A controversial pet crematorium was approved by the council. Picture: Jerad Williams
A controversial pet crematorium was approved by the council. Picture: Jerad Williams

’How would you feel?’: Pet crematorium approved near homes

THE owner of a controversial pet crematorium located close to houses says he chose the site because Toowoomba Regional Council officers told him to set up there.

Councillors voted for Pets in Peace to set up a cremator and funeral parlour on Vanity St in Rockville at a special meeting yesterday.

While it is in the correct zoning of low-impact industrial, the planned crematorium is just two metres away from the nearest building and close to several houses.

According to applicant Martin Hopp, the service would operate during daytime hours six days a week and only cremate smaller animals, with larger creatures like livestock to be handled at his larger base in Loganholme.

Martin and Bev Hopp of Pets in Peace. Pic David Kelly
Martin and Bev Hopp of Pets in Peace. Pic David Kelly

"We've been going for 22 years, we've actually got three locations in Queensland - our Loganholme (operation) has got three cremators," he said. 

"We are small animals (for this site) only - (other) facilities do horses and farm animals so they're doing 800kg-plus, and it's a very different process to what we do."

When Cr Bill Cahill asked Mr Hopp why he chose the site, the applicant said he was told to go there by council officers.

"I went there because council told me to," he said.

"I rang up council, and said I wanted to come to Toowoomba, and I was told to go to these areas.

"I drove around all the areas they told me, found some vacant buildings and that's where I've ended up."

TRC planner Krys den Hertog responded to the comments, saying planning officers actually recommended he chose a different site to set up.

"A crematorium is code-assessable in two zones under the planning scheme - the low-impact industrial zone and the community facilities zone," he said.

"At the pre-lodgement meeting, we strongly advised the applicant look at other sites that further away from houses and other properties."

Because it was in the proper zoning, the application enjoyed a lower level of assessment than it otherwise would have faced.

Submitters against the project were represented by a rival pet cremator, Beric Lee of Pets RIP, who voiced his concerns about its proximity to other properties and key locations.

During debate, Cr Cahill voted against the proposal, arguing for a common sense decision.

"We have to ask ourselves: if you lived two metres from this facility, how would you feel?" he said.

"This would have been better in a far more suitable area, where there aren't people living right next to it."

Cr James O'Shea spoke in favour of the application, saying the zoning was correct and it met the assessment benchmarks.

"When we talk about consistency with decision-making and our planning scheme, this ticks all the boxes," he said.

Crs Rebecca Vonhoff and Kerry Shine also voted against the matter.