Green space is set to be sold off for housing as part of plans to expand a crematorium.
Newcastle Borough Council has unveiled its masterplan for Bradwell Crematorium, which would see the facility extended into the neighbouring public open space off Chatterley Close.
To fund the £1.3 million scheme, the borough council intends to sell off the remaining green space for ‘high quality homes’ for around £2.5 million.
According to a council report, the crematorium is nearing capacity for burials and memorials but the extension would provide sufficient space to meet demand for 30 years. There would also be new gardens and 52 additional parking spaces.
The Chatterley Close land currently includes a children’s play area and woodland, which would be retained and enhanced under the housing development plans, along with some open space.
Cabinet members at the borough council will be asked to approve the crematorium scheme in principle when they meet today.
They are also expected to give the green light to a consultation with stakeholders and to the development of a planning application.
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The cabinet report acknowledges that there may be ‘community and political resistance’ to the scheme. But Trevor Johnson, portfolio holder for environment and recycling, believes people will welcome the proposals.
He said: “There is a need for a new garden of remembrance, and there is definitely a need for more parking spaces.
“I see this more as a repurposing of the green space, rather than the destruction of green space. It is a very sympathetic development. I think people will welcome this when they see the plans.”
The Chatterley Close site was identified as being suitable for ‘alternative uses’ in the borough council’s 2017 open space strategy.
Consultants were appointed to produce a ‘vision and viability appraisal’ for the land, which suggests creating six parcels of land for housing, along with a ‘focal open space’ and a ‘woodland play area’.
The crematorium extension would take up 2.64 hectares of land, with 2.48 hectares allocated for housing and 1.65 hectares for ‘green infrastructure’.
The housing would be a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom homes, with 25 per cent affordable housing.
Once the crematorium expansion is funded through the sale of the land, the borough council would be left with a residual capital receipt of around £1.2 million.
Bradwell ward councillor Andrew Fox-Hewitt believes the scheme will prove controversial among local residents.
He said: “There is a clear need for more housing in the borough, but this should done through the joint local plan and with the agreement of local people. I don’t see why it always has to be in built-up residential areas like Bradwell, or Chesterton, or Silverdale.
“We need to protect the green space and recreational space we have left, especially for our young people. It’s important for people’s health and wellbeing.
“There are other areas, such as Madeley or Keele, where there is land that could be developed for housing.”
Any development on the Chatterley Close site would require planning approval from the borough council.