Cemetery plans to go before planning

The applicant behind proposals for a new cemetery on the outskirts of Norwich says it is close to being approved, despite officers recommending refusal at a planning meeting this week.

Plans for the site at Canhams Hill, Bradshaw Road, off Reepham Road, Drayton, have been put forward by Simon Woodbridge, owner of Canham Hill Cemetery Ltd and former leader of Broadland District Council, who has declared an interest on the issue and will not be voting on the planning application.

He said the reason for the recommendation was a disagreement over two minor technical matters that he hoped could be resolved.

However, 27 letters or emails were sent to Broadland council opposed to the plans.

Residents are concerned that the cemetery for the Greater Norwich area would be close to residential properties and the size was inappropriate for a rural setting. Drayton Parish Council also objects on the grounds that the site is outside the development area.

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However, Mr Woodbridge said: 'We are very close in reaching a decision, The reasons for refusal are technical issues that have very little to do with the cemetery itself.

'Planners have accepted there is a need for a new cemetery for the Greater Norwich area, as Earlham cemetery is more than 150 years old.

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'The technical issues we need to resolve are having a caretaker at a building on site, to ensure a level of security.

'And, secondly, Norfolk County Council's archaeology department wants to carry out more work at the site, to determine what archaeological features are there.

'While we are quite happy to do that, we would like it to be a condition of planning permission, so that the principle of planning can be approved.'

He also said he hoped they had already addressed some of the issues raised by concerned residents, but accepted Drayton council's objection, but added that any new 80-acre site would automatically be outside the development area.

The new cemetery would provide burial provision for the city for the next century and beyond, he said.

If given the go-ahead, it would be the first new cemetery for the city since Earlham opened in 1856, and would include a gathering hall for funerals to be held, a cemetery office, parking facilities and waiting rooms for families.

The application for a change of use of agricultural land and woodland to provide a cemetery will be discussed by Broadland council's planning committee at 9.30am tomorrow.

The Evening News has previously revealed how there is an increasing lack of cemetery space in the Norwich area. What do you think? Write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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