IT’S been close to 18 months since plans for a crematorium at Houndwood Church were approved by Scottish Borders Council and now following a change of hands, building work is about to commence.
After being unsuccessful with their original application to turn the now dis-used Grantshouse building into a block of flats, Edinburgh-based West Park properties received the green light from Scottish Borders Council after coming back with plans for a crematorium to follow in the footsteps of the one set to open in Melrose later this year.
The approval still stands but West Park has since been bought out by fellow Edinburgh firm, the Carlton Group who are now in a position to move on-site and start work in the next month.
Their managing director, former Coldstream FC manager Mark Lamb, said he thought a crematorium would be a great asset to people in Berwickshire, who would no longer have to travel further afield for services.
Speaking to ‘The Berwickshire News’, Mr Lamb said: “At the moment people have to travel to Edinburgh and Newcastle for a crematorium so having a facility at Houndwood on the A1 will be a big help.
“We’re hoping that building work will be underway by the end of the month and the major bonus is that we aren’t determined by the weather should it take a turn for the worse.
“Aside from laying some new roof tiles, the work will take place inside and we’re very keen to maintain the original characteristics of the building; that’s an impoortant thing for us. People in the local community have been fantastic, particularly local farmer John Brown who has given us a piece of adjoining woodland to develop into a memorial garden.”
One of the main concerns shared by many when the previous applications were submitted by West Park was the potential intrusion on people paying their respects at Houndwood cemetry and Mark said the Carlton Group would do everything they can to ensure the crematorium wouldn’t have a negative impact on them once it was up and running.
He continued: “The cemetery will stay as it is and during building work and once the crematorium is open we want the public to have the same access they have at the moment.
“I can also assure the public that no expense has been spared with regard to enviornmental issues either. The crematorium will use state of the art equipment and we’ll use filter systems that fully comply with regulations and will have minimal effect on the environment.
“This is very much a facility for the community and wherever possible we’ll use local tradesmen to do the restoration work.”