Haverhill: Church objects to plans to turn Vixen Pub into funeral home

PLANS to turn a pub into a funeral home that can host services and possibly even wakes have been branded “inappropriate” by church leaders.

Councillors and residents have also registered objections to the application to turn The Vixen pub, in Millfields Way, Haverhill, into a funeral directors, claiming it will plunge the area “into further depression” and upset children playing nearby.

According to documents submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council on behalf of funeral directors Roy Gwinnell & Sons, the Chalkstone estate pub will be completely transformed to include a mortuary, a service chapel and a lounge area.

The Rev Canon Ian Finn, rector of Haverhill and Withersfield, speaking on behalf of local churches, said it was “inappropriate” to change a building associated with entertainment into a place where “dignity and respect for the deceased should be paramount.”

He added: “We also object to the proposed use of the premises with their chapel facilities for funeral ceremonies to take place on site.

“To offer Christian ceremonies, the place of worship should be consecrated or licensed. Most of our local places of worship offer excellent facilities for the conducting of Christian funeral services and we suspect that the “in house” funeral ceremonies will be civil or humanist in character.

“Many people will be taken in by this and steered away from a correct and proper religious ceremony, which we as Christian churches offer to the population of Haverhill.

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Mr Finn added: “We also object to the fact that the same venue will be offering function and wake facilities – how inappropriate that will be to mourners coming to view their loved ones when this is taking place.”

Councillor Gordon Cox, who represents Haverhill East, said he had been approached by more than 50 people who are “very concerned” about the proposals, particularly having a mortuary on their doorstep. He added that an industrial estate, rather than a residential area, would be a more suitable location.

One resident from nearby Elmdon Place, who registered her objections with council planners, said: “The Chalkstone Estate needs somewhere to uplift the environment, not plunge it into further depression.”

A spokesman for Roy Gwinnel & Sons, a family firm with offices in Hadleigh, Colchester, Manningtree, Clacton-on-Sea, and Dovercourt had not commented when the East Anglian Daily Times went to press.

A decision will be made by August 17.

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