Inspector to decide whether blocking crematorium plan was justified
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The decision to block controversial plans for a crematorium in a Norfolk village will be considered further by government officials.
Proposals to build the new facility in Weeting, near Brandon, were thrown out by Breckland Council last year.
Funeral director Dignity Funerals had hoped to develop 10 acres of farmland off Brandon Road 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.
Breckland's planning committee duly opted to shelve the project, which had been recommended for refusal.
Planning officer, Rebecca Collins, said the applicant 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”.
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However, Dignity chose to appeal to the decision and the resulting four-day inquiry came to an end on Friday (April 30).
James Strachan QC, for Dignity, argued in his closing statement that any benefits to the proposal, such as need for a new crematorium in the area, were "overwhelming" and outweighed any concerns over affect on the landscape.
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"A dire situation already exists, with delays well in excess of 14 days and 30 days at peak," he said. "This is a situation that will only get worse.
"The appellant has produced overwhelming evidence as to the existence of need that provides strong support for the scheme. If there is any landscape harm, it's an overwhelming case to outweigh any such harm.
"The proposal is in accordance with the development plan and should be permitted without delay. We urge you to allow this appeal and let the residents of this area be served properly by an essential facility of the highest quality that the bereaved deserve."
On the other hand, Anjoli Foster, for Breckland Council, disputed the meaning of the word "need" in this situation.
She added: "The evidence put forward by the appellant is wholly lacking and does not demonstrate that any distress or hardship is being caused to people."
Planning inspector, Guy Davies, will make a decision in due course, following a site visit next week.