A BRAND new state-of-the-art crematorium is due to open in Rubery in January.
The Waseley Hills Crematorium is being delivered by Westerleigh Group which already has 35 sites across England, Scotland and Wales.
They have designed it to be set within beautifully-landscaped gardens of remembrance which provide pleasant, peaceful places for people to visit and reflect.
It will serve south Birmingham, Bromsgrove and north Worcestershire.
Bosses say the new crematorium will enjoy uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape of rolling open hills, hedgerows, pastures and pockets of woodland, providing a peaceful and special setting for services.
Families will be able to find comfort in the tranquillity offered by a lovingly landscaped Garden of Remembrance, which offers the dignified and fitting place for a loved one’s memorial.
The first site manager of Waseley Hills Crematorium, Joy Edgington, said: “It’s a unique opportunity, being the first manager of a brand-new crematorium.
“We have the chance to make the right impression from the start which is invaluable towards ensuring the success, and a positive reputation.
“I know my team and I have very high standards and we are looking forward to working with the community so that our very differently-designed facility will soon become the crematorium of choice within the local community and for people from further afield.”
Although this is Joy’s first role with Westerleigh Group, she has managed another crematorium for 10 years and, before that, worked as a trainer in the same company’s head office client service centre for another ten years, teaching teams how to look after and care for those they had contact with.
She added: “When I was growing up I didn’t have a dream job, I just wanted to be able to help people.
“Like most individuals in the industry, Crematorium Site Manager wasn’t on my radar when I was young. Funerals were a taboo subject and it was by luck that I happened to register at a recruitment agency looking for client service representatives for a funeral company.
“I thought the funeral industry was initially going to be a stepping-stone for me, working for a crematorium initially for logistics, but it turned into my dream vocation and I can’t imagine doing or wanting to do anything else.
“I’m delighted and proud to be here at the start of Waseley Hills Crematorium and excited to have the opportunity to assist local families and give something back to the community.”
Once it opens, Westerleigh said Waseley Hills would have an open-door policy.
“We want families to know we are here for them not only on the day of a funeral but before and after too.”
“We’re keen to support our local community and we also want to help the environment as well. The infinity roof on our chapel is to be a growing roof, which means it will be covered in wild planting, making it invisible from the sky, but also full of flowers for local bees.”
The surrounding undeveloped land will be allowed to naturally grow to provide habitat for local wildlife.
“We’ve even got plans to have a nature trail and information posts to let visitors know what to look out for.”
“It means visiting our site will enable focused reflection and downtime for families and individuals who just want to escape from the world for 15 minutes or so.”
The application was contested all the way through the planning process by residents who said it was not needed as others, such as Lodge Hill and Redditch, were not up to capacity.
They feared the development would increase traffic, have a negative effect on the openness of the green belt and cause disruption near and on New Inns Lane, in Rubery.
Permission had previously been granted for a cemetery, chapel and maintenance building but residents said surrounding roads were not suitable to accommodate the crematorium.
Previous planning applications submitted by H2Land to seek permission to undertake cremations on the site, were all refused by Bromsgrove District Council.
The 2016 appeal was dismissed because the planning inspector at the time, felt ‘very special circumstances’ were required to allow development on the green belt land – which at the time he said had ‘not yet been demonstrated’.
But the Planning Inspector for the next appeal said ‘a compelling need that had been demonstrated for a new crematorium’ which ‘outweighed the damage to the green belt’.
It was approved on July 2, 2019, and shortly after the site was put up for sale by H2Land and it was mooted up to 350 homes could be built there instead.
Visit waseleyhillscrematorium.co.uk for more.