Watermead Parish Council have their say on the Crematorium row
The Parish Council have expressed their disappointment at Aylesbury Vale District Council's (AVDC) decision to aprove the development again.
At a meeting of Watermead Parish Council on Thursday, Parish Councillors and residents expressed their disappointment at the decision taken on Wednesday by Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) to again grant planning permission for a crematorium in the village.
Chairman Sue Severn said: “We have no confidence in the way that AVDC has dealt with this.
"All of those present thought that the Planning Committee meeting was a charade and although we were allowed to speak, many of the points we raised were glossed over or totally ignored. Our objections were similarly dismissed at the first hearing but we were vindicated when the Court of Appeal subsequently quashed the planning permission.
"This development has been allowed on land that was designated for recreation and leisure and part of it is on a flood plain It is in full view of lakeside houses and contrary to the Cremation Act it is less than 50 yards from a footpath and land to which the public have free access.
Sue added that the PC had presented "strong legal arguments and independet tests", but AVDC had ignored their concerns.
"We agree that a crematorium is needed in the Aylesbury area which it would have had by now at Bierton had it not been for continued legal challenges by Westerleigh the developers at Watermead.
"Furthermore, in a blatant attempt to gain advantage Westerleigh continued to build at Watermead after planning permission was quashed and AVDC did nothing to stop them.
"The publicly owned Bierton crematorium which is on open land well away from houses is now going ahead and we do not believe that a second crematorium is needed just 2 miles away."
AVDC have indicated that it might not be over yet.
They said: " We are awaiting confirmation whether the Secretary of State will call in the application for his determination.
The National Casework Unit (NCU) has advised that they have received a request for the Secretary of State to call the application in, and while a direction has not been issued, the NCU has requested that the council does not determine the application if the Strategic Development Management Committee is minded to approve the application, until it has time to consider the request for a call in.
"The recommendation that was agreed on Wednesday 18 April was that the application be deferred and delegated to officers for approval subject to confirmation that the Secretary of State will not call in the application for his determination, and subject to the completion of a legal agreement and planning conditions.
"This is different to going to the planning inspectorate who deal with appeals or those applications which have been called in by the Secretary of State."
Commenting on the decision, Managing Director of Westerleigh Group Richard Evans expressed his relief at the decision.
“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.