Plan to convert former mortuary in Huntingdon is described as a ‘travesty’

Plans by Huntingdon Town Council to convert a former mortuary at the historic Priory Road cemetery into a home have been branded a “travesty” by an objector.

Adrian Gaskell said the scheme to extend the building, currently a disused store, and create a one-bedroom property was disrespectful to people buried there and their families.

But town clerk Philip Peacock said the conversion would bring in much-needed money for the council which would be used to repair the cemetery walls as well as saving running costs on a disused building.

The cemetery includes the Grade II listed Porter’s Lodge and chapel, dating back to the 1850s, and Mr Gaskell believes that the store is also listed since it is part of the same group and should be treated in the same way.

He said: “This is a much loved part of Huntingdon and any development of this type would be a travesty. The cemetery itself is the home to a number of important old graves of important individuals, many of whom served in the armed forces, some losing their lives during or as a result of historic wars and conflicts.

“The proposal is therefor highly disrespectful to these individuals and their families, all of whom should have been consulted prior to an application of this highly emotive type.”

Mr Peacock said: “It is not in use and it is costing us money. If we were able to sell it, it would bring in an income which could be used to repair the cemetery walls.”

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He said the disused store was costing the council money to leave it as it stood and the conversion would be hard to spot from the street.

Documents submitted with the council’s planning application said: “High quality design and materials help to mitigate the visual impact along with the retention of the existing building retaining the visual connection between the cemetery buildings.

“Furthermore, the uplift in the value of the site with residential redevelopment potential, along with the reduction in cost to the public purse currently associated with the maintenance of the building are considerable public benefits which must be attributed significant weight.”

It added: “Retaining the existing building in its entirety and complementing this with a contemporary extension, it is clear that the proposed dwelling will enhance the design quality in the area and provide a positive contribution to the character of the area and setting of the

neighbouring listed building, from the situation as existing. The single storey nature of the proposal limits amenity impact on neighbours.

“In heritage terms, the proposal causes less than substantial harm to the setting of the listed building and conservation area and the public benefits are significant.”

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