ePetition details

Against Reigate Crematorium

We the undersigned petition the council to Abandon it’s proposal to develop a crematorium on New Pond Farm, Reigate.

The site is green belt and used extensively as an open space by the local community and visitors. We urge the council to consider all alternative and innovative options, and not to press on with proposals for a crematorium next to a housing estate and local schools.

This ePetition ran from 04/12/2020 to 15/01/2021 and has now finished.

624 people signed this ePetition.

Council response

The petition received on 4th December 2020 relates to the Council’s plans to submit a planning application for permission to construct a crematorium at New Pond Farm, Reigate. As Head of Democratic Services, it is my responsibility to consider whether petitions submitted under the Scheme meet the relevant criteria, under 1.28 of Part 3b (Officer Scheme of Delegation) of the Constitution.

Following the repeal of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (“the 2009 Act”) and Local Authorities (Petitions)(England) Order 2010 (“the 2010 Order”) by the Localism Act 2011, there is currently no legislation requiring local authorities to establish petition schemes.

However, the Council’s petition scheme was originally established in response to the obligation in the 2009 Act and this Scheme continues to exist within the Council’s constitution. The Scheme gives citizens certain rights to submit petitions under Article 3 of Part 2, including to:
(1) “submit petitions in accordance with the Council’s Petition Scheme” or to
(2) “establish or sign a petition in accordance with the Council’s Petition Scheme”.

Section 14 of the repealed 2009 Act excluded certain petitions from the Scheme, namely; those which were “in the opinion of the authority vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate to be dealt with as specified in this section”.

Section 14 of the 2009 Act also provided for the making of orders excluding matters from the definition of “active petitions”. This power was used in the 2010 Order in relation to planning and licensing decisions. The types of petitions which the Council may consider inappropriate is ultimately for the local authority to decide considering the circumstances of the individual case. The Government excluded the following matters from the scope of the petition’s duty (the 2010 Order):
• any matter relating to a planning decision, including about a development plan document or the community infrastructure levy.

The relevant provisions are reflected within Section 3 of the Scheme. Section 3 states:
“We will not take action on any petition which we consider to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate and will explain the reasons for this …………; If the petition applies to a planning...application………..other procedures apply. Petitions of this nature will therefore be excluded from this Scheme and referred to the appropriate mechanism. For example, a petition on a planning application will be treated as a representation to that application and considered through separate processes. Further information on all these procedures and how you can express your views is available on our website (Planning Meetings...) or by contacting Democratic Services.”

I have considered the individual circumstances of this petition and I conclude this petition is excluded from the Council’s Scheme on the basis that it would be inappropriate. A more appropriate mechanism for an objection to the Council’s proposal is through the Council’s existing arrangements and procedures that relate to planning applications and decisions of the planning committee. For example, a petition could be used as a formal objection/representation to a planning application.

There are two main reasons for my decision, namely the risks of inappropriate interaction with the statutory planning procedure by:
(1) creating a conflict between the roles of members of the Planning Committee and their duties as members of the Council; and
(2) a degree of unnecessary duplication of opportunity to raise planning objections to the proposal (this opportunity is available through the statutory planning process when an applicant [in this case the Council] submits a planning application to a Local Planning Authority).

Both reasons are important in my consideration with much emphasis on avoiding a conflict between the members of the Planning Committee and their duties as members of the Full Council.