Re­vamp is planned for ceme­tery

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

HALF a mil­lion pounds is set to be spent on halt­ing the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of Teesside Cre­ma­to­rium.

Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil has drawn up plans for “es­sen­tial” struc­tural re­pairs to the Ack­lam fa­cil­ity – along­side ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment.

A coun­cil re­port warns that fail­ure to un­der­take re­pairs to the Chapel of Rest could lead to its even­tual clo­sure – and even de­mo­li­tion.

It states: “The Chapel of Rest is a key fea­ture of the Ack­lam com­plex. How­ever, over the years it has not re­ceived the in­vest­ment it de­serves.

“As a re­sult, in re­cent years it has de­te­ri­o­rated through a com­bi­na­tion of roof leaks and the spread­ing of the main roof struc­ture.”

Work would also in­clude the ren­o­va­tion of St Hilda’s Chapel to cre­ate a “mod­ern, airy and bright” fa­cil­ity.

The re­port states: “The dé­cor is now be­com­ing some­what dated and drab and this is ex­ac­er­bat ed by the lack of nat­u­ral day­light.

“There­fore a scheme is be­ing de­vel­oped to in­tro­duce day­light through a se­ries of new win­dow open­ings to­gether with a to­tal re­fur­bish­ment of the in­ter­nal fin­ishes and light­ing.”

Along­side the in­ter­nal re­fur­bish­ment, stand­alone new canopies at St Hilda’s and the larger St Bede’s Chapel will pro­vide mourn­ers at larger ser­vices with “pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments”.

The cre­ma­to­rium holds around 3,100 ser­vices a year and is a ma­jor source of in­come for the coun­cil – but the re­port said “never be­fore has it had to op­er­ate in a more chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment”.

The ma­jor up­grade hopes to re­tain busi­ness and pro­mote a “com­pelling com­mer­cial of­fer” as it com­petes with the “twin threats” from the re­cently opened site near Kirkleatham and the pro­posed Stock­ton cre­ma­to­rium.

The re­port states the pro­posed in­vest­ment will “en­hance” the of­fer to the pub­lic through and safe­guard a “key ar­chi­tec­tural gem” within the cre­ma­to­rium com­plex.

It states: “This in­vest­ment is es­sen­tial to re­tain busi­ness and de­velop fur­ther chan­nels of rev­enue at the site, es­pe­cially when set against both the chang­ing land­scape of the fu­neral busi­ness and the in­creas­ing choice of venue avail­able to a more dis­cern­ing cus­tomer.”

Coun­cil­lors are ex­pected to ap­prove the £520,000 up­grade at a meet­ing next Wed­nes­day.

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