Up to 1,300 cremations a year could be held at £6.5m Mepal crematorium

Artists impression of Mepal crematorium

Artist's impression of the proposed crematorium at Mepal that will cost £6.5m and owned by East Cambridgeshire District Council. - Credit: ECDC

It has been revealed an estimated 1,300 cremations a year – approximately five a day – could be held at the proposed £6.5m Mepal crematorium.

Further details for the former Mepal Outdoor Centre site have been revealed in an early screening opinion application submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Mepal crematorium

The proposed Mepal crematorium will include a combined crematorium, main chapel and side chapel, a reception building and a function building. - Credit: ECDC

As well as the number of cremations, it has also been revealed the 33-acre location could also accommodate 294 natural burials, 290 ash internments and 120 pet burials.

Between 15 and 20 woodland burials a year are expected. It will also be possible to scatter ashes there.

The proposed buildings to be constructed include a combined crematorium, main chapel and side chapel, a reception building and a function building.

Artists impression of inside the chapel at Mepal crematorium

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

Nexus Planning, a planning consultancy based in Reading, submitted a letter to planners as part of the application on behalf of East Cambs Trading Co Ltd, the council’s trading arm.

It says: “The proposed crematorium building would accommodate a flexible multi-faith hall for up to 125 people.

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“It would be linked to an ancillary structure accommodating staff at the site whilst a separate structure would provide function space and toilet facilities.

“The main buildings would be connected by a series of flat roofed links and a covered external canopy to the front of the main service hall."

Mepal crematorium

A letter to East Cambridgeshire planners state up to 1,300 cremations will take place a year, the equivalent of five a day. - Credit: ECDC

While a screening opinion is not the formal planning application, this early stage of the process will determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment will be needed for the scheme.

The letter from Nexus Planning also states “a detailed planning application will be shortly submitted”. It does not provide any indication on the timeframe involved.

Throughout the document, the consultancy argues why the environmental assessment will not be necessary based on current regulations.

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

Highways is one of five key areas covered and it is revealed the car park will have around 130 spaces which include disabled bays, hearse parking, mini-bus spaces and staff parking.

Vehicles will be able to access the site from the current A142 entrance and a secondary access on the site’s northern boundary along the A142 is also being proposed.

Nexus Planning explains traffic studies indicate cremation services generate around 102 vehicle arrivals per day - the equivalent of 204 two-way trips - typically during off peak times.

This was compared with transport data for “watersports centres” which generate a total of 55 vehicle movements throughout a day.

“The resultant increase of 149 vehicular movements per day is therefore considered to be a modest number...” the consultancy concluded.

“... and would not result in any significant effects in terms of highway safety or capacity.”

Potential layout proposed for Mepal crematorium

A potential layout being proposed for Mepal crematorium. - Credit: ECDC

Ecology at the site is another area the letter focuses on.

Lexus Planning says: “Habitats on the site are considered to be of moderate to high ecological value whilst the presence of protected species has moderate to high potential.

“It includes poor semi-improved grassland with patches of encroaching scrub.”

In January, wildlife experts had discovered the site at Mepal was a haven for potamogeton trichoides, a rare pondweed.

The consultancy concludes: “Overall, the nature of the proposed development (including demolition of the existing buildings and selective site clearance) combined with the size of the site would help ensure minor impacts on the surrounding habitats, protected species and wildlife in general…"

Mepal crematorium

What the overall site at Mepal crematorium may look like. - Credit: ECDC

It added that “all can be compensated with further surveys, mitigation measures, precautionary measures and enhancements in place”.

Other areas the letter covers are landscaping and visual impact, flood risk and air quality.

Proposals for the former Mepal Outdoor Centre to become a crematorium first emerged last summer.

Cllr Anna Bailey, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, explained it would offer a sustainable use for the area and “provide certainty for local people” concerned about anti-social behaviour. This includes two arson attacks.

Mepal Outdoor Centre. Aerial shots taken last July show the extent of the grounds.

Mepal Outdoor Centre. Aerial shots taken last July show the extent of the grounds and one of the buildings targeted in an arson attack. - Credit: Terry Harris

It was also claimed the crematorium would create eight jobs, with recruitment focused on local people.

Earlier this year, residents were invited to participate in a survey before a formal planning application was submitted.

The screening opinion application was validated on May 17. East Cambridgeshire District Council has 21 days from that date to respond.