Bid to open county's second crematorium in north Northumberland

A second crematorium for Northumberland is on the cards, if a bid for a new facility in the north of the county gets the go-ahead.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 11:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 11:38 am
Northumbrian Woodland Burials, at Bockenfield, near Felton. Picture by Jane Coltman

A planning application has been lodged with Northumberland County Council for a new single-storey building accommodating 80 people for use as a crematorium, plus parking for around 40 cars at Northumbrian Woodland Burials, at Bockenfield, near Felton.

A large proportion of the site, which once formed part of an RAF base, is given over to woodland burials, while planning permission has also been recently granted for pet burials.

The application explains that the applicants, Mr and Mrs Clarehugh, would now like to develop the site further, having established ‘that there is a significant demand for burial services in the Northumberland area’.

This will not come as a surprise to many, given that there is currently only one crematorium in the county, at Blyth. Since 2000, more than 70 per cent of people who died opted for cremation and this figure is increasing.

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The planning statement by the applicant’s agent refers to a 2017 study which showed that out of 48 counties analysed in the UK, only four – Herefordshire, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and Northumberland – have one crematorium.

Of these, Northumberland has by far the largest population – as well as the largest area.

‘This statistic alone would indicate that there is a significant demand for a new crematorium in Northumberland’, the report notes.

It continues: ‘The proposals would bring about wider social benefits in that the crematorium would provide families with an alternative option for saying goodbye to their loved ones.

‘Currently, there are two main crematorium sites in the north, one at Blyth and one at Westgate Road, Newcastle.

‘Both sites are subject to extremely high demands and it can be a long journey for people who live in the north of the county.

‘Providing a more local and rural service is a significant social benefit.’

It is expected that around 10 jobs would be secured during the construction phase and, once complete, the development would create around three new full-time jobs.

The statement concludes that as well as being ‘a sustainable form of development, the proposals also deliver other wider planning benefits including the creation of employment opportunities plus the delivery of much-needed, high-quality crematorium facilities’.

The plans have already attracted 28 letters of support, emphasising that it would provide an extra facility in the county and ‘would be a great addition to the area’.

One supporter added: ‘As a proud Northumbrian, I welcome this new venture and see it as a breath of fresh air that privately-owned businesses are starting to appear in this sector.’

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service