The Co-operative Group has won a planning appeal to build a crematorium and woodland burial site in Great Glen.
Harborough District Council’s planning committee refused permission last December for the Co-op’s controversial plans for a crematorium, cemetery and memorial gardens in a field next to Stoneygate School in the village.
But Government-appointed planning inspector Paul Crysell yesterday (Thursday) overruled that decision following a planning inquiry he carried out earlier this year. The inquiry was held following an appeal by the Co-op.
A spokesperson for The Co-operative Funeralcare told the Mail today (Friday): “We are naturally delighted to have been granted permission to build a woodland burial site, cemetery and crematorium.
“It has been our belief from the beginning that its construction will be enormously beneficial to residents throughout south Leicestershire.”
Campaigners, residents, Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier and Glen county councillor Dr Kevin Feltham all demanded that the appeal hearing should be a proper public inquiry but their pleas fell on deaf ears and it was carried out via written statements instead.
Dr Feltham said: “Yesterday’s decision by Mr Crysell is particularly unsatisfactory for Great Glen and the residents.
“We could now see the crematorium built right next to a primary school. Coming only weeks after the same inspector also allowed a crematorium appeal for a site in Countesthorpe means two crematoria could be operating in south Leicestershire.
“And there is now another planning application before Blaby District Council for a third crematorium – this time off the A5199 south of Kilby.
“If that one also receives permission, then we could see the absolutely nonsensical situation of three crematoria within six miles. As my county colleague, Cllr David Jennings, recently quipped – this area really would be the ‘dead centre of Leicestershire’.”
Dr Feltham added: “We asked the inspector to hold a public inquiry in the village, where residents, parents and school staff could state their case directly to him. Our requests were refused despite the huge opposition to these proposals.
“I am investigating various options for a legal challenge to the inspector’s decision.”
More than 230 people sent in comments about the planning application and over 100 were in the public gallery at the district council planning meeting held in December.
Story by Alex Blackwell
Follow Alex on Twitter, @BlackwellHarb.