In what seems like one of the longest planning permission sagas ever, Watermead Crematorium has been granted planning approval by Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), again.
AVDC spent several hours yesterday debating whether or not the site should have planning permission, even though the building is ready to be used.
The development has met with vehement dissaproval by local pressure groups, including Watermead Parish Council.
The building, which has sat empty since planning approval was initially granted has also been vandalised twice.
Issues raised included flooding and parking concerns, as well as landscaping around the building.
Commenting on the decision, Managing Director of Westerleigh Group Richard Evans said:
“We are relieved that this decision has been made and the crematorium can soon open.
“It was three and a half years ago that permission was first given but we are now very nearly at the point where we can open our doors to bereaved families in the district.
“Council officers have worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure that the new application is legally conforming.
“We have always tried to reassure the community that Watermead Crematorium will be a force for good, and will come to be seen as a much respected local facility. We provided further reassurance at the hearing when we agreed that off-site parking would be monitored. We are confident that the service will not impact on Watermead village nearly as much as they feared.
“The Secretary of State saw no grounds for calling in the previous application so I expect it just to be a matter of time before the application goes through the review process. The sooner we can finally open, the better for families living in the Aylesbury district.
“Aylesbury families will, for the first time, have a genuine choice of crematorium within a short distance of home.”
The only realistic option at present is Amersham Crematorium, which has seen unacceptable backlogs of five to six weeks this winter.
AVDC, and Watermead Parish Council have been approached for comment. More as we get it.