Controversial plans for village crematorium thrown out again
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
The decision to block controversial plans for a crematorium in a Norfolk village has been backed 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 had attracted widespread criticism from villagers for its proximity to local amenities and potential impact on traffic and the landscape.
Breckland's planning committee duly opted to shelve the project, which was recommended for refusal.
Dignity chose to appeal, however, and a four-day Planning Inspectorate inquiry took place in April.
But inspector Guy Davies has opted to dismiss the appeal, citing "limited need" for a crematorium in Weeting.
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Writing in his decision notice, Mr Davies said: "In in terms of capacity, there is no need for a crematorium at Weeting.
"In terms of proximity, the proposed facility would reduce travel time to a crematorium for a significant number of people, which would be of benefit.
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"However, alternative crematoria are available within what I consider to be a reasonable drive time, having regard to the rural character of the area and lack of evidence to indicate the additional drive time would be unacceptably stressful."
Mr Davies also highlighted the "significant" impact on the open landscape that a prospective development may have.
"The development would significantly harm the open and undeveloped landscape characteristics of this part of the countryside," he added.
"It would, as a consequence, conflict with the Breckland Local Plan, which seeks to protect and enhance the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside."
During April's inquiry, James Strachan QC had argued on behalf of Dignity that the need for a new crematorium in the area was "overwhelming" and outweighed concerns over impact on landscape.
It is not yet clear whether the company will further pursue its vision for a crematorium in Weeting.
A spokesman for Dignity added: “We are naturally disappointed with the decision and will now take time to consider our options.”