Published: 15:49, 16 October 2021
| Updated: 16:03, 16 October 2021
Herne Bay’s first crematorium could start to hold services as early as next year, developers have revealed.
The Westerleigh Group has told KentOnline it is planning to begin construction of the Bullockstone Road venue in the spring.
Once completed, the 14-acre site will feature a 98-seat chapel, waiting room, crematory, 89 parking spaces and a memorial garden.
Senior development manager Ed Aldridge promises the plot will provide a “pleasant, peaceful place for people to visit and reflect”.
“We are hoping to start work on constructing a new crematorium in Herne Bay next spring and expect it to be open either later in 2022 or early in 2023,” he said.
“As with all of Westerleigh’s facilities, it will be sympathetically designed to blend into its surroundings.
“We consulted a number of local funeral directors, who have given overwhelming support for our new crematorium, which they say is appropriately located and well-designed.”
Among them is A Welch and Sons Funeral Services managing director Tim Welch, who told a city council meeting in June the site “would be a real boon” for the town.
And Westerleigh says the project will put an end to grieving families from Herne Bay and Whitstable having to travel at least 25 minutes to Barham or Margate for funerals.
Mr Welch added: “At Barham, it’s very difficult for us to get appointments – our clients are often having to wait three to four weeks to have funerals, which is too long.
“It will mean a lot to our clients, many of whom I’ve spoken to about this and they’ve all been in support and said it’s about time we have a crematorium in this area for us.”
Documents produced by Westerleigh state the crematorium will be the nearest facility for about 108,000 people, while being within 30 minutes of 89,000 residents.
A similar £6 million project just 10 miles away in Hernhill was also given the green light earlier this year.
Despite developer Memoria’s claims it will provide services for about 74,000 people, Mr Aldridge insists there is still demand for Westerleigh’s crematorium.
“Research has shown there is a need for additional crematoria capacity in the area,” he continued.
“This new facility will help meet that need.
“It will provide local people with more choice and the chance to benefit from the exceptional level of care that Westerleigh Group prides itself on.”