A FUNERAL firm poised to lodge a rival bid to build the Flintshire crematorium says an application will be submitted within days.
Memoria Ltd says it plans to submit an application before Thursday.
The revelation comes just days after the local authority’s planning committee decided to set up a special meeting to determine a highly-controversial existing application from a different funeral director for a crematorium in Northop.
Flintshire Council previously said Memoria had identified two potential sites for its project, one in Penyffordd and a second in Pont Einion, Northop.
Neither of the sites are within the green barrier and Memoria says that gives them the edge over J E Davies and Sons’ existing application in respect of land off Starkey Lane in Northop.
Memoria has also previously said it has identified another two potential sites in Northop for the development.
The firm would not be drawn on its preferred site, but business development director Jamieson Hodgson said the application was to be submitted imminently and talked down the J E Davies and Sons bid.
He said: “We are looking to submit our application in the next few days and before the deadline that has been requested by the council.
“I can confirm that our chosen site meets all of our planning and operational requirements as a national operator of crematoria.
“I can also confirm that our chosen site is not in the green barrier.”
A site in Kelsterton has also been identified by another unknown company, which has not yet submitted an application.
Mr Hodgson added: “We understand that Mr Davies’s application needs to be determined before ours (given that it was submitted 12 months ago) but we expect our planning application to be a material consideration in the determination of his application.
“Green barrier policy clearly states that development can only be allowable (in the green barrier) if no other ‘suitable, available and deliverable’ sites outside of the green barrier exist.
“Our application will clearly demonstrate that a preferable site outside of this protected green area does exist and it is our opinion that Mr Davies’ application should be refused on this basis.
“Our application will then need to be determined on its own merits after a proper consultation period.”
Edward Davies, owner of J E Davies and Sons, said he was unconcerned by the rival bid.
He said: “I have been working with Flintshire Council for a long time and we feel that our application is right for Flintshire.
“We have been working alongside them nearly 12 months and it will be for the good.
“I feel we have the best possible site. We have gone through a thorough process, a robust, systematic process to ensure we have the best plan.”
The Memoria announcement came after questions were raised at a council meeting on Wednesday about prior knowledge of some Flintshire county councillors regarding Memoria’s intentions.
Concerns were raised when Northop councillor Marion Bateman asked if a rival application to build a crematorium on another site was submitted before June 26, it should be considered together with the J E Davies and Son’s bid.
After the meeting the told the Leader she said she did not know a rival bid was going to be submitted and had no specific reason for choosing the June 26 date.
She said: “I don’t know if there are any other applications. I don’t know of any at all.
“I want Flintshire to have the best site. This is green-barrier land and we have to make sure as a planning committee that there aren’t any other possible sites wherever they might be. First of all we have to make sure that there are no other sites, brown or other ‘field’, that are suitable and that’s the reason.”
Buckley councillor Richard Jones said he had some concerns about a rival bid.
He said: “It did seem as if people had the inclination that something was going to be submitted.
“Maybe councillors had prior knowledge or had private discussion with companies, or maybe the council had dialogue.
“We should consider each application on its own merits, If there was a plan for 500 homes, you wouldn’t wait for some other housing company to put their bid in.”
Cilcain councillor Owen Thomas said he felt it was time for J E Davies’s application to be considered now.
He said: “This application has been in the making for nearly two years and there has been a lot of work put into it.
“I’m very concerned that others can come along and start interfering with it and trying to put another application in.
“I wasn’t happy with the way things were approached and allowing applications to come in in the meantime.”
A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “Memoria have stated that they would be preparing a planning application and that they would be ready to submit it by around June 24.
“The council are holding them to their timescale.
“Flintshire Council did not set the deadline.
“The submitted application is on green barrier land, therefore FCC has to be clear that all other potential sites have been identified.
“It is important that the matter is concluded prior to the presentation of the Davies application at a special meeting.”
In response to a question of whether the council considered whether another bid would effect the existing application by J E Davies and Sons, a council spokesman said on Friday: “The decision to submit a planning application is taken by the applicant, not the council.
“So far we have only received one application for a crematorium and that is from Edward Davies.”
Blueprints for the Northop project, which would see a 10-acre crematorium built on a 23-acre site were first unveiled in July last year.
Last November, Northop community councillors announced they would not be supporting the plan, citing the weight of public opinion as a major factor in their decision.
Bereaved families have to travel to Blacon Crematorium in Chester, Pentrebycham Crematorium near Wrexham or Colwyn Bay.
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