Hull City Council has objected to East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning application to build a new crematorium and function suite on 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 planning application 20/03564/STPLF 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 is scheduled for consideration at the ERYC Planning Committee meeting on the 25 February 2021.
A decision on the planning application had been deferred at the committee’s meeting on 14th January 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 (approx. 9.2 miles away at its closest) and does an average of 2,488 cremations per year. Hull City crematorium is operating over practical capacity (117%) and so is Haltemprice, which is working at 114% 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%); 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).
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% 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% 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.” The previous comment in the new version of the committee report is now struck through:
The need for additional crematorium facilities is undisputed.
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 needs assessment quoted above says that the “East Riding of Yorkshire Council completed an extensive public consultation exercise. 1,639 responses were received from leaflet questionnaires, an exhibition and online surveys. There is strong support for the proposals for the development of a crematorium in Holderness with 93.2% in favour (and around 83% of these without reservations) of the development. Many who are supportive stated that the facility would reduce travel times/distances to attend services.”
As many councillors on the Planning Committee themselves have recognised and commented on in prior meetings, there does seem to be a recognisable and qualitative difference in the types of ‘consultation’ used; those designed to inform target communities of proposed developments and asking for feedback, and consultation designed to genuinely engage with communities in efforts to allow the shaping of developments. Commentators on the planning portal have questioned whether the consultation deployed on the crematorium planning application has been of the informing or engaging kind?
The committee report recommends that the planning application should be approved.
Find out more about the crematorium planning application at the East Riding Public Access website and search for a reference: 20/03564/STPLF.
Notes: Application validated – Wed 11 Nov 2020. Went to committee Thurs 14 Jan 2021. Back to committee Thurs 25 Feb 2021 at 2 pm. A remote meeting which will be streamed live on YouTube.
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