A HINDU TEMPLE with designs for a new crematorium to accommodate ‘funeral capacity currently lacking in its community’ has been refused planning permission on grounds it is “harmful” to the Green Belt.

Plans to build a new crematorium and dining hall on the existing grounds of the Anoopam Mission, Swaminarayan Temple, in Denham, will not be going ahead having been rejected by the South Buckinghamshire Area Planning Committee, on Tuesday, September 1.

Committee members went back and forth for almost two hours on the “very difficult application”.

READ MORE: New crematorium at Hindu temple is ‘inappropriate’ near Green Belt

But they determined the temple’s plans would constitute an “inappropriate development” resulting in “loss of openness and encroachment into the Green Belt” – and that the “very special circumstances” presented by the applicant did not outweigh potential harms to the surrounding area.

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.

Among the very special circumstances, the temple claimed, “Hindu cultural and faith sensitivities” are currently “not being catered for within existing crematoria”.

It also claimed 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.

Bucks Free Press:

But Cllr Barbara Gibbs disputed the capacity claims and Cllr Santokh Chhokar demanded sufficient evidence alternative sites had been investigated in neighbouring local authorities. The committee determined it had not.

Cllr Trevor Egleton said he believed the very special circumstances had been “created”, that “we are in a new world” after coronavirus, and the search for sites criteria had been made before businesses downsized. “But what do we know will be available tomorrow?” he added.

Objections to the proposal were largely from Denham Parish Council, relating to “serious encroachment” on Green Belt land and contraventions of “transport policies…taking no account of nearby proposals in the emerging Local Plan, resulting in traffic chaos on the local road network”.

Bucks Free Press:

Another speaker to the application said a proposed new access point from Denham Court Drive, which is overland owned by William Boyer & Sons Ltd, had no right to be “improved, changed, widened or…altered” from the right of way currently available to the applicant.

The area is also a hotspot for fly-tipping since the applicant removed 300 sqm of vegetation without permission, incurring £30,000 in costs to the landowner, according to William Boyer & Sons Ltd.

William Boyer & Sons Ltd added the entrance is “not practical for use”, that it is engaged in an ongoing restoration scheme of the area, and that there is “adequate existing access from the A40”.

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Mr Smith, a speaker for the proposal, said the A40 access is “problematic”. Adding: “We certainly wouldn’t want to utilise that.

“We believe we are able to deal with the civil matter, and progress.”

Cllr Paul Griffin described potential traffic as a result as a “nightmare” for Denham village and “carnage” for the whole area.

Specifications for the new development included:

  • 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.

By close of business, members voted in the majority to refuse the application.