Plans lodged for joint human and pet crematorium

The crematorium would be based at Alderston House near Haddington. Picture: TSPL
The crematorium would be based at Alderston House near Haddington. Picture: TSPL
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Proposals for a combined human and pet crematorium at a country mansion in East Lothian have been put forward.

A businessman has revealed plans to offer both human and pet cremations at the same site near Haddington.

In a move believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, the proposals include offering services for the owners of pets that have died, as well as for the families of people who have passed away.

Plans, lodged with East Lothian Council, also envisage setting aside a part of the grounds as a separate pet memorial garden.

The proposed new facility at Alderston House, near Haddington, would have two separate cremators on either side of the listed building.

The man behind the development, Mark Lamb, said there was a growing demand from people who wanted to properly mourn their pets.

He said: “It may be unique, but Alderston House in itself will be unique as a crematorium.

“We are using a stunning building, restoring it, and providing a dual service.

“We hope to set aside part of the grounds for a pet memorial garden, and keep the land open to the public to walk in and enjoy.”

Objections

The plans have already drawn objections from one local resident who lives just 40 metres away.

Bob Heath has appealed to both East Lothian Council and the town’s community council for support to fight the proposals.

Mr Heath, who bought the coach house at the end of the drive leading to the house, described the planned crematorium as a “bad neighbour development”.

He said: “We would not have purchased and rescued the Coach House, investing our pension plan in the process, had we any inkling that such a development would have been considered within the vicinity.

“It is known crematoria produce pollutants such as dioxins, PCDD/Fs, and more alarmingly mercury.”

It was revealed in March that there were talks between the local authority, which owns Alderston House, and a buyer, to turn the house and grounds into a crematorium.

Architects for the planned conversion have applied to the council for permission to convert the 18th century mansion, which is set in about 5.4 acres of land, with promise to return it back to its former glory.

Included in the plans are memorial gardens where the lawns of the mansion lie, while a mature woodlands area would remain as a “walk of remembrance”.

There would be a chapel on the ground floor, while the cremators themselves would be in the basement level.

On the first floor of the proposed facility there are plans for dining rooms, while on the top floor offices and self contained accommodation for an onsite groundskeeper are planned.

Haddington Community Council said it was concerned about the crematorium being situated so close to private residences and businesses.

Member Paul Darling said: “We sympathise completely with Mr Heath’s concerns and have our own concerns about it. The plans suggest using the current chimneys with the crembulators, and we do not think they are high enough for safe dispersal.

“We are also concerned to see a pet cremator added, and don’t believe the parking will be sufficient for people attending a cremation service.”

Architects Scott Francis Allan said in a report to the council: “It is the intention to fully refurbish and restore the 1790’s B-listed Georgian Mansion House to its former glory with minor internal alterations to accommodate the facilities of a crematorium and associated services.

“The conversion of Alderston House will allow for the building to be open to the public and its restoration and grounds frequented by the residents of East Lothian.”

Council figures suggest that there were about 1,000 deaths in the county last year, with 60 per cent requesting cremations.