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Planners back bid for a town crematorium

September 16, 2010 10:59 AM
By Paul Ainsworth in Brentwood Gazette
Vicky Davies

Ward member Cllr Vicky Davies supported the crematorium application in Pilgrims Hatch

PLANS for Brentwood's first crematorium have been given the go-ahead.

At least three funeral directors in the borough have shown their support for the facility, planned for green belt land opposite the Pilgrims Resource Centre in Ongar Road, Pilgrims Hatch.

Members of Brentwood council's planning committee voted in favour of the plans last week, despite the application being recommended for refusal by officers.

The crematorium will be built alongside a cemetery and chapel, originally granted planning permission in 2001.

The site has already undergone landscaping after developer Rosspark was granted permission for a golf driving range in October 2008.

A Rosspark representative at the meeting said there were no objectors to the new plans and that there were very special circumstances for building on the green belt, based on community need.

He said: "Brentwood, as you all know far better than I of course, is a very sizeable borough - 70,000 people - but it lacks this facility.

"All of the available crematoria are a significant journey time away and suffer from a degree of congestion. This is obviously inconvenient, it increases the distress of the bereaved and seems hardly sustainable in planning terms. We have sought the opinion of the expert professionals, the local clergy and the funeral directors. They give strong, reasoned support."

Families living in Hulletts Lane, who vigorously fought the golfing plans, have welcomed the crematorium project.

Steve Jackson told the Gazette: "I have no problem at all.

"It could quieten down the road. People are not going to be bombing down here when a funeral procession is going on."

Rosspark says it intends to offer traditional cremations but has also hinted that it would like to use the site for freeze-dry burials should legislation change allowing it to be carried out in the UK.

Using this technique the body is submerged in liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees before being vibrated and dried until it shatters into a pile of powder, which reduces the initial body weight by two thirds.

The remains are buried in a biodegradable coffin, where they will then turn to compost.

The crematorium plans were welcomed by councillors in the chamber.

Cllr Vicky Davies, who bought the application to the planning committee so the refusal could be overturned, said: "I believe this application provides an ideal opportunity for this authority to approve an environmentally-friendly use of the green belt that would actually be a benefit to Brentwood residents and provide a sensitive service currently not available in the borough."