Watermead ‘appalled’ as crematorium given final approval

Map showing proposed Watermead crematorium
Map showing proposed Watermead crematorium

Building work on a controversial crematorium in Watermead can now begin after plans received final approval from Aylesbury Vale District Council.

The application on land at the Riviera restaurant was initially approved by councillors in December subject to technical details being ironed out, but after an outcry by residents the government served the council with a notice that permission should not be granted until its authorisation.

If this goes ahead it will spoil the nature of Watermead forever and we are determined to go on fighting

Watermead Parish Council chairman Sue Severn

However, the ‘holding direction’ was withdrawn in March, leaving the council free to determine the application. It finally gave developers Westerleigh the green light on June 18.

The plans have been heavily criticised by residents in Watermead, with many fearing increased flooding and traffic while there was also concerns over pollution.

Watermead Parish Council said it was ‘appalled’ by the council’s decision.

Councillor Adrian Schwab said local residents are ‘totally against this and sent many letters detailing objections but the planning officers have batted them all away, ignoring the concept of localism’.

Parish Council Chairman Sue Severn added: “An independent report into a number potential sites for a crematorium around Aylesbury concluded that Watermead was ‘a wholly unsuitable site’ and ‘an unacceptable location for a crematorium’. The district council has totally ignored this report and the fact that the crematorium will be in the middle of an area dedicated for recreation and in full view of many houses.

“If this goes ahead it will spoil the nature of Watermead forever and we are determined to go on fighting.”

Aylesbury Vale District Council said the report referred to by Mrs Severn was published in 2007 and regarded a potential site adjacent to the application proposal, not the site itself – ‘consequently, the conclusion reached in the report has little relevance to the current proposal’.

In an update to councillors it adds: “It is considered that the proposal would constitute a sustainable form of development for which there are significant benefits, in terms of reducing overall travel times and distance and the delivery of an acknowledged local requirement.

“The proposed development gives rise to economic and social benefits. In terms of adverse impact these are in relation to the impact on the character of the site, the adjacent land and the settlement character of Watermead, these have been weighed in the planning balance and it is considered, on balance, that...the adverse impacts of the proposal do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

The council’s approval of a rival crematorium in Bierton brought forward by a consortium which includes the authority, has been challenged by Judicial Review, and rescinded by the High Court.

The application has therefore been referred back to the council for redetermination.