A DEVELOPER has unveiled plans to build a new crematorium that aims to avoid the “conveyor belt” effect often experienced at existing facilities.

The recently-formed New Forest Crematorium Company is drawing up proposals to redevelop part of a green belt site at Stem Lane, New Milton.

The multi-million-pound facility, the first of its type in the Forest, would offer services longer than those at Southampton and Bournemouth crematoriums.

It would also save people living in the New Milton area having to drive up to an hour to attend the funerals of loved ones.

Jeremy Hinton, who runs the new company, said: “The crematoriums at Bournemouth and Southampton can be extremely busy. They do a very good job but the number of funerals can create a conveyor belt effect, with people leaving one service seeing mourners waiting to go in for the next one.

“The proposed crematorium at New Milton would offer a much more relaxed environment for people going through the mourning process.

“It would hold no more than six services a day, with each one lasting an hour rather than half an hour or 40 minutes, and the backdrop of the New Forest would provide a spiritual feel.”

The company is about to submit a planning application and if all goes well the new facility is likely to start operating in 2018.

Expected to cost at least £2 million, it will occupy part of an eight-acre grazing site if consent is granted.

Mr Hinton said the scheme had received an “overwhelmingly positive” response at a drop-in session attended by more than 80 residents.

He said most people praised the proposal, saying they liked the idea of not having to travel for an hour to reach the Bournemouth and Southampton crematoriums.

Addressing one of the concerns raised at the session Mr Hinton said traffic volumes would be “much lower” than perceived, with vehicle movements taking place outside peak periods.

The proposal was welcomed by Steven Tapper, pictured, joint managing director of Tapper Funeral Services, which has offices in the New Forest area.

He said: “I believe there’s a very clear need for a new crematorium to be situated between the existing facilities in Bournemouth and Southampton.

“There are many areas within the Forest where the driving time to the nearest crematorium is an hour – and considerably more when seasonal traffic has to be taken into account.

“This cannot be a good way to prepare for the funeral of a family member or friend.”