'I’m pleased they’ve listened to sense' - relief as council chiefs appear to row back on controversial Sunderland crematorium plan
Opponents of a controversial site being used for a new crematorium in Sunderland have spoken of their relief after council chiefs appeared to row back on the plans.
But chiefs are now heading back to the drawing board following criticism from families living nearby and Wearside’s three main political parties.
“I’m pleased they’ve listened to sense,” said Cllr Phil Tyne, whose Silksworth ward is the other side of Silksworth Lane from the proposed site.
“People just didn’t understand why they had suggested the idea in the first place.”
He added: “Elected councillors set a strategic direction for the council and in this situation we asked the council officers to see if the crematorium could be extended or a new one built.
“But they came back to us way off the mark and as a result we’ve had to say it’s just not suitable for the site, based on feedback from residents.”
Cllr Tye, who is also chairman of the Sunderland City Council’s ruling Labour Party group, was joined in opposing the scheme by Conservative councillor Dominic McDonough, who raised concerns about traffic and parking.
Liberal Democrat councillor Heather Fagan cited the prospect of loss of green space in the area.
Of this, £7.5million has been set aside for a ‘new purpose-built crematorium’.
But the council has now confirmed that the initially proposed Gilly Law site, near Silksworth, has been ‘ruled out until further notice’.
Council leader Graeme Miller said: “Anyone who has attended a service at Bishopwearmouth Crematorium will be aware of the difficulties posed by the existing provision – the parking, the proximity of entry and exit points, and the single chapel.
“As part of last year’s capital budget and this council’s ongoing commitment to investing in our city, we agreed an allocation of £7.5m towards a new crematorium.
“Studies are underway on identifying possible sites and I must stress that no preferred location has been confirmed.
“As and when sites are looked at there have to be technical studies, such as on ground conditions, and many other factors must be taken into consideration before they could become a preferred location.
“These studies on identifying a preferred site are continuing and there are no current plans for siting the new crematorium at Gilley Law.
“Once we have identified a preferred location, we will as a listening and talking council look to consult with the community.”