A HINDU TEMPLE with designs for a new crematorium is challenging the impact it will have on the Green Belt by addressing the lack of capacity for funerals currently available to its community.

The Anoopam Mission, Swaminarayan Temple, in Denham, faces opposition to a new crematorium and dining hall on its existing grounds – but insists there is a cultural and religious need for the facility as more than half the UK Hindu population is within one hour of the temple.

It also argues current capacity is inadequate.

Encroachment on the Green Belt and historic developments “disproportionately” increasing the temple’s footprint are among objections to the proposal.

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The matter will be discussed at the South Buckinghamshire Area Planning Committee, on Tuesday, September 1, where temple representatives must present “very special circumstances” to outweigh potential harms to the surrounding area.

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Among those in favour of the new development is MP for Harrow, Bob Blackman, and a more than 2,000-signature petition.

It is suggested the temple make a “moderate contribution” to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and donations to the Colne Valley Regional Park ‘Countryside Management Service’.

It is also recommended it plants additional trees to mitigate the impact of “visual harm to the openness of the Green Belt”.

The temple, which lies within the Green Belt, is on the northern side of Western Avenue within Colne Valley Park, and the River Misbourne runs alongside it.

Specifications for the new development include:

  • two waiting rooms;
  • two private ritual rooms;
  • a large ceremony hall;
  • a crematory hall with furnaces and plant;
  • a separate canteen, including a 100-seat dining capacity;
  • and showering facilities.

There will be no chimneys, only small flue outlets and cooling units.

There are also plans to widen footpaths across the access road from the A40/M40.

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The new crematorium, as it stands, would constitute an “inappropriate development” and result in “loss of openness and encroachment into the Green Belt”, according to council documents.

In response, the temple claims, “Hindu cultural and faith sensitivities” are currently “not being catered for within existing crematoria”.

It also claims the location is within a one-hour drive of more than half the UK Hindu population.

“The size of the proposed crematorium is necessary to adequately accommodate the larger number of funeral attendees a Hindu funeral may otherwise attract,” it said.

Objections to the proposal are largely from Denham Parish Council.

Permission is conditional, subject to satisfactory completion of a Section 106 Agreement.