Council moving forward with crematorium plan

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Newtownabbey Borough Council is pushing ahead with plans to build a crematorium near Ballyearl, it has been confirmed.

The local authority has already been involved in talks with Belfast City Council about a possible joint venture regarding construction of a new crematorium on council-owned land opposite Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre, and a business plan relating to the project is currently under consideration.

Last week several councillors and council officers visited crematoriums in Bristol and North London as part of a fact-finding trip.

And at their Policy and Governance Committee meeting on Monday evening, members agreed a proposal from Cllr Billy Webb that officers investigate costs associated with planting trees and shrubs to screen the site on the Doagh Road - a first step towards readying the land for a crematorium development.

“One thing that was clear from our visit is that it is important that the site is properly screened and as we are in the planting season it is an ideal opportunity to look at the site at Ballyearl to see what can be done now in terms of planting,” he told the Times.

It’s understood that even if Belfast councillors aren’t keen to proceed with a public/private sector partnership to provide the new facility at Ballyearl, local representatives are still likely to push ahead with the scheme.

“I think the general view is that we don’t really have a choice; we have to have a crematorium. We are still at an early stage, but I think that it will happen,” Cllr Webb added.

It’s understood that elected representatives and officers will discuss the matter at their corporate workshop, scheduled to take place early next month.

A formal report on the issue is likely to be presented to councillors for consideration at a meeting in November or December, and, if approved, a planning application for the project could then be submitted soon after.