Controversial plans for crematorium at Watermead approved by councillors

Map showing proposed Watermead crematorium
Map showing proposed Watermead crematorium

Controversial plans to build a crematorium in Watermead have been given the green light by councillors, subject to technical details being agreed.

The proposals, for land currently owned by the Riviera Restaurant, were debated by Aylesbury Vale District Council’s strategic development management committee, which heard from several Watermead residents against the plans.

They said they feared increased flooding and traffic while there was also concerns about pollution coming from the crematorium.

It was also argued that a crematorium was not needed as one in Bierton had recently been given planning permission – although planning officers said each application must be judged on its own merits.

Eileen Setchell, who runs Nursery Time down the road from the proposed crematorium, said: “I’m extremely concerned about the increase in traffic entering and leaving the estate.”

She added that she was concerned about the increase in flooding, which seems to get worse every year, and ‘can only imagine the increase in flooding if this goes ahead’.

Dr Eric Rose said his lakeside house was probably the nearest to the crematorium.

He said: “When planning permission was given for Watermead it was on condition that this land was used for leisure purposes. While on can just about justify the restaurant as leisure use, it absolutely can’t be used for a crematorium.”

He added he was not reassured by flooding prevention measures: “This is the wrong site, it will greatly harm the amenity of residents.”

However, Adrian Britton, development director at Westerleigh, the firm behind the scheme, told the committee they had been searching for a suitable site in Aylesbury since 1998.

“We have looked at over 40 sites and ultimately came up with this brownfield site in 2012. The site is sustainable.”

He was confident parking would not be an issue as only 18 cars on average attend funerals. He said there were strict laws governing emissions from crematorium.

He added: “The Riviera is unviable and is shortly to close. It will be replaced by a relatively small, attractive building. The footpaths around it will remain open and the ski slope which is not accessible at the moment will in time become a viewing point.”

Councillors voted to defer and delegate the application to planning officers with a view to approval subject to technical details being agreed.

Richard Evans, managing director of Westerleigh Group, said: “We will now press on with our plans to replace the existing buildings in the New Year and to provide residents with a first class local funeral facility.”

He said of the rival scheme in Bierton: “We are not only better placed to offer this service to local families but our site is in a better suited position.

“We believe that councillors have found our arguments on sustainability, regeneration and service quality impossible to resist.”

A spokesman for the AVDC-backed Chilterns Crematorium Joint Commitee, which is behind the crematorium in Bierton, said the Watermead approval had not changed their plans.