Controversial plans for new crematorium turned down
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
Divisive proposals to build a crematorium in a Norfolk village have been thrown out by councillors.
Funeral director Dignity PLC had applied to develop 10 acres of farmland off Brandon Road, Weeting, in order to provide a crematorium with an accompanying chapel, memorial gardens and office space.
The scheme, which included 106 parking spaces and a new junction onto Harling Drove, had attracted widespread criticism from villagers for its proximity to local amenities and potential impact on traffic.
Dignity argued there was a growing need for a crematorium in the area, while its agent, John Williams from PlanIT, cited an expected death rate increase of 32.4pc in Breckland between 2018 and 2038.
But during its latest meeting on Monday (June 22) - streamed online amid the coronavirus pandemic - Breckland Council’s planning committee opted to shelve plans, which had been recommended for refusal.
Planning officer Rebecca Collins highlighted concerns regarding the applicant’s failure to demonstrate the need for a crematorium in the area.
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She said Dignity had claimed nearby crematoriums “do not meet the needs” of local people, but “have not demonstrated or justified in any way how that is factually correct”.
Industry standards dictate that a crematorium should service between 125,000 and 150,000 people within a 30-minute drive, but a new facility in Weeting would cater for just 88,000.
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In addition, Ms Collins underlined significant changes to landscaping and the subsequent impact on the rural nature of the land.
Mike Nairn, representing Weeting with Broomhill Parish Council, said the lack of need and the project’s potential impact on traffic made approval of the application untenable.
“The fundamental condition for all new crematorium planning applications in England is need,” said Mr Nairn. “This application does not by any measure demonstrate need for this facility.”
Ray Thornalley, whose family owns Breckland Crematorium in Scoulton, further dismissed the necessity.
He added: “It is clear to me there is no need for a crematorium because I considered and subsequently dismissed Weeting as a suitable location when we were looking for a site to develop.
“Residents currently have a choice of three crematoria to choose from - Bury St Edmunds, King’s Lynn or Breckland - all of which are well maintained, easily accessed and operate with spare capacity.”