Impact Planning Services Appraises Need for a New Crematorium

Impact Planning Services (IPS) was commissioned by North Kesteven District Council (NKDC) to undertake an appraisal of a needs assessment and planning statement which had been submitted by applicants seeking to develop a new crematorium at Thurlby in Lincolnshire. This independent assessment assisted NKDC’s officers in the preparation of their report to planning committee for determination of the proposed development. As part of the work, IPS was also instructed to prepare its own independent needs analysis.

Our Experience

IPS has considerable experience in the crematorium sector. The practice successfully promoted three crematorium developments in Romsey (Test Valley District), near Royal Wootton Bassett (in Wiltshire) and at Fladbury , near Evesham (in Wychavon District, South Worcestershire).

The project was led by Steve Bucknell, a General Practice Chartered Surveyor with over 30 years’ experience in commercial property development and agency. Steve has considerable experience in the development and assessment of need for new crematoria across the UK, through his previous employment within the sector.

Use of Arc GIS Mapping

In assessing the need for new crematoria it is a requirement to look at both quantitative and qualitative factors. The quantitative element requires assessment and analysis of catchment populations for existing and proposed crematoria to establish the need for and impact of the proposed crematorium.

To carry out this assessment IPS used Geographic Information System (GIS) modelling tools of which the practice has extensive experience, within both the environmental and development sectors.

IPS created a spatial demographic model and assessed the catchments and populations of 27 crematoria throughout the East Midlands region. Catchment areas for each crematorium were drawn based on a gravity model, and the population and death rate for each catchment calculated using Office for National Statistics “Super Output Area” census data; this is more accurate than using Ward based data, the method used by the applicant. Further analyses looked at the impact of a crematorium currently under construction at Lea, between Lincoln and Gainsborough and the further impact should the proposed crematorium at Thurlby be consented and built.

The Applicant’s case for the new crematorium relied to a great extent on its assertion that the crematorium at Lincoln was operating beyond its capacity. The Applicant sought to show that, as a result, there was a qualitative impact on the service being offered to residents in North Kesteven District.

A further important factor in demonstrating the need for a new crematorium relates to the accepted desire for bereaved families to be able to reach their nearest crematorium within 30 minutes in a funeral cortege (travelling at 60% of normal speeds). IPS analysed the populations within this drive-time of existing crematoria and looked at how many additional people would fall within a 30-minute drive time if the proposed crematorium at Thurlby was developed.

Conclusion Regarding the Need for a New Crematoria

IPS’s independent assessment concluded that the Applicant had not demonstrated the qualitative need for a new crematorium. In circumstances where a crematorium is operating beyond its capacity at a level which has a qualitative impact, IPS would expect to see such an impact evidenced by letters from independent funeral directors, comments from members of the public and analysis showing consistent delays to funerals at peak times of the year. Material evidence of this nature had not been provided.

The assessment and associated analysis concluded that there was no quantitative need for a new crematorium. The existing crematoria in the area were sufficient to serve the population, and the location of the proposal was not such that it would not materially increase the population which could access a crematorium within the 30-minute cortege speed drive-time.

Given the lack of need, IPS was able to review the Applicant’s planning statement and conclude that the proposal was contrary to local plan policies relating to development in the open countryside.

How we can help you

IPS has helped other local authorities in the review of application submissions as resources within the public sector become increasingly stretched. Please contact us to discuss how we could help you.

As a result of this work IPS produced an accurate model to assess the probable usage of open and permitted crematoria. This is a useful tool for anyone considering or assessing the viability or need for a crematorium.

GIS is a powerful tool which can be used to process very large amounts of data quickly and accurately. IPS is able to use GIS based solutions to address clients’ specific needs. These solutions include site selection and sieving, sequential site assessments and, more recently, the creation of an open space and playing pitch strategy.

The crematorium model which IPS has developed is a valuable tool for anyone considering the qualitative and quantitative need for a new crematorium, including developers, operators and local authorities. For more information about this assessment, or any of the GIS modelling and associated services that IPS are able to offer, please do not hesitate to contact our team.