Multi-faith cemetery gets go-ahead in Edinburgh

Adam McVey said the plans would protect green-belt land. Picture: Contibuted
Adam McVey said the plans would protect green-belt land. Picture: Contibuted
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SCOTLAND’S first dedicated multi-faith cemetery and crematorium looks set to be built in the east of Edinburgh.

Modelled on Stockholm’s world heritage-listed Woodland cemetery, the developer behind the scheme, Baywater, said it is aiming to make it the best in Britain.

The facility is to be built at Edmonstone Estate, near Danderhall, and has received the backing of city councillors who believe it offers a way of maintaining green space in the Capital.

Baywater’s vision for the 64-acre site is for a cemetery, crematorium, memorial garden and chapel of rest on land which has been destabilised by more than 200 mine shafts and is currently sealed off because of safety fears.

It is estimated that 1,300 cremations and 700 burials will take place each year, with a view to meeting the future needs of the Lothians and wider region.

Rival developer Sheratan Ltd had hoped to build housing on the site and had stated it would be willing to spend more than £10 million shoring it up. It is understood that Baywater will have to pay significantly less than this.

At yesterday’s meeting of the city council’s development sub-committee, councillors voted that the site be used for the cemetery plans.

A spokesman for Baywater said: “We are clearly delighted by the decision, helping to address a regional requirement for these much-needed facilities.

“This development will also serve to enhance the area and provide a prestigious resting place in a beautiful landscape for people of all faith.”

Those behind the scheme claim to be inspired by the Stockholm Woodland cemetery, which was designed by architect Gunnar Asplund and is the final resting place of actress Greta Garbo.

Built in 1917 following an international competition won by Asplund and his partner, Sigurd Lewerentz, the cemetery – which stands on the site of former gravel pits overgrown with pine trees – was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1994 and has since become a major tourist attraction. The layout of the Edmonstone cemetery is to be based on the form of the historic estate as it was in the 1850s, thus preserving the mature park and trees.

Buildings will be located within the woodland while different parts of the site will include burial plots, lawn crypts and memorial trees.

ouncillor Adam McVey, vice-convener for the environment, said: “This development offers a chance to protect this site as a green and open space. If the cemetery which has been granted permission is built, the threat is eradicated of other developments, such as housing, which are incompatible with this green-belt estate.

“The new cemetery will also provide additional choice for Edinburgh residents who opt for burial and the new crematorium will allow Edinburgh to meet the increased demand the city will continue to experience in the decades to come.”

The former estate of Edmonstone lies between the new Royal Infirmary at Little France and the village of Danderhall to the east. The mansion was demolished in the 1950s, with only ruins of the adjoining stable block now remaining.

While airing concerns over air pollution and congestion, locals have been generally supportive of the cemetery plans – stating that they were preferable to a housing development.