Town crematorium plan set for approval by councillors

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New Milton crematorium
An initial computer-generated image depicting how the crematorium might look

THE final details of divisive plans for a crematorium on green belt land in New Milton have been recommended for approval by planning officers.

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The decision on the proposal for a chapel on land east of Stem Lane and north of Great Woar Copse will be made by New Forest District Council’s planning committee when it meets tomorrow (Wednesday).

Residents have expressed fears concerning pollution fears, inappropriate use of green belt land and an unacceptable rise in vehicle movements. But officers said the plan should be granted, subject to conditions, in a report set to go before committee members.

“The proposed development would have no significant adverse impact upon the character and appearance of the area, air quality, adjoining amenity or nature conservation interests,” it said.

The plans were given outline permission by NFDC in 2016. At the time the scheme was led by the newly-formed New Forest Crematorium Company. Its company director was Jeremy Hinton, group development director of the site’s landowner, Meyrick Estate Management Ltd.

However, the fledgling company later decided against running the venture and handed it over to Bristol-based crematorium and cemetery developer Westerleigh Group.

The group, which describes itself as the UK’s second largest crematorium operator, submitted a reserved matters application in October, with some modifications made to the building designs.

These included removal of the conical roof after technical reviews of the equipment concluded the flue did not need to be as high as previously thought.

A new roof lantern form has been designed instead, cutting down the scale of the original 15-metre high outline design

In the report, NFDC officers said: “The impact on the green belt was a matter for the outline application and is not a matter that can be revised through an approval of reserve matters application.

“There is support for the proposal, which would be of benefit to the community and provide a limited number of job opportunities. These matters weigh in favour of the proposal, which is recommended for approval.”

The report noted environmental health officers had not raised issues over the impact on air quality and concluded neighbouring homes would not be affected by the noise.

Southern Water, the county council’s highways and drainage departments and an ecologist also found the plans acceptable, it added. NFDC’s environmental design team said its previous comments were responded to positively by the applicant.

However, the district council’s conservation department questioned whether the proposed contemporary building “makes best use” of exploring the parkland character of the site. It said: “It feels like functional requirements erode and dominate the overall concept for the building and landscape.”

The report said 10 people had written to the council objecting, against 14 others in support. Among the concerns were the visual impact, parking, additional noise, and air quality.

Those who welcomed it said it would relieve some of the pressure on crematoriums in Bournemouth and Southampton, and save grieving relatives the trouble of travelling so far for funerals.

The New Milton crematorium application will be debated at NFDC’s Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst tomorrow.

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