A NEW multi-million-pound crematorium is being built in the New Forest national park – despite initially sparking more than 500 objections.

With a promise “to serve the people of New Milton, Bournemouth, Christchurch and surrounding areas”, the New Forest Crematorium is being developed by Westerleigh Group, the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries.

The new facility is expected to open in March 2022 and will be the only crematorium in the New Forest.

Plans were ongoing for nearly five years and underwent lengthy approval processes amid complaints over parking and air pollution.

However, in March 2020, civic chiefs approved the application to construct a chapel and 110 parking spaces on farmland near Stem Lane and Great Woar Copse in New Milton.

In 2019 the chairman of New Milton Residents' Association, Alan Watson, said 92 per cent of the 240 members who responded to a survey were in favour of the application.

Bill Scott, regional manager of the Westerleigh Group, said: “New Forest Crematorium will reduce journey times for mourners, as well as offer the bereaved a wider choice of where to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

“The exceptional care for all aspects of our work, including the support provided to the families in our care, the funeral service itself, the management of ashes and the maintenance of our grounds, will ensure that families are able to mourn and remember their loved one in a way that is uniquely personal.”

Planners say that the chapel building will enjoy “views to the adjacent woodland, providing a beautiful and peaceful setting for services and serving mourners during their contemplations”.

Mourners will leave the chapel and be led to a covered floral tribute area.

The chapel is being fitted with a modern media system and a tribute screen, enabling it to provide live webcasts, visual tributes and an almost unlimited music library which means services can be highly personalised.

The chapel will seat 117 mourners, with further standing space available.

As with all Westerleigh Group’s crematoria, the chapel building will be surrounded by a landscaped Gardens of Remembrance.

Visit newforestcrematorium.co.uk for more information.