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Public inquiry called over Essington crematorium plan

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A public inquiry has been called over the creation of a £4 million crematorium on green belt land in South Staffordshire .

The inquiry over the controversial plans for the 11-acre site kicks off next month.

The scheme in Essington is being spearheaded by the Westerleigh Group and the site in Broad Lane would see between four and five services a day.

But the plans, which were rejected by planners at South Staffordshire Council last year were met with huge opposition from residents, with more than 600 people signing a petition and 250 letters of objection submitted opposing it.

Main concerns include the loss of green belt land and the close proximity to St John's Primary School. It is also feared that added competition for business could pile pressure on Bushbury Crematorium, which is just over five miles away.

Gavin Williamson MP said: "I certainly hope that these proposals get rejected. It would be an unwelcome intrusion into the green belt and it's not something that this area needs. There is a more than adequate crematorium within the locality."

South Staffordshire councillor David Clifft insisted the crematorium is still unwanted, and representations will be made against it at the inquiry.

He said: "There's the crematorium nearby at Bushbury and they were all alarmed there. They were saying that the facilities there are under-used at this moment in time, so if there was another crematorium in the area it could push them closer to closure.

"Essington is only five or 10 minutes away. They are looking to put it on green belt land, and it would be near a school. We've got to think about the impact it would have on children, having funerals coming and going every few hours.

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"I am very much opposed to it. The people of Essington have been opposed to it all along as well. It's too far out on the fringes of Staffordshire to service Staffordshire properly. It would need to be somewhere more central.

"This crematorium would be more likely to service the West Midlands.

"There is no bus service that runs near, anyone attending would have to travel by car. It's in the wrong place and it's certainly not wanted, and that was proved by its rejection at first the parish council and then the district council. I'm very much on the case and will be making representations at the appeal on their behalf."

Westerleigh Group wouldn't comment.

The crematorium at Essington was one of four that was rejected by planner last March, the others being in Perton, Wergs and Four Crosses.

The public inquiry will begin at the council offices on Wolverhampton Road, Codsall, and will commence at 10 am. It is expected to run for four days.

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