Inquiry into build of crematorium in Norfolk countryside begins
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
The inquiry into controversial plans for a crematorium in the Norfolk countryside is under way.
The planning inspector opened the virtual public inquiry to develop 10 acres of farmland off Brandon Road, Weeting, for a crematorium, accompanying memorial garden, car park and vehicle access on Tuesday April 27.
The inquiry is scheduled for four days, concluding on Friday, April 30.
The appeal by Dignity Funerals will challenge the decision made by Breckland District Council on June 23, 2020, to refuse the application.
The council’s reasons for refusal included no demonstration of need in the area and significant changes to landscaping and the subsequent impact on the rural nature of the land.
Presenting the case on behalf of the appellant Dignity Funerals, James Strachan gave his opening statement.
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He said: “Just over a century ago only 0.09pc of funerals were by cremation but as of 2019 that figure was over 80pc and the percentage is still rising.
“For people living in and around places like Weeting and Brandon, they are deprived of any effective choice of a crematorium.
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“As the desire for cremations and death rates increase that basic tension grows ever worse.
“There is no simply good reason at all for the planning system failing to keep up to address this worsening problem.”
Addressing concerns about the effect on the landscape Mr Strachan said the new landscaping proposal would “enhance the character of the area”.
He added: “The scheme is for a very high-quality crematorium and memorial garden on what is an obviously ideal site in so many respects.
“The scheme won't harm the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, to the contrary it fully respects it."
In Breckland Council’s opening statement, Anjoli Foster said in accordance with the development plan the appeal should be refused.
Ms Foster said: “The appeal site is an agricultural field in the open countryside lying beyond settlement boundaries.
“The appeal proposal would result in an unacceptable change to landscape character, would fail to respect the character of the surrounding area and fail to contribute to the distinctive character of the area.
“There are no benefits to the appeal proposal which are sufficient to outweigh the harms caused.”