Six pics showing the new planned Roselawn crematorium – and you can now have your say on the proposals

Plans are afoot to more than double the size of Northern Ireland’s only crematorium, by scrapping the current venue and building a new one from scratch.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 6:53 pm
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 8:22 pm

The proposals – if they are approved – would mean that two funerals could take place at Roselawn crematorium at the same time.

And instead of funerals there being limited to a single 100-seater ceremony room, there will be two cemetery rooms, each catering for up to 200 mourners apiece.

Belfast City Council, which runs the crematorium (and wider Roselawn cemetery complex), has not yet submitted a planning application for the new crematorium.

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Instead, it today unveiled details of its plans for the site and is now asking the general public to have their say before formally submitting blueprints.

The fact that Northern Ireland has just one single crematorium has resulted in the capacity of Roselawn being pushed to the limit.

Originally built in 1961, the current crematorium was designed for an estimated 700 cremations per year – but now deals with more than 3,500 (which, assuming the crematorium was running every single day of the year, would amount to an average of 9.6 per day).

Instead of the existing three cremation furnaces, the idea is for the new crematorium to have four.

The existing crematorium is a listed building, and rather than it being demolished, the idea is to refurbish as a venue for some new “amenities” (though it is not yet clear what these will be).

Another new twist to the planned replacement crematorium will be the construction of a mezzanine gallery above each ceremony room.

Basically, the downstairs part of the room would seat 160 mourners, and another 40 can be seated one floor up, in the mezzanine balcony.

Assuming everything goes smoothly, the council wants the new crematorium to be opened up by late 2024.

The cost? An estimated £18 million.

Whilst in recent years planning applications for crematoria in Moira, Newtownabbey and Omagh have been approved, Roselawn remains the only one in operation.

An article by Queen’s University Belfast law professor Heather Conway last year said that the reason is that “private sector companies cannot set up crematoria in Northern Ireland (something that is commonplace in the rest of the UK, and in Ireland) and the only legally recognised ‘cremation authority’ here is apparently Belfast City Council”.

She also said that in the UK, the cremation rate is 78.19% – but only 21.8% for Northern Ireland (almost identical to the Republic of Ireland’s figure).

The Roselawn consultation runs until October 25, and can be found here: yoursay.belfastcity.gov.uk

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