There are many reasons why the council has decided to operate a bereavement centre from the lakeside at Mepal:
Provides a much-needed facility for the people of East Cambridgeshire
The council wishes to provide good value and easier access to cremations and burial services for residents in East Cambridgeshire.
It is estimated that within a 30 minute travel time of the Mepal site there is an annual need for 1355 cremations.
Following a competition appraisal and an analysis of usage of the current and planned crematorium, it is expected around 500-700 cremations will take place every year at the Mepal site, along with approximately 20 burials.
Opportunity to generate income for the council
The council prides itself on coming up with innovative solutions to support the community in which it serves. Turning the Mepal site into a bereavement centre will transform the site into something not only needed in the district, but also capable of generating an income stream, which is turn can be used to benefit residents.
Lack of commercial interest
Following an arson attack and closure as an outdoor centre, the council has been open to ways it can breathe new life into the site. It worked cross-party to try to secure a new operator to continue the leisure use of the site, but despite huge efforts on two occasions the only provider that showed interest decided it was not viable.
Ecological surveys carried out at the site have now confirmed it to be significant ecological interest, which in turn means any commercial development of the site also needs to protect and enhance the wildlife that has made it their home.
Protection of rare and endangered species
The unique ecology of the site means it has attracted many endangered species. These range from a rare pond plant, to otters, bats and fieldfares.
Their existence led to the lake being declared a County Wildlife site, with the Wildlife Trust confirming it is no longer suitable for use for recreational activities such as sailing, canoeing and paddle boarding.
Operating a bereavement centre from the site enables the council to develop it in a way that protects and enhances habitats for wildlife.
Prevention of anti-social behaviour
Over the years the site has been a target for anti-social behaviour, including two arson attacks. The first of these, which took place in December 2016, destroyed the main buildings, caused the closure of the outdoor centre, and could easily have led to more catastrophic consequences.
Doing nothing would require the council to pay for the continued provision of expensive security arrangements.