‘Bigger need for new mortuary than another crematorium’

Saturday 6th August 2022 7:00 am
How the proposed new crematorium would look ()

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THERE is more need for a mortuary in mid Wales than another crematorium, a planning hearing has been told.

A hearing took place which heard arguments for and against plans by Powys Crematorium Limited to build an all-new crematorium at a site north of the B4568 road on land “formally known” as Ael y Bryn between Caersws and Aberhafesp.

The application, which was lodged by Powys county councillor for Abermule, Cllr Gareth Pugh’s firm, had been approved by the council’s Planning Committee in May 2021. But it was “called in” to be decided by a government minister last August.

The hearing was conducted by director of Wales planning inspectorate, Tony Thickett, who focused on whether there is a need for a crematorium in Powys, if this is the right location and potential issues of highway safety.

Two Powys county councillors, former Cabinet member Cllr Heulwen Hulme and planning committee chairman Cllr Karl Lewis, both spoke in favour of the development.

Cllr Hulme pointed out that Powys residents were waiting a month to be able to cremate a loved one as well as having to endure a journey of between 80 and 100 miles to crematoria in Shrewsbury or Aberystwyth.

Rachel Harrison, manager of the Aberystwyth crematorium said: “We serve very low populations – today I have only three funerals in and that’s quite standard.”

Ms Harrison said that several issues were causing the backlog, including the time to process deaths and the format of funerals becoming more complex.

Services now have numerous eulogies and tributes, including visual ones, which mean they can overrun their allotted time slot.

Ms Harrison also explained there was a five-day limit to register a death, but this had been known to rise to 13 days because registrars “have been unable” to provide an appointment.­

Ms Harrison added that it could also take three weeks for doctors to process paperwork in a sudden death or one due to an accident, as post-mortems for the region are conducted in Shrewsbury,

Ms Harrison said: “That transport back and forth, to a different country is unacceptable – mortuary facilities are more needed in mid Wales than another crematorium.”­

Sioned Davies, for the applicant, said planning inspectors had found that the experiences of families is that the quality of the experience had been compromised “80 per cent” of the time.

Ms Davies said: “It gives rise to feelings of a conveyor belt and that you can’t be accommodated at peak times.”

Planning agent for the applicant, Alan Southerby, believed that this proved a “significant need” for the crematorium.

Objector David Evans told the hearing that the need in the area was for land for “cemetery” rather than a crematorium.

At the end of the hearing, Mr Thickett said he would visit the site to see the lie of the land for himself and that he had seven weeks to write his report and provide his recommendation to the Welsh Government minister.

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