Controversial plans for a second crematorium in Fenland are set to be rejected again, despite a town council’s support.
Plans for a crematorium in Fenton Way, Chatteris, were originally granted by councillors in 2009 against the will of planning officers.
That permission was, however, quashed at the High Court last year after rival provider Dignity – operator of the new March crematorium – proved that Fenland District Council failed to consider its planning permission as a relevant factor in the Chatteris scheme.
As a result Memoria Crematoria’s application is undetermined and will be considered again at tomorrow’s meeting of the council’s planning committee.
But planning officers have again recommended that the application is refused because of the impact on existing businesses.
A report to councillors said: “It remains officer opinion that the site selected is unacceptable by virtue of its relationship with existing industrial units and the likely prejudicial impact that the scheme would have on the remaining primary business and industrial allocation being delivered.
“It would not therefore comply with adopted planning policy at local or national level.”
Chatteris Town Council has “strongly recommend approval” for the scheme on four-and-a-half acres of agricultural land.
Officers acknowledged that a needs analysis by LeisureMarkets on behalf of Memoria, completed in November, “provided sufficient evidence of need for the proposed scheme”.
Roger Tym, who was instructed by the council to study the analysis, said Memoria’s quantitative case for the crematorium was not strong. The analysis said the number of cremations will be around 670 per year, rising to 745 by 2021 and 987 by 2033.
However, a qualitative need “provided a much more compelling picture of need”.
Mr Tym said: “The issue of the qualitative experience for the bereaved – including issues such as choice of facility and of time and day for funerals – was shown to be a factor in this support.
“Consequently, we conclude a ‘need’ for the facility has been demonstrated.”
Since the High Court decision five letters of objection were sent to the council on top of the nine letters sent in 2009.
The new letters suggest that March Crematorium is sufficient to serve Fenland and that statistics used in the needs analysis are “misleading, minimal or inaccurate”. Fears were also raised about the impact on the road network and emissions from the crematorium.
Among objectors are fruit and vegetable packing company Erms UK, based near the site, which halted expansion plans that would have created 300 jobs because of the crematorium plan.
Ian Smith, managing director of Erms, said in a letter: “The granting of this proposal would have the most negative impact on any future expansion plans in this area.”
Seven letters were submitted in support by various funeral directors, claiming they prefer to use Chatteris crematorium rather than March.