BROULEE MEMORIAL GARDENS BURIAL VAULTS MODIFICATION TO CONSENT 1289/04-M3 – PETITION RESPONSE On behalf of Broulee Memorial Gardens & Crematorium (BMGC), I would like to present Councillors with a considered response to the petition tabled by those objecting to aspects of the current DA Modification being assessed by Council Planning staff for the introduction of burial vaults to this facility. This petition is asking for two specific outcomes, firstly, that the DA modification not be approved and secondly that the DA modification be voted on by councillors. In response to the first outcome, BMGC strongly requests that Council does approve the DA Modification for the reasons that I will outline shortly. In response to the second outcome, BMGC is happy for either delegated approval or direct Councillor debate and voting on this issue as they have faith in either process to reach a well reasoned solution that is in the best interests of all ratepayers in the shire. To clearly outline the current proposal under Council assessment I offer the following summary; • This DA is seeking to modify the original DA, for the facility, to permit 28 burial vaults in a specific and discreet location within the Gardens. • A burial vault is defined as an above ground burial structure where the remains of the deceased are required to be embalmed and encased in a coffin within the structure. Burial Vaults are primarily used by European nationalities and form a very small percentage of overall burials, however, no national statistics are available. • Approximately 500 people die in the Eurobodalla Shire each year. Of these deaths, 3.8% are physically buried at BMGC i.e. approx. 19 people. Based on historical enquiries for burial vaults at BMGC, approximately 2 of these 19 burials might choose a vault option per year. • The proposed number of burial vaults within the modified DA would notionally meet demand for the next 14 years should it be approved as submitted. • The proposed burial vault zone comprises an area of 1560m2 which equates to less than 2% of the total site area of the Memorial gardens and is in excess of 800m away from the only residence that would have a direct line of site to the development. This residence primarily faces the opposite direction in its building orientation. To address the two key objections raised in the petition, I offer the following alternative views from BMGC to assist Councillors in understanding why this modification has been proposed and how the final design was arrived at. The petition firstly asserts that “the erection of the burial vaults will be an eyesore to surrounding properties and will destroy the pleasantness and attractiveness of the existing lawn cemetery.” The location, scale and surrounding landscape treatment of the burial vaults zone have been specifically designed to be not visible from Broulee Road and all adjacent neighbours on the Southern and Eastern sides of 2 the facility. It is almost impossible to completely hide these structures from the Northern adjacent residence as a result of its elevation on an overlooking hill, however, feature tree plantings, perimeter hedging 1800mm high and an existing backdrop of a 3-4m high planting screen and mound have all been used to minimise the visual impact of this proposal from the North. In addition, this residence is in excess of 800m from the proposed burial vault zone and oriented away from the Memorial Gardens facility. Therefore, the proposition that a development that comprises less than 2% of the overall land area of the existing Memorial Gardens and is effectively screened from all adjacent neighbours excepting one that is a significant distance away will be an eyesore is not supported by fact in the view of BMGC. Furthermore, far from the destruction of the “pleasantness and attractiveness of the existing lawn cemetery”, BMGC are of the view that this proposal will enhance the gardenesque landscape theme already developed in the facility whilst providing additional burial options for our culturally diverse community in a non-discriminatory manner. This intent builds on BMGC’s stated aims of “honouring a person’s wishes as to their preferred funeral options and their last resting place.” BMGC has continually strived to create and maintain a high quality garden environment for both its clientele and the broader community as a reflective and peaceful memorial facility. It would be completely against the aims and objectives of BMGC to develop a portion of the Gardens that could, in any way, be perceived to be an eyesore. Therefore, the proposition that the pleasantness and attractiveness of the Gardens would be destroyed by this proposal is also not supported by fact in the view of BMGC. The petition secondly asserts that “we find this very disrespectful to the people whom have been already buried there as they were under the impression they were going to be buried in a rural setting – lawn cemetery.” Will the introduction of burial vaults in some way diminish the Memorial Gardens in the eyes of the relatives of those already interred there. The Memorial Gardens do not believe so. They are of the view that the majority of the community would see this as a better outcome, with more choice, undertaken in a tasteful and respectful manner. The overall visual character of the Gardens’ as a lawn cemetery in a rural setting will not change at all. 98% of the site will still be predominantly a lawn cemetery with landscaped surrounds, buildings or remnant forest. BMGC is an organisation based on respect. Respectfulness is the main hallmark of the service that they perform for the community and any suggestion that they would, in some way, be disrespectful to those already buried within the Gardens or their relatives is counter to their core objectives. As a previous example of how modifying the permitted uses of the Gardens has not had any negative effect on the overall visual amenity of the facility, I am reminded of a previous DA submission to include headstones as part of the offered alternatives on site. This submission was met with similar concerns, as those expressed currently, by some adjacent neighbours. A number of years and 60 or so headstones later, those who raised concerns regarding the potential for the Gardens becoming an eyesore now describe it as pleasant and attractive lawn cemetery. This outcome, in part, was a result of input from those same objectors in terms of additional consent conditions being included that improved the result for all parties. Change, or the fear of change, is a challenging dilemma, at times, for us all. Will it be change for the better, will it be change for the worse or is it just change for changes sake. This proposal is not change just for changes sake. It is a well-considered and well-designed long term plan to enhance the visual amenity of the Memorial Gardens whilst providing alternative burial options for the broader community. I encourage Councillors to consider the broader benefit for our entire community when reviewing both the tabled petition and the related application for a modified DA.
Aerial view of the existing development at the Gardens
3D image of proposed Burial Vault zone
Proposed Burial Vaults Detail Plan