Wellingborough Council has bought the plot of land needed to build a new crematorium in the borough. Contracts were exchanged on the 11-acre site near Great Doddington last week, and the council hopes to have the facility up and running in the next couple of years.
The land was identified and secured by private developer Mercia Crematoria Developments Ltd last year, and outline planning approval to build a crematorium on the site was granted to the company in December. The council, which had also been looking into the need for a crematorium in the borough, entered negotiations to buy the land from Mercia last month.
Council leader Cllr Paul Bell said: "We identified a need for this service in our borough over a year ago. We spent a lot of time researching it, speaking to experts, visiting other crematoria, and finding out what we need to do to make sure we can provide an excellent service that really benefits local people. Parallel to this, private developer Mercia gained planning permission on a plot of land to the south of the town and the council agreed to begin negotiations to acquire the land from them. This has been successful and we exchanged contracts last week and expect to officially complete the deal at the end of March.
"The site already benefits from outline planning permission so the next step in the project is to apply for detailed consent, which will set out the specific proposals for things like the design, layout, and access arrangements. Once that's approved, which we hope will be within six months, we can begin the process of building the facility, with a view to having it ready to start operating in 2015.
"This is a very big project for our borough and it's important we get it right. The council doesn't have the experience or expertise to undertake the project alone, so we will be working with technical advisors such as architects, surveyors, project managers and construction experts to make sure we deliver a first-rate facility for the borough."
Mercia Crematoria Developments Ltd has built nine crematoria, having just completed one near Lichfield. These have been sold to a variety of crematorium operators, often after purchase of land from councils. Andy Marshall, Head of Planning at Mercia says "Mercia strives to work in partnership with local authorities, and we acted swiftly to identify the best location to meet the borough's needs and to secure outline consent. We are pleased to have now agreed terms with the Borough Council of Wellingborough that will enable the council to design a building of its own choice in this most attractive location, and are confident that it will prove a very popular and successful facility for the borough."
The council is estimating the crematorium will cost between £3m and £4m. It will be funded from the council's capital reserves, which is money that is kept in the bank to be used for large projects that benefit the community, but can't by law be used for the running of day-to-day services. The whole project will be overseen by a group of seven councillors.