PLANS for a controversial new crematorium in Hooton will be decided by the Government.
The multi-million-pound scheme was submitted to the borough council last year by the Westerleigh Group, which runs funeral homes across the UK.
But when councillors heard it had caused a bitter divide in the community, with hundreds both for and against it, they threw out the scheme.
Then in November, days away from the deadline for lodging an appeal, Westerleigh confirmed it was taking the matter to a Government planning inspector.
Now it has been confirmed that instead of being heard by an inspector based in Bristol, the scheme will be decided at the highest level in Government.
A report to the council’s planning committee said: “We have been advised the appeal for the crematorium on field No 1400 in Waterworks Lane has been called in for determination by the Secretary of State (for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn).”
Westerleigh has previously said that the crematorium would cover the whole borough, so residents would no longer have to travel to Blacon crem.
If approved, the Hooton facility would provide an estimated 1,260 cremations a year, seating 96 people with another 150 standing.
It would also have a garden of remembrance, landscaping and conservation scheme and four full-time and two part-time staff.