Fury over burial plan

PUBLISHED: 17:16 10 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:56 04 May 2010

NO GO AREA: Nigel Pate is disappointed by the council’s decision to refuse his burial ground plan.

NO GO AREA: Nigel Pate is disappointed by the council's decision to refuse his burial ground plan.

A WITCHAM farmer claims he should have taken his lead from international coffee chain, Costa, and launched his woodland burial ground without planning permission. Nigel Pate and his business partner, Gill Metcalfe, were furious when they were refused plan

A WITCHAM farmer claims he should have taken his lead from international coffee chain, Costa, and launched his woodland burial ground without planning permission.

Nigel Pate and his business partner, Gill Metcalfe, were furious when they were refused planning permission for their business plan as Costa opened up its Ely coffee house without the go-ahead from planners.

"Now I wish that, instead of being an environmentally aware fenland farmer, I had been part of a 'chain' with the self assurance to go ahead with my business plans before applying for planning permission for change of use," Mr Pate said.

The couple were baffled after East Cambridgeshire District Council denied them the right to open an environmentally friendly, small and informal burial ground for pets and humans.

But their confusion turned to anger when they read a recent Ely Standard article about how Costa started trading in Ely's Market Street without planning permission.

The couple's plan for the proposed Nature's Peace burial ground was denied because no official risk assessment on potential water contamination had been carried out and the business plans failed to clarify issues surrounding car parking and gate markings. The plan also raised concerns from the Environment Agency.

Environment Agency spokesman, Rita Penman, said: "We didn't raise an objection but we did raise a concern. We have not seen a risk assessment and if we do not have the information we cannot make a judgement."

Ms Metcalfe said: "We have carried out our research and the land is on higher ground than the surrounding countryside and it is well away from the drains and ditches so it wouldn't harm the environment.

"We are hugely disappointed by the council's decision. There is a national shortage of burial space and local villages have reported shortages. We have had a great deal of support from the local community."

Council officers, however, have given the couple a glimmer of hope that their plan could still be approved.

East Cambridgeshire District Council principal planning officer, Geoff Hall, said: "We have no outline objections to the proposals but the business plans are very informal and they leave a number of questions unresolved. We are prepared to meet Mr Pate and Ms Metcalfe and if they comply with regulations permission could still be given.

"With relation to Costa, it has taken a risk going ahead with its business plans and commencing trading before seeking planning permission, but has not broken any rules."

The business partners are now seeking legal advice before they decide whether to appeal against the council's decision.

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