PLANS for a new crematorium near Royal Wootton Bassett could be given the go-ahead this week.

The bid by the Westerleigh Group for a site at Upper Studley Farm has been recommended for approval by planning officers in the light of pressure on existing crematoria which means the bereaved can face long waits to have funeral services.

“This acute need is a material factor weighing in favour of the application, as is the ability of the development to reduce average wait and journey times at other crematoria in the region,” said planning officer Chris Marsh in his report to Wiltshire Council’s northern area planning committee, which meets on Wednesday.

A crematorium needs report compiled by Steve Bucknell for the firm revealed waiting times at Kingsdown Crematorium were often more than three weeks. A new facility could serve 36,000 bereaved people within a 30-minute drive, representing around 300 services a year.

In a survey commissioned by the firm funeral directors said longer journeys could cause anxiety and distress. They also expressed concern that families felt rushed through services.

Maslin Funeral Service said: “Even though Kingsdown Crematorium is only about ten miles away, the traffic in and around Swindon is so congested and unpredictable that we always allow 45 minutes to get there to ensure we do not arrive late.

“This is far too long for the families to have to endure and simply adds to their anxiety on the worst of days.

“It is so stressful for some families, that they ask if we can send the hearse on ahead of the rest of the cortege, to wait on the drive at Kingsdown, as they cannot bear to follow the coffin for such a long period of time. This is not ideal, as it is a break from the established tradition.”

Mead Family Funerals wrote: “Kingsdown Crematorium does its best, but it is running out of capacity. The families we serve often complain about being rushed – and it can feel like a conveyor belt because you have to be in and out within half an hour.”

Mr Bucknell also pointed out that Royal Wootton Bassett had identified a need for a new crematorium as long ago as 2002.

Lydiard Tregoze Parish Council backs the plan and several residents have added their support.

One objector has complained the facility will mean unacceptable smells and the access on Swindon Road is too close to the Spittleborough roundabout.

However Mr Marsh said the proposed crematorium incorporated filtration to mitigate the effects of smells.

The planning meeting at the council offices in Monkton Park, Chippenham, is held in public and starts at 3pm.