National funeral firm battles to block rival’s crematorium bid in Breckland

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

One of the country's major funeral companies is battling to block permission granted to a King's Lynn-based funeral directors to build a new crematorium in Breckland.

Dignity Funerals, based in Sutton Coldfield, is taking legal action at London's High Court to stop family-firm Thornally Funeral Services from building a crematorium in Scoulton, near Watton.

In December, Breckland Council gave the Norfolk firm's application the green light to build on land off the B1108 Norwich Road.

But at the hearing on Wednesday lawyers for Dignity, which has two crematoriums near Norwich, argued that the planning permission should be quashed.

They claimed the district council had failed to consider the rival plan - to build a new crematorium complex between Weeting and Brandon.

Dignity claims that Breckland Council wrongly failed to consider its proposals when it granted the planning permission to Thornally.

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

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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. There was insufficient information for the council to form an opinion about its scheme.

The case is being heard by Mr Justice Holgate, and when the legal argument ends he is expected - because of the complexity of some of the legal argument - to reserve judgment to give it in writing at a later date.

Thornally Funeral Services' application has caused controversy in the local community.

Between December 2014, when the application was first submitted, and October 2016, almost 200 representations objecting to the application were submitted to the council.

The then Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman and Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan also wrote to express their concerns about the plan.

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