Derry City and Strabane District Council wants Ballyoan to be the site of a new regional crematorium for the West, the ‘Journal’ can confirm.
The municipal cemetery on the Rossdowney Road was selected by the Council as the most feasible location for such a facility following a recent scoping exercise, this paper can reveal.
The local authority is currently working with the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the Mid Ulster District Council to develop the regional facility.
But both councils are expected to table competing bids as the selection process unfolds.
Cogent Management Consulting were recently appointed by the trio of local authorities to develop an ‘Outline Business Case’ for the joint crematorium.
The consultancy, in developing core site-selection criteria for the competing councils, revealed that both DC&SDC and F&ODC already had sites in mind.
Cogent stated: “The research team is aware that DC&SDC and F&ODC have identified a potential preferred site in each of their respective Council areas where a crematorium could be located.
“On the basis that an assessment of these sites will already have been taken against (inter alia) the aforementioned core criteria, this stage of the assessment process would only be undertaken for new sites identified during the research process."
The ‘Journal’ has now learned that Ballyoan is DC&SDC’s preferred option and that pre-application talks have already taken place with the planners and the statutory consultees, none of whom have yet raised any objections to the Council’s site selection.
The Council has advised the ‘Journal’ that the feasibility study was commissioned and Ballyoan selected after a “scoping exercise to identify the optimum location for a crematorium facility within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area”.
A number of key criteria, including population density, aesthetics, car parking, and public transport, were met by the semi-rural graveyard.
A feasibility study completed by DC&SDC in 2015 show the local authority will be putting the Waterside burial ground forward as the location for the North’s second crematorium. And this remains the preferred site.
The report shows that a scoping exercise has been carried out taking into account a range of important factors including proximity to population density, aesthetics and neighbouring nuisance, accessibility, car parking and public transport, infrastructural development costs and planning factors.
Council officers concluded that the “existing cemetery at Ballyoan, Crescent Link, Derry, was the site deemed to best satisfy the criteria set out above.”
The Council report states: “The choice of this site was then subject of a Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) with Planning Service. Responses were received from the statutory consultees, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Transport NI.
“Neither Planning Service, nor the consultees, raised any issues which would appear to significantly impair the potential of developing a crematorium at this site, based on the site information currently available.”
Cogent Management Consulting, which has been appointed by DC&SDC and the Fermanagh & Omagh and Mid Ulster District Councils to develop a business case for a regional facility, in their criteria, state: “The site must be of sufficient size to allow the development of the new regional crematorium.
"A minimum of two hectares (per estimated 1,000 cremations per annum is recommended. This area includes the space needed for traffic circulation, parking, a modest amount of space around the crematorium building and the gardens of remembrance.”
A spokesperson for DC&SDC explained that members of its Environment and Regeneration Committee this month were provided with an update in relation to the previously endorsed proposal for a regional crematorium which detailed how DC&SDC, F&ODC and MUDC are working to explore the feasibility of jointly developing a crematorium facility somewhere within the combined three council areas.
The draft selection criteria for determining the optimum location for such a facility within the combined three council area was presented to the Committee.
Previous to the current joint Council proposal, the former Derry City Council commissioned a feasibility study to look at the potential to develop a crematorium within the Derry area.
That process included a scoping exercise of potential sites across the Derry City and Strabane Council area and identified Ballyoan as the site deemed best to satisfy the site selection criteria.
The feasibility study was presented to Council in July 2015 and it was determined that at that time, it was not cost effective to proceed further with plans for a crematorium but that Council should continue exploring how a crematorium could be established to meet the needs of residents in the area.
As part of the new process embarked by the Council in partnership with the other Council partners, a copy of the 2015 feasibility study was provided to the consultants who are undertaking the new scoping exercise .
The site for any new planned facility has not been agreed and the site selection process has only commenced in partnership with our partnering Councils of F&ODC and MUDC.
The current process will take cognisance of existing feasibility studies/proposals into crematoria that have previously been reported to and endorsed by DC&SDCl and the other Councils.
A further report on the preliminary conclusion of this site selection criteria is expected to come before members later this year.
It is also important to note that whatever site is eventually endorsed by all three councils will have been subject to a strict criteria assessment that will have looked at proximity to population density, accessibility, car parking, public transport connections, user experience, environmental impact assessment, planning etc.