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Building work starts on controversial crematorium off Stem Lane and Great Woar Copse in New Milton

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CONSTRUCTION has started on a controversial crematorium on greenbelt land in New Milton, ready for a March 2022 opening.

The single-chapel site being built off Stem Lane and Great Woar Copse is by the Westerleigh Group, the UK’s second largest crematorium operator, after New Forest District Council granted final permission last year.

Intended to serve residents of New Milton, Christchurch, Bournemouth and surrounding areas, it is promised to be a “state-of-the-art” facility within “beautifully-landscaped” gardens of remembrance.

An artist's impression of the development
An artist's impression of the development

But the scheme has proved highly divisive among those living nearby, with hundreds having signed a petition against it and a campaign group set up to fight it.

Concerns were raised over pollution and an increase in traffic, and objectors said the development represented an inappropriate use of greenbelt land.

However, others have welcomed it, arguing it would relieve pressure on facilities in Bournemouth and Southampton and save grieving relatives the trouble of travelling so far.

Announcing the commencement of building work, Westerleigh sought to assure people that the design and scale would provide a focus for the site without compromising the backdrop of the Great Woar Copse.

The chapel itself is expected to overlook the adjacent woodland, which the firm believes will provide a “beautiful and peaceful setting” for services.

A modern media system will be installed in the chapel, along with a tribute screen, enabling live webcasts, visual tributes and an almost unlimited music library for personalised services.

There will be seating space for 117 mourners, with further standing space available. They would then be led to a covered floral tribute area.

Westerleigh regional manager Bill Scott said: “New Forest Crematorium will reduce journey times for mourners, as well as offer the bereaved a wider choice of where to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

“The exceptional care for all aspects of our work, including the support provided to the families in our care, the funeral service itself, the management of ashes and the maintenance of our grounds, will ensure that families are able to mourn and remember their loved one in a way that is uniquely personal.”

For more information visit www.newforestcrematorium.co.uk

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