Watermead Crematorium plans go back to the drawing board after judicial review

Site of the planned Watermead Crematorium, as seen from the adjacent side of the lake PNL-160322-165331009
Site of the planned Watermead Crematorium, as seen from the adjacent side of the lake PNL-160322-165331009

Controversial plans for a crematorium on Watermead have been sent back to the drawing board - but developers have vowed that the scheme will still go ahead.

The Court of Appeal has decided that Aylesbury Vale District Council’s planning permission for Westerleigh’s crematorium at Watermead should be redetermined.

In a decision handed down last Friday afternoon (17 March), the two appeal judges found that there were errors in the planning process, which resulted in the plans being sent back to the drawing board and the planning permission being quashed.

Watermead Parish Council chairman, Sue Severn, said: “The parish council is delighted with this judgment, which has taken us through many legal loops, since 2014, when the original application was made.

“Our position has always been, and still is, that this is the wrong development, in the wrong place’.

“The constructed building already proves how overbearing in size and design this development is, damaging the environment the landscape and visual amenity of Watermead forever.

“The removal of so many trees and natural features of Watermead has interfered with the environment and original design concept of the village. We trust and hope that Aylesbury Vale District Council will now listen to us if the applicants choose to reapply for planning permission for the site’.

“The parish council will continue to rely on the advice of its solicitors

and QC in connection with next steps.”

Commenting on the decision, Westerleigh’s managing director, Richard Evans said “We are naturally very disappointed with the decision. Having been granted planning permission, and having had that planning permission confirmed in the High Court, Westerleigh pressed ahead with the regeneration of this brownfield site and development of this much needed facility. To now be told that there was a procedural error which needs to be rectified is a real nuisance.”

He added: “The planning application now has to be redetermined, with the benefit of an additional report which Westerleigh will be submitting in the next day or so. We hope that AVDC planners will be able to take the application back to committee as soon as possible, and correctly grant planning permission.”

“Aylesbury is in desperate need for crematorium facilities – something that has long been recognised by AVDC. Local families are suffering the distress of long journeys to existing crematoria.”

The Judicial Review was brought about by Watermead Parish Council who held a referendum which resulted in residents volunteering extra council tax to help fight the scheme.

Mr Evans added: “It will have cost both Watermead Parish Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees so far. In these times of austerity, that is money which could, and should, have been spent on worthwhile, positive projects benefiting local rate payers – rather than going into the pockets of solicitors and barristers.”

Susan Kitchen, AVDC corporate planner, said: “This is disappointing news, especially following the High Court’s initial rejection of the parish council’s challenge. With Aylesbury Vale’s population projected to grow significantly in the coming years we need all the necessary infrastructure and facilities to support this growth. Crematoria is a recognised part of this requirement and it was decided through careful consideration that the Watermead site was appropriate for such provision. Following this new announcement the decision is remitted back to AVDC and we’ll be reassessing the application in due course”.