Application 19/00684/FUL - Worcester Muslim Cemetery, John Comyn Drive
That Planning Committee delegates authority to the Corporate Director - Planning and Governance to receive and update ecological information and provided that this raises no new issues in respect of biodiversity, to grant planning permission subject to the conditions, updated as appropriate, as set out at Section 9 of the report.
The Committee considered an application for change of use for the creation of an extension to the existing cemetery, and creation of two new ancillary buildings.
Reason Why Being Considered by Planning Committee
The application had been referred to Planning Committee at the request of Corporate Director – Planning and Governance due to the sensitive nature of the application as the City Council owns part of the site and the applicant is a Member of the City Council.
The report set out the background to the proposal, the site and surrounding area, the site itself, relevant policies, planning history and representations and consultations where applicable.
The information was presented as set out by the Service Manager – Development Management, in conjunction with a powerpoint presentation for the item. The Committee’s attention was drawn to the late paper which gave an update to paragraph 4.8 of the report.
The Service Manager advised that, based on previous years, the maximum number of expected burials per year was 12, and therefore this number had been conditioned accordingly. A site management plan had been offered by the applicants and was included in the recommended conditions. Consequently, the Highways Authority had no objection, subject to conditions. Since the preparation of the report, the County Council’s Public Rights of Way Team had confirmed they had no objection. The proposals for burial activity had been removed from flood zone 2 and there were no objections in respect of flood risk or ground water contamination.
With regard to ecology, it had been established that the revised proposals will not give rise to any harm to protected species, however a further survey had been requested. This was not yet ready and it was recommended that the Committee delegates authority to the Corporate Director for Planning and Governance to update the submitted evidence and where necessary update the conditions, subject to no new issues arising.
The Service Manager concluded that the proposal was considered to be suitable development within the Green Belt, and it was recommended that delegated approval be granted.
Key Points of Debate
· The Committee debated whether 12 expected burials was a realistic number. The Service Manager explained that this figure had been put forward by the applicant. It had formed part of the discussions with the Highway Authority. They were satisfied with the number, but would be concerned if there were more. He advised that the issue related to access rather than burials, and if members felt this needed clarification the condition could be amended to refer to “funeral events” rather than burials.
· With regard to the one objection received, it was clarified that the cemetery was established before the adjoining office block was built.
· With regard to the ecology survey, the Service Manager advised that, if there were any new issues arising, the application would be brought back to the Committee.
· The County Council Highways representative replied to comments and questions and explained that protracted negotiations had taken place with the applicants to reach assurance on the various highway implications, including the number of funerals, the width of the access, maintenance of the path and pedestrian safety.
· Committee Members were of the view that the proposal had significant community benefit and attached weight to this aspect.
· Officers advised that condition 9 could be amended so as to limit the use of the access road to the south of the site to a maximum of 12 times per calendar year, as opposed to a limit on the number of burials. Access would still be available from the alternative access on John Comyn Drive.
A proposal to approve the application was made and this was seconded. Committee Members expressed support for the proposed amendment to the condition 9. There being no further points made the proposal was agreed as follows:
For - 8
Against - 0
Abstentions - 1
RESOLVED: That the Committee grant planning permission, subject to the conditions set out in section 9 of the report, as amended.