Bercow hits out at ‘woefully substandard’ crematorium plans

MP John Bercow
MP John Bercow

Plans for a crematorium in Bierton have been slammed by House of Commons’ speaker John Bercow.

The village falls into the MP’s constituency and he has branded the blueprints by Chiltern Crematorium Joint Committee, which includes Aylesbury Vale District Council, as ‘woefully substandard’.

The proposals for Cane End Lane, close to the Hulcott crossroads junction, were unveiled in February and will be debated by the district council’s strategic development control committee on Wednesday.

Planning officers at the council have recommended the proposal be approved, leading to opponents accusing the authority of rubber stamping its own application.

There are also two rival plans for crematoriums in Watermead and Little Kimble, which would be unlikely to get the green light if Bierton is approved.

Richard Evans, managing director of the Westerleigh Group which is behind the Watermead proposal, said, “When it comes to determining our application, the council has a conflict of interest and we would rather see the decision being taken by an independent body.”

In a letter addressed to the council, Mr Bercow said he had been contacted by a number of his constituents regarding the Bierton plans who were concerned over the potential for traffic headaches at the crematorium, which would hold up to 1,000 funerals a year.

He said: “The site is not readily accessible by public transport as there is only one, infrequent bus service along the A418.

“Furthermore, I have concerns that, should the proposal go ahead, all traffic – both vehicle and pedestrian – would access and leave the site via Cane End Lane.

“Local residents assure me that Cane End Lane could not cope with this volume of traffic, and it would actually prove dangerous.”

The plans are for a single chapel crematorium, private and remembrance gardens, associated cortege facilities and parking.

Villagers have suggested blocking off Rowsham Road to traffic, putting up appropriate signage road and the installation of a roundabout at the ‘dangerous’ junction as ways to mitigate against the crematorium’s impact.

As well as road woes, other feedback from the public meeting in March saw villagers concerned that the funeral processions would ‘traumatise’ local childrenas they watched the hearses drive past.

Subject to planning permission, construction work is expected to begin next year with the crematorium set to start operating in 2016.