Neighbours call for mortuary car wash plans to be reversed

Car wash canopies being built at the Whitta Road care centre

Car wash canopies being built at the Whitta Road care centre - Credit: Whitta Road resident

Residents are calling for the reversal of a decision to approve plans for a car wash at a Manor Park mortuary, citing concerns over antisocial behaviour and noise disruption.

Newham Council's local development committee has approved an application to build a car wash, new entrance, external plant equipment and internal alterations at the Co-op Funeralcare site in Whitta Road.

This was despite objections from neighbouring residents, who have launched a petition calling for the plans to be refused.

Whitta Road resident Mike Smith, who spoke at the meeting, told the Recorder neighbours feel the council and Co-op have not listened to their concerns.

A Co-op Funeralcare spokesperson said it is "very sorry" that residents are concerned about the works and offered to meet them at the Whitta Road care centre.

Mike told the meeting that significant changes to the Co-op site have a "substantial impact" on residents' lives.

The car washing facility at the mortuary is being moved from the warehouse and relocated to the outdoor car park backing onto Whitta Road.

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It will be used to wash internal vehicles only, according to a council report.

Mike said: "We believe building the car wash canopies extends, rather than renovates, a commercial and industrial site within a residential area.

"It is unsightly and is very likely to further encourage existing antisocial behaviour."

The meeting heard that residents claim crime and antisocial behaviour, including drug dealing and urinating, has been taking place in the vicinity of the Co-op site.

Narinder Kalsi, another Whitta Road resident, said the campaigners want the council and Co-op to spend money on extra patrols as a deterrent and make women walking in the area out of business hours feel safer.

The Co-op spokesperson said the centre has external lighting, secure steel gates which access the car wash area and security surveillance in operation.

In a report, council planning officers said the proposal is "not considered to facilitate antisocial behaviour" and "would not result in any unacceptable degree of detriment to neighbouring amenity".

The residents also have concerns about noise from the car wash, which will operate daily between 9am and 5.30pm.

The Co-op said it had conducted a noise impact assessment for the car wash which "strictly adheres" to levels set by environmental health officers.

At the meeting, the disposal of waste water from the car wash was also raised after the area was affected by flash flooding in July.

It heard waste water would be going into newly installed drainage.

Work on building the car wash canopy began before a planning decision was made, the meeting heard, with enforcement officers investigating.

Flooding outside Manor Park cemetery on July 28

Flooding outside Manor Park cemetery on July 28 - Credit: Whitta Road resident

Narinder said the council has told residents they cannot appeal the decision.

"This council has made a mistake with their decision and has ultimately allowed the Co-op to turn our residential area into an industrial zone with little or no regard to the concerns we've raised.

"We believe council planners need to take an active role in meeting communities and understanding the impact and consequences their decisions have on neighbouring residents."

Residents say they have written to Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells but only received "generic" responses.

They want the council and Co-op to "fully acknowledge the detrimental consequences to our lives and address concerns in a meaningful way".

Whitta Road and Comet Close residents are also set to meet with East Ham MP Stephen Timms later this month.

Newham Council did not respond to a request for comment.

The Co-op spokesperson said: “Co-op Funeralcare takes its responsibilities to the local community seriously and has recently invested almost £3m in improving the range of services at its Manor Park care centre which supports bereaved people living in the Newham area.

"Recent upgrades to the car washing area were given full approval by Newham Council and their environmental health officers, however we are very sorry to hear that a small number of residents are still concerned about the works."

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