Plea to council to halt £6.5m crematorium plan

Artist's impression of Mepal crematorium. 

Artist's impression of Mepal crematorium. - Credit: ECDC

Two of its own councillors claim East Cambridgeshire District Council has failed to make a case for a £6.5m crematorium at Mepal.  

Lib Dem opposition leader Cllr Lorna Dupre and Cllr Mark Inskip claim the council has failed to provide “a robust case to justify the need for a new crematorium”. 

An application for the crematorium, memorial garden, natural burial areas, pet cemetery and new access from the A142 is being considered. 

Agreeing that a search for an operator for the outdoor centre had not been successful, they believe “alternative operating models have not been extensively explored”. 

The council could have used a “small proportion” of the Community Infrastructure Levy receipts to find new investment.  

"It should also be noted that post-COVID there is an increased focus on outdoor leisure facilities,” they say.  

“The council has not demonstrated that there is no longer a need for the existing use.” 

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Both say the public agree with their view since only 13 per cent of respondents in a council survey supported the crematorium with 85.4 per cent opposed. 

The councillors claim the crematorium in March together with a new crematorium soon to open in Huntingdon indicate “significant overlap”. 

And they claim that, unlike Huntingdon, the council has not provided a comprehensive needs assessment. 

“The survey of funeral directors undertaken by the applicant elicited just 11 responses,” say the councillors. 

Only eight suggested they would consider using alternative facilities in the area if they became available.  

“Transport implications and particularly road safety issues are of particular concern for this location,” they add. 

Agreeing that the council acknowledges a significant increase in traffic along the A142 they also point out there are no pedestrian or safe cycling routes to Mepal. 

"The location is only serviced by a two-hourly bus service between Ely and Chatteris,” they say.  

The councillors argue that East Cambs has “significantly” understated the likely number of vehicle movements.  

They want the transport assessment data to be aligned with the Huntingdon crematorium data. 

And to combined that with the increased vehicle movements predicted from the neighbouring anaerobic digester plant. 

Once done, they say, “proposed highway mitigations are likely to be inadequate and raise serious safety concerns”.  

The councillors add that “it is essential that any decision on the planning approval of this application is seen to be made objectively and does not raise concerns with members of the public that it may been influenced by any conflict of interests”.