7:30am Monday 19th August 2013
By Emma Rigby
A COMPANY specialising in the construction of crematoria is keen to get on with providing Northwich with the ‘best possible facility’ after its plans were approved for a second time.
Westerleigh Group applied to Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) to build the facility on 2.8 hectares of land off Shurlach Lane, Davenham.
The plans were approved unanimously by CWAC’s strategic planning committee in April but were found to be legally flawed after a number of technical issues and administrative omissions by the council.
Westerleigh’s scheme went before the committee again on Thursday, where it was once again approved unanimously.
Speaking to the committee, Arthur Wood, a member of Davenham Parish Council, said he felt the scheme was an ‘attack’ on the village.
He said: “Like so many rural communities we find our community under threat from speculators given an open door by government edict.
“Although not housing, this application is one such attack on our village.”
Mr Wood also made reference to Memoria Ltd’s plans for a similar scheme on land bordering Lostock Green and Lach Dennis, which was approved by appeal in June.
He said: “While it may be demonstrated there is a need in the area for one crematorium there is most unlikely to be a need for two.
“It is simply bad planning to allow this situation to happen.”
But committee member Norman Wright, who approved the original scheme in April, said: “Vale Royal Borough Council spent years and years looking for a site and we didn’t find a suitable location. This is a suitable location.”
Following the council’s approval of the scheme, Westerleigh’s managing director, Richard Evans, said: “We’re very pleased that the council has again endorsed our scheme,” said Mr Evans.
“We are set to appoint a local builder and have completed all our detailed preparations for construction.
“We want to appoint a local builder and we are looking to announce that decision within the next week for them to start work in September.
“We had to go before planning again because of technicalities that we wanted to clear up but it hasn’t stopped our plans and progress and now we want to get to work on the real job of building the best possible facility and provide the best service to people after such a long wait.”
Mr Evans also commented on Westerleigh’s legal challenge of the planning inspector’s decision to approve Memoria Ltd’s plans.
He said: “We didn’t think it was a sound decision – many share our view – so we are contesting that decision.”
Jamieson Hodgson, business development director for Memoria, said: “We are continuing to discharge our planning conditions.
“Given the commercial motivation behind the s288 challenge on our consent, we will be pushing to get this heard as soon as possible with the hope that we could be building before the end of the year.”
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