Plans have been lodged for a new private crematorium in Canberra’s south that could eventually operate in tandem with the proposed public Southern Memorial Park cemetery.
International funeral services provider Invocare Australia and the Whitby Group first unveiled their joint-venture plans for Block 1 Section 3 Symonston at the corner of Mugga Lane and Narrabundah Lane in 2018.
The L-shaped, 9 ha site used to be home to the Mugga Lane Zoo, but there is little evidence of it left.
The proponent says the ACT’s only crematorium at Norwood Park in Mitchell is struggling to meet demand as Canberra’s population grows, particularly from the south.
It plans a two-stage development – crematorium, administration building and shared services covering 1119 square metres, followed by a memorial park.
The development application prepared by Purdon Planning says the aim is to integrate with the proposed Southern Memorial Park, with potential for collaboration between the private and public facilities to provide a choice of services.
The DA covers the $3.2 million first stage, including the cremation facilities, a chapel and lounge, landscaping, a car park and associated works.
The lounge building will include a reception area, reflection lounge, viewing room, and staff offices.
The chapel building will connect to the crematorium workshop and cremators at the rear, which also includes a cold room, garden maintenance area, viewing area and store.
A masonry covered walkway will connect the chapel to the lounge buildings for gatherings and wake services, and a porte-cochere is planned at the front to accommodate hearses.
The proposal includes 103 parking spaces across the site, including administration parking, motorcycle, accessible and overflow parking.
A new access point is proposed via Narrabundah Lane, and the existing access at Mugga Lane will be formalised for service vehicle use.
A Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) prepared by Indesco modelled two key intersections, Narrabundah Lane with Mugga Lane, and Hindmarsh Drive with Mugga Lane, finding that the proposal would generate 85 and 82 trips in AM and PM hours, respectively.
The project’s Master Plan includes a range of landscaped gardens and native plantings to beautify the site, and Invocare plans a natural landscape setting, including waterways as a design feature.
The landscaping includes entry avenue plantings that lead visitors towards the chapel building and terraced memorial gardens with a remembrance and reflection area, including a reflection pond, picnic area for before or after services, a pergola structure with stone columns and climbing plants.
The site is in a bushfire zone and a bushfire consultant has overseen the landscape plans to provide separation distances, appropriate planting types, and sufficient fire control measures.
There are remnant Box-Gum Woodland and Blakely’s Red Gum, and other eucalypts on the site, but the DA says the facilities have been positioned to avoid and minimise any direct and indirect impacts to heritage and biodiversity.
Capital Ecology prepared an Ecological Impact Assessment as part of an EPBC Act referral and an Environmental Significance Opinion (ESO) provided by the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna and ACT Heritage. The proposal is not likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact.
The cremation process will generate some low-level pollutants and an Environmental Authorisation will be sought from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
The lease will need to be varied to accommodate the proposal.
The DA is open to comments until 29 September.