Crematorium allowed in open countryside

A crematorium and associated parking was allowed within a natural burial ground in open Oxfordshire countryside.

The change of use of the appeal site from an agricultural field to a natural burial ground had been previously allowed on appeal and the open grassed site was now planted with large numbers of young trees which would mature into low density woodland. Both parties agreed on the need for the crematorium and the main issue was the effect on the character and appearance of the open countryside, the council being concerned by the effect of the proposed building and intensification of use.

The inspector observed that the proposed crematorium building would be relatively low lying and at present screened from the highway and countryside beyond by boundary hedges and, over time, the timber and stone clad building would sit comfortably in the context of the growing woodland.

The inspector acknowledged the council’s concerns regarding increased levels of activity at the site, with the appellants Needs Assessment setting out that the number of cremations at the site per day was unlikely to exceed five and the capacity of the proposed building would be 120. The inspector found it improbable that the crematorium would operate at maximum capacity throughout the year, and whilst the majority of journeys to and from the crematorium would be by private car and result in groups of vehicles entering and leaving the site, it was unlikely that the size and frequency of such events would be sufficiently large to harm the character and appearance of the area. Notwithstanding this, to ensure that levels of intensity would not become excessive, a condition could be imposed limiting the opening hours of the crematorium. Subject to this and other conditions, the inspector allowed the appeal.

Inspector: R Sabu; Written representations

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