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Redeveloping Guildford Crematorium

Find out why Guildford Crematorium needs rebuilding, what improvements are planned, how long the project will take and other important details about our planned redevelopment.

Reasons for redeveloping the crematorium

Our current crematorium facilities are 50 years old and need improving to meet the changing needs of the bereaved.

The crematorium holds 1,800 services a year, three times more cremations than when it first opened, and looks after 85 per cent of the funeral services carried out in the borough every year.

Today, services are generally bigger, and people's expectations, faiths, customs and needs are changing. There is also an increasing demand to personalise funeral services and our facilities need to be able to cope with these requirements.

The decision to rebuild the crematorium is the result of a Fundamental Service Review and consultation, which recognised that the facilities need to be improved for all users of the site.

As part of our consultation, we spoke with:

  • Funeral directors.
  • Ministers/clergy.

  • Faith groups.

  • The Access Group, which is a voluntary group made up of people with and without disabilities who are interested in promoting accessibility in our borough.

  • Crematorium staff.

Using the current site

We have decided to use the current site for the crematorium's redevelopment as it is well located, has good public transport links and road access, and it has the capacity to provide the necessary services.

The 1902 Cremation Act restricts where crematoria can be built - the chapel and crematory have to be a minimum of 200 yards from dwellings and 50 yards from the highway, unless the owner of the property (within 200 yards) gives consent. This means the main building has to be built on the current footprint.

By using the current building footprint, we are minimising the disturbance to memorial trees and ashes.

Capacity of new chapel 

Our new chapel can deliver up to 2,700 services a year and will have the capacity to cater for future demand. 

There are no plans to build two chapels on the site as this would increase demand on other facilities and infrastructure, such as additional car parking, toilets and waiting rooms. Our site does not have capacity for this additional provision.

Service usage expected to stay the same

We anticipate that service levels, usage and visitor numbers will remain broadly the same.

Cost of the project

The total project cost is estimated at £9.5 to £10 million.

We will need to borrow to fund this project and the pay back period is 18 to 20 years, based on the full running and financing costs of the service.

The bereavement service is self-financing as a fee charging service. It is not paid for through Council Tax.

How long will the rebuilding take?

Planning permission has been granted and we are looking to start works late spring 2018 and aim for the project to be completed by early autumn 2019.

Planned redevelopment stages:

  • enabling works (building the new car park and access roads, Remembrance courtyard and interim facilities) - April to August 2018

  • demolition of the main building - June to August 2018

  • main construction phase - August 2018 to April 2019

  • transfer back to new building, remove interim facilities and completion of landscaping - April to July 2019

  • opening of new facility - summer 2019.

Public access during rebuilding

Safe access will be maintained to the Gardens of Remembrance during the project and this is part of the phasing strategy for the build.

There may be some occasions when the site, or sections of the grounds, temporarily have restricted access, but this will be communicated well in advance and all closures and restrictions will be kept to an absolute minimum.

Interim chapel 

We will have an interim chapel available while redevelopment takes place as many residents and businesses rely on our services. The service we offer is a special one and we want to continue offering this so that bereaved residents do not have to travel to hold a funeral service elsewhere.

Our interim chapel will offer a high-quality experience, with all the facilities currently offered. It will be warm, dry, acoustically insulated and will have seating for up to 120 guests. 

Minimising disturbance to ashes and memorials

A small number of ashes and memorials will be relocated within the grounds. We are contacting families to discuss what will happen to memorials and cremated remains if they are affected. 

Protecting wildlife

Full ecological surveys have been done as part of the project so we can protect wildlife during the redevelopment.

Bats have been noted on site and new roosts have been provided for them, this is monitored by Natural England.

Various trees and hedges will be protected and enhanced to improve the habitat within the crematorium grounds.

Sustainability and flood risk reduction

The sustainable features planned for the new crematorium include:

  • An energy-efficient building.

  • Natural heating and cooling / ventilation

  • The cremators will be operated efficiently throughout the day under national guidance.

Any metals recovered from the cremation process will continue to be recycled through a national recycling scheme run by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. The money that is made after running costs is donated to bereavement related charities. The national scheme has been running for about seven years and over £1 million has been donated to charity. For Guildford this has included donations to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, Shooting Star Chase Children's Hospice and SANDS the neonatal bereavement charity. 

A full flood risk assessment will be submitted as part of the planning application for the crematorium redevelopment and will be assessed by Surrey County Council.

The site is not on a flood plain but flooding issues sometime occur at Tilthams Corner Place.

Flood reduction features, such as attenuation tanks and permeable paving, are being built in as part of the scheme. These will ensure less surface water run-off than the current run-off from the site.

All faiths welcome

The new crematorium will operate on the same basis as the current one and will be open to all faiths and non-faith services. Services can be religious or secular.

It is also possible to use the crematorium without holding a funeral service.

Opening times

We will continue to offer the same number of services in the interim facilities as we do at present. Our current hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and Saturdays 9am to 1pm.

We provide ten services per day from Monday to Friday and three services per day on Saturdays.

The Gardens of Remembrance are open 365 days per year:

  • November, December, January 9am - 4.30pm.

  • February 9am - 5.30pm

  • March and October 9am - 6pm

  • April and September 9am - 7.30pm

  • May, June, July, and August 9am - 8pm

Fees and charges for the new crematorium

Fees will continue to be agreed through our annual budget setting process and financial policies and strategies, so we are not in a position yet to confirm the fees for 2019/20.

Scattering and interring of cremated remains

The new site will not be used for burials. It will continue to be used for the scattering and interring of cremated remains.

Controlling noise during development

Controlling noise levels will be taken into account as part of the design of the new building. As with the current crematorium, it is expected that the noise level from the new crematorium will be very low. 

Further information

Email our Bereavement Services Team at Crematorium@guildford.gov.uk