It seems a considerable time ago, since you invited comments, and published letters on reasons not to have a crematorium in West Grinstead.
It also seems that public perception is that this has all been concluded, and rejected, and that the owners have resubmitted their application for a suite of eco lodges on the site, which would of expired at the end of October had they not had their resubmission.
It is though most likely that the crematorium application will be heard by the full planning committee late November, making it very timely for a reminder of the reasons why there is so much local objection to the facility:
1) Need – The application states that with a growing population there is a need for more cremations. The truth is that the growing population is exactly that, and that people are living longer, much of the new housing in and around the area, that is either being built or proposed is not for the elder generations, who are living longer, but for younger generations, or indeed bigger homes for families.
This is primarily as people are residing longer in their own properties. The death rates reported by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reinforce this matter.
2)Need again – The location is seen by the applicant as being more convenient, and meeting the additional demand. We know that in a letter of support from Burgess Hill they cite having to go to Brighton, but if you do the sums, the Brighton facility is closer than the proposed facility, and has better road links. We are also very clear that the facilities at Worthing, Brighton, and Crawley are all under capacity.
3) Transport and highways – This has been a more contentious point, originally WSCC just ticked this as being OK, however an independently commissioned report (available on the HDC website) highlights numerous breaches of safety regulations.
The A272 has much greater throughput than a normal road classified the same, and is the only east to west link the Weald has. It is also on a route serviced by one bus a week, when actually crematoriums are supposed to have good public access.
Further, this month yet again we have seen the road closed for multiple hours because of another accident within 100 yards of the proposed venture. Unlike other facilities this is serviced by a single road, not multiple routes to the location.
4) Legality – There is permitted development for local residents within the 200 yard curfew that is required by law as an exclusion zone from such facilities.
I understand the planners do not consider this in their deliberation, but the potential to pass something that may not be legal seems to me to be fraught with future contention, and challenge from local residents.
5) Location- This is a rural setting, and if permitted would be the largest commercial building in the area, it would be located right by the South Downs Link, and is most certainly out of keeping with the many listed buildings, agricultural surroundings, and peaceful leisure-time pursuits undertaken.
6) Suitability of the site – The proposal has been squeezed into the site, it has no room for the leaving of ashes, which really goes against the whole principle of a crematorium.
The sites of Findon and Worth, both have room for expansion if needed, there is no expansion room at West Grinstead. The guide for crematoria suggest that expansion is normally a better option than new.
7) Environmental – The Co2 generated by this will be in excess of that for most crematoria for the following reasons. It will run on LPG which has to be delivered.
It will require people to use private vehicles as there is no public transport – it will require multiple visits by each mourning family, as the ashes will need to be collected.
Also the additional traffic will have a detrimental impact of the Cowfold Air Quality which is already breaching acceptable levels.
8) Professional opinion – The community of West Grinstead have worked together to commission two reports, one on planning, and the other on highways, both are lodged with the council and raise serious concerns, and breaches of planning law. Indeed the councils own Strategic Planning department has much to say against this proposal.
As you can see there are plenty of reasons not to justify its presence, especially when elsewhere in the south, new crematoria have been successfully proposed with only the minimal of objections raised.
It is also worth pointing out that the resubmission of the eco-lodge plans for the same site, by the same individuals has been made. This is a crude attempt to increase the worth of the countryside land for sale.
The resubmission speaks of good public transport links (this is actually one bus per week), includes a rangers property (WSCC has just sold the rangers accommodation at West Grinstead, and based them at Clapham), and is clearly not financially viable, as if it was, it would of been commenced as a project when permission was granted, and not used as a Trojan horse to intimate to the wider community that planning in this area was acceptable.
I would encourage all your readers to lodge their objection to the crematorium at http://no-crematorium.org/ and better still the HDC planning site.
COLIN M. WILSON
Park Lane, West Grinstead