over the future of the Whorlton Hall Independent Hospital has thrown plans for community facilities in the village into disarray.

Whorlton Parish Council had been in talks with Castlebeck Care for the sale of a plot of land owned by the hospital operator for an extension to the village cemetery.

Negotiations had also been ongoing about the long-term future of land owned by Castlebeck Care and used as a playground for local children.

The parish council had gained planning permission for the cemetery and talks to finalise the sale were ongoing.

But chairman David Kinch said uncertainty over Whorlton Hall's future ownership, coupled with spiralling development costs – such as the need to drill boreholes to check the water table level - had cast doubt over the project.

He told Monday's parish council meeting: “I am seriously thinking of asking the village if they still want to go ahead with the cemetery. The cost is rising all the time – it will be something like £16,000.”

The future of the play area is also in doubt.

The current lease on the land runs out in 2014 and the parish council had either hoped to either buy the plot from Castlebeck or negotiate a long term lease in order to qualify for a grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust to cover the cost of much needed new play equipment.

Parish councillor Laura Bailey said: “The application to Veolia has been approved on the basis of an extended lease for 20 years.

“If Castlebeck is sold and we don't get that, we won't get the playground.”