New plans for land of previous outdoor centre at Mepal

An outline business plan to transform a currently unused brownfield site in Mepal into a cutting edge, ecological crematorium has been approved by East Cambridgeshire District Council’s special Full Council this evening.

The new plan for the land owned by the District Council includes a crematorium, woodland burial area and pet cemetery, and has been designed to protect and enhance the significant biodiversity and ecology that exists on the site.

The Council wishes to provide an exemplar sustainable development. Plans include detailed landscape proposals to enrich the site as well as the use of renewable energy. These features will make a significant contribution to the Council’s biodiversity objectives and its vision to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which form part of the Council’s Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

It is hoped that the proposal for the site, previously used as an outdoor centre, will not only offer a sustainable use for the area, but provide certainty for local people who have been concerned about the levels of anti-social behaviour at the site, including two arson attacks, the first of which caused the closure of the centre in December 2016.

The outline plan includes the creation of eight jobs, with recruitment focussed on local people.

It will also provide local access to cremation and burial services, which are not currently available in the district, and offer residents a local alternative in an attractive setting, to enable better value for money and help alleviate growing concerns about the costs of funeral arrangements.Councillor Anna Bailey, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said:

“We were very keen to explore all options for the site following the arson attack at the end of 2016. We invited expressions of interest and got to the stage where we had chosen an operator, but for various reasons, the operator was unable to deliver their proposal for the site.

“Officers have reviewed the options and the current plan provides us with an alternative use, which not only transforms the site from what is currently there but provides the community with a vital service they have previously had to travel out of the district for.

“The site is a beautiful area, home to a variety of important wildlife, and rich in biodiversity.  It has a special atmosphere, which will give support to bereaved families, and space for quiet reflection including the lake and other natural assets as well as a covered cloistered area and adjacent flower walkway. There will also be a woodland burial area, which utilises the natural landscape of the site. The sensitive landscaping will protect and enhance the biodiversity of the site as an important natural resource in the district, supporting the Council’s Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The next phase of work on the project will involve the development of a full landscape plan for the site that will include exploring access for fishing and other recreational activities.

“From year one of operation, it has been projected that the crematorium, which will be operated by the Council’s trading company East Cambs Street Scene, will provide income for the Council which will help support other vital services provided by the Council to the residents of East Cambridgeshire. I am pleased that the outline business plan has been approved and we can now progress to the planning application stage, where we will consult with residents.”

Other features for the crematorium include:

  • A welcome and waiting area, with toilets
  • A 125 seat chapel with views out to the landscape setting of the site
  • A small 12 seat side chapel for smaller ceremonies
  • An electric cremator powered largely by on site generated renewable energy
  • 80+ parking spaces for crematorium visitors
  • A pet cemetery discretely located away from the crematorium
  • A modular functions building to support the woodland burial area

The Council will continue to communicate with residents as this poignant project moves forward.