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Judge Gives Green Light to Crematorium Plans

Commercial competition in the funeral business spilled over into the planning field as rival companies, which each hoped to develop crematoria in an area where there was only a market for one, fought out their differences at the High Court.

Despite numerous objections from local residents, company A was granted consent by a planning inspector to develop a new crematorium, a garden of remembrance, car parking and other ancillary facilities. That decision came as a serious blow to company B, which was in the process of seeking permission for a crematorium just over a mile away.

In challenging the inspector’s decision, company B argued that he had been wrong to use the ‘fast-track’ procedure in which arguments were submitted in writing. Given the controversy surrounding the proposals, and the existence of alternative sites, there should have been an oral hearing in public.

It was also submitted that the size of the site and the constrained layout of the development – due to flood risks on certain parts of the land – would give rise to unacceptable levels of congestion and would not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the various faith communities in the area.

However, in upholding the inspector’s ruling, the Court found that his decision to proceed by way of written representations was reasonable and that company B had suffered no unfairness. The issue relating to alternative sites had been canvassed in some detail before the inspector by one of the objectors.