Fury over Flintshire crematorium plan decision

Reporter:

Owen Evans

A DECISION on long-awaited and controversial plans for a crematorium has been delayed again.

Community leaders have expressed growing frustration after the decision on planning permission for the facility at land off Starkey Lane, Northop was put on hold.

Members of Flintshire Council’s planning committee had voted to hold a special meeting to determine the application “as early as possible in July”, and a provisional decision date had been set for Thursday.

The authority’s decision to postpone judgement on the application, which was submitted nearly a year ago, was slammed yesterday.

Cilcain councillor Owen Thomas, a member of the planning committee, said: “It’s very frustrating. I don’t think it should have been cancelled because on Wednesday this application has been in for 12 months. It should have been dealt with by now.

“It gives Flintshire’s planning committee a bad name.

“There was a special meeting to decide on having a special date and I think it should have come back to the committee to decide whether it should be postponed.”

After months of speculation, a rival firm last month submitted a plan for a site on land between Kelsterton Lane, Oakenholt Lane and Mold Road, near Northop – just two miles away from the Starkey Lane site submitted by funeral directors J E Davies and Sons.

Memoria Ltd said they submitted their plan for the site, which is not on the green barrier, after being set a deadline by Flintshire Council. 

The council denied it had set such a deadline but yesterday said Thursday’s meeting had been put back to give the council more time to evaluate Memoria’s rival bid.

Cllr Thomas added: “There’s nothing wrong with the initial site – it is ideal.

“At the meeting when we decided the date, we said nothing else should interfere with it.

“Some councillors said if there was another application, which obviously they were expecting, it should be considered and we said we were only there to deal with a date.

“We weren’t even being given the reason why it has been cancelled which to me is very bad.”

Funeral director Edward Davies admitted he was frustrated by the latest delay.

He said: “We are keen to go ahead with it but obviously it’s got to be right for the council when it is decided.

“We are still confident it’s going to go to through. We’ve assessed other sites in the area and we’re confident we’re in the right location.

“The access is good off the main A55 road – whereas the other sites we looked at meant travelling through local villages and, as a local myself, I didn’t want to do that.

“I’ve always said the majority of people aren’t against it and they are realising now why we have gone where we have.”

Flint Councillor Alex Aldridge, who has previously pledged his support for the Starkey Lane plan, said it was important that a decision was made as soon as possible.

He said: “I don’t know why there are these levels of delay.

“A resting place should be in a good environment, not some brown field site where anything could have been built on it.

“There needs to be a resolution to this as soon as possible.”

Jamieson Hodgeson, business development director at Memoria, said he was of the opinion that far less people would have to travel through Northop if their plan was approved.

He said: “We accept the smaller populations of Flint and Holywell would be likely to drive through Northop village to get to our site (down the A5199 and across the B5126) and could access Mr Davies’ site without having to do this.

“However, a far greater proportion of Flintshire’s population would be able to avoid Northop village in accessing our site, thus it is clear our site has a far lower impact on traffic generation in Northop village when compared to Mr Davies’ site.”

He added his belief that their chosen site would be less visually intrustive, that they had approached the council about building a crematorium in 2009, and after Mr Davies submitted his application, they thought it better to “allow this application to be refused before submitting an application of our own”.

He said: “As time has progressed, it became clear that Mr Davies was arguing that his chosen site was the only suitable site for a crematorium in Flintshire and it was looking increasingly difficult for anyone to disprove this theory without bringing forward a new planning application on a suitable non-green barrier site.

“It is our assertion that several of these sites exist in Flintshire and that we have found the best one from a planning and an operational perspective.”

Bereaved families currently have to travel to Blacon Crematorium in Chester, Pentrebycham Crematorium near Wrexham or Colwyn Bay.

In a statement Andrew Farrow, chief officer for environment and planning, said: “The special meeting of the planning and development control committee scheduled for July 17 has been postponed. 

“This is to allow the council to undertake a more detailed assessment of the recently submitted crematorium application made on behalf of Memoria. 

“No alternative date for the special committee has yet been established.”

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