Rival crematorium owners take Welwyn Hatfield Council to High Court

PUBLISHED: 09:29 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:29 23 January 2018

Hatfield's Columbarium section of Lawn Cemetery. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council

Hatfield's Columbarium section of Lawn Cemetery. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Council is facing a legal battle over its planned crematorium for Hatfield.

The owners of Hertfordshire’s newest crematorium in Woollensbrook near Broxbourne have taken their battle to London’s High Court in a bid to stop Welwyn Hatfield Council’s development.

Now they will have to wait to hear if their battle has been successful.

One of the country’s top judges, Sir Wyn Williams, has reserved judgment in the case and will give his decision in writing later.

Lawyers for Crematoria Management Limited have asked the judge to quash planning permission that Welwyn Hatfield Council granted to itself for the building of a new crematorium in Hatfield on land at Cemetery House, South Way.

Crematoria Management opened up their new operation, set in the Hertfordshire countryside, just last year.

Their lawyers say that the council did not consider whether their crematorium removed the need for another one in the area.

They also say that the council did not meet all of its planning obligation when approving the plans.

However, at a hearing last week, lawyers for the council said that there was still a need for a new crematorium despite the Woollensbrook facility.

According to court papers, there are more than 63,000 people living within 30 minutes drive of the proposed new crematorium.

In addition, during the winter, when deaths peak, they say there is sometimes a two to three week wait for a crematorium slot.

However, Crematoria Management is accusing the council of failing to properly apply planning tests that should be conducted for urban development projects of over one hectare.

The council disputes that it is an urban development project, and says that it is less than a hectare.

The judge hearing the case said he would give a written judgment later this year.

No date has been set for it.

No work has started on the new Hatfield crematorium yet.

A council spokesman said: “Planning permission was granted for a range of works to enhance bereavement service provision at the Lawn Cemetery in Hatfield on May 3 2017.

“This included plans for a new crematorium facility, developed to address an increasing demand for cremations in the borough. “Evidence of that need was considered by officers and members as part of the determination process.

“Following a legal challenge from Crematoria Management Ltd, a judicial review hearing of the decision was held on Wednesday January 17 and we are currently awaiting the outcome of that hearing.”

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