Campaigners call for public inquiry on controversial crematorium bid at Scoulton

A concept design for the new crematorium in Scoulton, which has been given planning permission for a

A concept design for the new crematorium in Scoulton, which has been given planning permission for a third time by Breckland Council. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting proposals for a new crematorium in the Norfolk countryside are appealing for it to be called in for a public inquiry.

Breckland Council has granted planning permission for the facility in Scoulton, near Hingham, for the third time, despite two previous approvals being overturned by the High Court.

The application from Thornalley Funeral Services for a crematorium off the B1108 Norwich Road was again unanimously approved by the district council planning committee following a further ecological survey.

But objectors say it must now be called in by the secretary of state and go to a full public inquiry.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman and Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan have also expressed their concerns.

Erica Whettingsteel, a planning consultant who lives near the proposed site, said their elected councillors were not acting in the interests of the communities they served by approving the application.

'They say one thing to your face and then vote the other way,' she said.

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'Members are also being misled because at the planning meeting in the slides they put up showing crematoria in Norfolk, two were missing.

'I think people are starting to feel like it is a done deal and don't know how to engage with the process.'

Mrs Whettingsteel said she wanted the last application deferred in order to wait for an expected application from Dignity Funeral Services for an alternative crematorium near Thetford and to consider the two together. But her plea was rejected.

She is also concerned that proper air quality assessments have yet to be done and a public inquiry would demand more information.

Mr Freeman believes a new crematorium is needed in the area, but expressed concerns about potential housing growth around it.

He said: 'With more people choosing cremation over a church burial, it's clear that Breckland needs a new crematorium.

'I have visited the site at Scoulton several times and spoken to local residents as well as the local family funeral directors to understand the plan, and seek reassurances that the site will not lead to mass house building or the industrialisation of this rural area.

'I have written to Breckland Council to raise these concerns and request the necessary reassurances and conditions.'

Local funeral director Chapmans Funeral Services and the Rural Dean of Breckland, meanwhile, welcomed a new crematorium as 'good news for bereaved families' who would no longer have to travel to facilities as far afield as King's Lynn or Bury St Edmunds.

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