Queanbeyan’s growing population is putting pressure on the city’s cemetery, with the community being asked for feedback on a planning proposal for a new memorial park and cemetery on vacant land south of the city.
Residents of the nearby Mt Campbell Estate have already expressed their concerns with the proposal to construct a modern-style memorial park on a small portion of the 30-hectare property at the intersection of Old Cooma Road and Burra Road, south of Googong.
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) has been planning the proposal since February 2017 when the land was purchased and preliminary investigations found no issues with the viability of the project. The need for a new cemetery was first raised in Council’s 2009-13 Delivery Program.
Studies on flora and fauna, traffic, visual and noise assessment, Aboriginal and European heritage, geotechnical and hydrological as well as a social impact assessment survey have been completed on the site.
In October 2018, QPRC was advised by the NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator to undertake further groundwater studies and to monitor groundwater levels and quality for a minimum of 12 months. After a dry 2019, this period was extended in order to ensure the wet weather at the beginning of 2020 was also included in the study.
However, the Mt Campbell residents say the area is a flood plain and not suitable for a cemetery, while Council says there would be extensive buffer planting around the boundaries and restored natural landscape where appropriate.
QPRC mayor Tim Overall said councils have an obligation to plan for the long-term provision of critical social infrastructure, including cemeteries.
“The Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery on Lanyon Drive is nearing capacity and we need to find a new location,” Cr Overall said.
“Council initially conducted a search based on the criteria we needed for a cemetery and eight specific properties were considered. All but one failed due to environmental and geotechnical assessment or were not available for acquisition.
“Since that time we have completed a number of studies as required by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and now is the time to seek community feedback on the proposal.”
Queanbeyan-Palerang’s population is set to grow from around 56,000 to more than 76,000 in the next 15 years. The Lanyon Drive cemetery is expected to reach capacity within the next five years, while the Burra Road site will cover the needs of the Queanbeyan-Palerang region for 50 to 80 years based on projected interment rates.
The plan for the memorial park is designed in the same fashion as a passive recreational park, featuring a series of outdoor rooms with varying themes, rose gardens, avenues of trees, formal landscaping and possible water features.
The cemetery would allow people a choice of where they are buried or their ashes placed. To loved ones, a visit to the memorial park would be akin to visiting a park or botanic garden and nearby residents would see a landscaped park.
A QPRC spokesperson said a community meeting will be held on 15 September at 6:30 pm via Zoom where at least five presentations will be made by members of the public.
“We anticipate around 50 to 100 interested members of the community to attend the meeting. We will also have approximately 10 staff and up to 10 councillors participating in the meeting,” the spokesperson said.
Should Council not obtain development approval for a memorial park, Council would be in a position to offer the property for sale.
Participants need to register prior to the meeting and will be provided with Zoom details and instructions before the meeting.
The background studies and summary report regarding the planning proposal are available until 5 October 2020 on the QPRC website.