NEIGHBOURS have lost their fight against plans for a chapel of rest and are angry their voices have been ignored.
They were left fuming after a government inspector overruled the decision of Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee and approved Co-operative Funeralcare’s proposals.
On three occasions the residents of Tangier Road, in Copnor, defeated the plans to allow relatives to view dead bodies in its premises in the street.
The campaigners complained their children and grandchildren would be frightened by the sight and presence of corpses, large private ambulances would end up blocking the road and the location was inappropriate for a funeral home.
But the planning inspector decided the measures taken by the Co-op to improve access to the site and shield the loading and unloading of bodies were enough – and that many of the views expressed ‘were not material planning considerations’.
Lesley Wood, 64, lives two doors down from the building and said the plans were ‘sheer stupidity’ but she expected the decision.
She said: ‘I don’t see the point of having a planning committee in Portsmouth because when it comes to firms like the Co-op they just get whatever they want.
‘What can we do now? We don’t have the money to fight it, even though the residents of Tangier Road and Baffins don’t want this.
‘But it doesn’t matter what the local people want, because someone in Bristol 200 miles away will just make the decision for us.
‘It’s absolutely ridiculous.’
Lib Dem councillor David Fuller runs a residential care home and said he thinks the Co-op is a highly professional company, but the site wasn’t right for a funeral home.
‘I’m very disappointed for the residents who fought so hard against this,’ he said. ‘I still think it was too cramped for a chapel of rest and that it won’t be safe with ambulances coming and going.’
Graham Lymn, head of operations for End of Life Services said: ‘We are pleased that our policy of having chapels of rest facilities in all of our funeral homes so that bereaved families can pay their respects locally has been recognised as a benefit to the community by the planners.
‘Any work carried out will comply with the planners’ requirements and work will commence in the next week or so.’