Two rival crematoria operators are set for a fight to the death – quite literally- as councillors last night backed a new crematorium at Chatteris.
The decision by Fenland District Council Planning Committee to approve the bid by Memoria Crematoria Ltd means there could soon be rivals within a few miles of each other.
Mercia Crematoria, who operate the March crematorium, argued forcefully for the council to reject the bid by Memoria group.
“A single crematorium situated in March best serves the needs of the local community,” they argued in documents submitted to last night’s meeting.
“To allow two crematoria may result in Fenland having no viable crematoria rather than two, the ‘need’ having been met.”
Nine letters of objection to the Chatteris scheme – on a five acre site at Fenton Way- were considered together with letters of support, including one from a clergyman and six letters from local funeral directors.
Councillors were told that the Chatteris developers planned for a wider catchment area for clients including Huntingdonshire and East Cambridgeshire.
Officials of Fenland Council pointed out that approval of an earlier scheme “does not prejudice the approval of an additional or alternative site.”
However they argued the Chatteris site was unacceptable given its proximity to industrial units and the “likely prejudicial impact” it would have on other businesses want to relocate there.
One neighbouring firm, ERMS Ltd, argued the mix of traffic with cars, cyclists, pedestrians and industrial vehicles using the area created serious safety concerns.
Last year Mercia Crematoria successfully won a High Court ruling over turning an original decision by the council to allow the Chatteris crematorium to go ahead.
They had argued “there could be no possible need for such a second facility only a few minutes away”.
However the High Court ruling also allowed a second application by Memoria to be submitted which the council has now approved.
Nick Owen, director of Mercia Crematoria, argued the decision may be symptomatic of the rivalry “between the towns of March and Chatteris or perhaps the principal directors of Memoria, who now live abroad, have lost sight of the economic realities of what they propose.”