Editor's pick: Council wins costs over sequential test defects

A Warwickshire council has won a full costs award on an appeal over a natural burial ground in the green belt, with an inspector ruling that the appellant acted unreasonably in pursuing the scheme.

The appellant stated that human remains would be interred in a natural, non-urban setting, offering a popular and more environmentally friendly alternative to cremation. For each burial, a tree would be planted on the land, thus increasing opportunities for wildlife. The appellant stated that a search for alternative sites had been undertaken but none proved suitable for the planned development.

The inspector accepted that the scheme had potential to improve the natural environment and increase biodiversity, but was less convinced about the site’s location alongside a busy main road remote from the county's main market towns. She noted Ministry of Justice advice that natural burial grounds should be close to existing urban areas and should provide a multiple role in creating new amenity space for the community while satisfying demand for environmentally friendly funerals.

The sequential assessment had identified one potentially suitable site which was more distant than the appeal site from another cemetery with capacity to meet demand for the next 20 years. The inspector was unclear why the appellant had chosen the appeal site, since it lay within the existing facility's catchment area and would compete directly with it. The inappropriate nature of the use within the green belt and the impact on traffic safety also justified dismissing the appeal, she ruled.

The inspector agreed with the council that the appeal should not have been pursued. The appellant’s own evidence showed that an alternative site existed and his failure to explain why it had been discounted amounted to unreasonable behaviour, she concluded. She rejected a costs application by the appellant, concluding that the council had justified its objections to the scheme.

Inspector: Jane Stiles; Written representations


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