Published: 14:48, 15 June 2021
| Updated: 14:49, 15 June 2021
A bid to build a town’s first crematorium appears set to go ahead amid hopes it will cut journeys for mourners by at least 25 minutes.
Westerleigh Group wants to erect the building, along with a 98-seat chapel and waiting room, on a 14-acre plot of farmland off Bullockstone Road in Herne Bay.
The proposals have moved a step closer to receiving the green light after Canterbury City Council officers recommended the scheme be granted ahead of Tuesday’s planning committee meeting.
And should it be voted through, it will mean grieving families will no longer have to venture to Barham or Margate for services.
Papers produced by Westerleigh say: “A large population in the north of the Canterbury district, around Herne Bay and Whitstable, is not served by a crematorium within the ideal 30-minute cortege drive time.
“The location of the proposal site would be the nearest accessible crematorium for about 108,000 people and would be within 30 minutes for the first time to a population of 89,000 people.
“When considered against the context of a rising population and increasing death rate the additional capacity in the Herne Bay and Whitstable area becomes increasingly important.”
Westerleigh, which runs 34 sites nationwide, estimates that it takes almost an hour for a cortege travel from Herne Bay to Barham and more than 40 minutes to arrive in Margate.
Bosses also say the scheme will reduce funeral capacity issues currently affecting residents in the Canterbury, Thanet and Dover districts.
CEO Roger Mclaughlan said: “There is a compelling need for additional crematoria capacity in this area.”
Writing online, John Wells, who runs Beltinge and District Funeral Services, argued the facility will ease the grieving process for bereaved family members.
He explained: “During the winter months, Barham and Thanet crematoria become very busy.
“Families stress as they have to wait several weeks before a funeral date and time is available.
“A crematorium at Herne Bay would give people an additional choice for the area and would mean families will not have to wait as long for a funeral, which would be far better for their grieving process.”
Documents show the site will also have memorial gardens and an 85-bay car park.
In a report penned by council planners, they maintain “there is a need for an additional crematorium within the district”.
This is despite plans for a similar £6 million project just 10 miles away in Hernhill being approved last month – which developer Memoria says will provide services for about 74,000 people.
Three objections have been lodged against the Herne Bay proposal in total, with critics raising concerns about its potential impact on neighbouring properties and traffic in the area.