The Anoopam Mission has won a landmark appeal to build a dedicated Hindu Crematorium in Denham, South Buckinghamshire. This will be the first genuine Hindu Crematorium in the UK and as far as this reporter can discover the first in all Europe. The application was originally made in 2019 and was refused as developments on green belts were generally unfavourable, however Katie McDonald the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, after two site visits and an inquiry decided that planning permission is granted for the erection of a crematorium, dining hall, and associated landscape and biodiversity enhancements. There is already a Swaminarayan Temple on the 6.3 hectares wooded site with the River Mishbourne running on the eastern boundary.
This is a victory for the Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains community who hitherto have had to endure existing crematoria facilities that are used by other faiths and the non-religious. Hindus have had to have the open casket ceremonies at home, travel to a crematorium, where the service is typically for only 25 minutes, and then go home to shower and eat the traditional simple food associated with mourning the departed. The colocation of facilities was a decisive factor in the favourable decision.
The design of the crematorium building and associated facilities has been specifically tailored and designed by local architect Nick Mancini, from Mancini Curran Associates, to meet the needs of the Hindu community. The Planning Inspector noted that for faith and cultural reasons, the Hindu community in North and West London and the surrounding counties, are disadvantaged by being denied the opportunity to fully observe their cultural and religious beliefs and traditions for funerals and cremations, known as the 16th Sanskar.
The Swaminarayan Campus will now include 2 waiting rooms, 2 private ritual rooms for pre-ceremony rituals, a large ceremony hall, and a crematory hall with four furnaces. There is also a separate kitchen and canteen building with dining seating, showering facilities and sufficient car parking. This will enable ritual washing and communal eating following a cremation. Two funerals could run concurrently or one event for up to 500 people. This new one-stop facility will also save devotees from having to repatriate the departed to India.
Over 2,000 signatures supported the appeal and both Bob Blackman MP for Harrow East and Lord Jitesh Gadhia spoke in favour of the application during the Appeal hearing.
Satish Chatwani the International President of the Anoopam Mission expects that construction will begin in mid- 2022 and crematorium will be operational by late 2023.