Chapel Extension Plans for South Shields Crematorium
Plans have been unveiled to increase capacity at South Shields Crematorium to accommodate larger funerals.
Although capacity in the chapel is currently restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, under normal circumstances, the crematorium can accommodate up to 196 people (126 seated, 30 standing and a further 40 people in the entrance lobby).
Despite this, there are still a number of services that cannot accommodate all those who wish to attend, meaning people have to remain outside.
Now South Tyneside Council is proposing to extend the chapel into the existing internal courtyard. If plans are approved, the enlarged chapel would increase capacity by a total of 126 - providing seating for more than 200 visitors and space for 70 standing, with the building accommodating over 320 people overall.
The development of the 1960s facility, on John Reid Road, would also involve rearranging some of the pews to provide better sight lines for those paying their final respects to family and friends. A proposed partition between the existing chapel and extension would be used when required for smaller services.
In addition, the chapel would be fully refurbished to provide a modern facility for services.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management at South Tyneside Council, said: "South Shields Crematorium plays a key role in the community, supporting local people at what can be an extremely distressing and difficult time in their lives.
"The existing Chapel is quite small, which limits the number of people who can be accommodated within the building. This issue has been further exacerbated by the covid pandemic, with measures currently in place in the chapel to help prevent the spread of the virus.
"As the only crematorium to serve the entire Borough, it is important that it is fit for purpose and able to cater for larger funerals for the residents of South Tyneside."
A planning application has been submitted for the scheme. If planning permission is granted, work could start on site by the end of the year.
Construction is expected to take up to 38 weeks to complete and scheduled to ensure that the crematorium can continue providing funeral services throughout the refurbishment period.
The latest plans come following a series of improvements to the facility over recent years.
This has included a roof replacement, the installation of a glass canopy at the front of the building, modernised toilet facilities as well as the creation of more parking bays.
In addition, and as a result of covid, the Council introduced a live streaming service for those who are unable to attend funerals in person.
Councillor Gibson added: "We are always looking at how we can improve services and have already made a number of changes to South Shields Crematorium over recent years to create a more welcoming and pleasant setting for those attending services.
"If approved, the works will increase capacity while delivering on our commitment to improve the crematorium so we can provide the very best services possible to our residents in their time of need.
"Great care would be taken to reduce the impact of the works on the operation of the crematorium, ensuring people can continue to reflect and pay their respects to loved ones."
For further information about South Shields Crematorium, contact the Council's Bereavement Services on (0191) 427 3190.