Plans to convert former mortuary in Huntingdon are refused

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House - Credit: Archant

A bid by Huntingdon Town Council to convert a former mortuary building at an historic cemetery into a home would result in an "incongruous" building, planners have said.

Huntingdonshire District Council rejected a planning application by the town council to change the use of the mortuary at the Priory Road cemetery, now a disused store, into a dwelling and to extend the building.

The town council's plan involved converting the building into a one-bedroom, flat-roofed, home four times the size of the existing building.

It had planned to use money from the sale of the building to restore the listed cemetery walls, and says rejection of the scheme will be a major drawback for the project.

The district council ruled that the conversion would have an adverse effect on the cemetery's chapel and porter's lodge which were Grade II listed buildings.

In its decision the district council said: "The proposal, by virtue of the scale, massing, proportions and detailed design including materials, would result in an incongruous dwelling which would be out of keeping with the existing character and appearance of the non-designated heritage asset and adjacent conservation area and result in harm to the setting of the Grade II listed cemetery buildings."

It said the former mortuary was adjacent to the town's conservation area and the cemetery contained the listed buildings, with its surrounding wall becoming listed as part of the curtilage.

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Objector Adrian Gaskell, who described the town's plan as a "travesty", had argued that the mortuary should have been listed as part of the group involving the chapel and the lodge.

He said the plan was "highly disrespectful" to the people buried in the cemetery and their families as well as having an adverse impact on the neighbourhood.

The district council's decision notes said: "The listings for the mortuary chapel and porter's lodge have been reviewed and the store is not included in either listing. 

The town council has said that the building was no longer in use and was costing the authority money to maintain. The conversion scheme would enable it to sell the building on, saving it money which could be used to repair the cemetery walls.