Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Supplementary Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (CEM 49(b))

  When the Department gave evidence to the Sub-Committee on 9 January part of the committee's inquiry into cemeteries and crematoria, I promised to write with further information about two matters: Green Belt policy, and the role of the Health and Safety Executive in enforcement in cemeteries.

  Planning Policy Guidance note 2 sets out the Government's planning policy on Green Belts. Among other things it says that new buildings in the Green Belt are inappropriate development, with the exception of certain listed categories. New buildings providing essential facilities for cemeteries fall within one of these categories. They are not inappropriate development so long as they are genuinely required for uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it. PPG2 does not mention crematoria. Most crematoria comprise quite extensive buildings with associated car parking. Where crematoria are linked to cemeteries it will be a matter of fact and degree as to whether they qualify as essential facilities, and preserve the openness of the Green Belt. Otherwise, they must be regarded as inappropriate development in Green Belts, and there would therefore be a presumption against granting permission for them. However, PPG2 explains that inappropriate development may be granted planning permission if there are very special circumstances to justify it that outweigh any harm to the Green Belt. It would be for an applicant to demonstrate the very special circumstances and each case is treated on its merits.

John Roberts

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