A Government watchdog has given the go-ahead for a crematorium to be built in Swanwick despite more than 500 letters of objection and a petition.
Planning inspector Harold Stephens has this month upheld Sheffield applicant Memoria Ltd’s appeal for a single-storey 7.2acre crematorium, seven-space car park, a garden of remembrance and a woodland burial area on land east of Derby Road, in the village.
The scheme had originally been turned down by Amber Valley Borough Council’s planning board because councillors said the borough was adequately served by crematoria in Derby and Mansfield and the development did not warrant the loss of green fields.
But after an appeal at Ripley Town Hall hearing in June Mr Stephens ruled the overall number of people the new site would serve “would be very substantial”.
He added the council had not accounted for residents outside of Amber Valley who would fall within a 30-minute drive of the new scheme.
In his conclusion, he said: “The proposal would meet an identified need, which in turn would lead to more sustainable travel patterns. I conclude that the appeal should be allowed.”
The decision is a disappointment for some Swanwick residents, many of whom fought the appeal at its three-day hearing.
John Briggs, of the Swanwick Residents’ Association, said: “I am extremely disappointed. This has been allowed because of planning laws and policies - but my personal view is that what is being discounted is the impact on the people of Swanwick. There were an unbelievable number of letters of objection and a petition.”
A total of 20 conditions were attached to the appeal decision. Memoria must carry out a full assessment of a former colliery on site before building and cannot carry out Sunday funerals.
Campaigners, residents and Swanwick Parish Council had raised concerns about the impact on residents’ green land.
Mr Briggs stated the group was not against crematoriums but was concerned about the use of land which he argued has been protected in the local plan to maintain a separation between Alfreton, Swanwick and Somercotes.
One protester Jonathan Arbon, of Sleetmoor House, Swanwick, claimed the development would affect his family’s privacy as they contended with increased traffic and smoke emissions.
Ian Ponter, representing Memoria, said assessments had been carried out and argued the development did not breach policy or pose harm. He claimed 170,000 people will benefit from living closer to a crematorium. Memoria Ltd selected the Swanwick site for its road links and peaceful surroundings and it is expected to deal with about 1,500 services a year.