Preston Crematorium plans return to Planning Committee for consideration
By Ray Duffill
EAST Riding of Yorkshire Council’s (ERYC) planning application to build a new crematorium near Preston is scheduled for consideration at the ERYC Planning Committee meeting today (Thursday, February 25).
Hull City Council has objected to the plans to erect a Crematorium and Wake/Function Suite with associated access, exit, parking and landscaping including memorial gardens on land north of Lelley Road, Preston.
The neighbouring authority raises the prospect of a situation where there would be an overcapacity of provision as the two authorities compete with each other as crematorium operators.
The Liberal Democrat group on the council say that its members were to challenge the business case for the crematorium as “full of holes” at the full ERYC council meeting as the Gazette went to press yesterday (Wednesday, February 24).
Councillor David Nolan, the leader of the nine-member Liberal Democrat Group on ERYC has called for a full and proper business case analysis to be presented before the council signs off on the project.
The crematorium and bereavement services project secured an agreement from the council’s Cabinet on February 2 to be formally added to the council’s capital programme with an allocated budget of £8.5m. This is subject to planning permission being approved by the Planning Committee today (Thursday). The crematorium is to be named ‘Lelley Fields’. Today’s meeting will be the second time the application has been discussed by the Planning Committee. A decision on the planning application had been deferred at the committee’s meeting on January 14 while a road safety audit and review was conducted.
However, Hull City Council has now entered the debate and say, according to the officer’s report to be presented to the committee, that they were not consulted on the application and only became aware of it on the day of the January 14 committee so it was not possible for them to review the documentation.
A needs assessment carried out by consultants on behalf of the ERYC considered the likely need for the proposed facility considering the capacity and location of existing crematoria and population projections. Hull City Council’s crematorium on Chanterlands Avenue Hull, said the assessment, is the closest to the proposed site (approximatley 9.2 miles away) and does an average of 2,488 cremations per year. Hull City crematorium is operating over practical capacity (117 per cent) and so is Haltemprice, which is working at 114 per cent of their practical capacity. Haltemprice is the next nearest facility, situated approximately 13.5 miles from the proposed site. East Riding crematorium is situated a fair distance away at an approximately 30.5-mile journey from the proposed site and is unlikely to share the same clientele.
East Riding crematorium operates under Practical Capacity (86 per cent); therefore a new crematorium is likely to add choice to the population who live within equal distances of the two sites (East Riding and the proposed Holderness site).
PROPOSAL: An artist’s impression of how the new crematorium could look. Photo courtesy of ERYC
Hull City Council, however, disputes the quantitative need for a new crematorium and claims that the actual capacity of the existing Chanterlands Avenue Crematorium is far in excess of that cited in the original report and the need for cremations can be met. The actual capacity for cremations at Chanterlands Avenue is 138 cremations, they say, and in normal circumstances, there are 50 cremations per week which are 36 per cent of available slots. Even with the excess deaths caused by COVID and the temporary closure of Haltemprice Crematorium, the highest number of cremations has been 106 or 77 per cent of available slots. In its objections summary listed in the committee report, Hull City Council has raised the possibility of ‘over capacity’ as two local authorities compete with each other in a commercial market. The committee report says: “While this debate around the quantitative need for the facility is not settled conclusively, it is undeniable that extensive areas of Holderness are a considerable distance from crematorium facilities and significant weight is attached to this.”
On the road safety issues which prompted the deferment of the planning application on January 14, the committee report advises: “Further work has been carried out to access the highways concerns raised by residents in more detail. This work has demonstrated that the proposal would not cause harm to highway safety due to the limited number of additional highway movements it would create at peak times and that there is no evidence that the proposal would have a negative impact on highway safety.”
The committee report recommends that the planning application should be approved. The full ERYC Planning Committee meeting takes place today (Thursday) at 2pm. It is a remote meeting conducted via video conferencing technology and will be streamed live on the East Riding Council Committee Meetings channel on YouTube.
Find out more about the crematorium planning application at the East Riding Public Access website and search for a reference: 20/03564/STPLF.