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Controversial crematorium opens five years after plans submitted

PUBLISHED: 13:35 20 July 2019 | UPDATED: 21:52 21 July 2019

The new chapel at the Breckland Crematorium. Picture: Thornalley Funeral Services

The new chapel at the Breckland Crematorium. Picture: Thornalley Funeral Services

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A controversial crematorium has opened five years after the original application was made to build it and despite a campaign by opponents.

The new chapel at the Breckland Crematorium. Picture: Thornalley Funeral ServicesThe new chapel at the Breckland Crematorium. Picture: Thornalley Funeral Services

King's Lynn-based funeral directors Thornalley Funeral Services applied to Breckland Council to build Breckland Crematorium in the borough back in 2014.

It was granted planning permission twice, with both decisions later overturned in High Court challenges, before being green-lit for a final time in late 2016.

The application - for a site off the B1108 Norwich Road in Scoulton - caused controversy, with more than 200 objections to the application.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman and former Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan, who died in June last year, also expressed their concerns about the plan.

The new chapel at the Breckland Crematorium. Picture: Thornalley Funeral ServicesThe new chapel at the Breckland Crematorium. Picture: Thornalley Funeral Services

But it was opened earlier this month for funeral services, and director Ray Thornalley said the reception had been welcoming.

He said: "It is a privilege to provide this much needed service in Norfolk, as it has already proven to be a popular option with those living in the local and surrounding areas.

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"Feedback from funeral directors so far has been excellent and we would like to thank them for their support through the planning and building stages."

Despite the 2016 planning permission being awarded, it was almost stopped again after it was taken to the High Court in June 2017 for a third time, this time by national chain Dignity Funerals.

Dignity, which has two crematoriums near Norwich, argued the planning permission should be quashed because Breckland did not consider its rival plan for another crematorium near Brandon.

At the hearing its barrister, James Strachan QC, told the judge that the council had a "duty" to consider its "specific alternative".

However, lawyers for the council said it was under no obligation to consider Dignity's plans.

They said that not only had Dignity not yet applied for planning permission for its crematorium, but that it had also failed to give the council enough information about its proposals.

The crematorium has a large chapel for services including music and visual tributes. There is also a garden of remembrance with a number of memorials available.

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