By Mick Jensen
Plans to expand the Ashburton cemetery are at the resource consent stage and aim to provide for the district’s burial and remembrance needs for the next 80 years.
Council-owned land adjacent to the existing cemetery on Seafield Road has been set aside for the expansion, which, if approved, will double the cemetery space.
The current 11.93ha cemetery would be full in the next two to three years, so it was important to act now for the future, said council open spaces manager David Askin.
Four concept plans had been drawn up initially and then “tweaked” after a public consultation process in 2013, he said.
A resource consent was needed for the extension because the land was zoned Residential D.
“If the resource consent is granted, then we hope to begin site preparation work this time next year.”
Mr Askin said the extension was a major project for his team and would be done in two phases to meet future requirements.
Phase one would look to develop half of the 11.29ha site now.
Phase two would mirror the layout of phase one and would be developed when needed.
The extension project had enabled council to incorporate new features into the new cemetery site, including a natural burial area and lawn and garden areas for burying ashes.
The extension would feature kerb and channelling, sealed roads, toilets and a car park area, Mr Askin said.
There was $317,000 in the 2016/17 budget for resource consent fees, drawings and plans, while the bulk of the cost, $1.06m, was budgeted in 2017/18.
The cemetery extension land has been used for stock grazing over the years and half of it will continue to be used for that purpose until needed.
Ashburton cemetery has around 18,000 internments, with the earliest graves dating back to the early 1880s.