PROPOSALS for a new crematorium next to a North-East beauty spot have provoked a storm of protest from neighbouring residents.

Dignity Plc has unveiled proposals for the facility between the village of Castle Eden and Castle Eden Dene National Nature Reserve, near Peterlee, County Durham - claiming there is a need for the facility on the A19 corridor.

But objectors say it will create traffic problems and have a negative impact on Castle Eden Dene – a Site of Special Scientific Interest - and the conservation area of Castle Eden.

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A Dignity spokesman said: “We are proposing to develop a single-storey, state-of-the-art crematorium surrounded by beautifully landscaped Gardens of Remembrance on land to the north of the former Castle Eden Brewery.

“The proposed crematorium would serve about 100,000 people and would not be visible from the A19 due to the maturity of the landscape and the landscaping of the gardens.

“We anticipate that there would initially be two to three funerals per weekday between 9.30am and 4pm.”

He added: “Modern crematoria have to comply with the latest environmental legislation.

“In addition, every crematorium has to apply for an annual permit from the Environmental Health Office to continue to operate.

“Failure to comply with this legislation or contravening a condition of the environmental permit is punishable by a fine of £50,000 or up to 12 months’ imprisonment.”

Several objections have been lodged on Durham County Council’s online planning portal.

Patricia Heslop of Castle Eden said: “I don’t want to live near a crematorium.

"Many others don’t want to, therefore there would be an impact on the saleability and price of property.

“There would be an impact on the environment ranging from discharge from the crematorium to extra traffic and ensuing pollution.

“The area is beautiful . . . a crematorium would certainly detract from this.”

Ward councillor Rob Crute, said he and fellow ward councillor Lynn Pounder were calling for the matter to be decided by a planning committee meeting.

He said: “We have decided to object to proposal on a number of grounds.

“There is nothing that shows there is anything there to benefit Castle Eden or its residents.

“It will cause a lot of traffic upheaval. It is bordered on the north by Castle Eden Dene and to the south by Castle Eden, which is a conservation area and we are inclined to agree with residents that it will have a negative visual impact. 

“We feel the operator has not fully considered the viability of alternative sites for this development.”