PLANS to build a crematorium on green belt land near the Waseley Hills has been approved following developer H2Land’s successful fourth appeal.
Residents had feared the development would increase traffic, have a negative effect on the openness of the green belt and cause disruption near and on New Inns Lane, in Rubery.
Permission had previously been granted for a cemetery, chapel and maintenance building but residents said roads were not suitable to accommodate the crematorium.
Previous planning applications submitted by H2Land to seek permission to undertake cremations on the site, were all refused by Bromsgrove District Council.
The 2016 appeal was dismissed because the planning inspector at the time, felt ‘very special circumstances’ were required to allow development on the green belt land – which at the time he said had ‘not yet been demonstrated’.
The planning inspector for the latest appeal, Zoey Raygen, who visited the site two weeks ago, said: “It is likely the harm to the openness and purpose, would be lessened in this proposal as proposed in the extant planning permission.
“This, together with the compelling need that has been demonstrated for a new crematorium, means that other considerations in this case clearly outweigh the harm.
“Looking at the case as a whole, I am satisfied that very special circumstances exist which justify the development and the scheme should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.
“For those reasons, having had regard to all other matters raised, I conclude that the appeal should be allowed.”
One condition of the development includes the restriction of removing trees at the site.
The report deems it a necessary condition to protect the character and appearance of the area and its existing habitats.
H2Land asked for a full award cost against Bromsgrove District Council but has received partial.
It said the council had behaved ‘unreasonably’ by refusing the application against its professional officer’s recommendation, without robust evidence to support its case.
The council is of the view it has adequately substantiated its reason for refusal, including providing evidence from Redditch Borough Council’s bereavement services manager, Michael Birkinshaw, who spoke against the development at the last appeal.
Chris Hughes, a director of H2Land, said: “We’re pleased the planning inspector has allowed our appeal to provide a crematorium.
“The result included a partial award of our costs, resulting from unreasonable behaviour from the council, in refusing the planning application.
“Looking forward now, H2Land is confident the additional provision of the new crematorium will deliver much needed additional capacity and contemporary facilities for bereaved families.
“This will allow for shorter waiting times, additional choice and longer service intervals which allow more personalised and discrete experiences for families in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Bromsgrove District Councillor for Rubery Peter McDonald added: “I am absolutely disgusted with this decision, local democracy has not prevailed this time.
“The application was thrown out many times before and it’s a disgrace that this will now be imposed on the people of Rubery when it’s on green belt.
“The land is not there to facilitate a crematorium.”
City Councillor for Frankley Great Park, Coun Simon Morall said: “I felt so much was missing, particular from the Birmingham side where this development will have the greatest impact, when I attended the appeal meeting.
“I raised issues on traffic, public transport, the 63 bus route, emergency services from Hollymoor, protecting the greenbelt and the impact on the local environment.
“A map was also produced so I could show the wider area and demonstrate the limited road access.
“A lot of this information has been skimmed over in the final document which has a lot of factual inaccuracies and discrepancies.
“The inspectorate acknowledges that it would damage the green belt, yet she still approved it? When it comes to traffic she claims nobody from Birmingham City Council was present? So was I just there for fun then?”