Planning application submitted for new ecological crematorium

Cllr Lorna Dupre with fellow local councillor Lib Dem councillor Mark Inskip outside Mepal centre

Cllr Lorna Dupre with fellow local councillor Lib Dem councillor Mark Inskip outside Mepal centre where the new ecological crematorium is proposed. - Credit: LIB DEMS

A planning application for a controversial £6.5million crematorium in Mepal - which could hold 1,300 cremations a year - has been submitted.

The application will now go through the planning process which includes documents being validated.

The application will then go live East Cambridgeshire District Council website.

The crematorium is proposed on land which previously was used by Mepal Outdoor Centre.

Mepal crematorium

Mepal crematorium: one of the early design concepts for the new crematorium on the Mepal outdoor site - Credit: East Cambs Council

Following the closure of the centre in December 2016, the site was subject to multiple arson and vandalism incidents.

However, parts of the site have since become home to wildlife and biodiversity.

This natural transformation, say East Cambs Council, means that its future use must respect and enhance the evolved ecological needs of the site.

Artist's impression of the proposed crematorium at Mepal

Artist's impression of the proposed crematorium at Mepal that will cost £6.5m and owned by East Cambs Council - Credit: EAST CAMBS COUNCIL

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The submission of the planning application follows a public survey which was undertaken at the start of 2021, inviting residents’ thoughts about the proposed plans.

As part of the planning application, a formal consultation process will now take place.

The application includes a main chapel, a small side chapel and an electric cremator emitting significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than other crematoria in the East of England.

Artists impression of inside the chapel at Mepal crematorium

Artists impression of the chapel interior at Mepal crematorium. - Credit: ECDC

It also includes natural burial plots, a modular function building for the natural burial aspect and a pet cemetery located away from the other facilities and one acre of new planting including 57 new trees and 40 fruit trees.

Councillor Anna Bailey, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Firstly I would like to thank residents for taking part in our survey on the proposals.

"We made a commitment to engage with communities on our proposals and we are now moving to the next step of consultation, through the planning application process.

First impressions released by East Cambridgeshire District Council of the proposed £6.5m publicly funded and publicly...

First impressions released by East Cambridgeshire District Council of the proposed £6.5m publicly funded and publicly owned crematorium at Mepal. If all goes to plan, it could open in 2022. - Credit: ECDC

“As well as providing a facility for residents that currently doesn’t exist in the district, we have been working to ensure that the proposal reflects our environmental vision for the district.

“This not only includes protecting the ecology that has flourished over the past four years but creating a proposal which is an exemplar sustainable development.

"It gives back to the site through additional planting and ongoing sensitive management to enrich the area.

A look inside Mepal Outdoor Centre during the event which saw 200 ravers gain entry to the abandoned

Anti-social behaviour - including two arson attacks - have been reported at the site of the former Mepal Outdoor Centre. - Credit: FACEBOOK

“We are also making good on our promise to deliver the maximum level of public access for recreational use of the site, which, as advised by The Wildlife Trust need to be low impact in order to respect and protect the wildlife and biodiversity that is flourishing there.

"I am pleased that the site will be available for dog walking, bird watching and fishing.”

The proposed crematorium, which will be confined to the existing footprint of buildings on the site, and other associated uses are not anticipated to result in any significant adverse residual effects to identified ecological assets.

Monitoring is currently proposed to be in place for five years to assess ongoing impacts from the use of the site.

Residents will be able to view the application on the council’s website as soon as the application has gone through due process and is deemed to be valid.

All the documents that support the application will be available including all ecological reports, the statement about compliance with planning policy, the results of the public consultation to date.

In January when the public consultation was announced, opposition leader Lib Dem councillor Lorna Dupre described it as the “last chance” to comment on the controversial application.  

"The survey seeks views on a number of aspects of the proposal,” she said. 

“But there is no option for residents to indicate if they would prefer to retain and restore the outdoor centre.  

“You can however make additional comments in the last question on the survey.  

“If you don’t agree with the Mepal Outdoor Centre site being re-developed as a crematorium you could use that question to express your views.” 

She added: “Despite its shortcomings, the public consultation 
survey is the only opportunity local residents currently have to express their views. 

“Do take a few minutes to submit your thoughts.”